In: Food0

Crockpot Cabbage Rolls – try my traditional cabbage rolls with ground pork, rolled in sour cabbage leaves and slowly cooked in a crockpot. So simple and a definitely a favorite!

Romanian cuisine is really about meat and potatoes, but if there’s one thing that we’re known for, that would be our cabbage rolls! Cabbage rolls are something I usually make for the holidays, because that’s what my mom always does so I associate cabbage rolls with Christmas or Easter. However, sometimes I do miss cabbage rolls and I’ll make them throughout the year.

What Makes Romanian Rolls So Special?

The main difference is that we pretty much always use sour cabbage which obviously flavors the rolls and makes them a bit saltier. For this reason I don’t use a lot of salt in the meat mixture. I also like using sour cabbage because the leaves are already soft and it makes it easy to make the rolls. If you use regular cabbage you have to blanch the cabbage yourself, see the notes section in the recipe for instructions on how to do this.

The other piece that separates Romanian cabbage rolls from the rest is that we add some kind of smoked meat.We don’t add it to the filling, instead we place it over top the rolls to float in and flavor the tomato juice our rolls will cook in. This time I used smoked bacon. Now I’ve got your attention, hey?

Why In A Crockpot?

The most common question you guys have always asked me has been if you can make these cabbage rolls in a crockpot. The answer, my friends, is absolutely yes! In fact the crockpot is perfect for cabbage rolls. If you check out my other cabbage roll recipe, you’ll notice that I bake mine for a few hours, so doing this during the holiday season can be a pain, since you need your oven for other things.

This is why the crockpot is so perfect for cabbage rolls. What I usually do is prepare them the night before, and turn the slow cooker on in the morning, and by dinner time your house will smell incredible and you’ll have some nice and delicious cabbage rolls.

Ingredients

Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.

  • Onion – I used a large onion because this recipe makes a lot of cabbage rolls. Every bite should have onion in it!
  • Long grain rice – Basmati rice is best. You can use jasmine as well, we’re looking for something that won’t leave crunchy bits in our rolls.
  • Ground pork – I love to use pork because it has a higher fat content and makes for some nice juicy rolls. You can use any type of ground meat you like, but keep in mind that leaner meats like chicken or turkey will come out drier.
  • Fresh parsley and dill – Using fresh herbs makes such a big difference in how the flavor develops in your rolls!
  • Salt and pepper – Season the mixture to your own discretion.
  • Sour cabbage leaves – This is what really sets the Romanian version apart from the rest. The little hit of vinegar is to die for!
  • Smoked meat – Find yourself a nice thick-cut smoky style of bacon like I did. Other types of raw smoked meat will work as well though.
  • Tomato juice – This is what our rolls are going to sit and cook in.

How To Make Cabbage Rolls In The Crockpot

  1. Soak the cabbage: Add the sour cabbage leaves to a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Let the leaves soak in the water for few minutes. This will wash out some of the saltiness from the leaves. Drain the water. If some of the leaves are too big, cut them in half, if making smaller cabbage rolls.
  2. Combine the filling: In a large bowl mix together the ground pork, rice, chopped onion, dill, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands to incorporate everything well together. Be careful with the salt, not too much is needed because the sour cabbage is already salty.
  3. Assemble the roll: Fill each leaf with about a couple tbsp of the meat mixture and roll. Repeat with all the remaining meat and cabbage.
  4. Prep the rolls for cooking: If you have any cabbage left over, chop it up and spread it over the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange all the cabbage rolls in the crockpot. If adding smoked meat, add it now over the cabbage rolls. Pour all the tomato juice over the cabbage rolls. Cover the crockpot.
  5. Finish the dish: Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Fresh Cabbage

You can use fresh cabbage instead of sour cabbage, but more work is required. If you’d like to stick with the recipe as is I usually find sour cabbage leaves at my local grocery store like Sobey’s or Safeway, but you can also find them at European markets.

