'Meat and cabbage are the coat of arms of Hungary." Only a few people today still know this old saying, which was in frequent use in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nowhere else in the world was any other dish served as frequently as this one in Hungary – sometimes every day. Whether rich or poor, aristocrat or burgher, cabbage and meat was always right at the top of the menu, and today cabbage rolls are regarded as one of the country’s national dishes.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (139 votes)


  • 2 large brown onions
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 g long grain rice
  • 200 g smoked bacon
  • 1 kg minced pork
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • mild paprika, to taste
  • 1 large sour cabbage (pickled)
  • 1 smoked pork shank
  • 1 packet sauerkraut (approx 500 g)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Finely chop one of the onions. Heat half the olive oil in heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion until lightly browned. Add the rice and stir for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. 

Mince the bacon and combine with minced pork meat.

Add rice to the meat mixture and sprinkle a pinch of salt, pepper, and sweet/mild paprika. Combine these ingredients.

Gently remove or peel off leaves from the cabbage and remove thick stalks from the centre. Place a small handful of meat mixture in one end of the leaf and fold over the top -side.

Roll the leaf up tightly, and tuck the bottom section of the leaf into the roll.

Coarsely chop the remaining onion. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion until soft. Cut the pork shank into small pieces and add to the onions.

Spread half of the sauerkraut over it and sprinkle some paprika. Layer the cabbage rolls over the top and cover with the remaining sauerkraut. Pour over enough water to just cover the contents, and simmer over low heat for 1- 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the rice is cooked.

Serve hot accompanied by a dollop of sour cream.