Stuffed Cabbage, Basic Recipe

Töltött Káposzta


  • ¼ cup uncooked rice
  • 1 pound lean pork, ground
  • ½ pound lean beef, ground
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped fine
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 head of fresh cabbage (see Note)
  • 2 pounds sauerkraut (see Note)
  • ½ cup tomato juice
  • ½ pound smoked pork butt, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup sour cream


  1. Cook rice in ½ cup water for 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Thoroughly mix the ground pork and beef with garlic, half of the onion, the egg, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of the paprika and the drained rice. Put stuffing mixture aside.
  3. Core the cabbage and cook the cabbage head in enough water to cover it for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Gently take apart the cabbage, leaf by leaf. Cut out heavy veins if any.
  5. Use a large oval casserole, about 6 inches high, 16 inches long and 8 to 10 inches wide, or a round one of similar size. Put sauerkraut in the casserole with tomato juice and sliced pork butt in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Fill cabbage leaves with the stuffing mixture; with well-floured hands form rolls. Do not make the rolls too tight, for the stuffing will expand in cooking. Pinch the ends of the rolls together to seal them. (Leftover stuffing can be made into meatballs.) Cut remaining cabbage leaves into fine shreds and add to the casserole.
  7. Make room in the sauerkraut with a wooden spoon, and place the cabbage rolls in it. Cook covered over very low heat for 1 hour.
  8. Meantime, make a roux out of hot lard, flour and remaining chopped onion. Cook it for about 10 minutes, until golden yellow. Turn off heat, stir in 1 tablespoon paprika, and whip it up with 1 cup cold water.
  9. Very gently remove the stuffed cabbage rolls from the casserole. Take out a ladleful of sauerkraut broth and whip it into the roux. Return this liquid thickening to main casserole, stirring it well. Bring to a boil.
  10. Put back the stuffed cabbage leaves, cover the casserole, and finish in a 350°F. oven for 15 minutes.
  11. Before serving, pour sour cream over the casserole, making sure not to break cabbage leaves.


I. Fry 1 chopped onion in ¼ pound diced bacon for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of marjoram, then proceed to mix with other stuffing ingredients.

II. Start with roux; add sauerkraut, and slowly cook it for 15 minutes. Proceed preparing the stuffed leaves and cook as directed above.

III. Fry 1 chopped onion in 1 tablespoon lard for 3 minutes. Add sauerkraut, 1 tablespoon paprika and the stuffed leaves. When cooked, mix sauerkraut with sour-cream and flour mixture.

IV. In Transylvania they often add a handful of fresh dill and a glass of white wine in addition to the usual ingredients.

V. Hajdúkáposzta

  • Use 1 pound ground pork; 1 chopped small onion, fried; 1 tablespoon paprika; 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram; 1 egg and some salt for stuffing. Fill sour cabbage leaves.
  • Fry another chopped small onion in 3 tablespoons lard; add 1 pound sauerkraut and the stuffed leaves. Add enough water to cover.
  • Top with 1 pound meaty smoked slab bacon and 1 pound smoked Debrecen sausage and possibly a smoked rack of pork. Sprinkle with sour cream when serving. The important ingredients here are the Debrecen sausage and the smoked meats.

VI. Stuffed Cabbage as in Szabolcs (Szabolcsi töltött káposzta)

  1. Fry 1 large onion in lard; add paprika, sauerkraut and ½ pound diced smoked bacon. Add enough water to cover.
  2. Make round, peach-sized stuffed cabbage leaves, with stuffing of 1 pound ground pork, 1 tablespoon chopped dill, rice, garlic, raw egg, salt and paprika as in basic recipe.
  3. Cover and cook, together with rest of ingredients, on top of stove. When almost ready (about hours) remove stuffed cabbage leaves and keep them hot.
  4. Grate 3 medium-sized potatoes. Boil in 1 quart water for 10 minutes, and drain. Add to sauerkraut, and mix in.
  5. About 13 minutes later pour sauerkraut over the stuffed cabbage leaves and serve. Decorate with thin-sliced ham and green-pepper rings.

VII. Stuffed Whole Cabbage (Egész káposztafej töltve)

  1. Cook a firm 2-pound cabbage in salted water for 3 minutes. Remove. Gently ease off outer 8 or 10 leaves. With a very sharp knife cut-scrape out the inner part of the head, making a cabbage basket out of it. Make sure to leave bottom of core intact.
  2. Chop 1 small onion and sauté it in 1 tablespoon lard. Add 1 pound ground pork, 1 tablespoon bread crumbs and 1 raw egg. Sauté for 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon sour cream and ½ cup cooked rice. Mix it well and stuff the hollow cabbage with it. Reshape cabbage to original form and tie it.
  3. Line bottom of a deep casserole with ½ pound very thin bacon slices. Put stuffed cabbage on it. Cross the cabbage head with 2 slices of bacon.
  4. Meantime sauté 1 small onion in 1 tablespoon lard. Add 2 pounds squeezed-out sauerkraut to onion and cook for 1 hour. Place sauerkraut around stuffed cabbage head in pot. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon paprika and pour 2 glasses of wine or meat stock over it.
  5. Cover the casserole and put it in a 350°F. oven for 1 hour. Remove lid; put an additional ½ cup sour cream on top of cabbage and cook it, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

VII. Hargitai Stuffed Cabbage (Hargitai töltött káposzta)

  1. Sauté 6 boneless pork chops in 1 tablespoon lard till brown on each side. Remove.
  2. Chop 1 small onion and sauté in the same pan for a few minutes, then add ¾ pound of ground not-too-lean pork and cook it, stirring, for another 10 minutes.
  3. Cut ½ pound sausage into very thin slices and sauté them for a couple of minutes only.
  4. Blanch a cabbage and remove 12 large cabbage leaves. Spread a pork chop with ground pork, topped with a few sausage slices, and wrap in 1 or 2 cabbage leaves. Tie with string.
  5. Fry another small onion in ¼ pound diced smoked bacon. Add 2 pounds sauerkraut. Top with wrapped pork chops. Pour 2 to 3 cups meat stock over chops. Cover and bake in a 350°F. oven for 1¼ hours.
  6. Remove wrapped chops. Mix 1 tablespoon flour with 1 cup sour cream; mix into the sauerkraut; adjust saltiness. Simmer for 10 minutes. When serving, sprinkle with dill.

IX. Stuffed Grape Leaves (Tötike): Use grape leaves tied with a bunch of grape tendrils instead of cabbage, and fill with the basic stuffing. Byzantine influence in Transylvania produced this dish, which has precious little to do with dolma.

X. Stuffed Cabbage with Fresh Sausages (Disznótoros káposzta): During pig-killing time farmers cook sauerkraut with fried pork sausage. You can buy this sausage in Hungarian-Czechoslovakian stores. The sausage is put into the sauerkraut instead of the stuffed cabbage rolls of the basic recipe.