Turkish Cabbage Rolls – filled with ground lamb, pine nuts and fragrant Turkish spices, bathed in the most flavorful Turkish Tomato Sauce. These can be made ahead and reheated for your special dinner! Low-carb and Keto Adaptable.

Turkish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - filled with ground lamb, bulgar, pine nuts and fragrant spices, bathed in the most delicious Turkish Tomato Sauce. #cabbagerolls #stuffedcabbage #turkishcabbagerolls #turkishrecipes #lambrecipes #cabbagerecipes

There are some incredibly beautiful cabbages at the farmer’s markets right now, just longing to be stuffed with this Turkish lamb and pinenut filling. The cabbage rolls are bathed in the most fragrant tomato sauce – infused with the warming spices of cinnamon and nutmeg – flavorful, cozy and comforting, perfect for the colder months!

What I love about this recipe, is how the whole thing can be made ahead and reheated – perfect for entertaining! A delicious and beautiful addition to the holiday table. Brian and I have been eating the leftovers for several days now, and they just seem to get better and better!

Turkish Cabbage Rolls - filled with ground lamb, bulgar, pine nuts and fragrant spices, bathed in the most delicious Turkish Tomato Sauce. #cabbagerolls #stuffedcabbage #turkishcabbagerolls #turkishrecipes #lambrecipes #cabbagerecipes

This week I’ve partnered with American Lamb to create a special recipe for this holiday season. When using American lamb, you’re supporting local producers and their families. American lamb is fresher in because it can be found locally, travels less, and is available year-round. The first place to source local lamb is at your local farmers market.

American Lamb is a flavorful, nutrient-rich, and an excellent source of protein, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12, and a good source of iron and vitamin B6.  American Lamb is a natural choice – it is fresher because it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to you ( compared to imported lamb) and it’s available all year-round.

cabbage rolls

The recipe starts with blanching a whole head of cabbage, to make the leaves pliable.

While you can use almost any type of cabbage, large round cabbages offer more width in their leaves making them easier to roll up like a burrito.

 

How to BLANCH CABBAGE for cabbage Rolls: 4 ways! 

  1. Blanch the WHOLE Cabbage: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch until tender, truning, about 10-12 minutes. Cool.
  2. BLANCH THE LEAVES: Alternatively you can peel off the cabbage leaves and blanch the leaves in batches of 3 for 1-2 minutes.
  3. MICROWAVE: You can also microwave the whole cabbage, covered tightly, in a bowl with 1 cup water for 10 mintues.
  4. FREEZE: You can also freeze the whole cabbage, then thaw- which is not really “blanching”, but tenderizes the leaves enough to roll. A longer method, but very simple if planning ahead.

 

After blanching the cabbage, let cool, then cut out the thickest part of the vein. Usually about 2 inches.

how to stuff cabbage

Make the fragrant tomato sauce and the lamb filling.

Instead of adding bulgar wheat to the filling you can substitute Cauliflower Rice for a low carb version. Cooked rice, cooked farro or cooked quinoa will also work here.

The pinenuts give this the lamb filling such great texture.

cabbage rolls with lamb

Place a 1/3 cup of filling into each cabbage leaf and roll up like a burrito.

Fold the bottom end up first, then the sides.

how to stuff cabbage how to stuff cabbage

Place them seam side down in your baking dish, with a little of the sauce on the bottom.

how to stuff cabbage

Then lather with the remaining sauce.

how to make cabbage rolls

Cover and bake at 350F for 60-75 minutes.

Turkish Cabbage Rolls - filled with ground lamb, bulgar, pine nuts and fragrant spices, bathed in the most delicious Turkish Tomato Sauce. This can be made ahead and reheated for your special gathering. #cabbagerolls #stuffedcabbage #turkishcabbagerolls #turkishrecipes #lambrecipes #cabbagerecipes

Sprinkle with fresh herbs and a few more toasted pinenuts if you like.  At this point, you could cool, refrigerate and reheat 1-3 days later for a special dinner or gathering.

Let us know how you like this recipe for Turkish Cabbage Rolls in the comments below- I’m so excited for you to try this!

