Authentic Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cabbage {Töltött Káposzta}

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Pickled Cabbage

➡️ Searching for authentic stuffed cabbage recipes? You don’t have to look further because on this webpage you can learn how to make Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls with sour cabbage from scratch. In the rich tapestry of Hungarian cuisine, few dishes exemplify the essence of comfort and tradition as beautifully as Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cabbage. Known as “Töltött Káposzta” in Hungarian, this culinary masterpiece is a symphony of flavors and textures, a delightful dance of sweet and tangy, and a testament to the time-honored art of European cooking.

➡️ Imagine tender cabbage leaves, lovingly wrapped around a savory filling of ground meat, rice, and aromatic spices, all nestled in a bed of sour cabbage leaves. Each bite is a harmonious blend of softness and crunch, sweetness and acidity, earthiness and spice—a true culinary journey that carries the legacy of generations past.

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How to Make Hungarian Sour Cabbage Rolls from Scratch

In this recipe, we embark on a culinary adventure into the heart of Hungary, uncovering the secrets and traditions behind this iconic dish. From selecting the perfect cabbage to mastering the art of stuffing and rolling, we’ll delve into the intricacies that transform humble ingredients into a culinary masterpiece. So, let’s unravel the layers of history and flavor in Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cabbage, and discover the magic that makes this dish an enduring favorite in Hungarian households and beyond.

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Pickled Cabbage

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cabbage

Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cabbage, or "Töltött Káposzta," is a dish that epitomizes the soul-warming comfort of Hungarian cuisine. This culinary tradition weaves together the robust flavors of Eastern Europe, resulting in a symphony of taste and texture that has stood the test of time.
At its heart, this dish features tender cabbage leaves, carefully chosen and wrapped around a sumptuous filling of ground meat, rice, and a medley of aromatic spices. The magic lies not only in the perfect balance of sweet and tangy but also in the juxtaposition of soft and crunchy textures that emerge with each bite.
So, whether you're a seasoned cook seeking to expand your culinary repertoire or simply a food enthusiast eager to explore the tastes of Hungary, join us on this gastronomic adventure. Together, we'll peel back the layers of history and flavor in Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Sour Cabbage, uncovering the timeless magic that continues to make this dish a cherished favorite.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Hungarian
Servings 10 servings


  • 150/2.5 (oz/kg) whole sour cabbage (1-2 heads, depending on their size)
  • 50/1.5 (oz/kg) pork mince or a pork-beef mixture
  • 10/300 (oz/g) onion
  • 1-2 eggs, depending on their size
  • some sunflower oil or another vegetable oil type with a neutral flavor
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • some salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme (optional, this is my addition)
  • 1 tbsp dried cumin
  • 17.5/500 (oz/g) white rice
  • 35/1 (oz/kg) smoked rustic ham or smoked bacon
  • chopped dill to taste (optional)
  • some sour cream for serving (recommended)


  • finely chop the onions, then fry them in a skillet with some vegetable oil over a high temperature.
  • cut the stub out completely from the sour cabbage heads.
  • detach the cabbage leaves carefully from the heads to not break them.
  • remove the central hard ending from every sour cabbage leaf just like in the video, then cut the leaves into 2-3 equal parts if they are too large.
  • place the mince into a large bowl.
  • add the fried onions to the bowl, then break the eggs over them.
  • add paprika, then season with salt and pepper to taste (be aware that usually, the pickled cabbage is salty, so not always is necessary to put salt.)
  • add dried thyme and/or cumin
  • add the rice, then combine the ingredients very well, you can pour a little cold water if necessary.
  • cut the ham or bacon into larger pieces (you can use smoked sausage instead.)
  • place about a spoon of rice and mince mixture on every sour cabbage piece, then bend cabbage ends inwards and press them well to not open during boiling, just like in the video.
  • chop remaining sauerkraut (small pieces, broken leaves, cuts).
  • place half of the chopped sauerkraut into a large pot.
  • put a layer of stuffed cabbage rolls into the pot side by side.
  • put some smoked ham pieces and chopped dill, then continue identically with the remaining ingredients until you fill the pot up.
  • place on top the rest of the chopped sauerkraut, put over a heavy heatproof dish to keep the rolls immersed in liquid, then pour water to fill the pot completely.
  • boil the stuffed cabbage rolls over a low temperature for about 1.5-2 hours or until all ingredients are soft, add more water while boiling if necessary.
  • serve the stuffed cabbage topped with some sour cream (recommended.)


