Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Lahanodolmades)

Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or Lahanodolmades are the perfect comfort food for cold days. These delicious Greek cabbage rolls are stuffed with an herby meat and rice mixture and topped with a delicious avgolemono or egg-lemon sauce.

These Greek Cabbage Rolls or Lahanodolmades (pronounced La-ha-no-dole-ma-thes) are a classic cold weather dish that warms and comforts you like a hug from the inside. This cozy dish is flavourful thanks to the herby meat and rice filling, but the classic avgolemono sauce (egg-lemon sauce) definitely takes it up a notch for sure!

My mom would always make this dish for us when cold weather arrived and her recipe is the one I am sharing with you today. This traditional dish was a fall and winter favourite growing up and is something I was eager to ask my mom to teach me to make in my own home too.

The dish is a bit time consuming to make, but is definitely worth it! The steps themselves are very easy to do with the exception of separating the leaves from the cabbage. Once that step is out of the way, it really is easy peasy. Don’t worry, I included my moms method for removing the leaves without breaking them in this post so that you can have as much success as she does.

Greek cabbage rolls with avgolemono sauce in a white bowl.

In order to make the best use of the cabbage, we make these rolls in bulk. This recipe uses 3 lbs of ground beef which makes about 25 rolls (though this will depend entirely on the size of your cabbage leaves). This means, you can make some to eat now and freeze and enjoy these again in the future. Tips for this are in this post as well.

If you don’t want to make that many, you can easily half the recipe.

Lahanodolmades topped with avgolemono sauce and fresh parsley.

Why you should make Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Lahanodolmades):

  • This dish is ultra comforting on a cold day.

  • Greek Cabbage Rolls are delicious!

  • This meal is a healthy, made from scratch meal.

  • The recipe makes lots of rolls so you can freeze for future meals! (Or half it if you don’t want to freeze)
A bowl with two cabbage rolls topped with an egg-lemon sauce and parsley.

Ingredients in Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

  • Cabbage: I use savoy but you can also use green/white cabbage.

  • Ground beef

  • Onion: diced

  • Rice: uncooked and rinsed. A long or medium grain rice works best.

  • Tomato puree: added to the meat filling for flavour and to add moisture.

  • Fresh parsley

  • Seasoning: salt and pepper

  • Olive oil: drizzled over the cabbage rolls before cooking. Adds flavour.

  • Water: enough to cover the cabbage rolls

  • Vegetable bouillon cubes: For flavour. Alternatively you can use vegetable or chicken broth instead of the water in this recipe.

  • Eggs: Used for the avogolemono sauce.

  • Lemon: used in the sauce.

Preparing the cabbage leaves

The hardest part of this recipe is separating the cabbage leaves from the head of cabbage without breaking them. Some recipes instruct you to cut out the core, separate the leaves, and then blanch them.

Since this is a bit difficult to do without ripping the leaves apart, the method my mom uses (and that I have adopted) is to start cooking the entire head of cabbage to help loosen the leaves.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and wash the cabbage.

  2. Place it in a large pot or dutch oven with the stem facing upwards. Fill with enough water to submerge 2/3 of the cabbage and simmer over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes.

  3. Working cautiously, use a fork to hold the stem in place and use a knife to cut the leaves away from the stem and slowly (and careful not to burn yourself) try to remove the leaves. If they do not release easily without breaking, allow it to simmer more. You can flip the cabbage over to simmer the stem side for a few minutes as well. This can help loosen the leaves. [Note: You do not want to fully cook the leaves, just soften then enough to loosen them so they can be detached from the stem easily.]

  4. Place the loosened leaves on a baking sheet. If they are still too stiff to roll, blanch them in the hot water again.
A photo collage showing how to prepare the cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls.

There are several videos on YouTube that show this method as well as other similar methods. If you have a method you prefer, feel free to use it.

This video is similar to my mom’s method:

How to make Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Lahanodolmades)

The full instructions are in the recipe card at the end of this post. Essentially, it comes down to these steps:

1. Prep the filling: Mix all of the filling ingredients until well combined.

A photo collage showing how to make the cabbage roll filling.

2. Make a cabbage “bed”: Place some of the smaller cabbage leaves that are too small to stuff on the bottom of the pot.

3. Roll your cabbage rolls: Lay a cabbage leaf on a cutting board and add filling to the middle. Fold over the left and right parts of the leaf over the filling and then, starting at the bottom of the leaf, roll it up to form the cabbage roll.

Photo collage showing how to roll cabbage rolls.

4. Arrange them in the pot: Place the assembled cabbage roll into the dutch oven. Repeat with all of the cabbage rolls, creating snug layers of cabbage rolls.

6. Top with olive oil and water and cook: Add olive oil, bouillon cubes and enough water to come right up to the top of the cabbage rolls. Place an extra cabbage leaf on top of the rolls (optional). Cook for about an hour.

A photo collage showing how to cook cabbage rolls in a dutch oven.