 

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Turkish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - filled with ground lamb, bulgar, pine nuts and fragrant spices, bathed in the most delicious Turkish Tomato Sauce. #cabbagerolls #stuffedcabbage #turkishcabbagerolls #turkishrecipes #lambrecipes #cabbagerecipes

Turkish Cabbage Rolls

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 40
  • Cook Time: 75
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6 1x
  • Category: main, lamb recipe,
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Turkish

Description

Turkish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – filled with ground lamb,pine nuts and fragrant spices, bathed in the most delicious Turkish Tomato Sauce. This can be made ahead and reheated for your special gathering. Keto and low carb adaptable!


Ingredients

Scale

1 head cabbage (extra-large and round)

Turkish Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves rough chopped
  • 1 x 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or alternative sweetener (maple, honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup broth or stock (chicken or veggie)

Lamb Filling: 

  • 1/2 cup Turkish tomato sauce
  • 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • 1  lb  ground lamb (uncooked)  or sub beef or turkey
  • 1 cup bulgar wheat, soaked (or add 1 cup cauliflower rice (raw), or 1 cup cooked rice, or other cooked grain)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint (or sub dried oregano or thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (aleppo is nice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pinenuts (or slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (or sub dried barberries, currants or raisins) ALL OPTIONAL

Garnish: fresh Italian parsly, dill or mint, a few toasted pinenuts, and serve with optional yogurt.


Instructions

  1. Soak Bulgar Wheat in bowl of cool water, 20 mins.
  2. Blanch Cabbage: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and blanch until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Cool. Alternatively you can peel off the cabbage leaves and blanch the leaves in batches for 1-2 minutes. You can also microwave the whole cabbage, covered tightly , in a bowl with 1 cup water for 10 mintues. You can also freeze the whole cabbage, then thaw.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F
  4. Make the Turkish Tomato Sauce: In a large saute pan, over med-high heat, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons oil until tender, 3-4 mins. Lower heat to medium, add garlic, saute 2-3 mintues until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes (and all the juices) sugar, spices, salt and broth . Stir, bring to a simmer for 2 minutes, then turn heat off.  Place 1/2 cup of this sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish (just enought to lightly coat the bottom.)
  5. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, place the lamb, drained bulgar wheat, garlic, Turkish tomato sauce, salt, spices, pine nuts, and dried apricots in a medium bowl and mix with a clean, damp hand, until well combined.
  6. Assemble the Cabbage Rolls: Place a blanched cabbage leaf on the counter. Cut 2 inches of the thick vein out of the bottom end. ( See photo). Fill with 1/3 cup lamb filling and roll up like a burrito, tucking edges in and place seam side down in the sauced, baking dish. Repeat with all. You should have 10-12 ish. See notes, for breakage.
  7. BAKE: Once the baking dish is filled with the rolls, pour the remaining Tomato sauce over top. Give the pan a good shake. Cover with parchement, then tightly with foil (or a lid). Bake for 1  1/4 hours. If baking in a saute pan, you could heat this up gently on the stove top (covered)  before placing in the oven and then bake for 1 hour.
  8. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh parsley, mint or dill, and a few pinenuts. Serve with a thick creamy yogurt if you like.

Notes

Feel free to make in stages. (Make the sauce ahead, the filling ahead or blanch the cabbage ahead). You can make them from start to finish, bake, refrigerate and reheat (covered). I have not tried freezing. 

If the cabbage leaves fall apart, split, get holes, or are too small, you can layer them, or lay two side by side and roll into one roll. This is typical once you get to the inner smaller leaves.

For a LOW-Carb Version: leave out the bulgar wheat and replace with raw “cauliflower rice” or the remaining cabbage (shredded finely). Leave out the dried apricots and the sweetener.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 rolls
  • Calories: 594
  • Sugar: 19.6 g
  • Sodium: 726 mg
  • Fat: 31.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 58.6 g
  • Fiber: 12.5 g
  • Protein: 26.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 66.3 mg

Keywords: stuffed cabbage, cabbage rolls, lamb rolls, Turkish cabbage rolls, cabbage rolls with lamb, stuffed cabbage rolls,

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

Comments

  1. Wow so tasty and nourishing, perfect for a cold fall night! I’m vegetarian so I replaced the lamb with lentils and browned mushrooms. Don’t skip the pine nuts – they add such a nice texture!

  2. Hi Sylvia – this is the first time I wasn’t totally thrilled with one of your recipes. The rolls themselves were delicious, but the Turkish Tomato Sauce was watery and lacked flavour. I used diced tomatoes then pureed them. Would that be the problem?

