Lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce

Λαχανοντολμάδες με σάλτσα ντομάτας. We feel sorry for cabbage. If vegetables were sentient beings, we could imagine cabbage sitting in the corner, huddled together with okra and eggplant, maligned and misunderstood. It’s no secret that many people, given the choice, would pass on cabbage. With a reputation for being gas-producing and unglamorous, cabbage is one of those vegetables that we can easily ignore, because we know that if and when we need it, it will be there.

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.

Cabbage is indeed, a wonder of a vegetable. It is easy to find almost everywhere, tends to be inexpensive, and has a long shelf-life (handy for the cabbage procrastinators among us). When it is preserved as a sauerkraut or kimchi, it has an even longer shelf life!

In Greek cuisine cabbage is often used to make the classic, rustic Greek dish of lahanodolmades, or cabbage rolls. There are many ways to make cabbage rolls, including a version served with an avgolemono sauce, and this way: lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato. Delicious either way you roll them!

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.

Helpful hints

What type of cabbage is used in cabbage rolls?

You can make cabbage rolls with many forms of cabbage. In this recipe we used your regular, run of the mill, head of green cabbage. This tends to be readily available, and inexpensive. We have also used savoy cabbage to make these cabbage rolls and to make our cabbage rolls with egg lemon sauce. Napa cabbage would also work well for these cabbage rolls with tomato.

Is cabbage good for you?

It certainly is! Cabbage is a very healthy vegetable, and all varieties will provide you with Vitamin C, potassium, fiber and very few calories. You can read some more about the nutritional benefits of cabbage here.

Are cabbage rolls Greek?

Cabbage rolls are one of those recipes that exist in so many cuisines. You will find them in Polish kitchens, Italian homes, Jewish cooking and Croatian dinners, and more. They go by different names, and in Greek they are called lahanodolmades: lahano means cabbage.

Can I make lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato vegan?

You sure can! Simply substitute the amount of ground meat called for in the recipe with either ground soy, or with cooked lentils. Either would be delicious, and the vegan cabbage rolls will be perfect for lent as well (if you follow the fasting rules for Orthodox Lent).

Enjoy our lahanodolmades or cabbage rolls with tomato. We think you might like these recipes too:

Red cabbage salad with apple

Green shakshuka

Dolmades (Ντολμάδες)

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.
Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.

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Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.
Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce.

Lahanodolmades: stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato

Lahanodolmades, Greek stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 1 large head of cabbage we used green cabbage
  • 200 grams combination of ground pork and veal see Recipe Notes
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cups long grain rice, rinsed or soaked
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions (about 5-6)
  • ½ cup crushed tomato sauce, or passata
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup carrot, grated
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon

To assemble

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup crushed tomato sauce of passata


Prepare cabbage

  • Fill a large pot (one big enough to hold your head of cabbage) with water and bring to a boil. 
    1 large head of cabbage
  • Remove the hard core from your cabbage, but not to the extent that your leaves start to fall apart.  You should end up with a cone shaped cut-out where the core used to be. 
  • When your water is boiling, add your entire head of cabbage, core side down, and allow it to boil for approximately 10 minutes.  Turn it over (so the core is facing up) and boil for another 5 minutes. 
  • Carefully remove your cabbage from the water and let cool slightly.  Begin to carefully remove the cabbage leaves. If they are not soft, return your cabbage to the pot and boil for a bit longer.  If you are able to remove some leaves, but notice that the inner ones appear to be too hard, return the remaining cabbage head to the boiling water. See video here.
  • Place the cabbage leaves in a colander so that they can drain a little bit, and continue to cool.  Set aside 3 - 4 leaves (perhaps some that may have torn) to line the bottom of your pot during the cooking process (see below)

