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Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce

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Slow cooker cabbage rolls are moister and more flavorful than ones baked in the oven. Stuffed with beef and rice and simmered in a tomato sauce all day long, this comfort food makes enough to feed families.

Slow cooker cabbage rolls are moister and more flavorful than ones baked in the oven. Stuffed with beef and rice and simmered in a tomato sauce all day long, this comfort food makes enough to feed families.

Cabbage rolls, or stuffed cabbage, are one of my all time favorite foods. I love them so much that instead of the traditional ham sandwiches served at graduation open houses where I grew up, I served cabbage rolls. It was delicious.

This is my first attempt at making cabbage rolls myself and let me just say, they turned out fantastic! This is not exactly a quick recipe, but the end result was well worth the time and effort.

Cabbage rolls slow cooked in a slow cooker will be moister and more flavorful than ones that are baked in the oven.

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce

Steamed Cabbage Leaves

When steaming the cabbage, you will see a point where the cabbage turns a bright green. The leaves are ready to peel off then.  I got about 2-3 leaves off and then had to put the head back in to soften up the head more.

You will most likely have leftover cabbage. Don’t throw it away! One of our readers left a great idea in the comments:

“Cut it into shreds with a sharp knife and line the bottom of the crock pot before putting in the rolls. It will simmer away in the sauce and is absolutely delish. You can also omit the brown sugar and added a small can of sauerkraut, drained. Toss with the shredded cabbage, It adds a nice zip to the recipe.” 

Thanks for the great tip!

Stuffing for cabbage rolls

You will want to try and use converted rice for the cabbage rolls. Converted rice takes longer to cook so it doesn’t turn to mush in the cabbage rolls.  The good news is that Uncle Ben’s Original Rice is converted rice so it’s easy to find in the grocery store.

How to make cabbage rolls

The cabbage was really easy to roll up but careful not to rip it (too much).  Put about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture at the top a cabbage leaf. Use a 1/3 cup to just measure out the mix and plop it right on the cabbage leaf.

Cabbage Rolled

Keep rolling to the end of the cabbage leaf. When you reach the end, tuck in the ends.  You may want to cut off the thick rib from the leaves. It will leave a little split at the end. Just tuck it all in.

CrockPot Stuffed Cabbage

Lay the stuffed cabbage leaves in the crock of a 6 quart or larger slow cooker.  You may get to a point in the cabbage where it’s difficult to get the leaves off the head in a whole leaf. That’s fine! Just stop and call it good.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Once all the cabbage rolls are done and layered in the slow cooker, pour the tomato sauce over the rolls. Put the lid on the slow cooker and turn it on low.  You can also cook on high if you are in a hurry just cut the time in half.

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Check out all the recipes in the 30 Day Slow Cooking Challenge!

Yield: About 10 rolls

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce

Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup converted long grain rice (Uncle Ben's)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. COOK THE CABBAGE: Fill a large pot three quarters full of water and lightly salt. Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a brisk boil. Add the cabbage, cover the pot and cook until the outer layers of the cabbage peel off easily. Remove the tender leaves and pick out 10 of the largest leaves. Remove the thick ribs in the center of each leaf. Set aside.
  2. PAR COOK THE RICE: Fill a medium saucepan three quarters full of water and lightly salt. Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the rice. Cook for 5 minutes then drain and rinse under cold water and drain well again. Set aside.
  3. PREPARE FILLING: Melt the butter in a skillet placed over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.
  4. Place the onion and garlic into a mixing bowl. Stir in the par cooked rice from Step 2. Add the ground beef, egg, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix until well blended.
  5. MAKE THE ROLLS: Spread 1/3 CUP of the filling into the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the leaves over the filling and roll up the cabbage. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, into a 6 quart or larger slow cooker . Repeat until all the cabbage leaves and meat mixture are used up.
  6. MAKE SAUCE: In a mixing bowl stir together the tomatoes with their juice, brown sugar and lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the cabbage in the slow cooker.
  7. SLOW COOK: Cover and cook on low 6 hours or until the cabbage is fork tender.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1 roll

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 377 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 102mg Sodium: 717mg Fiber: 9g Sugar: 17g Protein: 26g

 

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70 Comments
  • Karen B.
    October 13, 2019

    Hi This recipe sounds amazing!! I was wondering can you omit the rice to cut the carbs? Or is the rice working as part of the bonding?

