Hungarian-Style Stuffed Cabbage (Töltött Káposzta)

  • Serves

    serves 8


A thick cornmeal and smoked ham filling is rolled in blanched cabbage leaves and braised in a paprika-spiked tomato sauce in a comforting dish from Hungarian home cook Edit Szabo Gezane. This recipe first appeared in our October 2013 issue with the article Rhapsody in Red.


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large head cabbage, cored
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. smoked ham steak, cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 5 12 cups chicken stock
  • 1 13 cups fine yellow cornmeal
  • 12 tbsp. Hungarian hot paprika
  • 12 tbsp. Hungarian sweet paprika, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp. roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
  • 1 Italian frying pepper, thinly sliced into rings and seeded, for garnish
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • Sour cream, for serving


Step 1

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add head of cabbage and cook, pulling off each outer leaf with tongs as it becomes tender, 2–4 minutes per leaf. Transfer cabbage leaves to a baking sheet; set aside and continue boiling cabbage until you have 12–15 leaves. Cut and discard thick ribs from leaves. Thinly slice remaining cabbage core; set aside.

Step 2

Heat oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ham; cook until lightly browned, 3–4 minutes. Add garlic and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5–7 minutes. Add 2 1⁄2 cups stock; bring to a boil. Whisk in cornmeal and the hot paprika, plus salt and pepper; set filling aside.

Step 3

Working with one cabbage leaf at a time, lay leaf flat on a work surface with what was the stem end facing you. Place 1⁄4 cup filling in the center of leaf. Fold top of leaf over filling. Fold in half crosswise, completely encasing the filling at the top; roll cabbage into a tight cone shape.

Step 4

Place sliced cabbage in the bottom of an 8-qt. saucepan. Arrange stuffed cabbage leaves, overlapping slightly, over top. Sprinkle with sweet paprika, salt, and pepper. Whisk tomato paste and remaining stock in a bowl; pour over cabbage. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, partially covered, until tender, about 45 minutes. Transfer stuffed cabbage to a serving platter. Strain sauce, discarding sliced cabbage; spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley, sliced pepper, and sour cream; sprinkle with more sweet paprika.

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