How to Make Greek Lahanodolmathes (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Preparation of Stuffed Cabbage Roll
Charles Groux/Photodisc/Getty Images
  • 2 hrs
  • Prep: 60 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 34-35 rolls (35 servings)
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In Greek: λαχανοντολμάδες, pronounced lah-hah-no-dol-MAH-thes

Greek cabbage rolls can come in many varieties, some traditional and some more contemporary. For example, some recipes include a savory tomato sauce rather than the traditional lemon sauce described in this recipe. Some use pork rather than beef (or a combination of both). There are also variations for vegetarians and vegans that use a variety of grains instead of meats.

In Northern Greece, stuffed cabbage called yiaprakia (γιαπράκια, say: yah-PRAHK-yah), are made with toursi (brined) cabbage and ground pork, and are a traditional Christmas dish.

Conventional Greek wisdom is that the best cabbage can be found after the first frost, so all versions of stuffed cabbage are winter favorites.

If you are planning to cook an authentic treat, you'll cover this dish of stuffed cabbage with ground beef and rice with a traditional egg and lemon (avgolemono) sauce. You can also make a simpler version with large Romaine lettuce leaves or Chinese cabbage.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds of beef (ground one time)
  • 2 eggs (whole)
  • 3/4 cups of rice (short-grain or risotto)
  • 3 stalks of dill (fresh, snipped)
  • 1 pinch of salt (sea)
  • 1 pinch of pepper (freshly ground black)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 onion (sliced in rings)
  • 2 medium carrots (sliced in thick rounds)
  • 2 stalks of celery (leaves only)
  • 2 cabbages (total of 10 pounds)
  • For the Avgolemono:
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 7/8 cup of lemon juice (freshly squeezed)

How to Make It

Mix the ground beef, two whole eggs, rice, dill, one of the onions, a little oil and water, and knead to mix thoroughly. Add more water or oil if needed. Form into 34-35 round pieces.

In a large soup pot, bring salted water to a boil. Remove the core of the cabbage, and stick a large fork into the center. Immerse the cabbage, leaving the fork in. When the outer leaves turn bright green, lift using the fork and remove softened leaves.

Return to pot and repeat until all cabbage leaves have been removed.

Using the large outer leaves, place the meat mixture in the leaf and roll, using the same technique as for Rolling Grape Leaves.

Line the bottom of a lidded pot with the carrot slices, remaining onion, celery leaves, and the smaller cabbage leaves that were too small for rolling. Lay the stuffed cabbage rolls, fold side down, on top in snugly packed layers. Place an inverted plate on top to hold them down when cooking.

Add water to cover, and bring to a boil. When boil is reached, turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

A few minutes before the cabbage is done, make the avgolemono sauce:

  • Whisk the egg yolks and a tablespoon of water. Stir in 1/2 cup of liquid from the pot, lemon juice, and corn starch, whisking until smooth. Remove cabbage from heat, remove the plate, and pour in the egg-lemon sauce. Hold pot by the handles and shake gently to distribute.

Serve warm with a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the cabbage.