Make Turkish-style cabbage Rolls with an easy method. This Cabbage Rolls recipe version brings you all the rich and hearty flavors of traditional Turkish cooking but with a simplified method that promises ease without compromising taste. Picture tender cabbage leaves embracing a filling infused with aromatic Turkish spices, all rolled up and baked to perfection in a single tray.

Turkish Style Cabbage Rolls

Whether you choose the stovetop or the oven, these flavorful and hearty Turkish Style Cabbage Rolls promise to be a timeless favorite that effortlessly graces your table with the essence of Turkish culinary magic. It is a dish that not only satisfies the taste buds but also captures the heart of Turkish tradition in every bite.

What is “Sarma” and “Dolma” in Turkish Cuisine

Sarma is a Turkish word meaning ‘wrapped’ or rolled. Sarma made with grape leaves is called yaprak sarması (leaf sarma) and dolma means “stuffed thing” These are general terms used for many varieties of vegetables and leaves stuffed either with meat and rice fillings or only rice, spices, and herbs.

In Turkish cuisine, we love to stuff vegetables to make sarma (rolls) and dolmas. The most common sarma is with grape leaves: Turkish Stuffed Grape Leaves Yaprak Sarma / Dolma. Kale green is another leaf type we use to make rolls that I learned in my Trabzon trip: Turkish Rolled Kale /Collard Green Recipe (Vegan) On the other hand white cabbage probably is the second most used green to make rolls. Here is a version I made both with grape leaves and cabbage Turkish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls “Lahana Sarması”

In this version, I am making the “Lahana sarması” with a twist to shape it easily and also going to bake in the oven to double the taste.

Ingredients for Turkish Style Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 medium-sized cabbage that is soft when touched, meaning it has loose leaves – best for rolling
  • 2 medium size onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1+1/2 cups rice or a mix of rice and bulgur
  • 250gr. ground beef
  • Tbps each tomato and pepper paste (double the tomato paste if you can’t find pepper paste)
  • Tsp each pulbiber chili flakes, black pepper
  • 2 tsp heaped dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp each sumac (optional) and cumin
  • 1+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter or 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped) optional
  • 3 cups water (add more if needed while cooking / baking

For Serving:

  • Full-fat yogurt
  • Butter chili sauce (2 tbsp butter +) 1-2 tsp pul biber, chili flakes

Instructions for Turkish-Style Cabbage Rolls

Preparing the Cabbage:

  1. Select a cabbage with loose leaves for easy rolling.
  2. Wash the cabbage and cut off the thick stem in a way that facilitates leaf separation during boiling.
  3. Boil the cabbage for 8 to 10 minutes until the leaves are tender.
  4. Then flip the cabbage after 5-7 minutes for even cooking.
  5. After that, collect the softer leaves while boiling, and continue to take them out onto a strainer. Let them cool.

Preparing the Filling:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine minced meat, finely diced onions, garlic, rice, tomato paste, pepper paste, and a variety of spices.
  • Then add ground meat, olive oil, and chopped parsley to the mixture. Season with salt and thoroughly mix all ingredients.

Rolling the Cabbage Leaves:

  1. Begin rolling the filling in the cabbage leaves and starting with the outer leaves. Cut the big stems in the middle and place them on a countertop. Add from the filling generously and roll. You can cut any uneven parts and place them on top for an even roll. (Watch the video for clear instructions)
  2. I placed the rolled cabbage leaves in a round baking tray but you can also use your deep dish rectangular or square pan.
  3. Continue to roll the cabbage leaves until your filling is finished. Use the big and thin leaves first but if you still have more filling you can patch the leaves together to have an even surface to roll.

Cooking on Stovetop:

  1. Prepare a simple tomato sauce with garlic, tomato paste, and water. Drizzle the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls.
  2. Bake the cabbage rolls in the oven first covered with baking paper and aluminum foil for about 30 min and without for about another 20 min until it is golden color.
  3. Alternatively you can cook on the stovetop for 20-30 minutes as I did then continue to bake in the oven until soft.

Final Touch and Serving:

  1. Serve the Turkish Style Cabbage Rolls with yogurt for a traditional touch.
  2. Optionally, drizzle the red pepper chili sauce over the rolls for an extra burst of flavor.
  3. Enjoy your delicious Turkish Style Cabbage Roll recipe!
Serving Cabbage Rolls

Your Easy Turkish Style Cabbage Rolls are now ready to delight taste buds and bring the rich flavors of Turkish cuisine to your table. The fusion of a simplified rolling technique and a flavorful filling has resulted in a dish that not only captures the essence of tradition but also offers a modern twist for today’s busy cooks.

As you savor each bite, relish in the tender cabbage leaves embracing the aromatic filling, all harmonized by a touch of caramelization from the oven. Whether enjoyed with a dollop of yogurt or enhanced by the optional red pepper chili sauce, this dish promises a culinary journey that blends ease and sophistication.

I hope this recipe becomes a cherished addition to your repertoire, making its way to your gatherings and family dinners. Feel free to share your culinary adventures, and don’t forget to subscribe for more delightful recipes. Until next time, happy cooking, and may your kitchen always be filled with the warmth of Turkish flavors!

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  2. its really a great initiative! Love these written recipe as well. Wish you you and your daughter all the happiness and success in the world. May Allah bless us!

  3. I very much enjoy your use of language. It is lovely in its description of scents and flavors. The photography is beautiful. The fonts used are pretty yet easily read. My family loves stuffed cabbage, grape leaves, peppers, and squash. I will be shopping for fresh cabbage for this recipe very soon. They have enjoyed all your recipes I have cooked.

  4. I have learnt a lot from you . We love Turkish food. And now the written recipes are cherry on top.
    Wishing both of you success.

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