Serbian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarma) Recipe

Sergey Kashkin/Photodisc/Getty Images
  • 3 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 12 Serbian sarma (Serves 4 - 6)
Ratings (45)

is the Serbian version of stuffed cabbage and many Serbs serve it for special occasions like their slava.

Czechs and Slovaks call them ​holubky and Poles refer to them as ​gołąbki. They all boil down to the same thing -- meat and a filler like rice or barley rolled up in a cabbage leaf and cooked on the stove or in the oven.

Some people use imported or homemade whole heads of brined cabbage (sauerkraut) known as kiseli kupus when making their sarma.

Check this Quick Tip for an easy way to remove leaves from a cabbage head. Here are more stuffed cabbage recipes.

What You'll Need

  • 1 large head cabbage, 3 to 4 pounds
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup raw rice, rinsed
  • 1 (1.4-ounce) package dehydrated onion soup mix
  • 1 (32-ounce) jar sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 6 smoked ribs or ham hock or other smoked meat
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup

How to Make It

Prepare the Cabbage

  1. Steam cabbage until outer leaves are limp. Remove leaves, and continue.
  2. With a paring knife, remove tough ribs from leaves without damaging leaves. Reserve tougher outer leaves but don't use for rolling.

Make the Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, mix ground chuck, ground pork, rice and onion soup mix.
  2. Adding a little water will make the mixture easier to handle.

Assemble the Rolls

  1. Heap 2 tablespoons of filling on each leaf, fold the top of the cabbage leaf up over meat, then fold sides to the center, and roll away from yourself to encase completely.
  1. Repeat until meat filling is gone.

Bake the Sarma

  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Discard the cabbage core and coarsely chop any remaining cabbage except the tough outer leaves you have reserved.
  2. Spread chopped cabbage on the bottom of a large casserole dish or Dutch oven. Add the sauerkraut.
  3. Layer on the cabbage rolls, seam side down. Cut the smoked ribs into pieces if using, otherwise, space the smoked meat of choice between the cabbage rolls.
  4. Cover rolls with reserved outer leaves. Mix tomato sauce and soup with enough water to make a liquidy consistency. Pour over rolls until mixture is level with rolls but not over the top.
  5. Cover casserole dish and bake 1 hour. Then reduce temperature to 325 F and bake for 2 more hours. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Freezes well.