I came across an idea for making cabbage rolls in the crock pot a few weeks ago and was intrigued. I had to try it out, and when it actually worked amazingly well, I had to share. It was the right thing to do!
I have always wanted to learn how to make cabbage rolls but the idea has always seemed kind of intimidating. And time-consuming. Really time-consuming. I took a basic cabbage roll recipe, simplified it almost to the breaking point, and then threw it all in the crock pot. The result was “Sunday dinner at gramma’s house” flavour, with “busy week night dinner” effort. That’s my kind of cookin!
The most complicated part is getting the cabbage leaves nice and soft to work with. You can either boil them for 5 minutes, and prep everything else while that’s happening, or you can freeze them overnight and allow them to thaw before you start. Either way.
The rest of the recipe is basically done in two bowls:
Bowl 1: The Sauce
-1 can of plain tomato sauce (the one I used was about 23 ounces)
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-3 tablespoons lemon juice
-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Bowl 2: The Filling
-1 pound of ground beef
-1/2 teaspoon of pepper
-1 teaspoon of salt
-2 tablespoons of onion powder
-1 teaspoon of garlic powder
-1/3 cup milk
-1/2 cup uncooked rice (any kind)
-1/2 cup of the sauce mixture
Mash the filling all together. Give yourself a big work surface. I like to use a clean tea towel on my counter to keep anything from rolling away. Lay out 10 or so softened cabbage leaves. Put about 3 tablespoons of filling onto each leaf and roll them up, tucking in the ends. Place them one at a time into the crock pot. Pour the sauce over everything. Turn the crock pot on low for about 8 hours. Serve with pride!
Here’s how it looks right when it all goes into the crock pot.
And here it is 8 hours later!
I’m sorry. I just made you hungry didn’t I?
It doesn’t seem like the leaves will be able to hold everything together into individual rolls, but everything stays perfectly in place.
Well, OK. It’s hard to make cabbage rolls look pretty, but as you can see, they look like cabbage rolls!
I was thrilled. And they even taste just like the cabbage rolls I remember! Why did I wait so long to make these?
Really, cabbage rolls are just a big mess. I should stop trying with the pretty white plate. What I love about this recipe is that other than the ground beef and the cabbage, it’s made with all basic pantry items. Now I can throw together the world’s best comfort food at the drop of a hat, in the middle of July if I want to! No oven, no sweat.
If you’re a busy cabbage roll lover with no time on your hands like me, give it a try!
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.