Preparing the Avgolemono Sauce

  1. In 2 bowls, crack the eggs, separating the whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until they are fluffy and hold their shape.

  2. Beat the egg yolks for a couple of minutes and then mix the egg whites and yolks together.

  3. Add the juice of 1 lemon and continue to beat. Continue to beat as you add some hot broth from the soup to the egg mixture to prevent cooking the eggs. Add the egg-lemon mixture to the pot. Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with additional lemon juice if desired.
A photo collage showing how to prepare avgolemono sauce.
Avgolemono sauce poured on top of a pot of cabbage rolls.

How to freeze cabbage rolls

To freeze cabbage rolls, cook them according to the recipe and then allow them to cool completely. I do not recommend putting avgolemono sauce on the rolls you are going to be freezing. It should be made when you plan to serve them.

Place the rolls in a freezer safe container and ensure it is well sealed. I like to portion out my rolls into small freezer safe containers and then place the container in a large freezer bag to ensure they are safe from freezer burn.

Reheating leftover cabbage rolls

To reheat the cabbage rolls, I find that the best method is in the oven. Place the rolls in an oven safe dish and bake in the oven at 350F until heated through.

Cabbage rolls make great leftovers for lunch as well. In that case, I microwave them until they are heated through.

What to serve with Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

A fresh salad and a slice of crusty bread are my favourite way to enjoy these lahanodolmades! Other options include roasted veggies or potatoes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

-Cathy

A bowl containing a cut cabbage roll revealing the ground beef and rice filling.

You may also like these Greek comfort meals:

Soutzoukakia Me Patates
Fasolakia (Greek Green Beans)
Pastitsio
Chicken Youvetsi (Chicken and Orzo in Tomato Sauce)

Greek cabbage rolls with avgolemono sauce in a white bowl.

Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Lahanodolmades)

Herbs and Flour
Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or Lahanodolmades are the perfect comfort food for cold days. These delicious Greek cabbage rolls are stuffed with an herby meat and rice mixture and topped with a delicious avgolemono or egg-lemon sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Greek
Servings 25 rolls
Calories 244 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large cabbage savoy or green/white cabbage
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 1/2 cups rice uncooked and rinsed
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • water enough to cover the cabbage rolls
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes (alternatively you can use vegetable or chicken broth instead of the water in this recipe)

Avgolemono Sauce (Egg-Lemon Sauce)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage and wash the cabbage. Place it in a large pot or dutch oven with the stem facing upwards. Fill with enough water to submerge 2/3 of the cabbage and simmer over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes. Working cautiously, use a fork to hold the stem in place and then use a knife to cut the leaves away from the stem and slowly try to remove the leaves. If they do not release easily without breaking, allow it to simmer more. You can flip the cabbage over to simmer the stem side for a few minutes as well. This can help loosen the leaves. [Note: You do not want to fully cook the leaves, just soften then enough to loosen them so they can be detached from the stem easily.]
  • Lay the detached cabbage leaves on a baking sheet until you are ready to use them. If they are too stiff to roll, you can place them back into the water and par-boil them to soften them. Keep about 4-5 of the smaller leaves that are too small to stuff on hand as well (these will be used as a bed for the rolls).
  • Prepare the cabbage stuffing by adding the ground beef, onion, rice, tomato puree, parsley, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix the filling together until well combined.
  • In a large dutch oven, place some of the smaller cabbage leaves that are too small to stuff on the bottom of the pot.
  • Working with one cabbage roll at a time, lay a cabbage leaf on a cutting board and remove the harder stem portion as it will make rolling difficult. Discard this portion.
  • Add about 1/3 cup of filling to the middle of your cabbage roll. (the amount will actually depend on the size of your cabbage leaves so you will need to adjust accordingly).
  • Fold over the left and right sides of the leaf over the filling and then, starting at the bottom of the leaf, roll it up to form the cabbage roll. Place the assembled cabbage roll into the dutch oven. Repeat with all of the cabbage rolls, creating layers of cabbage rolls.
  • Drizzle the cabbage rolls with the olive oil. Then add 2 bouillon cubes and top the cabbage rolls with enough water to come right up to the top of the cabbage rolls. Place an extra cabbage leaf on top of the rolls (optional).
  • Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and simmer the rolls for about 1 hour or until cooked through. [Tip: Use a meat thermometer to ensure they are fully cooked.]
  • In 2 bowls, crack the eggs, separating the whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until they are fluffy and hold their shape.
  • Beat the egg yolks for a couple of minutes and then mix the egg whites and yolks together.
  • Add the juice of 1 lemon and continue to beat. Continue to beat as you add some hot broth from the soup to the egg mixture to prevent cooking the eggs. Add the egg-lemon mixture to the pot. Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with additional lemon juice if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 244kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 12gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 528mgPotassium: 314mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 193IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 2mg
Keyword greek food, ground beef, rice, stuffed cabbage rolls
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