Slovak Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

Last week when I wrote this post about my favorite Slovak foods, my aunt expressed her consternation on my Facebook page. She couldn’t believe that I would post mouth-watering photos of scrumptrilescent kitchen creations without instructing my readers on how to actually make them. Here are the instructions for Slovak Stuffed Cabbages (or halupkis in Slovak) per Aunt Monique’s request:


1 head of cabbage

1 lb of ground turkey meat from Trader Joe’s (or pork or beef)

1.5 cups brown rice for the rice cooker

28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 medium onion

3 cloves garlic

olive oil to grease the Pyrex

smoked paprika from Trader Joe’s

black pepper

salt (Actually I forgot the salt. It could have used some salt!)

parsley (I’m thinking this could be a good seasoning for the future)

Time: When all was said and done, I was in the kitchen for 2 hours. I anticipate a shorter time the next time around, since I’ll know what I’m doing.

Yield: 10 MASSIVE stuffed cabbage rolls. Use smaller leaves, and you can have smaller stuffed cabbages. In summer, stuffed cabbages with cold potato salad and cold crispy cucumber salad make for a delicious Slovak picnic.



Painstakingly peel the head of cabbage:

This was my first time ever cooking stuffed cabbage. I gingerly peeled each leaf off of the cabbage, not wanting to break any of them. I figured (and I was correct) that rolling the filling into the leaves would be easiest with an unbroken leaf.

I lightly rinsed the cabbage leaves in a colander, not wanting to put too much water pressure on them, for fear of them breaking.


Boil the cabbage leaves:

Boiling cabbage— not as easy as it looks!

Boiling cabbage— not as easy as it looks!

Let me tell you it’s not easy— trying to boil large leafy cabbages without having the water overflow and without having them tear in the boiling water. This is not a recipe where you can simultaneously make dessert or watch John Stewart on your iPad on the kitchen counter. You have to be 100% present like a hawk hovering over the pot of boiling cabbages. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 375 and grease your large Pyrex with olive oil.


Prepare the filling:

Simmer ground turkey, diced tomatoes, brown rice, and spices on stovetop.

Simmer ground turkey, diced tomatoes, brown rice, and spices on stovetop.

While the brown rice finished up in the rice cooker, I lightly browned the ground turkey in a large pot. Shake in paprika and black pepper to taste (I like a lot). This is where I should have added in salt, but I forgot. Once the turkey was no longer pink, I stirred in the rice. Mix in the entire large can of diced tomatoes. You can stir in some diced onions and chopped garlic here, but I saved mine as a topping for the Pyrex arrangement.


Drain the cabbage and roll those babies up:

Let me know what roll-up strategy works best for you!

Let me know what roll-up strategy works best for you!

Make sure the steaming boiled cabbage leaves cool down enough so that you don’t burn your fingers! I found a clean cutting board to be the best surface for rolling the turkey and rice mixture. I used a large spoon to scoop up the mixture and placed it on the leaf on the sturdier end that would have been closest to the cabbage’s stem. The rolling was easy; just be sure to tuck in the sides as you roll across. The rolling procedure reminded me of folding those two pesky ends in when you are wrapping a present. It involves that particular coordination skill set.


Arrange the cabbages in the Pyrex:

The cabbages are excited to go into the oven.

The cabbages are excited to go into the oven.

Arrange your stuffed cabbages in rolls and drizzle with some more olive oil and sprinkle more diced onion and garlic on top. I also poured on some leftover tomato sauce that was in the can of diced tomatoes. I popped those puppies in the oven for 45 minutes.


Wait anxiously, and then enjoy:

The healthy gluten free, dairy free finished product.

The healthy gluten free, dairy free finished product.

Seeing as this was my very first time making stuffed cabbage, I paced around the kitchen out of both anxiety and excitement.  I’m told that baking stuffed cabbages in the oven is very un-Slovak and hearkens more to the cuisine of other Eastern European countries. Slovak stuffed cabbages are supposed to simmer in an enormous pot on top of the stove, and they come out very tender, and sometimes even soggy. I was after a firmer texture, so that’s why I opted for the oven option. Mine came out moist inside with crispy browned edges on the outside of the cabbages, which was exactly what I had hoped for. While colorful, I found that my recipe came out on the bland side, but I enjoyed them and ate them all week. My colleagues were very puzzled in the lunch room. Perhaps my readers can let me know if I have left out any vital ingredients?

Happy Cooking! Let me know how your Slovak Stuffed Cabbages turn out!

*Did I mention these are #glutenfree and #dairyfree ?


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3 Comments on “Slovak Stuffed Cabbage Recipe”

  1. Bulldog Travels February 27, 2015 at 16:29 #

    Gotta love family guilt!

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