Prepare filling

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté your yellow onion until it is soft and very slightly caramelized.
    ¼ cup olive oil, ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Add your ground meat, and your rice. Stir and cook for a few minutes.
    200 grams combination of ground pork and veal, ¾ cups long grain rice, rinsed or soaked
  • Add in your chopped green onion, followed by the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, parsley and grated carrot.
    ¼ cup chopped green onions (about 5-6), ½ cup crushed tomato sauce, or passata, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley, ½ cup carrot, grated
  • Squeeze half a lemon in the mixture. Stir and remove off the heat.
    juice from 1/2 a lemon

For the assembly

  • Add the vegetable oil to a large pot.
    ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Line the bottom of the pot with the reserved cabbage leaves.
  • To make your cabbage rolls, take a cabbage leaf and cut away any remaining hard part (usually found in the middle of the leaf and going up about an inch or two).  You can decide at this point to cut your cabbage leaf in half (to make small cabbage rolls) or leave it whole (to make larger cabbage rolls).  We think the latter is easier.
  • Place some filling in the bottom-center of your leaf (where the core would have been).  The amount of filling you use will depend upon whether you use an entire or half a cabbage leaf, and on the size of your leaf.  Use your judgment.  We used about 2 tablespoons of filling for an entire cabbage leaf.
  • Use the cabbage leaf to fold over the filling.  Bring in the sides, and continue to roll up.  It is almost like you are making a burrito. The key is to make sure that the filling is snug within the cabbage leaf so that it does not fall out.  Because the rice will increase in volume as it cooks, do not wrap your cabbage rolls too tightly. Watch video here.
  • As you fold each one, place them seam side down in the sauce pot.
  • Repeat until all of the filling, or all of the cabbage leaves, are used.
  • When you have placed all of your cabbage rolls in the pot, you can layer the top with any remaining cabbage leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Boil some water in a kettle.  Pour about 2 cups of boiling water into the pot with the cabbage leaves, along with the crushed tomato sauce or passata.
    2 cups boiling water, 1 cup crushed tomato sauce of passata
  • When the water and tomato sauce come to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered for about 1 hour 10 minutes.  You can always remove a cabbage roll at this point to taste it and make sure that the rice is cooked.  Remove any top layers of cabbage that you had covering your cabbage rolls and set aside.
  • Let cool a bit, serve and enjoy!


You can substitute any ground meat that you like.
Make it vegan / lenten:
Replace the meat with ground soy or cooked lentils 

Thanks for sharing!


  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen says:

    These look delicious! So many versions of the humble cabbage roll!

    1. miakouppa says:

      That is certainly true Dorothy! Cabbage rolls are so popular in so many cuisines! xoxo Helen & Billie

  2. katinahughes2014 says:

    Hi Ladies! I’m having a terrible time trying to get anything off your pages. Keeps on jumping around and I get messages that an error has occurred on this blog. Well duh! Is I you or me? Trying to get recipe for lahanodolmathes with avgolemono and it can’t seem to help me.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Katina, That is not good! We haven’t heard of anyone else having problems, and as far as we can see from our end, everything seems to be working fine. Maybe try a different browser? Helen & Billie

  3. Thank you for sharing your recipe and video. I make a version of cabbage roll similar to this but the filling is not precooked. I’m going to give yours a try.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Enjoy! Let us know how you like our recipe! We hope you love it was much as we do xoxo Helen & Billie

  4. Sue Maden says:

    I met this Greek lady probably 30 years ago and she taught me to make cabbage rolls. In moving, over the years, I lost that recipe and never could find out anywhere with pork and tomato sauce. Until now.
    She did add Cinnamon in hers and they were so wonderful. Thank you so much for your recipe. I think if I add the Cinnamon, it will come so close to her recipe. If you know of my particular recipe, please let me know, otherwise I think yours will work great. thanks so much.5 stars

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Sue! We are so happy to hear that we are able to fill that void with our recipe 🙂 Using cinnamon in savoury dishes is common in Greek cooking, so although we don’t use cinnamon here, we do include it in some other meals. Go ahead and add the cinnamon, or even a cinnamon stick for milder flavour. We hope that you love it!! xoxo Helen & Billie

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