Japanese Cabbage Rolls

Introducing my Japanese Cabbage Rolls recipe, a savory delight that’s a must-try! These slow-cooked cabbage rolls feature a flavorful blend of ground pork, wrapped in tender cabbage leaves, and simmered in a light tomato sauce enriched with butter, garlic, and soy sauce. It’s a hearty, yet not heavy, meal packed with vitamins, perfect for those seeking a wholesome and delicious option!

Japanese style roll cabbage being cut into with a knife.

Why I Love This Recipe

My Japanese Cabbage Rolls bring together the essence of Japanese cuisine with the comforting flavors of home-cooked meals, and the best part is they’re incredibly easy to make and I made sure to only use all natural ingredients for a healthy meal! Ground pork takes center stage, encased in the embrace of tender cabbage leaves, and boiled in a delicate tomato sauce resulting in a comforting and satisfying dish!

It’s a taste of Japan that’s not only delicious but also accessible, making it perfect for anyone looking to explore Japanese flavors in their own kitchen. Just like my Japanese Chicken Gratin or Seafood Gratin Bake, this recipe is a delightful blend of tradition and innovation, suitable for both busy weeknights and leisurely weekend dinners. Give it a try, and experience the joy of creating a dish that’s as nourishing as it is flavorful!



  • Cabbage -whole green cabbage head.
  • Ground Pork – or you can use 50/50 ground beef and pork.
  • Egg – beaten.
  • Half and Half – a blend of half heavy cream and half milk. Can sub with milk.
  • Garlic – grated using a hand grater.
  • Salt – sea salt preferred.
  • Black Pepper – ground.
  • Butter – salted or unsalted.
  • Soy Sauce – low-sodium Soy Sauce preferred. Can also use tamari for gluten-free.
  • Diced Tomatoes – canned diced tomatoes in tomato juice.
  • Chicken Broth – chicken stock that comes in a can or tetra pack found at grocery stores. Can also use low sodium chicken broth if preferred.

🥬 Cabbage Note

Use Large Size Green Cabbage to give you nice big leaves to work with and make rolling easier.

Boiled cabbage leaves for cabbage rolls on a white plate.

Essential Kitchen Equipment

  • Toothpicks


Step 1 Start by boiling a whole head of cored cabbage for 3-5 minutes until the leaves soften, making them easy to peel.

Boiled cabbage.

🥬 Cabbage Pro Tip

Cutting out the Cabbage Core with a coring knife before boiling helps the leaves come off effortlessly after they soften.

🍲 Boiling Cabbage Pro Tip

Avoid Overboiling the cabbage to prevent leaf breakage.

Step 2 While the cabbage is boiling, mix ground pork, a beaten egg, half and half, some grated garlic, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.

Ground pork mix for roll cabbage.

Step 3 Lay out the softened cabbage leaves and place a portion of the meat mixture at the base. Roll up the cabbage leaves tightly, securing them with toothpicks.

Japanese roll cabbage with a toothpick.

Step 4 For the sauce, melt butter in a pot and add diced tomatoes, the remaining grated garlic, and soy sauce. Arrange the rolled cabbages in the pot, add chicken broth, and simmer on low to medium heat for 25-30 minutes.

Japanese roll cabbage cooking in a pot.

🌡 Internal Temperature Check

To ensure safe consumption, cook the cabbage rolls until their internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Paring Recommendations

While my cabbage roll recipe is a delicious meal on its own, you can enhance your dining experience by pairing it with some complementary dishes. Consider serving it with rice for a satisfying balance. Japanese Corn Soup provides warmth and comfort, while a green salad with Japanese Ginger Dressing adds a refreshing touch. For a beverage, enjoy some refreshing Mugicha or a comforting Hot Matcha Latte.

Japanese style cabbage rolls inside a pot before cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cabbage rolls healthy?

These Japanese cabbage rolls are very healthy. The rolls are packed with protein from the ground pork and also offer the nutritional benefits of cabbage, which includes fiber and various vitamins. The light tomato sauce adds flavor without packing on extra calories or sugar.

Why boil the cabbage?

Boiling the cabbage makes removing the leaves easy and without tearing.

Can I use ground beef instead of ground pork?

Yes, you can use ground beef, but it's important to note that the texture and tenderness of the filling may differ slightly from using ground pork.

Do I need to use toothpicks to secure the cabbage rolls?

Without toothpicks, the rolls may fall apart during the cooking process, so they play a crucial role in keeping the rolls intact.

What's the recommended serving size for this dish?

Serving sizes can vary depending on individual appetites, but typically, serving 3-4 pieces of these cabbage rolls would make for a filling and satisfying meal.


Japanese style roll cabbage being cut into with a knife, top down shot.

Storage Tips

To store leftovers, place them in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh and flavorful for up to 5 to 7 days. When you’re ready to enjoy them again, you can easily reheat the rolls using a microwave.

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Watch How To Make It

Japanese style roll cabbage topped with fresh parsley served in a white bowl.

Japanese Cabbage Rolls

Savor the taste of Japanese Cabbage Rolls, a delightful blend of pork wrapped in boiled cabbage for a flavorful dish.
4.58 from 19 votes
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian American, Asian Fusion, Worldwide
Keyword: Asian cabbage rolls, Japanese cabbage rolls, pork cabbage rolls, rolled cabbage recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Print Recipe
Calories: 262kcal


Cabbage Rolls



  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Ingredients for Japanese roll cabbage.
  • Grate 2 garlic with a grinder or a garlic press.
    Grated garlic.
  • Use a knife to crave the end/stem of the cabbage out as shown below. In a large pot, submerge the whole cabbage head end/stem side down into boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until cabbage leaves are soft. Carefully remove cabbage head from the water and peel off cabbage leaves. Set aside.
    Boiled cabbage.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add ground pork, beaten egg, half and half, 1/2 of the grated garlic, salt and black pepper and mix well.
    Ground pork mix for roll cabbage.
  • Lay cabbage leaves on a flat surface. Place 3 tablespoons of meat mixture at the base of cabbage, tuck in the sides of the leaf as shown below and roll the cabbage up tightly. Horizontally toothpick to secure.
    Japanese roll cabbage with a toothpick.
  • In a large stovetop pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add diced tomatoes, the remaining grated garlic, Soy Sauce and mix well.
    Tomato sauce for roll cabbage.
  • Place cabbage rolls side by side in rows as shown below. Then add chicken broth and cover. Simmer low to medium heat for 25-30 minutes.
    Japanese roll cabbage cooking in a pot.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl, remove toothpicks and pour the excess liquid over cabbage roll .
    Japanese roll cabbage served in a white bowl.


Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 772mg | Potassium: 398mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 252IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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