Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma Recipe (2024)

A traditional European dish, Sarma, otherwise known as stuffed cabbage rolls, is one of those ultimate comfort food meals you just can't beat. Simple savory filling rolled in softened cabbage leaves and topped with spices and a rich sauce create the perfect weeknight meal.

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Sarma Recipe

You will find that this dish includes many basic ingredients that combine into a rich flavorful dish that is high in protein and naturally low in carbohydrates. Ultimately, it's a healthy dish that many appreciate on a regular basis, or as that special slow-cooked weekend meal. Sarma truly is one meal that almost every family has their own version of.

If you enjoy the flavor of cabbage, you might also appreciate the Polish sauerkraut soup with sausage or this delicious Russian cabbage pie recipe. There is even a Russian cabbage soup (sour shchi) that has a hint of sourness that is common and tasty.

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What Country Does Sarma Come From?

Sarma can be found in many European countries including Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. While it may have origins in one of these locations, the classic dish has variations depending upon the region, but mostly each family and their preferred flavors.

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What is the Difference Between Sarma and Dolma?

You may have heard both of these terms used in reference to a food wrapped in a green leaf. While a dolma is typically found more often in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, it can be found throughout Europe with different fillings.

The word dolma means "stuffed thing" while the word sarma means "wrapped thing". Both of these words can apply to the same recipe, but sarma is more commonly used in European countries when referencing a stuffed cabbage filled with rice and meat.

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What Cabbage Do I Use for Cabbage Rolls?

Traditionally, you would make this with fermented cabbage. This would give the recipe a sauerkraut flavor. However, if you do not have the time or ability to make or find a whole fermented head of cabbage or cabbage leaves, you can use just regular green cabbage leaves for this.

If you would like to make your own, you can follow this easy recipe for fermented cabbage heads. You may also check in ethnic cuisine supermarkets to see if there are canned options near where you would normally find sauerkraut.

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What Meat is Used in Sarma Cabbage Rolls?

This recipe uses ground beef or ground chuck. You can use ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken, but the most authentic version is made with a quality ground beef.

Specifically, I like to use ground chuck with a nice amount of marbling from the fat to add extra flavor and moisture to the dish.

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What Should You Serve with Sarma?

Many consider this an entire meal in itself, but you may want to serve with more traditional sides. What you serve really depends upon your own preferences, but I like a starch side and green vegetable with most meals, including this one. Below are a few suggestions that would pair well with this sarma recipe.

  • German Potato Dumplings | Kartoffelkloesse
  • Shlishkes - Hungarian Potato Dumplings
  • Hungarian Plum Dumplings - Szilvas Gomboc
  • Polish Potato Pancakes
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What Can I Use in Place of Vegeta Seasoning?

Vegeta is a popular all-purpose seasoning blend. While it is available in the US, it is more often used in international dishes. You can order Vegeta on Amazon, make your own homemade, or substitute with something like Mrs. Dash.

A popular homemade version uses dehydrated carrots, turmeric powder, garlic powder, and salt. You can also use a vegetable bouillon cube and additional garlic powder for a rich flavor.

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Ingredients for Sarma Filling

  • Fermented cabbage
  • Ground beef
  • Vegeta
  • White onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Rice

Ingredients for Sauce

  • Vegetable oil
  • Vegeta
  • Shredded sauerkraut
  • Garlic cloves
  • Bacon
  • Sweet paprika
  • Fresh parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Beef broth
  • Tomato sauce
  • All-purpose flour

Handy Kitchen Tools

How do You Make Sarma?

Soak 1 cup rice in water for 30-minutes. Drain completely and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, Vegeta, shredded onion, minced garlic, black pepper, and rice.

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Take one cabbage leaf, and place 2 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture in the center. Fold over the sides and roll so it is completely wrapped and the cabbage leaf is around the mixture.

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Repeat until all of the meat filling has been used, then set them aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the beef broth, water, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon Vegeta to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

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In a large stockpot with lid, add oil to the bottom of the pot along with ½ the remaining onion, and ½ the chopped or minced garlic cloves.

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Add the layer of stuffed cabbage on top of the onions, then top with the remaining onion and garlic and the shredded sauerkraut.

