Classic Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage

Salsify Pasta with Creamy Leek Sauce

One of The Most Popular Dishes in Hungary

Stuffed cabbage is one of the most popular winter dishes in Hungary. Old traditional foods were usually associated with the seasons. Hundred years ago, there was no fridge and there were no imported products. As a result, we got stuffed cabbage which is a typical winter dish. Sauerkraut, minced meat, smoked meat or sausage and rice are the main ingredients. Sour cabbage also known as sauerkraut was used at wintertime when you couldn’t get your hands on fresh cabbage.  It is a tradition in my family to make stuffed cabbage for one of the days of Christmas, not only roasted turkey.


Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage

Almost all Hungarian regions have their own stuffed cabbage recipe. I’m sharing my family’s  stuffed cabbage recipe with you. I had to replace some Hungarian ingredients as best as possible. Because it was impossible to get them in The Netherlands. For example, I used Spanish chorizo instead of Hungarian sausage. It’s a perfect substitute!

Usually, we stuff big whole fermented sauerkraut leaves with spiced minced meat and rice mixture. No problem if you can’t purchase these leaves in your country. It’s easy to replace them with savoy cabbage leaves, as I did.  I like to use savoy cabbage leaves, because they are softer, than fresh cabbage leaves, it’s easier to work with them. Another great substitute, after you cook them for some minutes then cut the thick veins out. I stuffed the cooked leaves with the minced meat mixture easily.


The leftover is delicious over the next days, or you can store in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Sauerkraut – Fermented Sour Cabbage

Sauerkraut is made by a process of pickling. It’s called lactic acid fermentation. The fresh cabbage is finely shredded, layered with salt, and left to ferment. Fully cured sauerkraut is stored in an airtight container at 15 °C or below for several months.  Neither refrigeration, nor pasteurization are required.

The “sauerkraut” is a German word, but the dish did not originate in Germany. It’s from  Central and Eastern European cuisines. But is well known in other countries including the Netherlands, and France also. Before the invention of the refrigerator and the cheap export-import delivery, only the naturally preserved foods provided a source of nutrients during the winter.

Classic Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage1

Tip 2!

For the authentic Hungarian experience serve with sour cream and fresh bread.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a high source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Its more nutritious than raw cabbage because of the fermentation process. This process increases the bioavailability of nutrients. Sauerkraut is high in calcium and magnesium, a very good source of dietary fiber, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.

Uncooked sauerkraut contains live lactobacilli, beneficial microbes and enzymes. Fiber and probiotics improve digestion, enzymes help your body to absorb nutrients easily. They promote the growth of healthy bowel flora. Healthy bowel flora is very important, because it protects against diseases of the digestive tract.

Finally, but not least sauerkraut is low in carbs, you can include it in keto diet for weight loss and better digestion.


Hungarian Classics:

Classic Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage

Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Servings: 6
Author: Andrea


  • 1,5 kg sauerkraut
  • 250 gram Chorizo or Hungarian smoked sausage
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 big onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 140 gram tomato puree natural
  • 1 tbsp paprika powder
  • 1,2 liter bone broth

For the stuffing

  • 400 gram pork meat minced
  • 400 gram beef meat minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely cut
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 100 gram rice
  • 1 tbsp paprika powder
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper freshly ground
  • 12 big sour fermented cabbage leaves or savoy cabbage leaves

For serving

  • 200 ml cream fraiche or sour cream lactose free


  • Preheat the oven for 180°C.
  • Cook the rice almost ready.
  • If you bought whole sour cabbage leaves, skip these steps!
  • Put the savoy cabbage leaves in boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  • Take them out of the water and cut the thick vein out in the middle of the leaves. Set aside.
  • Prepare the stuffing. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add crushed garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Set aside.
  • Put the pork and beef meat in a big bowl. Add cooked rice, sauteed onion and garlic, 1 tbsp paprika powder, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp freshly ground pepper, 1 tsp marjoram and 2 eggs. Mix well by hand.
  • Unfold the sour cabbage or cooked savoy cabbage leaves. Form about 5cm diameter balls from the stuffing mixture and place them in the middle of the leaves. Fold the leaves and press the edges with your finger.
  • Taste the sauerkraut and rinse with water if it is too sour. Rinse in a regular colander under cold running water for about 2 minutes. Taste it again and rinse more if it’s necessary. Be careful, it can turn flavorless if you wash it all out and you don’t want that.
  • Place 70% of the sauerkraut into the Dutch oven (casserole) dish. Place the stuffed leaves to the top, but not too tightly. Cut the chorizo to 4cm pieces and place between the balls. Add bay leaves.
  • Cover the balls and sausages with the rest of the sauerkraut.
  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
  • Turn the heat to low and add tomato puree, 1 tbsp paprika powder and 150 ml bone broth and mix them.
  • Pour the tomato puree mixture over the top of the sauerkraut in the Dutch oven dish. Then pour the rest of the bone broth in it. The cabbage has to be almost covered with the broth, but not fully. Just almost! If the broth is too much, don't use all, but if it's not enough, add water in it.
  • Cover the Dutch oven dish and put into the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
  • Serve with sour cream and fresh bread. Enjoy!