    • Camille
      October 15, 2019

      Probably not. It’s just part of the recipe!

  • Lorna
    June 26, 2019

    I’ve made this four times now and I love it,the first time I had no crushed tomatoes, so I used a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and it turned out great, the second time I had crushed tomatoes and it was watery, tasted great but something was missing ,so I make it with tomato soup, the soup and diced tomatoes give it the right thickness, right now I’m trying purple cabbage but I don’t recommend it, my stove looks like a Smurf exploded on it.lol.
    PS thanks for the recipes.

    • Camille
      June 26, 2019

      LOL! Smurfs! Thanks for the tip on using the soup!

  • Trese
    April 21, 2019

    I made these yesterday and they were delicious. I panicked a little when I started making it bc the Uncle Bens rice I bought was the Minute rice and not the converted. If you make that mistake – just throw the minute rice in uncooked. After six hours in the crock pot, the rice was cooked and not mushy at all. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Camille
      April 22, 2019

      Great tip on the rice – thank you!

  • Ashley
    March 18, 2019

    I have made this recipe twice, it’s absolutely delicious. However the sauce has turned out a bit watery both times, I’ve followed the recipe exactly so I’m not sure why its turning out that way.. maybe from the ‘steam’ in the crockpot? But it’s a pretty noticable amount of water so I’m not sure that’s the cause…any thoughts?

    Also thank you for the recipe, it really is quite delicious and I dont feel guilty eating it! 🙂

    • Camille
      March 29, 2019

      The sauce is pretty thin. It’s not thick like a marinara. If you want a thicker sauce, I’d add a jar of spaghetti sauce at the very end.

  • Gail
    January 7, 2019

    Can I freeze the leftovers

    • Camille
      January 7, 2019

      I’ve never done it but I don’t see why not!

  • Cassie
    December 4, 2018

    I’m confused about step two. Is the rice suppose to be cooked or just added the the meat mixture raw?

    • Camille
      December 5, 2018

      You par cook the rice for 5 minutes. It must be converted rice (it takes longer to cook so it doesn’t turn to mush).

  • Cathy
    November 16, 2018

    Just wondering, do you cook ahe rice first or addit uncooked?

    • Kathy DeRouchey
      December 3, 2018

      I love stuffed cabbage, but this recipe confounds me. You say to add 1/3 of the mixture to each leaf. That would make 3 rolls, not 10. And then you answer the question about raw or cooked rice and say it’s raw…. when the recipe calls for boiling it for 5 minutes???

      Have you ever cored out a cabbage head and stuffed the whole thing? Turn it over so the stuffed end is down. Then you simply cut the whole cooked head into 6ths or 8ths. It makes a very pretty presentation.

      • Camille
        December 5, 2018

        Yes, you need to par cook the rice for 5 minutes before adding it to the meat. But it must be converted rice (Uncle Ben’s is converted rice). Put 1/3 CUP (not 1/3 of the mixture) in to each cabbage leaf. No, I haven’t stuffed a whole cabbage! Sounds like it’d make a fun family dish.

  • Eleanor Jacobs
    October 26, 2018

    I am wondering if anyone has tried freezing these, I am cooking for 1 person (me)and usually always have leftovers

    • Suzanne Brett
      November 7, 2018

      I have been making cabbage rolls for many years and I always freeze the leftovers. They are so delicious. No need to worry about freezing them.

  • Kaitlynne
    October 19, 2018

    These are delicious and so easy, a little trick my family did (growing up in a Irish/Italian household, we would add Italian sausage to the meet mixture and it always gave such a delicious spice and added a lot of flavor to the tomato sauce 🙂

  • Michael
    September 29, 2018

    Cabbage rolls are wonderful!
    Just the right amount of spiciness.
    I plan on making these again – soon.

