Tired of struggling to make PERFECT Cabbage Rolls? Me too... until now! You simply won't believe how easy it is to make the perfect Ninja Foodi cabbage rolls and it doesn't take all day either!
I gave up making stuffed cabbage rolls many, many years ago. In fact, I gave it up after making them ONE time because what a pain they are!
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Getting the cabbage to the right texture for rolling without over cooking it simply seemed impossible.
Before the Foodi entered my life, I did create a recipe for corned beef and cabbage rolls one year and they are delicious! However, I only needed 8 leaves from the cabbage, so dunking it in boiling water was good enough. With stuffed cabbage rolls, you use the whole head. That would be a lot of dunking. No thanks!
I have tried just about every trick in the book, except freezing. I only heard of that recently and still haven't tried it because I found that the Ninja Foodi does the perfect job of steaming the cabbage and I steam while I'm gathering all of the other ingredients and making the stuffing mix, so the timing works perfectly!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can certainly cut the recipe in half. I would not decrease the ¼ cup of chicken stock though. I would also steam the entire head of cabbage. The inner leaves are not steamed as much as the outer leaves, so you can use those for coleslaw or something else.
In the 6.5qt, you can certainly 1½ the recipe, but I'm not sure if double the cabbage rolls will fit. In the 8qt you can double the recipe. When doubling the recipe, the time to pressure will increase, which is cook time, so I would decrease the PC time to about 8 minutes.
I have some in the freezer now, but haven't had the chance to reheat them yet. I don't think there is going to be any issue though. I would put the frozen cabbage rolls in a covered pan and steam with 2 cups of liquid in the inner pot for 25-30 minutes or until they are nice and hot.
What is the Filling in Stuffed Cabbage Rolls?
You can get creative and make the filling with ingredients you enjoy. Any type of ground meat(s) will work just fine. Seasoning is the key and the sauce... the sauce in this recipe really makes the dish!
I used a combination of sausage (2 kinds) and ground beef which really made this filling super easy to make because the sausage already had so much flavor!
I enjoy a combination of spicy and sweet Italian sausage along with the ground beef, but you can use any sausage you like.
If you skip the sausage and opt for all ground beef or even ground turkey or chicken, you will want to adjust your seasonings.
A trick for knowing that your meat is seasoned well is to mix everything up, except the rice, and fry or air crisp a little patty of the meat so you can taste it. I do this with meatloaf all the time to make sure the seasonings are exactly how I want them.
You will also want a binder in the ground meat. In this recipe I used rice and eggs. The best news is you don't have to cook or even rinse the rice first! This filling is so easy to make, I love it!
If you use meat with less fat content, you will want more moisture in your filling so it doesn't taste too dry inside the cabbage roll. You can add an extra egg, some Worcestershire sauce, or even some milk.
If you wanted to try a vegetarian version, I would use a combination of finely chopped mushrooms, peppers, onions with rice or quinoa.
Can I make Keto Cabbage Rolls in the Ninja Foodi?
Yep! I would simply omit the rice in the filling and the sugar in the recipe and that should do the trick.
You can also add more low carb veggies if you want.
Now that I found such an easy way to steam the cabbage, I am going to try a keto version soon. If you try it, please let me know how it turned out!
Can I make these Cabbage Rolls in any Electric Pressure Cooker?
Yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The steam function on the Ninja Foodi is used with the valve set to vent. This means that while the water in the pot is heated to create the steam, the steam is filling the pot and being released through the valve the entire time.
Because of this, the pot never gets to the high temperatures of pressure cooking. It's just like steaming on the stovetop.
In many other electric pressures, including the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, the valve must be sealed in order for the display to count the time while using the steam function.
This is unfortunate because the pot seals during steaming, essentially putting it under pressure. If you steamed in an electric pressure cooker that functions like this, you very well may overcook the cabbage.
So, if your electric pressure seals completely when using the steam function, I would check the cabbage after about 8 minutes. Then steam for another 1-2 minutes as needed for the desired doneness of the cabbage.
Other than that, everything should work the same as in the Ninja Foodi.
How to Prep & Fold the Cabbage for Cabbage Rolls
This part is so much easier to show you, rather then try to explain it. Here is a short video that goes over how to prep the leaves and roll them so you have perfect, tight cabbage rolls that don't fall apart.
How to Make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in the Ninja Foodi
There are alot of little steps to this recipe, but they are easy! While the head of cabbage is steaming, you will make the meat filling and the sauce. Things go pretty quickly and it takes about an hour from start to finish.
The best way for me to give step-by-step instructions is to break things up into 8 parts.
Prepping and Steaming the Cabbage
There are several different ways this can be done, but the way I have found that works the best for me is using the Ninja Foodi to steam the cabbage before filling and rolling.
I recommend using a 4 pound cabbage as that size worked the best and fit the best in the basket of the 6.5qt Ninja Foodi. If you have the 8qt, then you can use 5 pound head of cabbage if you want.
