These German stuffed cabbage rolls are called Kohlrouladen (pronounced kohl-roo-lah-den) in German and are an iconic German staple recipe my grandma (Oma Sieghilde) always made growing up.
What makes these ground beef stuffed cabbage rolls extra delicious, is that they are cooked with bacon in a creamy broth-based sauce. And I am definitely in the boat of anything cooked with bacon is better, especially cabbage.
German cabbage rolls are cooked in a large pan with a lid on the cooktop or stovetop. The broth is thickened with cream and cornstarch before it's poured on top as a sauce.
Kohlrouladen is traditionally served with boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes, although Spätzle (German egg noodles) would be perfect for soaking up that velvety sauce, too.
In the mood for more Rouladen? Try my beef rouladen recipe, which is German stuffed flank steak and SO GOOD!
How to make stuffed cabbage rolls
Making stuffed cabbage rolls is easy!
Remove the cabbage leaves from your head of cabbage (see tips below) and add them to boiling water, making them flexible and easy to handle.
Prepare the ground beef mixture, seasoned with onion, paprika, and marjoram and held together with a soaked, wrung-out roll and egg.
Stuff the cabbage leaves (watch the short video if you need help) and saute them in oil with bacon pieces and simmer them in broth for half an hour.
Finally, it's time to thicken the sauce with some cornstarch and make it creamy by adding heavy whipping cream.
Traditionally, German cabbage rolls with either boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes. Spätzle (German egg noodles) would make another great side dish. Believe me, you'll want something to soak up that delicious sauce!
To make it easier to tear off the leaves as a whole, cut each leaf at the base of the cabbage head and then carefully pull it off. Some leaves will tear, and that is perfectly okay. My grandma always used butcher's twine to hold the leaves together once stuffed.
Feel free to use extra cabbage to cover any holes (where the leaves tore), but it's not necessary.
Cook any leftover cabbage with more bacon and season with salt and pepper.
- Green cabbage. I blanch the cabbage leaf before stuffing, so you can actually roll them up.
- Ground Beef. I used 85% lean grass-fed ground beef.
- Onion. One yellow onion goes into the ground beef mixture.
- Roll. I soak a French roll in water (ciabatta or any white, crusty roll works well here), then wring out the water before adding it to the meat mixture. For a gluten-free option, you could substitute the roll that gets mixed in with the beef with gluten-free bread crumbs.
- Egg. To hold the meat mixture together.
- Paprika Powder. You can use just sweet paprika powder (the classic kind) or a mixture of half-sharp (spicy) and sweet.
- Marjoram. Adds a delicate herbal note to the meat mixture.
- Bacon. I use thick-cut, salt-cured bacon that I cut into lardons (little strips). They are sauteed with the cabbage rolls before simmering in broth.
- Beef Broth. This is to simmer the cabbage rolls and get them nice and soft. The broth then becomes the base of your sauce.
- Heavy Whipping Cream. Believe me when I say cabbage rolls are better with cream sauce.
- Corn Starch. To help thicken the sauce and bind it.
Watch this short video to see just how easy it is to make amazing stuffed cabbage rolls at home.
More German Beef Recipes
In the mood for more German recipes with beef? Try my popular Frikadellen (German hamburgers), Königsberger Klopse (German meatballs), and Rinderrouladen (German beef rouladen) recipes.
German Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Kohlrouladen)
- Butcher's Twine for securing the Rouladen
- Sauce Whisk For whisking the sauce
- Mini Whisk I love using this tiny whisk for whisking cornstarch together in a cup with the sauce
- 1 head green cabbage large
Ground Beef Mixture
- 1 pound ground beef I used 85% lean, 15% fat content
- 1 yellow onion medium diced
- 1 crusty white roll like a French roll or a Ciabatta roll (to make this meal gluten-free, use ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs instead)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder can use mild, spicy or a mixture
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 100 grams bacon thick-cut and medium-diced
- 500 milliliters beef broth
- 200 milliliters heavy cream
- cornstarch to thicken the sauce
- salt, pepper, paprika powder to taste
- Soak the roll in water and set aside.1 crusty white roll
- Start by rinsing the cabbage, and picking off 8 nice leaves. The easiest way to do this is to cut the base of the leaf off, then carefully remove it. Some will tear, and that's okay.1 head green cabbage
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then toss in the cabbage leaves and let simmer for 2 minutes or until softened. This will make the leaves more flexible and easier to work with.
- Wring out the roll and medium dice if necessary (it may just tear apart easily).
- Prepare the ground beef filling by kneading together all of the filling ingredients. Knead with your hands until you’re left with a homogenous mixture.1 pound ground beef, 1 yellow onion, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika powder, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- Divide the beef filling between the 8 cabbage leaves and start rolling up the leaves starting with the stem side first, then folding in the left and right ends and rolling it forward until the thin end of the leaf wraps around (it's probably helpful to watch the video for this step).
- Tighten each cabbage roll with a piece of butcher’s twine wrapped around the cabbage roll (you can also use chives or green onion)
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep pan or pot, then add in the cabbage rolls, seam side down first, add in the chopped up bacon and sautée with the Rouladen.100 grams bacon
- Brown the cabbage rolls on all sides before adding in the beef broth. Cover with a lid, and let simmer at medium low heat for 30 minutes.500 milliliters beef broth
- Remove the cabbage rolls from the broth and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Thicken the sauce by adding the cream and cornstarch until desired consistency is reached. To add cornstarch, whisk together with some of the sauce in a cup (1 teaspoon at a time), and then return to the pan.cornstarch, 200 milliliters heavy cream
- Season with salt, pepper, and paprika powder.salt, pepper, paprika powder
- Serve your Kohlrouladen with mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes or Spätzle to help soak up all that delicious sauce. You can also sauté the leftover cabbage with some more bacon.
I'm loving the recent Austrian vibe! Can't wait for the Topfen recipe:)