  3. Another outstanding dish my first time ever making cabbage rolls and so Glade I made this one. I used one pound ground turkey and a one pound Italian chicken sausage and za atar season in the filling left the rest the same but made a double batch yummiest. Thanks

  4. Hi I love cabbage rolls and I always order them at a favourite Greek testaurant But there they have an egg and lemon Sauce which I prefer- could you please include that for me.
    Thank you

  5. What do y’all serve these with? Kale salad sounds good but we literally eat that daily. Something green would be nice but love to hear what worked for you

    1. I like the idea of a salad, salad everyday right? How about the Turkish Cucumber Salad- kind of creamy?

  6. I searched for lamb and cabbage and found this. The spice combination is appealing. Jane Brody has a recipe for UNstuffed cabbage, as does Beth Hensperger in one of her slow cooker books. Instead of stuffing cabbage leaves, the cabbage is shredded. The meat is prepared as directed, but made into meatballs. Just as good as stuffed, but a lot less work. It can be cooked stovetop or in a slow cooker.

  7. I have never made cabbage rolls before, but this recipe looked interesting so I decided to give it a try. These rolls are AMAZING. I used ground pork, rice, and almonds in the filling, and I seriously could have eaten half the pan in one sitting. Even better – during/after cooking the house smelled like the delicious sauce and not like cabbage lol. I appreciated the photos and extra tips about how to roll them; mine stayed together perfectly.

  8. WOWZA! Used regular green cabbage, tofu for protein, quinoa for grains, parsley and dill for topping. Absolutely amazing!

      1. Yes I did! Next time if I’m in the mood for yogurt style topping I’ll make the silken tofu based sauce, which I also learned from your site. My husband and I just both love tofu so much. 🙂

  9. A really nice recipe which leads to lovely depth and variety of flavour. Really enjouyed making and eating this and will be making it again for sure!
    Thank you

  10. Made a double batch of these cabbage rolls for our Easter dinner this year. They were fantastic. I used 1lb. beef and 1lb. lamb and also used the inner parts of the cabbage head chopped fine in place of the rice and left out the honey. Will definitely make them again.

  11. Wonderful flavors!! and surprisingly filling.

    I provided fresh dill and mint on the table to choose. We tried both and liked equally, and I enjoyed mine with a dollop of the optional yogurt.

    Question: I cooked the whole head of cabbage as directed but used only 11 leaves. Any suggestions for using the rest of the head that’s already cooked? Next time I’ll either double the recipe or just blanche the individual leaves needed for the recipe.

    1. That is a good point. I wonder how it would taste chopped up finely and added to the filling- I’ll have to try that next time.

    2. @Sylvia – great recipe I made it today exactly as you said, had a little bit of stuffing left over and put it in a tiny glass baking dish to make something resembling a Kibbeh (Syrian meatloaf) (cooking time for that was only about 40 minutes, which turned out great also. / Thanks!

      @ Gina – Just chop it into chunks and make a nice cabbage and bean soup! – You can even freeze it till you are ready to make it! The soups are best with 2 or 3 or 4 different types of beans! No need to follow a specific recipe – just google bean and cabbage soup, see what types of herbs and spices people put in, then use whatever you have that is close! Always good.

  12. Tasty! I used Portuguese kale from a local farm, and had coarse bulgar in the pantry which worked fine.

  13. Really want to try this but I have one question please: If using ground beef, does it need to be cooked or raw? Thank you.

  14. I love your recipes, in fact our family requests your lamb burgers weekly! I wondered ~ instead of wrapping the lamb mixture in cabbage could I serve it over Spaghetti squash with the sauce? Would you recommend omitting the grains?

  15. This recipe is so good and the spices remind me of when my
    Mom would cook it. I’ve made it several times and will definitely make
    this for years to come.

  16. Deeelicious! I made these for my meal prep and they came out smashing! What amazing flavor. I had extra meat so I rolled traditional balls, browned them in a cast iron pan, and them baked them. OMG! This was just too much deliciousness. This might be my favorite new sauce. Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  17. I am so excited I came across your site. I am book-marking this & other recipes to try. Can’t wait to try them out!!

      1. You know I think it would work just fine in a slow cooker- but I’m not an expert in this department, so unsure of times.

Share this with the world

Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

Subscribe
to get recipes via email