Food & Drink

Benny Blanco’s cabbage rolls recipe

This is a tasty way to feed a crowd.

Cabbage rolls from Open Wide
Cabbage rolls from Open Wide Cabbage rolls from Open Wide

According to songwriter-turned-cookbook writer Benny Blanco, this is the perfect recipe to “make ahead of time and freeze”.

He says: “I make 50 at a time, reheat them later, and give them a new home in my stomach.”

Cabbage rolls


(Serves 6-8)

1 large or 2 medium heads green cabbage, about 3lbs

2 onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2tbsp unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2lbs ground beef (80% fat)

¾ cup uncooked white rice

2 eggs

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

½ cup chopped golden raisins

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1tbsp for baking

½ cup ketchup

3 lemons, juiced

1 orange, juiced

½ cup sauerkraut

½ cup white wine vinegar

½tbsp cinnamon

Cabbage rolls from Open Wide
Cabbage rolls from Open Wide (Johnny Miller/PA)


1. Remove the core from the cabbage and separate into leaves. Blanch a few at a time in salted boiling water until pliable, one to two minutes per batch. When cool enough to handle, use a knife to remove the ribs. Chop one cup cabbage and reserve for later.

2. Cook onions and garlic in two tablespoons butter and a large pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Combine beef, rice, eggs, and half the sauteed onion mixture. Season with one tablespoon of salt and some fresh pepper.

Add a little handful of the mixture to each cabbage leaf and carefully roll it like a little burrito, folding up the sides to create a little package.

4. To make the sauce, combine the remaining onion mixture, crushed tomatoes, water, raisins, sugar, ketchup, lemon juice, orange juice, chopped cabbage, sauerkraut, vinegar, and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Put a thin layer of the sauce at the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan. Tightly pack the cabbage rolls in the pan, and then add the remaining sauce. You want them to be swimming.

6. Sprinkle with one tablespoon sugar.

7. Place a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil on lower rack to catch any drips. Bake cabbage on centre rack at 350°F (177°C) until meat is falling apart and rice is cooked, two to two-and-a-half hours. Tent with foil if getting too dark.

Open Wide: A Cookbook For Friends by Benny Blanco is published by Dey Street Books, priced £25. Photography by Johnny Miller. Available now.