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Top with sliced bacon, then sprinkle paprika over the bacon.

Pour ½ of the broth mixture into the pot over the sarma.

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Top with 2 to 3 whole cabbage leaves to cover the bacon completely. Add any remaining garlic and the chopped parsley, then pour the remaining broth mixture over the top.

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Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking for 1 hour.

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In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, flour, and a bit of water to cerate a thickened roux.

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Pour the tomato roux over the top of the cooked rolls, spreading it evenly over the top, then cook for an additional 20 minutes over low heat.

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Serve hot with a spoon of brothy sauce over the top.

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How do You Roll a Sarma?

Similar to a burrito or eggroll, you will lay the cabbage leaf flat on a clean surface. Fill with 2 tablespoons of the ground beef filling, then fold over the ends and roll away from your body pulling tightly against itself until the leaf is completely wrapped around the filling.

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Can You Freeze Sarma?

Yes. You can definietly freeze this both before and after preparing. If you want to prepare a meal that is eay in advance, you can make the filling and roll the samra then place into a disposable baking dish or freezer storage container. When ready to prepare, just make the broth and layer in a baking dish then cook as directed.

You can also cook then allow it to cool completely before placing into a freezer storage container and freezing for up to 4 months. Just make sure no matter what option you choose, you are dating and labeling before freezing.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma Recipe

Katie Hale

This delicious European comfort food is easy to make and always filled with slowly cooked rich flavor. A fermented cabbage leaf is stuffed with meat and rice then cooked slow and low to make the ultimate comfort food meal.

5 from 2 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 1 hour hr 30 minutes mins

Total Time 1 hour hr 45 minutes mins

Course Main Course

Cuisine Bulgarian

Servings 4

Calories 480 kcal

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls

  • Cutting board

  • Knife

  • Large stockpot with lid

  • Medium saucepan

Ingredients

For Sarma Rolls

  • 8 whole cabbage leaves large
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp Vegeta all purpose seasoning
  • ¼ cup white onion minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • 1 cup rice soaked

For Topping Sarma Rolls

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2.5 tbsp Vegeta all purpose seasoning
  • 1 cups shredded sauerkraut
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 4 pieces bacon
  • ½ tbsp sweet paprika
  • cup fresh parsley minced
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water

For Tomato Roux

  • 4 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour

Instructions

For Sarma Rolls

  • Soak 1 cup rice in water for 30-minutes. Drain completely and set aside.

  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, Vegeta, shredded onion, minced garlic, black pepper, and rice.

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  • Take one cabbage leaf, and place 2 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture in the center. Fold over the sides and roll so it is completely wrapped and the cabbage leaf is around the mixture.

  • Repeat until all of the meat filling has been used, then set them aside.

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  • In a medium saucepan, bring the beef broth, water, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon Vegeta to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

  • In a large stockpot with lid, add oil to the bottom of the pot along with ½ the remaining onion, and ½ the chopped or minced garlic cloves.

  • Add the layer of stuffed cabbage on top of the onions, then top with the remaining onion and garlic and the shredded sauerkraut.

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  • Top with sliced bacon, then sprinkle paprika over the bacon. Pour ½ of the broth mixture into the pot over the sarma.

  • Top with 2 to 3 whole cabbage leaves to cover the bacon completely. Add any remaining garlic and the chopped parsley, then pour the remaining broth mixture over the top.

  • Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking for 1 hour.

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  • In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, flour, and a bit of water to cerate a thickened roux.

  • Pour the tomato roux over the top of the cooked rolls, spreading it evenly over the top, then cook for an additional 20 minutes over low heat.

  • Serve hot with a spoon of brothy sauce over the top.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma Recipe (28)

Notes

Can be made with plain cabbage leaves rather than fermented. If using regular cabbage leaves, you will need to cook them first. Bring water to a boil, then add leaves for 5 minutes, then remove and drain before wrapping.

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcalCarbohydrates: 48.9gProtein: 42.2gFat: 11.8gSaturated Fat: 3.4gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 1835mgFiber: 3.9gSugar: 3.7g

Keyword Cabbage Rolls, Sarma

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma Recipe (2024)

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