Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

by jenna on October 24, 2013

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It seems like everyone and their mother has a different variation of this old favorite – stuffed cabbage rolls!

My version is stuffed with a blend of ground turkey and hot Italian sausage, along with veggies, rice and spices, for a satisfying and deeeeelicious cold weather meal. It’s been SO chilly here lately at night! I keep bugging Adam to get more firewood. Nothing better than a good fire and some comfort food on a chilly evening, right? Making cabbage rolls was way easier than I thought it would be – cabbage leaves are stronger than they look! Plus, they freeze and reheat well making this an easy make ahead meal.

They might not be the most photogenic food that ever graced this blog, but I promise they are super delicious and really not as complicated to make as they look!

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Stuffed cabbage rolls have many different roots. After doing some research, I found that so many different cultures have variations! It’s really fascinating, actually.

So while these may not be the same as your grandma’s version, they are still really darn good. I know traditionally a blend of beef and/or veal is used to stuff the cabbage but I prefer turkey and hot Italian sausage for a bit of spice. You could use beef if you darn well please though! I bet that would be fantastic.

In regards to getting the cabbage leaves off the cabbage in one piece, it’s really not hard at all. You just need to blanch the cabbage in boiling water for a few minutes before the leaves just fall right off. Super easy. Then, just add your filling and roll up like a burrito before simmering in tomato sauce!

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Turkey Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

serves about 4-6

Print this Recipe!


1 large head Savoy cabbage

1 lb ground turkey

2 links {about 1/2 lb} hot Italian sausage

1 large carrot, grated

1 large shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup currants or raisins

1/2 cup uncooked white rice

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 3/4 -2 tsp salt

pinch of cinnamon

ground black pepper

1 large jar marinara sauce


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove any outer leaves from your cabbage and stick a large fork or prong right at the bottom, in the core. Once the water is boiling, place the cabbage in the water. Continue boiling for 5 minutes then remove cabbage and run under cold water immediately.

Place cabbage on a bed of paper towels and carefully remove the leaves, snipping the bottoms with kitchen scissors. They should come off very easily and in one piece after the blanching process. Lay all the cabbage leaves on paper towels and cover with more paper towels to soak up any water. Let drain while you work on the filling.

To prepare the filling, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot, garlic and grated carrot. Saute for about 4 minutes then add the tomato paste and mix well. Continue sauteing for another 2 minutes.

Remove pot from the heat and transfer veggies into a large mixing bowl. Keep the pot handy because you’ll use it again soon!

Add the uncooked rice and currants to the veggie mixture followed by the ground turkey and sausage meat. Add the salt, pepper and a pinch of cinnamon and mix well! I found this was easiest when using a big wooden spoon to break up the turkey meat and mix it well with the sausage meat.

Once you have everything combined, start filling your cabbage rolls. Place about 1/3rd cup of meat mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Roll up like a burrito, folding in all sides so no meat escapes. Place filled rolls gently on the bottom of your large pot. Repeat until all the cabbage leaves have been filled and rolled.

Pour the marinara sauce right over the cabbage rolls in the pot and place pot on the stove. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes until rice has cooked through. If you use brown rice it will take longer to cook – just an FYI.

Serve cabbage rolls with additional sauce and a big green salad. These rolls freeze well!


1.5 hours


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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs October 24, 2013 at 4:08 am

A fire and comfort food makes for a perfect evening :)

These sound delicious


Nicole October 24, 2013 at 4:10 am

Yum. I’ve never made cabbage rolls before but these look like a perfect winter dinner


Ksenija @ With An Open Mind October 24, 2013 at 4:13 am

My mom used to make cabbage rolls when I was small and I loved them. To stuff them with turkey instead of pork makes them a lot more appealing. I will definitely make this recipe soon!


Anne @ CandyCrazedrun.wordpress.com October 24, 2013 at 4:24 am

These look amazing!

I am so excited to finally know how to easily remove cabbage leaves! I was trying to remove them and then blanch them. This will make it so much easier, yippee!!


Colleen October 24, 2013 at 6:45 am

This is so interesting…have never heard of these before.


Shannon October 24, 2013 at 7:02 am

Piggies! :)


Stefanie October 24, 2013 at 7:07 am

We have a family recipe for stuffed cabbage and as an alternative to blanching the cabbage leaves. If you core the cabbage and then freeze the cabbage for a dy or 2, then put the cabbage under cold water. The leaves come
Off just as easier. Granted it means a little extra pre planning before making stuffed cabbage. But I find it so much easier than blanching the cabbage.


erin @hooleywithaz October 24, 2013 at 7:59 am

yum! my grandma has a czech version she makes, and i love them…although you’re right, photogenic they are not.


Dana October 24, 2013 at 8:18 am

Um. YUM. that is all.


Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking October 24, 2013 at 8:34 am

Oh man. This is making me crave some cabbage rolls. My grandfather would make these alllll the time. His version had beef and rice. I made them in the crockpot before with ground turkey and they were still good. This is my ultimate comfort food.


Laura @ Lauras Baking Talent October 24, 2013 at 9:03 am

I’ve never had a cabbage roll. May have to give it a try :)


Caroline L. October 24, 2013 at 10:08 am

I’m really liking the sound of your version! Sounds perfect for a chilly night!


Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat October 24, 2013 at 10:11 am

Yum stuffed cabbage is a favorite comfort food of mine! I haven’t had one in too long!


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic October 24, 2013 at 10:13 am

My Polish friends always talk about their version of this – I’d love to try it and would go with your choice of stuffing!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 24, 2013 at 10:17 am

These sound lovely, Jenna! Cabbage rolls had absolutely zero appeal to me as a kid, but my ‘grown-up’ veggie loving self adores them. Your variation sounds fantastic, and perfect for today considering we’re getting snow as I type this!


Bryony @ Friday Night Dinners -- PDX October 24, 2013 at 10:40 am

These look great! I love the use of turkey in them — I prefer turkey to beef too.


Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves October 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Mmm this looks like the perfect fall meal! Hearty and warming. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


Averie @ Averie Cooks October 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

My grandma used to make cabbage rolls and this takes me back to childhood memories!


Live Love Yum October 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Nice. I imagine these could be stuffed with anything so thanks for explaining the process :)


dishing up the dirt October 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm

sometimes the less photogenic the meal the better tasting. I feel that way about split pea soup! These sound fabulous and the photos are still gorgeous!


Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen October 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm

These look fantastic! I grew up on my dad’s cabbage rolls, and I hated them as a kid, but I love them now. The Italian sausage in yours sound like a great addition – I can’t wait to try them!


Coty and Mariah@quirksandtwists October 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I’ve always wanted to take a stab at cabbage rolls. These look yummy!


Joshua Hampton (Cooking Classes San Diego) October 25, 2013 at 3:06 am

My mom used to make cabbage rolls, and I really hated them as a kid. I only learned how to appreciate a good cabbage roll when I moved out. My kids hate them now, but I’m sure they’ll change their mind later on. Your recipe looks wonderful.


kristen October 25, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hi Jenna,

Should I freeze them after I cook them? Or before? (I’m a novice!) Thanks!


jenna October 25, 2013 at 11:01 am

After you cook them – then you can just pop them into a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes to warm them back up!


Natalia October 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I’m Polish and grew up eating these – we call them golabki . I have modified my moms version to be a little healthier. I’m glad that you are sharing this recipe for others to enjoy :)


Allison October 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm

just so I’m clear..going to try to make this tomorrow night for my boyfriend…
-you mix the cooked veggies (shallot, garlic, and carrot) with the uncooked rice and uncooked meat (sausage and ground turkey)?

Thanks and happy cooking!


jenna October 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm



Kim October 27, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Yum!!! These are the perfect fall dinner!


LLY October 28, 2013 at 2:23 am

Hi Jenna, I know you are a Christian, as am I. Have you heard or know anything about the MISA? (The Movement of Spiritual Awareness). I’d be curious to know your thoughts please…(please feel free to email me if preferred thank you!).


Crystal October 30, 2013 at 6:20 am

I’m making these tonight, I’m a little unclear about what purpose the fork serves?


jenna October 30, 2013 at 8:00 am

So you can easily lift your cabbage out of the boiling water.


Crystal October 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

Thank you! I was over thinking it :-) I will let you know how they come out.


Lindsey October 31, 2013 at 9:23 am

I made these for dinner last night and they were SO GOOD!! My husband loved them as well! My only problem was with the rice. It was nowhere near cooked after 50 minutes. I am definitely going to try them again though, because the flavor was so good. Any suggestions?


Michele November 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I’m Czech and grew up eating (and making) cabbage rolls with my Grandmother’s recipe. We always par-boil the rice first. Also, I roll them the opposite way in the leaf – sideways, not longways – you just have to slice off the “vein” on the outside first.


Aaryn @ Insert{Life}Here November 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I’ve only been reading your blog for over a year now, and this was the first recipe I actually made. Holy.Yum.Sauce.

Scratch that I think I’ve made cookies from you. But this is the first real live grown up dinner food. Not that I don’t have cookies for dinner some nights…oops 😉


Amanda January 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I had never had a cabbage roll before you posted this recipe. It’s been in regular rotation ever since. Thank you! Especially delicious on this cold, cold night in TN (it’s 8 degrees outside!).


Jovanna January 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Made these tonight and they were amazing!


Laura February 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Probably a silly question but I’ve never made cabbage rolls before and just wanted to be sure… you mix the RAW meat with the cooked veggies? Or you’re supposed to cook the meat up beforehand? Please let me know, I’m making them this week!


jenna February 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Yep, that’s correct! The raw meat with the cooked veggies :)


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