You want to remove the core from the cabbage and the easiest and fastest way I found was by cutting slits around the core, which I use as guides when coring the cabbage.
Then take an apple corer and starting in the center, insert the corer about 4" into the cabbage. Pull out and the core should come right out.
I've had several apple corers in my life and the one that works the best is from Pampered Chef. It's heavy duty and goes through the cabbage core like butter.
You can find the apple corer I use right here ➡︎➡︎ Apple Corer from Pampered Chef
Once the very center is removed, continue to use the corer to remove the outer part of the core. Use the slits you made as a guide so you don't go too far into the cabbage leaves.
Place 2 cups of water in the inner pot of the Ninja Foodi. Place the head of cabbage in the basket (or on the tray or rack) and put the pressure lid on.
If your cabbage is too tall and the pressure lid doesn't go one, remove the cabbage and slice off about 1" from the bottom (core side) of the cabbage. Do this until it fits.
Once the pressure lid is locked in place, turn the valve to VENT. Select the steam function and set the time for 10 minutes.
While the cabbage is steaming, make the meat filling and the sauce.
How to Make the Meat Filling for Cabbage Rolls
First, prep the ingredients by dicing the onion into a small dice, about ⅛-¼" works well. Mince the garlic. You want about 2 tsp. My garlic cloves were huge and I only needed 2, but you might need 4 or even 5.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef and the sausage. If your sausage is in a casing, remove the casing first. I like to use 1 pound of 80/20 ground beef and ½ pound of spicy Italian sausage and ½ pound of sweet Italian sausage.
You can certainly use any combination you like. If using a leaner meat, see tips in the section above.
Add the spices, the diced onions and minced garlic. Add the uncooked rice, Worcestershire sauce and the eggs. Mix well and make sure to break up the sausage so it gets distributed throughout the filling mixture.
Once thoroughly mixed, set aside.
Making the Sauce for Cabbage Rolls
I loved the combination of flavors in this sauce and I think you will too!
In a large mixing bowl or large 4 cup measuring cup combine the can of fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and seasonings. Whisk to combine.
The tomato paste and sour cream will be used later in the recipe.
Usually, by the time the meat mixture and sauce has been mixed up, the cabbage is done steaming.
Removing the Leaves from the Cabbage
Once the cabbage has finished steaming, remove the lid and place the cabbage on a cutting board or plate to cool until you can comfortably handle it.
If the time is up on the Ninja Foodi and the pin is still popped up, preventing the lid from opening, don't worry. Simply turn the Ninja Foodi and within a minute or so the pin will drop and you can open the lid.
Once cool enough, begin to roll the cabbage leaves off of the head of cabbage. Please see video above for demonstration.
Continue to do that will all of the large cabbage leaves. When you get closer to the center, the leaves are a little more difficult to remove. Just do your best to gently lift them up on all sides and lift them off of the head of cabbage.
The small inner leaves are going to be used to line the pot and not roll into cabbage rolls, so don't worry if they tear.
The very center, where the leaves are good for much of anything, I chop up into small pieces and add to the sauce. I love the texture it gives.
Preventing the Water Notice
I tested this recipe several times before I felt ready to film it, so imagine how shocked I was when, in the middle of filming, I got the dreaded WATR notice!
I was baffled. This same recipe worked before, why not this time? I simply stared at Jeff for a minute and went to work investigating why it happened.
He continued filming the remaining of the recipe to document my "fixes," but, we opted not to air that version and instead I fixed the issue and filmed it again. I thought by airing the version where I got the water notice, people might be scared to make the recipe and I assure you that I never got the water notice before or after that 1 time!
The reason why I got the water notice is because I lined the pot with the thinner, outer leaves instead of the thicker inside leaves. It was a last minute change I made during filming and it didn't work out so well!
This is why it can be challenging to alter a pressure cooker recipe, even the slightest change can have a bad outcome. However, it's not the end of the world if you get the water notice. Simply turn the pot off, release the pressure manually, and investigate.
In my case, there was plenty of thin liquid, so that wasn't the issue. I had to remove the cabbage rolls and remove the leaves that I lined the pot with and they were really brown. The thicker ones don't do that!
So, don't use the outer leaves! Use the inner ones that are small and difficult to roll anyway. It makes life much easier and more predictable and when pressure cooking, I like predictability!
Line the bottom of the Ninja Foodi inner pot with the cabbage leaves and add ¼ cup of chicken stock (or water).
Now we have our insurance policy against the water notice, it's time to roll the cabbage rolls!
How to Roll Cabbage Rolls
I showed a video on how to do this above, but I will explain it here and show pictures.
You want to remove the hard stems from your cabbage leaves because they make it difficult to roll and they also stay on the crunchy side after PC'ing.
Take a sharp knife and shave the hard stem off. This is better visualized then explained.
Then, flatten the leaf out on your work surface. Add between 1-3 Tablespoons of meat mixture. The amount you add depends on the size of the cabbage leaf. The really large outer leaves can handle more of the mixture.
