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Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls

Balandeliai (Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls)

Course Main
Cuisine Lithuanian
Keyword cabbage, Lithuania, Lithuanian, meat, rice, roll
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 12 Rolls


  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 pound ground beef, lamb, pork, or chicken
  • 1 egg beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream


  • In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil and gently add entire cabbage. Boil for 3-5 minutes, until outer leaves soften slightly, but not falling apart. Remove as many leaves as you can easily, careful not to tear them. Boil the cabbage up to about 3 more minutes, as needed to remove the leaves. Discard the core and coarsely chop the extra cabbage leaves. Mix the chopped leaves with the carrot pieces and line the bottom of a large pot.
  • Once the leaves are cool enough to handle, cut off as much of the center stem on the outside of each leaf as possible without cutting into the leaf.
  • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, fry the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Once cooled, mix in a large bowl with the rice, ground meat, and egg.
  • On a work surface, place a large spoonful of the meat and rice, about 1/2 cup, onto the cabbage leaf close to the bottom of the stem. Fold in the sides over the meat and roll up the leaf tightly to close. Repeat with remaining leaves until there is no meat and rice left.
  • Place the filled rolls seam side down on the chopped cabbage and carrots in the large pot. Sprinkle each layer with salt and pepper.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together tomato sauce, stock, and bay leaves. Pour over the layered cabbage rolls. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about an hour, until meat filling is cooked through.
  • Remove the cooked cabbage rolls from the pot. Stir the sour cream into the remaining sauce. Serve the cabbage rolls hot with the sour cream sauce.