Oma's Kohlrouladen ~ German Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Oma Gerhild

by: Gerhild Fulson  /  Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

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This cabbage rolls recipe is SO German. Stuffed with meat and served with a brown gravy, this really is one of our favorite meals ... classic German cuisine! 

These Kohlrouladen are the ones I grew up with. Meat, and just meat, fills these. No rice, no tomato sauce to dilute the great meat and cabbage flavors!

Just great cabbage taste with a wonderful gravy!

Check below for detailed help and pictures. It'll show how easy it is to make this very traditional German cabbage rolls recipe!

German Cabbage yummy with brown gravy. Truly authentic German recipe!

Oma's Cabbage Rolls Recipe Tips:

The number of cabbage rolls you make will be dependent on the size and shape of the cabbage. Get a large head of cabbage if you can, or get a couple heads of cabbage if they're on the smaller side.

I make a large amount of meat mixture so that I'll have enough, just in case I get extra leaves. Any extra meat is then cooked as hamburgers or meatballs.  

Inside of German Cabbage Rolls

1. How to remove the cabbage leaves:

The only thing that's tricky in making this cabbage rolls recipe is the process of removing the large leaves from the raw cabbage head. 

There is a trick to this.

  • Place cabbage head into a deep pot filled with water until the cabbage is submerged. This helps you estimate how much water to use so that the boiling water won't spill over once you add the cabbage.
  • Remove cabbage and put water on to boil. 
  • Meanwhile carefully cut out the center core of the cabbage so that the leaves will loosen easily once boiled.
  • Carefully put the cabbage into the boiling water and let simmer gently for about 10 minutes
Cooking whole cabbage to loosen leaves for German cabbage rolls
  • You should be able to loosen the leaves, one after the other and remove them from the pot. Use kitchen tongs to do this.
  • Set leaves aside until you have removed as many leaves as you need.

2. Trim the thick cabbage veins:

  • Once the leaves have cooled, turn over so that the thick vein, or hard rib, is on top.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the thick vein away to make the vein and leaf the same thickness.
trimming ribs from cabbage leaves

3. Prepare ground meat filling:

The filling for this cabbage rolls recipe is the basic meatloaf mixture.

I use half beef and half pork. The pork will help keep the meat filling moist with the long cooking time needed.

  • Check the meat filling before using by putting a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) on a plate in the microwave and cooking about 1 minute until done. 
  • Cool, taste, and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

4. Stuff the cabbage leaves:

You really want a very well spiced/seasoned meat filling -- nothing bland fits here

  • Add about 1 heaping tablespoon of meat filling to the bottom of each leaf. 
stuffing German cabbage rolls
  • Start rolling up tightly, tucking in the sides and then fasten with a wooden toothpick.
  • From here on, follow the recipe for cooking this most traditional, authentic, pure German recipe! Pure COMFORT FOOD!
German cabbage rolls just like Oma made

Want still easier Cabbage Rolls?

Well, as much as I really LOVE German cabbage rolls, they are still a fair bit of work when one is in a hurry. So I re-created my recipe and created an unstuffed cabbage roll dish. Yep, same great German flavors and easy enough for a quick weekday meal.

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole, tastes just like German cabbage rolls. YUM

Yep, wonderful brown gravy (no tomato sauce in sight) and no rice. Just those amazing caramelized cabbage flavors and that rich dark gravy with potatoes on the side to mash into this. 

Nevertheless, making traditional German cabbage rolls is still happening, especially when I have company or on weekends. Hey, we love anything cabbage! After all, we're Germans!

Lydia Remembers...

I have so many wunderbar memories in the kitchen with my Oma, and have had MANY of her most popular and traditional recipes, like these cabbage rolls! 

Wowza, where to start with these rolls is going to be a challenge. They are just SO good! I have always adored cabbage rolls. To me they are such a comfort food! Not to mention they are very German and that will always make any dish delicious! 