Cooking Tips for the Best Results:

  1. Choose Quality Sour Cabbage: When buying store-bought sour cabbage, look for a high-quality product that’s been properly fermented. It should have a pleasingly tangy and sour flavor. Check the label for any additional flavorings or preservatives, as you want the pure sourness of the cabbage to shine through in your dish.
  2. Inspect and Rinse the Store-Bought Sour Cabbage: When working with store-bought sour cabbage, carefully inspect the leaves for any debris or excess salt. Rinse the leaves under cold running water to remove any excess saltiness and prepare them for use in your stuffed cabbage rolls. This step ensures that the sourness of the cabbage remains the focus of your dish while maintaining the right balance of flavors.
  3. Season the Filling Thoughtfully: The filling is the heart of your stuffed cabbage rolls. Use a blend of ground pork and beef for depth of flavor, and season it with traditional Hungarian spices such as paprika, caraway, salt, and pepper. Consider adding more fried onions to enhance the taste. Taste the filling mixture to ensure it’s well-seasoned to your liking.
  4. Roll Tightly and Securely: When assembling the rolls, place a spoonful of the filling at the base of each cabbage leaf and roll it up tightly, folding in the sides as you go. Ensure that the rolls are secure, as this will prevent them from unraveling during cooking. Place them seam-side down in the cooking pot.
  5. Simmer Slowly for Flavor: To develop rich flavors and tender rolls, simmer them gently in your cooking liquid of choice (often water or broth) with aromatic ingredients like bay leaves and peppercorns. Low and slow cooking allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. Be patient and allow the cabbage rolls to cook until they are tender and the flavors have infused into the filling.

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FAQs about the Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Can I substitute other types of cabbage for sour cabbage in this dish?

While sour cabbage is traditional for this dish, you can use regular green or Savoy cabbage if you prefer a milder flavor. However, it’s essential to note that the sourness of the cabbage is a defining characteristic of the dish. Using regular cabbage will result in a different flavor profile.

How do I prevent my cabbage rolls from falling apart during cooking?

To prevent the cabbage rolls from falling apart, be sure to roll them tightly and securely, folding in the sides as you go. Placing them seam-side down in the cooking pot helps keep them closed during cooking. Cook them at a gentle simmer to maintain their integrity.

Can I make these cabbage rolls in advance?

Yes, Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls can be made in advance. In fact, they often taste even better the next day as the flavors meld together. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and gently reheat them on the stovetop or in the oven when you’re ready to enjoy them.

What should I serve with these cabbage rolls for a complete meal?

These cabbage rolls can be served as a complete meal. However, you can pair them with a dollop of sour cream for added richness and a side of crusty bread or mashed potatoes to complement the flavors. A simple cucumber salad or pickles can also be excellent accompaniments.

Can I freeze leftover cabbage rolls?

Yes, you can freeze Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for later consumption. After cooking and cooling them, arrange the rolls in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw them in the refrigerator and warm them gently on the stovetop or in the oven. Freezing may alter the texture slightly, but the flavor will remain delicious.

Related Recipes and Culinary Articles

➡️ Enjoy the Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls recipe from scratch! For additional info, read more about the Hungarian stuffed cabbage roll’s origins here. I also recommend other tasty stuffed cabbage roll recipes published on this website (see below.)

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