Gluten Free/ Greek Classics/ Main Course

Greek Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce: Lahanodolmades

These Greek-style cabbage rolls are filled with rice, ground beef, and herbs and are so hearty and comforting. You should make a double batch to save in the freezer for those busy days and all you will have to do is thaw them in the refrigerator the day before and just bake until fork tender. You’re going to love these!

Greek cabbage rolls in tomato sauce in a pot

Finished Greek cabbage rolls in tomato sauce in a plate

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Print Recipe

Greek Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce

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By Dimitra Khan Serves: 15 rolls

Hearty and comforting Greek food. These cabbage rolls are filled with rice, herbs, and ground beef and cooked in a homemade tomato sauce.


  • 1 large cabbage, stem removed
  • For the Tomato Sauce:
  • • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • • 28 ounces canned tomatoes, pureed
  • • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • • Salt to taste
  • • Black pepper, to taste
  • • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • • Optional: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • For the Filling:
  • • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • • ¼ cup olive oil
  • • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • • 1-pound ground beef
  • • ½ cup basmati rice
  • • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • • 1 teaspoon salt
  • • Black pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth or water



Preheat the oven to 350 °F, 180 °C.


There are several ways to prepare the cabbage. One very easy trick is to freeze the cabbage then, when it taws out, the leaves are tender enough to roll and you will not have to boil it. Just make sure to remove the stem before freezing it.


Boiling the cabbage is my preferred method. Mostly because I’m usually in some type of rush and do not have the time to wait for it to thaw out…


Fill a large pot ¾ of the way with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water.


Remove the stem/core of the cabbage and place the cabbage into the boiling water. Cover with the lid.


After about 15 minutes, the leaves should begin to separate from the cabbage. Remove the leaves and set in a colander to drain and cool.


To make the sauce, combine the onion and oil in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until soft and golden. Add the garlic and warm through about 30 seconds. Add the canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Bring to a boil then, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.


Make the filling: Cook the onion in oil over medium heat until soft and golden. About 6 minutes.


Add the grated garlic and warm through about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.


In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, and all of the remaining filling ingredients along with the onions. Mix until combined.


Make the cabbage rolls: Lay the cabbage leaves flat and cut the hard stem from the bottom. Discard it. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling on the bottom of each leaf. Roll up and fold the sides of each leaf over the filling. Roll up and place seam side down on a plate or cutting board.


Use the leftover cabbage leaves to line the bottom of a baking pan or Dutch oven pot.


Pour half of the tomato sauce over the cabbage leaves. Nestle the cabbage rolls into the pot and cover with more cabbage leaves.


Pour the remaining sauce on top.


Place 2 inverted plates on top to keep the rolls from opening during the cooking process.


Pour 3-4 cups of broth over the rolls to cover them by 1 inch.


Bring to a boil.


Place in the oven to bake for 1 and ½- 2 hours or until they are fork tender. This takes closer to 2 hours.


Serve with salad and toasted bread. Enjoy!


Make-ahead Freezer Instructions: Assemble the rolls and place them in a freezer-safe tray. Freeze them (unbaked) up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight one day before serving. Allow the pan to come to room temperature and bake in a preheated 350 °F oven until tender. This will take a little over 2 hours.

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Easy and healthy Greek cabbage rolls (Lahanodolmades) in delicious tomato sauce


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  • Reply
    Nancy Stewart
    October 30, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Making these right now. Probably a stupid question, but do you take the plates out before they go in the oven?

    • Reply
      November 2, 2019 at 3:43 am

      No, it’s not a stupid question. The plates stay in to keep the rolls from unwrapping during the cooking process.

  • Reply
    Mary Bello
    December 7, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Can I make the Greek Stuffed cabbages with red sauce all on top of the stove without cooking it in the oven. My glass top stove will not allow Dutch ovens to be used.

    • Reply
      December 8, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      Yes, you can even cook the cabbage rolls in a stainless steel pot. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Michael Matthews
    December 16, 2019 at 12:22 am

    I have a recipe request for stuffed grape leaves, I know there is a Greek name for them, but can’t think of it to save my life. I know there more one recipe to make them, but I can’t seem to find them. Thank you for your time I love all recipes

  • Reply
    December 20, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    This is one tasty recipe! I made a double batch to freeze 🙂 I added parsley to the sauce since I had it, yummy. Seems everything I’m cooking these days is from your website or your book, Dimitra. Just today I made your baklava, naan, and the cabbage rolls. All turned out swell!

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