  • Sandy
    September 18, 2018

    I love how you write your recipes…so sweet and “real”. Please keep up the good work.

    • Camille
      September 18, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 I’m a real mom making real food. 🙂

    • Terri Tschetter
      September 27, 2019

      Could you use ground turkey instead of ground beef?

      • Camille
        October 1, 2019

        Sure!

      • Sarah G
        October 30, 2019

        I have and it’s delicious!

  • eduardo
    September 10, 2018

    Yo los preparo casi de las misma manera pero, con menos carne y más arroz y otros vegetales como el morron rojo o amarillo. Los sobrantes de repollo se colocan en el fondo de la olla con 2 o 3 rodajas de limón. Los acomodo en círculos y los cubro con una tapa de olla más pequeña y le coloco un elemento pesado (1 o 2 piedras) para que no se rompan. Cubro con agua o caldo hasta las tapa de la olla y los cocino por 35 a 40 minutos. Cuando algún arroz que este flotando pruebo y está listo. Los sirvo caliente con: pesto, aceite de oliva y limón o salsa roja (tomate). Espero que les sea útil.

  • Ronni
    August 8, 2018

    This recipe have become my family’s favorite!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Susy
    April 10, 2018

    My Mom used to use a thin bacon rind to add flavor. I use real bacon and also we used sauercrut! I alternate bacon, then, cabbage roll, then sauercrut and last tomato sauce then start all over again! The flavor is outstanding.

  • Carol Foster
    February 13, 2018

    Want to save this recipe but can’t find out have to save it.

    • Camille
      February 13, 2018

      Hi Carol! You can print it, save it to Pinterest, or perhaps favorite it on your web browser.

  • suzy
    January 26, 2018

    Cabbage rolls have always been a favorite of mine and I make them in the oven.I’m going to used the slow cooker next time!

  • sherry
    January 24, 2018

    Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  • Jann Olson
    January 21, 2018

    This sounds super yummy! Thanks for sharing with Share Your Cup. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but I’m not seeing a link back to the party. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  • Judi Graber
    January 21, 2018

    We love stuffed cabbage rolls – my Weight Watcher’s recipe is one of the most popular posts on my blog – go figure! Your version looks really good! Thanks for sharing with Fiesta Friday.

  • Miz Helen
    January 20, 2018

    Your Cabbage Rolls are perfectly rolled, they look delicious!Thanks so much for sharing your post with us at Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Heather
    January 20, 2018

    I’ve never had these, but they sound simply amazing! Will have to pin this for later!

  • Helen at the Lazy Gastronome
    January 20, 2018

    Delicious! Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner Party.

  • Sharon@bluewillowhouse
    January 19, 2018

    Your cabbage roll recipe sounds and looks delicious. Thank you for sharing at Snickerdoodle. I am featuring your recipe at the party this week.

  • Donna Reidland
    January 19, 2018

    I have thought about making cabbage rolls but just haven’t attempted it. I like things I can do in my slow cooker, so I’m pinning to give this one a try.

  • Deena Simair
    January 17, 2018

    This looks way easier than the other ways I’ve tried making cabbage rolls. Thanks for linking up with the Blended Blog

  • Jess
    January 15, 2018

    Pinned! Sounds so yummy!! 🙂

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  • Peggy
    December 17, 2017

    Delicious!!! I’ll use a bit less brown sugar next time, but this was definitely a winner! My daughter loves it!!!

  • Ruth Kirkey
    November 20, 2017

    These were delicious. My husband said they were the best I’ve ever made!

    • Camille
      November 20, 2017

      So glad you both liked them!

  • Teresa
    November 18, 2017

    Going to try this haven’t had cabbage rolls in years.

  • Margaret caiola
    November 16, 2017

    Looks yummy

  • Grandma Cindy
    November 15, 2017

    Don’t waste the rest of the cabbage. Cut it into shreds with a sharp knife and line the bottom of the crock pot before putting in the rolls. It wuill simmer away in the sauce and is absolutely delish. You can also omit the brown sugar and added a small can of saurkraut, drained. Toss with the shredded cabbage, It adds a nice zip to the recipe.

