Turkish Cabbage Rolls are made with spiced lamb, crunchy pine nuts, a medley of Turkish spices and herbs, then all baked in an aromatic Turkish tomato sauce. This is a super healthy dish that tastes simply amazing!
Homemade Turkish Cabbage Rolls Recipe
Turkish Cabbage Rolls is similar in structure to our popular Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, but this version is filled with a spiced lamb, apricot, and pine nuts.
Also, the Turkish tomato sauce is mouthwateringly fragrant with cinnamon, cumin, and allspice. Topping it all off is a refreshing mint yogurt sauce.
This dish also reheats beautifully, so you can make it ahead and heat up to enjoy anytime. In addition, feel free to make it in advance and store it for later. It will taste even better the following day as the flavors will sit together.
Are cabbage rolls healthy?
Yes, both the classic version and this one are super healthy recipes! This Turkish meal has protein-loaded lamb, which also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
You also have the cabbage which has tons of fiber and vitamins. The other ingredients are nutritious too, such as the pine nuts with protein and healthy fat.
How do you soften cabbage for cabbage rolls?
- Freeze: First, stash the whole head in the freezer overnight, then thaw. They’re soft enough to roll!
- Peel and blanch: Next, peel off the leaves, and submerge in boiling water for a minute or two until tender.
- Microwave: Place the entire head in a bowl. Add water, about a cup. Cover tightly, then microwave for 10 mins.
- Blanch the whole head: Boil salted water, then submerge the whole vegetable for about 10 to 12 mins until tender. Cool before using.
How long do you blanch cabbage for cabbage rolls?
Blanching the entire head takes longer, about 10 to 12 minutes depending on how big the vegetable is. Blanching just the leaves only takes a couple of minutes, so make sure you keep an eye on it to avoid soggy leaves.
How to make Turkish Cabbage rolls?
- Soak the bulgur wheat. Soften in cool water for about 20 mins.
- Prepare your cabbage. Then, blanch, freeze, or microwave. Cool the leaves while you’re getting the rest of the ingredients ready.
- Make the sauce. Next, sauté the aromatics, then add tomatoes along with the broth, spices, and sugar. Simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour half onto the dish and spread evenly on the bottom.
- Mix the lamb filling. Mix the bulgur wheat with the lamb, sauce, pine nuts, and the rest of the filling components.
- Assemble. Flatten a leaf, stuff with the lamb mixture (about 1/3 cup), then roll. Place in the dish. Repeat until the dish is filled, then cover with the rest of the Turkish tomato sauce.
- Bake. Use foil to tightly cover the dish. Bake at 350F for around an hour.
- Serve. Garnish with fresh herbs like mint or dill, some toasted pine nuts, and a bowl of Greek yogurt on the side. Enjoy hot!
Cabbage rolls recipe variations:
- Use different meats: Try this with ground turkey, beef, pork, or chicken.
- Vegetarian. Sub the meat with crumbled tempeh or tofu, and use veggie stock.
- Low-carb: Skip the bulgur wheat, and sub with riced cauliflower for a keto-friendly version.
- Use other grains: Sub the bulgur with quinoa, farro, or rice.
What to serve with Turkish Cabbage rolls?
Can you make cabbage rolls in the slow cooker?
Yes. Assemble as directed, but arrange directly in the pot instead of a baking dish.
Set crockpot for 4 hrs. (high) or 8 hrs. (low). Read more details about this method in my recipe for Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls!
How to store leftovers?
First, cool the leftovers in the baking dish, or transfer to a tightly-sealed container before storing up to 3 days in the fridge.
You can also freeze the leftovers individually for about an hour or two. Once frozen, place in freezer bags or containers. To reheat, thaw then heat in a skillet with the sauce. You can also microwave until hot.
More cabbage recipes to try:
- Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
- Cheesy Cabbage Gratin
- Homemade Cabbage Pancakes
- Cabbage Salad
- Cabbage Hash Browns
- Roll those leaves tightly, like burritos. Tuck the seams and ends properly so the filling doesn’t spill.
- Also, feel free to add the juice of the crushed tomatoes to the Turkish tomato sauce to loosen it up.
- Toast the pine nuts before adding them to the dish. That smoky flavor is so delicious!
- If you want to swap up the meat, use beef or pork instead.
Turkish Cabbage Rolls
- 1 head green cabbage (choose a larger one)
Turkish Tomato Sauce:
- 1 onion (finely diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Turkish tomato sauce (or regular tomato sauce)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (uncooked)
- 1 cup bulgur wheat (soaked)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint (finely chopped)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup dried apricots (very finely chopped)
Mint Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (full fat)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (very finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill (very finely)
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped fresh parsley (dill, or mint)
- Toasted pine nuts
- Prepare/soak Bulgur Wheat per package directions.
Mint Yogurt Sauce:
- Mis all the yogurt sauce ingredients, taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, Peel off the cabbage leaves and blanch the leaves in batches for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Make the Turkish Tomato Sauce:
- In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, add the oil, and once hot, saute the onion until tender, 3-4 mins.
- Lower heat to medium, add garlic, saute for 2 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, spices, salt, and chicken broth.
- Stir, bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes, then turn the heat off.
- Place 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce mixture on the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish and distribute to lightly coat the bottom. Set aside.
Make the filling:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, add the lamb, soaked and drained bulgar wheat, garlic, Turkish tomato sauce, salt, spices, pine nuts, and dried apricots, mix until well combined.
- Assemble the Cabbage Rolls:
- Place a blanched cabbage leaf on a cutting board. Cut about 2 inches of the thick vein out of the bottom end.
- Fill with 1/3 cup lamb filling and roll up like a burrito. Make sure to tuck in the edges and place it seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
- Once you have all the cabbage rolls in the baking dish (about 12-14), pour the remaining tomato sauce on top. Shake the pan lightly to distribute the sauce and cover tightly with foil.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, mint, dill, and a few pinenuts