BLANCHING

You first have to blanch the cabbage. To do so, core the cabbage first, one large cabbage should be enough for this recipe. In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the cabbage and blanch it for 5 to 8 minutes or until leaves are softened. Remove from the pot and chill under cold water.

FREEZING

Another alternative to softening the cabbage leaves is to wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for a couple days. Remove the cabbage from the freezer and thaw it out at room temperature. Once the cabbage has thawed out, the leaves should be softened.

How to Serve

  • Obviously mashed potatoes are my first pick, they soak up all that delicious sauce perfectly.
  • They are almost always served with polenta!
  • Dinner rolls are another great pairing, they will help you sop up that sauce.
  • Easy oven roasted potatoes is another favorite.
  • Egg noodles tossed in some browned butter.
  • Couscous
  • Additional rice
  • A simple salad with a light and zippy vinaigrette, something like my kale salad with blueberry vinaigrette or a simple Greek salad.

Some Tips

  • Sour cabbage can be pretty salty, so let it soak in a big pot of water for an hour or two before you assemble your rolls.
  • You can use a mixture of ground meats. Whether it be ground pork, beef, chicken, turkey, or sausage.
  • Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together. This is the best way to make sure all the ingredients are mixed evenly.

Leftovers

These will last in your fridge for 3-4 days. Cover the baking dish well with plastic wrap or foil, or you can transfer the leftovers to an airtight container. They will also last 3-4 months in your freezer. Make sure to save all that juice as well! You’ll need it to reheat the rolls.

REHEATING

If they’re frozen, transfer them to the fridge a day before you want to eat them so they can thaw. Place the rolls to a baking dish, with the juice, and bake at 350F for about 1 hour.

CROCKPOT CABBAGE ROLLS RECIPE

Crockpot Cabbage Rolls – try my traditional cabbage rolls with ground pork, rolled in sour cabbage leaves and slowly cooked in a crockpot. So simple and a definitely a favorite!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb sour cabbage leaves *
  • 2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 cup rice long grain, uncooked
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill fresh, chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley fresh, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz smoked meat such as smoked bacon, cut into small pieces (optional)
  • 4 cups tomato juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add the sour cabbage leaves to a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Let the leaves soak in the water for few minutes. This will wash out some of the saltiness from the leaves. Drain the water. If some of the leaves are too big, cut them in half, if making smaller cabbage rolls.
  • In a large bowl mix together the ground pork, rice, chopped onion, dill, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands to incorporate everything well together. Be careful with the salt, not too much is needed because the sour cabbage is already salty.
  • Fill each leaf with about a couple tbsp of the meat mixture and roll. Repeat with all the remaining meat and cabbage.
  • If you have any cabbage left over, chop it up and spread it over the bottom of the crockpot. Arrange all the cabbage rolls in the crockpot. If adding smoked meat, add it now over the cabbage rolls. Pour all the tomato juice over the cabbage rolls. Cover the crockpot.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes and a dollop of sour cream on top.

VIDEO

RECIPE NOTES

  1. * I usually find sour cabbage leaves at my local grocery store like Sobey’s or Safeway, but you can also find them at European markets.
  2. You can use fresh cabbage instead of sour cabbage, but more work is required. You first have to blanch the cabbage. To do so, core the cabbage first, one large cabbage should be enough for this recipe. In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the cabbage and blanch it for 5 to 8 minutes or until leaves are softened. Remove from the pot and chill under cold water.
  3. Another alternative to softening the cabbage leaves is to wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for a couple days. Remove the cabbage from the freezer and thaw it out at room temperature. Once the cabbage has thawed out, the leaves should be softened.
  4. You can find a recipe for my creamy polenta here.
  5. Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1cabbage rollCalories: 120kcal (6%)Carbohydrates: 6.9g (2%)Protein: 12.6g (25%)Fat: 4.6g (7%)Saturated Fat: 1.5g (9%)Cholesterol: 33mg (11%)Sodium: 335mg (15%)Fiber: 1.2g (5%)Sugar: 2.5g (3%)
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