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Grandma Elaine's Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Rated as 4.54 out of 5 Stars

"This is a family heirloom recipe that has been handed down through the ages. My mother taught it to me, and I tweaked it to its current form. I have eaten all kinds of 'stuffed' cabbage and this recipe beats them all. It's sweet, sour, and comforting. The flavors are even better the second day. This dish also freezes well."
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3 h 20 m servings 347
Original recipe yields 10 servings


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  1. Place the vegetable oil into a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the sliced onions, and cook until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, using a spoon to slightly chop the whole tomatoes. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir the cabbage into the tomatoes. Cover, and simmer 1 hour until the cabbage is tender and mixes easily with the tomatoes.
  2. Place the ground beef, eggs, finely chopped onion, rice, water, additional 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix together with hands until thoroughly blended. Add additional rice if mixture is too moist. Form into golf ball-sized meatballs. Place meatballs on a plate, and refrigerate 20 minutes to firm.
  3. Place meatballs on the surface of the tomato mixture. Cover and simmer over medium heat until the meatballs are firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Gently stir the meatballs into the tomato mixture. Cover the pot and continue to simmer 45 minutes more. Stir in the lemon juice, and taste for seasoning, adding additional lemon juice if required. Stir in the raisins, and honey. Add the brown sugar, a little at a time, tasting after each addition. Cook mixture over medium heat 15 minutes more.


  • Partner Tip
  • Reynolds® Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 347 calories; 15.2 34.7 20.4 92 1117 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 62
  1. 74 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

I will never make cabbage rolls again. I have rarely heard my husband rave as much or as often as he does about this recipe. I make only a couple of changes. I use regular brown rice in the m...

Most helpful critical review

The sauce came out delicious however the meatballs were hard as rocks! I have no idea why. I followed the recipe exactly and cooking time exactly. Double checked and all ingredients were measur...

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Least positive

I will never make cabbage rolls again. I have rarely heard my husband rave as much or as often as he does about this recipe. I make only a couple of changes. I use regular brown rice in the m...

This is the first recipe I have done a review on. I have made this multiple times and it is awesome. I made it as written. Don't leave out the ingredients you add at the end. They are what makes...

THis is really good. It takes a few hours to prepare but it is really worth it. There is a nice balance between the sour lemon juice and the brown sugar and honey. I highly recomend this!

Very easy and tasty. I used a bag of cole slaw mix instead of chopping the cabbage. I also replaced the raisin with a cup of prunes. And to make it the way my family likes it, I crumbled 10 g...

We really liked this. I adjusted this recipe to use 5lbs of ground beef, so I made a LOT of it. I took it easy on the salt and really easy on the sugar. This would have been way too sweet for us...

I too grew up with this recipe. It is truly wonderful and worth the time. It was always a special occasion at our house when mom made this. However, I have never tried the brown sugar. Sound...

OH Chef Daddy Pete...all I can say is yumm yumm yumm! What a wonderful recipe and its so so easy..The only things I did different is added more rice, some garlic powder to the sauce and meat, an...

This is the original recipe, except I substituted BROWN SUGAR for the White Sugar. Tastes vary, but if leave out ingredients, you don't get the full flavor effect.

Delicious..Did use turkey to be healthier..added bread crumbs instead of rice to the meat along with herbs for more flavor..baked the meatballs first then added to the stew..Will make again for ...