Croatian Sarma Recipe (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Grape leaves dolma is a healthy and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed by everyone.

By xp5u9
September 15, 2022
Rating: 0.00

Croatian Sarma Recipe is a traditional dish that has been passed down through generations in Croatia. This delicious and hearty meal consists of cabbage leaves stuffed with a filling made from ground meat, rice, onions, and spices.

Grape leaves are not only gorgeous to look at, but they are also a delicious and healthy addition to many recipes. Though they are most commonly associated with Mediterranean cuisine, grape leaves actually have a long history of being used in cooking.

What is Croatian Sarma (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)?

Sarma is a staple dish in Croatian cuisine and is often served during special occasions such as weddings and holidays. Its origins can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, where it was traditionally served during winter months as a way to preserve cabbage for longer periods of time. Today, Sarma remains a beloved comfort food that can be enjoyed any time of year.

The recipe typically consists of seasoned ground beef or pork mixed with rice, onions, and spices that are rolled up in boiled cabbage leaves. The rolls are then simmered in a rich tomato sauce until tender and packed with flavor. Whether you’re looking to bring some international cuisine into your kitchen or simply craving a warm and satisfying meal, this Croatian Sarma Recipe is sure to hit the spot.

Croatian Sarma Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Tips & Tricks for the Best Sarma Rolls

If you’re a fan of traditional Balkan cuisine, or just love stuffed cabbage rolls, then you will definitely enjoy sarma rolls. These delicious and hearty rolls are made by wrapping minced meat, rice and spices in pickled or fresh cabbage leaves. They are a popular comfort food in the Balkans, but can also be found in other parts of Europe and Asia.

To make the best sarma rolls, there are a few tips and tricks that you should keep in mind. First, choose fresh and crisp cabbage leaves for rolling. If using pickled cabbage leaves, rinse them well before use to remove any excess saltiness. Next, make sure to mix your filling ingredients thoroughly before stuffing the cabbage leaves to ensure even distribution of flavor.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking sarma is mixing it with a spoon. This can cause the sarma to break apart and lose its shape. To avoid this, it’s important to always shake the pot or use a spoon to gently move them around.

Another important tip is to layer the sarma rolls tightly in your cooking pot to prevent them from unraveling during cooking.

How to Make Croatian Sarma Recipe (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)?

To start making the best Sarma Rolls possible, it’s important to begin with high-quality ingredients. Look for fresh cabbage leaves or fermented cabbage leaves that are free from any blemishes or damage. For the filling, choose ground beef or pork that is lean and flavorful.

Once you have your ingredients ready to go, it’s time to get creative with your seasonings. Traditional Croatian Sarma recipes call for a blend of garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. However, feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices like oregano or thyme to achieve the perfect flavor profile.

Croatian Sarma Recipe

Croatian Sarma Recipe (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Every bite of sarma is bursting with flavor and texture, making it impossible to resist.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 40 minutes


For cabbage rolls

  • 1 whole sour cabbage head
  • lb ground meat  (beef + pork)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic diced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup white rice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp hot paprika powder
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 200 g smoked bacon
  • lard

For the roux 

  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika powder
  • ½ tsp hot paprika powder
  • salt


  • First prepare the cabbage leaves by separating them from the fermented cabbage. Keep in mind that you'll need some cabbage leaves to place at the bottom to create a layer for preventing sticking of the cabbage rolls to the cooking pot. To prevent too sour or salty you can rinse the cabbage leaves under cold water.
  • Use a sharp knife to remove the cabbage leaves' rib.
  • The exceed cabbage leave you can chop and spread them on the bottom of the cooking pot. Place at the bottom
  • Chop the garlic and onion finely and combine them with ground meat and the rest of the ingredients for the filling in a bowl.
  • In a large cooking pot over medium heat melt the lard. place a layer of cabbage leaves at the bottom.
  • Use a spoon to grab from the mixture and place in the center of the cabbage leave. Roll as a burrito. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage leaves.
  • Place them tight next to each other in the cooking pot. Add the water that the sarma is completely covered with it and bring it to a boil. Add the rest of the chopped cabbage leaves. You can place a plate inside the keep the sarma from floating.
  • After it start boiling bring the heat to low and cook for another 2.5h. make sure you check the water and add more if necessary.
  • Then prepare your roux in a small saucepan by melting the rest of the lard and adding the flour. Stir till brown or light golden color and add the sweet and hot paprika powder.
  • Pour the roux to the cooking pot with sarma and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Croatian
Keyword: Cabbage rolls, Sarma

Explore More Sarma Recipes?

Did you make this Croatian sarma recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and tag @thebalkanrecipes on Instagram and hashtag it #thebalkanrecipes.

Copyright © 2022 The Balkans recipes. Made with by VisibleDev.
Popular Search: