Töltött Káposzta - Hungary


Hungarians tend to begin Christmas celebrations when they decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, also known as Szent-este, or holy evening. 

Töltött Káposzta is a traditional Christmas dish served in Hungary as part of the Szent-este. Full of hearty flavours, Töltött Káposzta is best served with a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of paprika.  

Prep time: 30-45 mins
Cook time: 1-2 hours
Serves: Makes 18 rolls


1 large cabbage head, about 4 lbs
3 bay leaves
½ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp caraway seeds
225ml apple cider vinegar

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb minced pork
½ lb minced beef
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large egg
150g cooked and drained rice
1 tsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp sweet or hot paprika

2 lbs drained sauerkraut
100ml tomato juice
½ lb smoked pork shank

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp lard
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp sweet or hot paprika
110ml sour cream, to serve


  • Begin by removing the core of the cabbage, and placing the cabbage head, bay leaves, peppercorns, caraway seeds and vinegar in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and heat on high. Bring to the boil and cook until the cabbage has softened, usually around 20-25 minutes. Remove the cabbage from the water and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the onion, pork, beef, garlic, egg, rice, caraway seeds, paprika, salt and pepper. Make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  • When the cabbage has cooled, pull away a leaf at a time, until you have around 15-20 leaves. Use a knife to cut off the centre stem, making sure you don’t cut all the way through.
  • Spoon about 50g of the meat filling onto each cabbage leaf, and roll the leaf to encase the meat. Wrap the cabbage into an envelope like form, then repeat for each cabbage leaf and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, place the sauerkraut, tomato juice, pork shank and enough water to cover the ingredients. Cook on a medium-high heat, bring to the boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully place each of the cabbage rolls into the sauerkraut mixture, then bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large frying pan, slowly melt the lard then add the flour and onion. Cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the mixture turns a pale yellow colour. Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika and 200 ml water. Stir until smooth.
  • Carefully remove the stuffed cabbage leaves from the pan, then spoon a ladleful of the sauerkraut stew into the flour mixture. Stir until combined and add the frying pan ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and add the cabbages back into the pan. Cover and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, mix a ladleful of the pan juices with sour cream and pour over the stuffed cabbages.