Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) recipe

Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

by Chef Miška Tolj-Turkić (@chefmiska)
Prep Time
Cook Time
2hr 30min
Total Time
3hr 15min
CroatianDinnerMain CourseMeatNut-FreeNon-Vegetarian

A traditional dish made with fermented cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of pork and beef mince, rice, and spices, cooked slowly to perfection.


6 Servings
(1 serving = 2 Rolls)


  • 1/4kg
    Lean Pork Mince
  • 1/4kg
    Lean Beef Mince
  • 1piece
    Pickled Cabbage Leaves
  • 1piece
    Brown Onion (Brunoise)
  • 1/8kg
    Short Grain Rice
  • 1/6kg
    Smoked Spec (Macdoine)
  • 1/4kg
    Smoked Pork Bones
  • 1/4kg
    Cabbage (Chiffonade)
  • 1/8kg
  • 1piece
  • 1/8kg
  • 1can
    Tomato Paste
  • 1can
    Crushed Tomato
  • 1can
  • 1bundle
  • 1/16kg
  • 1/16kg



  1. Carefully separate the fermented cabbage leaves.

  2. Depending on how small or big cabbage rolls you want to make, you will need about 4-6 cabbage leaves plus some extra shredded leaves to cover the bottom of the cooking pot.

  3. If the cabbage is very sour and/or salty, wash the leaves briefly under cold water.

  4. If you notice that cabbage leaves have pronounced hardy veins, remove them with a sharp knife.

  5. Prepare a bigger cooking pot by coating the bottom with a thin layer of lard or olive oil.

  6. Chop roughly the leftover and torn cabbage leaves that won't be used for making the rolls and spread them on the bottom of the cooking pot. This step will prevent the sarma from burning during the cooking.

  7. Mince the onion and garlic and add to a bowl with ground meat, rice, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, black pepper, and sweet and hot paprika powder. Mix everything well using your hand.

  8. Take a piece of the meat stuffing, place it on the bottom part of the cabbage leaf, and wrap it tightly in a roll. Repeat this with the rest of the stuffing and cabbage leaves.

  9. When you finish rolling up all of your sarma rolls, layer them tightly next to each other seam-side down in the cooking pot.

  10. Add a piece of dried meat (if using) take 2-3 additional cabbage leaves and cover the rolls.

  11. Put some load on it, like a smaller lid or an old ceramic plate, which will prevent the sarma rolls from unrolling during the cooking.

  12. Pour over the water so that the sarma is completely covered with it and bring it to a boil.

  13. Reduce the heat and let it cook for at least 2-2.5 hours, adding more water if necessary.

  14. When sarma is cooked, make your roux. In a small saucepan add lard and let it melt. Stir the flour with a whisk or wooden spoon for a few minutes over low heat. When the roux gets a light golden color, turn off the heat and stir in sweet and hot paprika powder. If necessary, you can add some salt too.

  15. Add the roux to the sarma and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

  16. Serve with homemade bread or mashed potatoes, polenta, or gnocchi.

Tips & Tricks

  1. If the cabbage is too sour, you can soak it in water for a few hours before using.

  2. Use a smaller lid or ceramic plate to keep the rolls from unrolling during cooking.

Recipe by

Chef Miška Tolj-Turkić


Chef Miška Tolj-Turkić is a Croatian/Australian dual citizen, born in Western Australia, who's families migrated from Croatia in the 1920s. Originally raised in the lush...

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