I remember my first time trying Oma's cabbage rolls during a family dinner. I just kept going back for seconds, then thirds... maybe even fourths. Of course, Oma would always send home a little doggie bag with us too! (She loves to spoil us, that's for sure!) I can't get enough of this traditional recipe. When served with its nice warm homemade gravy, it is one irresistible dish! 

Learn a little bit about me, Lydia, and my kitchen adventures with Oma!

Need that “all’s good with the world” feeling? Comfort food will do that. Get your copy of Oma's German favorites in her Comfort Foods e-Cookbook.

Take a look at Oma’s Comfort Foods eCookbook and enjoy the traditional taste of German cuisine!

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

My Cabbage Roll Story ...

I had always thought cabbage rolls were a nuisance to make, and even though I loved them, I hadn't made them in years.

That is, until I was having company and they wanted to taste real German cabbage rolls.

Never turning down a challenge, I researched recipes and methods, and returned to the one my Mutti used to make. And surprise! It really wasn't that difficult. And best of all, I made lots so there were leftovers for us to enjoy the next day!

Now, of course, I put them on the menu more frequently. Hubby's happy. I'm happy. I'm happy particularly when I make a HUGE batch. Those leftovers are so delicious.

Oma says, 

I know! I know! The Montreal Steak Spice is NOT German!!!! It's my OWN addition.

To give a bit of a kick to the filling, I season the meat with Montreal Steak Spice -- any similar seasoned salt will do. Or, just omit this and stay purely German ;)

Ready to make this German Cabbage Roll Recipe?

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Oma Gerhild

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Oma's Kohlrouladen ~ German Cabbage Rolls Recipe

This cabbage rolls recipe is SO German. Stuffed with meat and served with a brown gravy, this really is a family favorite. (The unused inner cabbage often becomes a braised side dish.)

These Kohlrouladen are the ones I grew up with. Meat, and just, meat fills these. No rice, no tomato sauce to dilute the great meat and cabbage flavors!

Prep Time

30 minutes

Cook Time

90 minutes

Total Time

2 hours


Makes 6 servings


  • 1 medium to large head green (white) cabbage (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal steak spice (optional ... see hints below!)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • about 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 2 cups beef broth
  • about 1 - 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Prepare cabbage head by removing the stalk. Cook head in a large pot of boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes to separate leaves. Remove leaves and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the leaves have cooled, turn each leaf over so that the thick vein, or hard rib, is on top. Trim hard rib with a sharp small kitchen knife.
  3. Pat leaves with a paper kitchen towel to remove any excess water.
  4. Mix ground beef, ground pork, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, salt, steak spice, and pepper together in a large bowl.
  5. Place meat mixture, about 1 heaping tablespoon, on the bottom end of each cabbage leaf. Roll up tightly, tucking in sides. Fasten the stuffed cabbage rolls with a wooden toothpick. (Or use baker's twine.)
  6. In a large saucepan, heat butter and oil over high heat. In batches, carefully brown cabbage rolls on all sides. When all have been browned, return all cabbage rolls to pan and add beef broth so that the liquid almost covers the rolls.
  7. Simmer gently for about 1 hour.
  8. Carefully remove cabbage rolls onto a platter, removing the toothpicks. Keep rolls warm while you make the gravy/sauce.
  9. Mix corn starch with a bit of cold water. Add as much as needed to the liquid in the saucepan until it is the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Serve cabbage rolls with potatoes (boiled or mashed) and a green or cucumber salad on the side. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls and potatoes.


  • As a delicious option, I like adding Montreal Steak Spice for just a bit added kick ... a totally non-German addition. 
  • Use additional seasonings as preferred, such as nutmeg, Maggi, caraway seeds, paprika, thyme ... :)
  • Instead of beef broth, dissolve a beef cube in about 2 cups of water.
  • Save any extra cabbage for another cabbage recipe, such as this yummy braised cabbage side dish that can be served alongside, if you wish. 

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THE traditional German Cabbage Rolls recipe that only uses meat (and NO rice) and has a mouth-watering gravy. Made just like Oma!

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