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Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)
Juicy and flavorful

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or Sarma is a delicious Balkan main dish with ground meat, rice, sauerkraut, and sauce—the perfect winter family meal.

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)
This is the perfect family meal to make all year, but we prefer to make it in winter. In Jernej's family, it's a traditional first-of-January dish, so it's the first main dish of the year. Why? Sarma or Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls aren't only delicious but also make the perfect make-ahead meal. This recipe is especially great, as the cooking is hands-off - your oven will make all the work. Some prefer cooking it on the stove, but this is our favorite way to make Sarma. Give it a try; you won't regret it.

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

These are the top reasons why we think you're going to adore this recipe:

  • the meat stuffing is juicy and delicious
  • the cabbage rolls are a perfect size and have a rich stuffing
  • serve with mashed potatoes or cooked potatoes
  • bake in the oven for four hours
  • easy to make ahead
  • feel free to keep it in the fridge or freeze

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

Essential ingredients

In this recipe, we use local and high-quality ingredients. You can find more information about the essential ingredients and possible substitutes here.

Meat - use a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. We use 80% beef and 20% pork. Feel free to use a 50:50 mix or ground beef only.

Rice - use long-grain rice. Saute the rice with onion, garlic, and spices, then add to the meat mixture to make the stuffing.

A slab of bacon - a good substitute would be smoked ribs or other smoked meat.

Sour cabbage - In Slovenia, you can find sour cabbage heads in every store. Use sour cabbage leaves or the whole sour cabbage head.

Roux - will make the sauce thick.

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

What to serve with Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

We love serving sarma with one of these side dishes:

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)

storing and freezing

Storing Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma) is quick and straightforward. Feel free to store it in two ways.

Place the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls into an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat well before serving.

Freeze the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and place them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Before serving, defrost and reheat well in the microwave or stove.

How to make Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls at home (video)

Check this quick video to master this Oven-baked Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Sarma) recipe at home.





Lets get cooking!

  • serves
  • preparation:
  • bake:
  • total time:
    hours 30 minutes


  • stuffing

    Place a pan over medium heat. Add oil, diced onion, pancetta, parsley, and minced garlic. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook for 1 - 2 minutes, then season with thyme. Pour in the beef stock. Cook until the liquid evaporates for about 5 minutes, then remove it from the heat and bring it to room temperature.

  • meat

    Add the ground meat to a large bowl. Add an egg and one teaspoon of salt and season with marjoram and ground black pepper. Add the rice mixture and stir to combine.

  • sarma

    Clean the cabbage head and rinse under running water. Separate the cabbage leaves. With a knife, remove the tough ribs without damaging the cabbage leaves. Set the ribs aside. Cut the large leaves in half. Add a generous tablespoon of meat filling to the bottom of each cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom of the cabbage leaf over the meat. Fold the sides to the center and roll away from yourself as if you were making enchiladas. Repeat until you use all the ingredients. Grate the rest of the sauerkraut and finely chop the remaining ribs. Add half of the cabbage to the bottom of a large deep (oven-safe) pot. Add half of the cabbage rolls in a single layer, seam-side down. Leave a bit of space between the rolls. Spread the rest of the cabbage ribs and half of the sauerkraut over the sarma. Add the slab of bacon and arrange the rest of the sarma on top.

  • roux

    Place a rack on the bottom of the oven and preheat it to 180 °C / 350 °F. Place a pan over medium heat. Add oil and the flour and cook for 1 - 2 minutes for the flour to cook. Reduce the heat and add paprika powder and tomato paste. Cook for another minute. Remove from the heat. Add 200ml (3/4 cup) of beef stock. Whisk to get a smooth mixture, then add the rest of the beef stock. Pour the boiling mixture over the cabbage rolls in the pot. Add 250ml (1 cup) of water. Gently dip the rolls in the liquid and cover the pot with a lid.

  • bake the cabbage rolls (sarma)

    Place a large pot with the stuffed cabbage rolls in the oven. Bake for 1 hour at 180 °C / 350 °F, then lower the heat to 160 °C / 320 °F and cook for another 3 hours. Serve with mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes.


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