Beef, Pork, Stews, Swabian

Cabbage Rolls (‘Krautwickel’)

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German cabbage rolls are traditional comfort food. In the Northern parts of Germany, they are often called Kohlrouladen. But in the Southern accent, it’s really uncommon to use the word ‘Kohl’ for cabbage. For me, cabbage will always be called ‘Kraut’ thus the Southern name of this dish “Krautwickel”.

It’s very simple to prepare cabbage rolls. You don’t even need to use toothpicks or kitchen twine for my recipe. If you blanch the cabbage properly before wrapping and then squeeze it together tightly around the filling it will hold its shape just fine.

Filling the cabbage roll

The filling is made of minced meat that I mix with mushrooms and a soaked bread roll. It’s always important to add a few filler ingredients to meat stuffings so they will be tender and juicy instead of dry and tough.

I like to add a few drops of Maggi seasoning sauce to my filling. However, it’s up to you if you like to use it or not. This is more of an old school recipe so that I think a little Maggi is appropriate. In contemporary German cuisine, the Maggi seasoning sauce has lost a lot of its former popularity but I think it still adds a nice depth of flavor to a lot of dishes.

How to braise your cabbage rolls

You should sear the cabbage rolls before braising because a light sear will give you a better flavor. The sauce is also going to profit from the fond at the bottom of the pan after searing. I like to braise my cabbage rolls in the oven. That way they cook very evenly and form a nice crust on top.

Searing the cabbage rolls
Braised cabbage rolls out of the oven

Once the cabbage rolls come out of the oven, the only thing left to do is to cook the sauce. You could serve them directly in the braising liquid. However, I like to thicken it with a roux to make it thicker. Just make sure to let the sauce simmer for at least 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. You can keep the cabbage rolls hot in the oven. The residual heat will be enough to keep them warm.

These cabbage rolls are usually served with some potatoes or noodles on the side. They can easily be reheated in the sauce in case you have any leftovers.


  1. Interestingly, mother and grandmother (both Donauschwaben) and my dad’s family (from Ostpreussen) all braised the rolls In the oven on a bed of half sauerkraut and half shredded cabbage (the cabbage to soften the sauerkraut’s acidity). To serve, we mixed boiled potatoes into that flavourful kraut.

    In recent years, we always used the trick of freezing the whole head of cabbage. When it thawed, the leaves peel off without tearing, and you can skip the blanching step.

    And yes, of course it is “Kraut” ….. Kohlrouladen – pah!

    • Yes. There are so many ways to prepare cabbage rolls. I think your method is perfect for using up the inner core of the cabbage.

      Freezing the cabbage is a very neat trick. I’ve never frozen cabbage before because it lasts so long in the fridge without going bad. I maybe have to try that the next time. Thanks for the hint!

      My grandma is from Ostpreußen too although she never cooked cabbage rolls that much. What she likes a lot are potato pancakes with apple sauce, boiled meat balls (Königsberger Klopse), boiled beef tongue, and goose with red cabbage.

  2. Is meat and mushrooms filling traditional in German stuffed cabbage? In Ukraine it’s meat and rice.

    • Meat and soaked bread rolls is the most common filling. Rice is also sometimes used, as well as mushrooms. I try to vary the recipes on this blog a little to show different approaches. My recipe for stuffed peppers includes a rice filling that would also be suitable for cabbage rolls.

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