Cabbage Roll Meatballs

The cabbage rolls I’ve always eaten have been of the Polish variety with a red sauce. My Mom always made them from a recipe she received from her brother-in-law’s mother. They were always delicious and had always been one of my favorite Sunday dinners. The problem with them, at least for me anyway, is that they are labor intensive and take up a fair amount of the day between the preparation of the filling, parboiling the cabbage, and then slow roasting them in the oven. 

Traditional cabbage rolls are labor intensive and take up a fair amount of the day between the preparation of the filling, parboiling the cabbage, preparing the leaves for stuffing, and then finally slow roasting them in the oven. These Cabbage Roll Meatballs have the same great flavor and are ready in minutes, not HOURS! This entire kid-friendly meal is ready in just over 30-minutes.

But what if I could speed them along in the form of a meatball with some extra cabbage simmered in the sauce? After all, my favorite part of cabbage rolls was always was the extra cabbage mom slow roasted in the tomato sauce. In this speed-up version, I finely julienne the cabbage and simmer it with the meatballs in the tomato sauce on the stove top. The entire meal is ready in just over 30-minutes and has all the flavors of the original cabbage rolls in about 1/4 of the time. One-quarter!

Traditional cabbage rolls are labor intensive and take up a fair amount of the day between the preparation of the filling, parboiling the cabbage, preparing the leaves for stuffing, and then finally slow roasting them in the oven. These Cabbage Roll Meatballs have the same great flavor and are ready in minutes, not HOURS! This entire kid-friendly meal is ready in just over 30-minutes.

I served mine over a bed of cabbage but you could serve this with mashed potatoes or rice to soak up the sauce. My daughter loves mashed potatoes so that’s always an obvious choice in our house. 

Traditional cabbage rolls are labor intensive and take up a fair amount of the day between the preparation of the filling, parboiling the cabbage, preparing the leaves for stuffing, and then finally slow roasting them in the oven. These Cabbage Roll Meatballs have the same great flavor and are ready in minutes, not HOURS! This entire kid-friendly meal is ready in just over 30-minutes.

There are both cabbage and rice hidden in the meatballs themselves along with some tomato sauce, so the traditional cabbage roll flavor is really working throughout this dish.

Traditional cabbage rolls are labor intensive and take up a fair amount of the day between the preparation of the filling, parboiling the cabbage, preparing the leaves for stuffing, and then finally slow roasting them in the oven. These Cabbage Roll Meatballs have the same great flavor and are ready in minutes, not HOURS! This entire kid-friendly meal is ready in just over 30-minutes.

Cabbage Roll Meatballs

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Traditional cabbage rolls are labor intensive and take up a fair amount of the day between the preparation of the filling, parboiling the cabbage, preparing the leaves for stuffing, and then finally slow roasting them in the oven. These Cabbage Roll Meatballs have the same great flavor and are ready in minutes, not HOURS! This entire kid-friendly meal is ready in just over 30-minutes.
4.34 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course dinnery
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 276 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup uncooked converted rice [See Notes 1]
  • 1/2 cup onion , minced
  • 1 tsp garlic , minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning spice blend [See Note 2]
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 1/4 cabbage , finely diced for meatballs
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce [See Note 3]

For the Sauce:

  • 3/4 cabbage , finely julienne for sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked converted rice , optional [See Note 1]
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomatoes, diced with juices
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce, divided [See Note 3]

Instructions
 

  • Add the ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, salt, pepper, onions, Italian seasoning blend, egg, onions, and garlic and mix until well combined. Once combined, add the finely chopped cabbage set aside for the meatballs and mix until combined. Then form the meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.
  • Heat a large sauce pot of dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil into the bottom of the pot. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the reserved tomato sauce (24 ounces) to the sauce pot along with the diced tomatoes. Stir in the rice for the sauce (optional) and the cabbage for the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir until combined, taking care not to break up the meatballs.
  • Cover tightly with a lid or some aluminum foil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice in the meatballs is cooked through.
  • Serve on mashed potatoes or alone with the simmered cabbage and rice.

Notes

1). Converted rice, like Uncle Bens, is a parboiled, long-grain rice that cooks quicker than a traditional rice. It is available in both white and brown.2). Italian Seasoning Spice Blend is a blend of spices sold on the spice aisle and not the salad dressing seasoning packet. 3). The 1/2 cup of sauce will come from the 28-ounce can used for the sauce. The sauce will use the other 24-ounces of tomato sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 276kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 22gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 585mgPotassium: 651mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 276IUVitamin C: 58mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 116µgCalcium: 86mgFolate: 80µgIron: 3mgZinc: 5mg
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5 thoughts on “Cabbage Roll Meatballs”

  1. I really liked this but the kids didn’t care for it as much. They aren’t;t usually fans of cabbage but I was hoping this would help. Better luck next time, I guess.

    Reply
  2. The meatballs fell apart as I tried to turn them. It seems that without some breading, they’re just too soft and delicate. Any ideas on what I did wrong? It was delicious but more like a stew than meatballs.

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth – the egg also works as a binder as well as the starchy rice. I think it would come down to how finely the cabbage was shredded. If you prefer, you can add 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and see if this helps or poach the meatballs in the sauce without first browning. I’m sorry this didn’t turn out well for you. I do hope you will try again.

      Reply

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