    • Camille
      November 15, 2017

      Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • Alicia
    September 11, 2017

    Any advice on what to use the leftover boiled cabbage for? Thanks, this looks lovely! 🙂

    • Camille
      September 12, 2017

      Coleslaw! Or you could use it to make homemade sauerkraut (which is on my to do list for someday!)

      • Alicia
        September 12, 2017

        Thank you for such a quick reply! That’s very helpful 🙂

  • Renata
    July 31, 2017

    Why is this recipe under “low carb”? It is not low carb. 42g of carb? It sounds good, but should be in a different catagory.

  • yvonne
    July 9, 2017

    I bought the largest head of cabbage I could find so I’d have larger leaves. I also cut around the core at the bottom and steamed in the microwave. It was much easier to peel the leaves off. I also took the extra cabbage left over and added it to the crockpot to eat with the rolls.

  • Debbi
    January 14, 2017

    I love cabbage rolls, but haven’t made them for many years. This got me thinking of a recipe called Bubble & Squeak which has all the ingredients & flavor of cabbage rolls without all the work. You cut up the cabbage & cook it all together in one pot. It would bubble when it cooked & the cabbage would squeak when you stirred the pot. I believe this is how it got it’s name. I think this could work in a crock pot as well.

    • Camille
      January 17, 2017

      I love that! I will have to do some digging to see if I can find the recipe.

  • Vickie Geiger
    October 25, 2016

    Core your whole head of cabbage and then stick it in the freezer overnight. Thaw the next day. Leaves peel off head easily.

  • Robert J Sicora
    August 20, 2016

    I use my crock pot for a marinara sauce . Three 28oz.cans of Peeled Plum Italian Style Tomatoes , two 14.5 oz.cans of Stewed Tomatoes Italian Recipe , two 8oz. cans of sauce , and one 8oz. can of paste . Salt, pepper, 2 tbsp. sugar(brown) , 2 large leafs of basil cut up fine or 1 tbsp. of dried basil , 1 tbsp. of dried oregano , 1 med. onion cut up fine , 2 cloves of garlic cut up fine . Cook on high for two hours then use a masher to break down plum and stewed tomatoes . Simmer on low for three hours . Use a large spoon to draw off thin liquid . This will yield a much thicker sauce .

  • Frugal Hausfrau
    July 5, 2016

    These look really good, Camille! I love love love cabbage rolls and never thought to make them in a slow cooker!!

    Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday!

    Mollie

  • Shannon
    July 2, 2016

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. I love cooking in my slowcooker and adore cabbage rolls!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Jennifer
    July 2, 2016

    I love cabbage rolls but never thought to make them in a slow cooker. YUMMY!

    I’ll have to give this a try!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

  • Joanne Viola
    July 2, 2016

    Stuffed cabbage is one of our family’s favorites. My mom always cooked hers on top of the stove in a Dutch oven. Definitely going to try this! So glad you shared it!!!

  • Audrey
    June 29, 2016

    Headslap! If I made this in the slow cooker, I could move it outside and not “stink up the house like my mom always did” as my husband says. And that is why I have never thought about making them until now.

    • Camille
      June 30, 2016

      Ha ha! Yes! My mom used to make kapusta (Polish sauerkraut) and I hated the way it made the house stink! Of course, now I love the smell. 🙂

  • Helen
    June 26, 2016

    OMG – I lov Thanks for sharing on the What’s for Dinner Sunday Link up!e cabbage rolls but I’m too lazy to do all the pan cooking – in a slow cooker?? Oh yeah!!

    • Helen
      June 26, 2016

      And Thanks for sharing on the What’s for Dinner Sunday Link up! (got so excited about the recipe I forgot this part of my comment)

  • Trish
    June 18, 2016

    I usually cook these on the stove top for a long, long time but I have you keep checking to make sure there’s enough liquid in the pot – never thought of using the slow cooker. Makes a lot of sense and it’s much easier just put the rolls in and let it go. No more running back and forth to the kitchen. What a great idea. Thanks.

    • Camille
      June 18, 2016

      Ah! Yes, I could see that happening on the stove top. Glad to save you some running! 😉