Lunch and Dinner, Main Dishes

Middle-Eastern Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

a top view of a plate of stuffed cabbage rolls served with lemon wedges

Elevate your dining experience with each bite, as you savor the rich heritage and irresistible taste of this beloved dish. This Middle-Eastern stuffed cabbage rolls recipe fits as the best lunch or dinner idea for a wholesome, perfectly warming meal.

Prepared with as simple ingredients as cabbage, beef, rice, and other components, these cabbage rolls are easy to make and feed a hungry crew. The distinctive combination of stuffed cabbage leaves with lemon and garlic sauce yields a perfectly flavored, tangy dish.


a plate of stuffed malfouf rolls served with lemon wedges
These rolls make their way into the heart before the stomach.


Why Stuff Veggies?

In so many cuisines, especially Middle Eastern ones, many vegetables are stuffed and cooked to tenderness. You might wonder: Is it worth the effort and time? The answer is definitely YES.

First of all, stuffing vegetables is love, made edible. If someone cooks you stuffed veggies, it means that they have dedicated their time to make a rewarding meal. The final result is mouth-watering, tenderly cooked veggies.

Then, there’s the advantage of versatility. You can work with a wide variety of fillings. It can be purely vegan, vegetarian, or meaty.

Convenience matters as well. You can prepare the stuffed veggies the night before and cook them the following day. You can also refrigerate them for a considerably long time and take them out to reheat them whenever you need to.


In a plate, some stuffed cabbage rolls are lined and piled. They are covered with a sour sauce whose main ingredient is lemon juice and garlic.
Always trust your hunch, and eat stuffed cabbage rolls.


The Ingredients You Need to Make the Stuffed Rolls

To make these tenderly Middle-Eastern stuffed cabbage rolls, you need the following ingredients:

Cabbage: Choose large heads of cabbage. These help you have relatively larger rolls.

Rice: The best kind is Calrose rice. The grain size is appropriate and cooks well. You can use any short or medium-grain rice. But make sure that you soak it and wash it very well before adding it to the filling.

Beef: The meat has to be diced and ground. For a vegan choice, you can go without it.

Tomatoes: Choose Roma tomatoes or any other red, ripe tomatoes. They have to be finely chopped.

Garlic: It gives a distinct, savory flavor and has to be minced.

Onion: Choose a medium onion. Use it either raw or sautéed in 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon cumin.

Seasonings: You can add some garlic powder, onion powder, the 7-spice, cumin, bullion powder, black pepper, and salt.

Lemon: Extract the juice of a lemon and drizzle it. It makes the taste even more amazing.

As for the final topping, you need garlic, olive oil, bullion powder, salt, and lemon juice.


Some Little Tangy Cabbage Rolls

A group of boiled cabbage leaves have rice and beef inside and are cooked well. They are served  with a squeeze of lemon.
Nothing tastes better than these cabbage rolls.

Steps To Prep

Preparing these heartwarming rolls is both simple and enjoyable.

First of all, chop all the vegetables finely, and add them to the soaked and washed rice. Add the spices and beef then mix.

After boiling the cabbage and letting it cool, cut each piece into halves, removing the inner middle stem without throwing it away. Save them for later.

Then, add the filling, close one end of the roll, and roll it like a burrito. Add the stems you cut out to a large pot, and layer all your rolled cabbage leaves on top of the chopped stems.

Next, add the final topping ingredients to a food processor and pulse until completely finely chopped into a thick sauce. Add the sauce to the rolled cabbage.

When everything is ready, add water to the pot to cover the rolls completely. Let it come to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, and then simmer and let it cool for 40-45 minutes until completely done.

Finally, serve with a generous squeeze of lemon, and enjoy!

I made mine in the instant pot, added water halfway to fill the pot, and put it on high pressure for 25-30 minutes, natural release.


a top view of a plate of stuffed cabbage rolls served with lemon wedges
Delicious and simple to make.


Pro Tips for Premium Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

To make this Middle-Eastern stuffed cabbage rolls recipe vegan, you can stuff the cabbage rolls with vegetarian stuffing. You can either remove the beef or use the same stuffing used in the vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe.

Feel free to swap the toppings or the lemony sauce with another one. For example, you can use tomato sauce or marinara sauce instead.