Make sure you have about 1" on either side of the meat mixture so you have enough of the leaf to fold over when rolling. If you have a lot more than 1" of cabbage on either side of the meat mixture, you can trim it off if you want. I didn't and I think I had a little too much to fold over.
Now we are ready to roll the cabbage rolls and place them in the pot. Fold the stem end over the meat mixture and pull back towards you to tighten the cabbage around the meat.
Fold in each side and roll tightly. Place the cabbage roll in the pot on top of the bed of cabbage leaves.
Repeat this for all of the cabbage leaves. The number you end up with will depend on how big they are how much meat mixture they needed.
If you end up with meat mixture and hard to roll cabbage leaves, simply make little cups out of them and place them on top.
Pressure Cooking the Cabbage Rolls
Once all the cabbage rolls are layered in the inner pot, pour over the sauce and don't stir. Mine looks chunky because I add the chopped up cabbage from the very inner part to the sauce.
Place the pressure lid on the Ninja Foodi and turn the valve to seal. Pressure cook for 10 minutes and when the time is up, allow the pot to natural release for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure.
Don't worry how it looks right now, it's about to become beautiful, I promise!
Finishing the Sauce & Serving
Remove the cooked cabbage rolls and place them in a serving platter that is deep enough to hold some sauce. Or you can put the sauce in a separate bowl and have people ladle it over their rolls. Personally, I like to do both!
Add the tomato paste and the sour cream to the sauce and stir until incorporated. If you want your sauce thicker, use the sear/sauté and heat to burn off some extra liquid. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent scortching.
Personally, I found the sauce to be perfect as is.
Ladle the sauce over the cabbage rolls.
Serve & Enjoy!
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in the Ninja Foodi
- 4 lb cabbage
- 2 cups water
Pressure Cooking liquid
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 3-5 inner cabbage leaves
Prepare the Cabbage
- Prep the cabbage by cutting slits around the core of the cabbage. Use an apple corer or a paring knife to remove the core.
- Place 2 cups of water into the inner pot. Place the cabbage, core side down, into the basket. If the cabbage is too large for the pressure lid to go on. Simply trim the bottom of the cabbage until it fits. Shave the least amount possible.
- Once the cabbage is in the basket and the pressure lid is on, turn the valve to VENT and select the steam function. Steam for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cabbage and allow to cool until you can comfortably handle it.
- Dump the water from the pot and clean the pot.
- While the cabbage is steaming, dice the onion, remove the casings from the sausage, and mince the garlic.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, seasonings, minced garlic, diced onions, Worcestershire sauce, uncooked rice, and eggs. Mix well to combine. Make sure to break up the sausage well when mixing. Set aside until cabbage is done.
- Combine the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasonings, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar into a large measuring cup or bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Stuffing and Rolling the Cabbage
- Carefully remove the leaves from the cabbage by rolling them off the head of cabbage and place the leaves on a plate. Start at the top of the cabbage and roll towards the stem. See video in post for demonstration. There are very small and thick leaves towards the core of the cabbage. I dice that part small and add to the sauce. This is completely optional. You could also make a little coleslaw with that part.
- Once the leaves are removed from the cabbage, take 4-5 of the very INNER leaves and line the pot with them. Make sure the pot is clean and without any liquid. Then add the ¼ cup of chicken stock. The small amount of liquid and the cabbage leaves are used to prevent the water notice and it's very important that you don't skip this step. Don't use leaves from the other part of the cabbage, they are too thin and tend to brown on the bottom of the pot which triggers the water notice.
- Take a cabbage leaf and shave the stem using a sharp knife. See video in post for demonstration.
- Use between 1 and 3 Tbsp of the meat filling for each cabbage leaf, depending on the size of the leaf. You want to have at least 1" of room on either side of the filling so you can roll a tight cabbage roll.
- Fold the cabbage leaf over the filling and pull back towards you to compress the filling and tighten up the cabbage leaf. Fold each side of the cabbage leaf in and then roll to form a cabbage roll. If you are unsure how to do this, please watch the video as it is much easier to demonstrate than describe.
- Place the cabbage rolls in the inner pot ON TOP OF the cabbage you lined the pot with. Continue rolling and putting the cabbage rolls into the pot until you are out of meat mixture. The number of cabbage rolls you will get varies based on the size of the cabbage leaf and how much meat mixture you put in. I usually get anywhere from 12-24 cabbage rolls. The servings for this recipe are 12 people because either 1 large cabbage roll or 2 small ones would equal 1 serving.
- Once all the cabbage rolls are stacked in the inner pot, pour the sauce over the rolls. Don't stir.
- Place the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure on high for 10 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pot to natural release for 10 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure.
Finish the Sauce
- Remove the cabbage rolls and place on a serving platter. Remove the bottom leaves from the pot.
- Stir in 6 ounces tomato paste and ½ cup of sour cream.
- Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.