Grandma Elaine's Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage Recipe -
Grandma Elaine's Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage Recipe
  • READY IN 3+ hrs

Grandma Elaine's Unstuffed Sweet and Sour Cabbage

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"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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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 10 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    2 hrs 40 mins

    3 hrs 20 mins


  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.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Oct 20, 2008

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 recipes flavor so unique.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Dec 25, 2013

Different. Skipped the raisins and reduced the sweet components. If I made this again wouldn't add the rice to the meat balls but instead serve the rest of the dish over it.

Mar 15, 2010

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!

Nov 11, 2008

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 meatballs, and use a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses in evaporated cane juice in place of the brown sugar. I doubled this because I have a family of 11, and I usually think when it says "serves 10" they don't mean 10 of my kids! In this case, though, the recipe is abundant. I made it in a big Nesco roaster, and it was fabulous. A few kids would have preferred it without raisins, but I think the flavor is important. Fabulous recipe! I am so thankful to have it!

Mar 28, 2011

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 ginger snaps in with the lemon juice, honey and sugar, which gives it a zing and helps thicken the sauce.

Apr 21, 2010

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 as written, so be sure to sweeten it to your taste. The lemon and raisins are a fantastic addition. Thanks for the recipe!

Dec 12, 2007

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. Sounds yummy. I prefer to use splenda or sweet n low instead of any sugar and leave everything as the original recipe states. Mom used to make a separate pot like this for my dad who was diabetic and it too is fabulous. Pete's sister.... :)

Oct 29, 2009

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, and I sweetened and soured the tomato mix before I put in the cabbage so that the flavors would soak into the cabbage..I just made this the other day and I am dying to make it again!!! Make this tonight for dinner You will love it!


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  • Calories
  • 347 kcal
  • 17%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 34.7 g
  • 11%
  • Cholesterol
  • 92 mg
  • 31%
  • Fat
  • 15.2 g
  • 23%
  • Fiber
  • 4.7 g
  • 19%
  • Protein
  • 20.4 g
  • 41%
  • Sodium
  • 1117 mg
  • 45%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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