You can prepare the stuffed cabbage rolls ahead of time, and cook them the day after. If you choose to do so, don’t add the toppings until you’re ready to cook.

Try to be careful with tearing the cabbage leaves. While working with the leaves, it’s better to remove the hard ridges in the middle of each cabbage leaf. Use a knife to cut each leaf in the center, and take out the hard stems. This way, each cabbage leaf is divided into two. Don’t throw away the removed hard parts; you will use them later on.


The boiled cabbage leaves are placed in a plate. Some are plain while others are stuffed with rice and beef filling.
Cooked to perfection


a plate of stuffed cabbage rolls served with lemon wedges
A festival of greenish colors on a single plate!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best kind of cabbage to use in this recipe?

The best leaves are those of a large cabbage, more than a kilogram in weight. You can also use Chinese leaf cabbage or sweetheart cabbage.

How can I store the stuffed cabbage rolls?

You can keep the cooked cabbage rolls in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can store them in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw the frozen cabbage rolls in the refrigerator the night before. Then, reheat them over medium heat.

Can I stuff the cabbage leaves uncooked?

This is not recommended at all. Uncooked cabbage leaves are too stiff and hard to be stuffed and rolled.


A lemon is squeezed over a plate of cabbage leaves. The leaves are filled with rice and other ingredients and rolled into tender rolls.
Craving for sourness? Snatch a roll!

Must-Try Recipes

Lebanese Fried Kibbeh Recipe

Japanese Beef Curry

Sheikh Makhshi (Kusa Bi Laban)

Kousa Mahshi (Stuffed Grey Squash)


If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience. You can follow me on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.


a plate of stuffed malfouf rolls served with lemon wedges

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Fatimah
These cabbage rolls are cooked to perfection in a lemony sauce. They are stuffed with a soft and delicious filling of rice, chopped vegetables, and beef.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Lebanese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Palestinian
Servings 4
Calories 448 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 large cabbage heads
  • cups Calrose rice washed and soaked
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion raw or sautéed in 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp butter, and 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon 7 spice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon bullion powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Final Topping

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • teaspoons bullion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Chop all the vegetables finely.
  • Add them to the soaked and washed rice, then add the spices and beef and mix.
  • Boil the cabbage and let it cool.
  • Cut each piece into halves, removing the inner middle stem without throwing them away. Save them for later.
  • Add the filling, close one end of the roll, and roll like a burrito.
  • Add the stems you cut out to a large pot and layer all your rolled cabbage leaves on top of the chopped stems.
  • Add the final topping ingredients to a food processor and pulse until completely chopped into a thick sauce.
  • Drizzle the sauce over the rolled cabbage.
  • Fill the pot halfway with water to cover the rolls completely.
  • Let it come to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, simmer, then let it cool for 40-45 mins until completely done.
  • Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon and enjoy!

Notes

  • For a vegan version of this recipe, you can stuff the cabbage rolls with vegetarian stuffing. You can either remove the beef or use the same stuffing as that used in the vegan stuffed grape leaves recipe.
  • You can replace the lemony sauce or top with another sauce as tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
  • Try to be careful with tearing the cabbage leaves. While working with the leaves, it’s better to remove the hard ridges in the middle of each cabbage leaf. 
  • You can prepare the stuffed cabbage rolls ahead like the night before, and then cook them the next day. If you choose to do so, don’t add the topping at this point. Add it instantly at the time of cooking.
  • If you choose to sauté the onion (I HIGHLY recommend it for amazing flavor), finely dice it and sauté it then add it to the beef and rice mixture before continuing with the rest of the filling. 

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 21gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 672mgPotassium: 505mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 422IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 3mg
Keyword cozy, Middle Eastern, Middle Eastern Cabbage Rolls
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

3 thoughts on “Middle-Eastern Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

  1. LP says:

    5 stars
    Love love love these. I’ve made the Eastern European version of these and they were ok, but following this recipe made me realize that the Mediterranean version is so so much better. My go to recipe to take to pot lucks. Love it!!!

  2. Nada Alghazali says:

    5 stars
    I was so scared making this for the first time but your recipe made it easy and I was able to successfully make my first malfouf dish and it was delicious! Thank you

  3. Aria says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing your malfouf recipe. On occasion I make these recipes and forget the specific ingredients to it. I love the one from Palestine specifically. Quite delicious !

5 from 3 votes

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