Lahanodolmades (Stuffed Cabbage with Avgolemono)

March 2, 2008 · 16 comments

in beef,dairy-free,greek,healthy

For as much as I enjoy food, I can pick what are probably my two favorite dishes with little hesitation: Greek-style stuffed cabbage with egg-lemon sauce (lahanodolmades avgolemono) and roasted lamb with tomatoes and orzo (arni youvetsi) with lots of grated myzithra. But, I tend to not make these dishes at home and wait for my yiayia to make them when I visit Michigan (she takes requests, of course). Tom is not that crazy about cabbage, so I usually make youvarlakia, which are almost the same thing as the dolmades but without the cabbage. And roasting lamb just doesn’t make much sense when there are only two people in the household. So, unfortunately, I don’t eat my two favorite meals all that often.

But, lucky for me, Tom *will* eat anything. In fact the only thing he doesn’t like is Grape Nuts cereal, which he professes tastes like gravel. He likes almost everything else, and things he feels just sort of “eh” about (like cabbage), he will still eat. And hey, I can always eat the cabbage from his plate if he doesn’t want it (much like I did with my dad’s plate, when I was younger).

I have been majorly craving some lahanodolmades (LA-hah-no-dole-MAH-thes) lately, so I decided to make these. In general “dolmades” refer to stuffed grape leaves whereas “lahanodolmades” are stuffed cabbage (lahana = cabbage). I much, much, much prefer lahanodolmades with avgolemono over the tomato sauce many versions of stuffed cabbage tend to have. Plus, it’s really the only way we made them in my family. These are really easy to make vegetarian by simply removing the meat. Normally I don’t thicken my avgolemono with flour or cornstarch but that’s because generally I am making something more soup-like whereas this is more sauce-like so I do add the cornstarch here.

Stuffed Cabbage with Egg Lemon Sauce (Lahanodolmades Avgolemono)
Serves about 4
Printer Friendly Recipe 

1 cabbage
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup white rice
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, finely diced or grated
fresh dill, to taste–but don’t be stingy!
fresh parsley, to taste–again, don’t be stingy! 
1 tsp. salt
ground pepper to taste
2–2.5 cups chicken broth or water (I use a combo)

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Meanwhile, peel the outermost leaves of the cabbage off and then, with one hand on the cabbage to steady it, use a small paring or utility knife to cut around the core of the cabbage. Pop the core out with the tip of your knife (basically you will have a hole in your cabbage). Then, add the cabbage to the boiling water and boil until the leaves are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Carefully peel the cabbage, layer by layer, reserving the leaves. If they are big, feel free to cut them in half.

In a pot or dutch oven (I just use the same one as I did for the cabbage), put some sort of layer of vegetables on the bottom. You can use some of the leftover cabbage leaves, onion, lemon slices…today I did a combo of all three because my onion was too large to use all  up in the meat mixture and I had some torn pieces of cabbage.

Lightly mix your ground beef, rice, beaten egg, onion, dill, salt and pepper until the ingredients are incorporated. Lay a cabbage leaf flat on your work surface and place about a tablespoon or so of the meat mixture at one end of the leaf. Tuck in the sides of the leaf and then proceed to roll it up. Place the rolled up cabbage seam side down on top of bed of veggies. Continue stuffing/rolling the remaining cabbage and placing them next to each other in the pot. When you have one layer completed, make another layer of the stuffed cabbage.

After you have made all your rolls, pour water or broth into the pot. The cabbage rolls shouldn’t be submerged completely, but you should be able to see the liquid coming up from the sides. I also place an inverted plate on top of the rolls, to keep some pressure on them so they don’t open during cooking. Bring the broth to a boil and then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 60-75 minutes, until the cabbage is very tender.

To make the avgolemono, mix together the eggs and lemon juice and then add the corn starch to make a slurry. Take a few ladles of the broth from the cabbage rolls (I like to take out all or most of the rolls before doing this, just because it makes it easier on me and you can also pull out things you don’t want to eat, like if you used lemon slices), and slowly add it to the egg-lemon mixture, beating continuously. Then, add the avgolemono into the pot, again stirring continuously. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 Nutritional information per serving (using extra lean ground beef): Calories: 324 / Fat: 13.5 / Carbs: 18.2g / Protein: 33.5g 

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim March 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Is the rice cooked first?
My nana always made stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, but I love lemon sauces!


elly March 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

No, the rice is left raw so it will cook as you are cooking/stewing the stuffed cabbage. Hope you like them if you try them!


katie August 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I hate to ask, but is the ground beef cooked before being rolled up? (I don’t cook much). I was thinking of using bison because it’s leaner.


elly August 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Nope, it’s raw. It will cook up with the rice!


Kim March 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Tried them last night, we had some people over for my husband’s birthday and everyone loved them.
I used ground turkey and chicken sausage w/garlic and herbs that I removed the casing and chopped up. The chicken sausage really helped flavor the turkey.
What do you serve with yours?


elly March 29, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Glad you liked them, Kim! Usually we just eat them with a salad and some bread to sop up the avgolemono.


Valery Bunnell February 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm

These are also good with sour cream on top. This is a very similar recipe to what Russians make. I love these.

I cook my rice and bake these covered in a casserole pan with some butter pieces over the top of each roll.


sibel December 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

dolma and lahanodolma look delicious, for sure. but, they are not Greek. they are traditional Turkish meals invented by the Turkish. even their names derive from the words ‘lahana’ and ‘dolma’ which are Turkish.lahana means cabbage in Turkish and dolma is the noun form of the verb ‘dolma’ which means ‘stuffing’. So please dont give any wrong information here.


elly December 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

There are no doubt Turkish cabbage rolls, too, but these are Greek – especially with the avgolemono. Lahana means cabbage in Greek, too.


lena June 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Elley is right. There are other counrties that have something similar. So it would be nice if you dont label it as turkish. I am sure you have something like that in your countryther is as is an Eastern Europe and the Middle East as well as Finland and Sweden dish. But just a bit of history for you; most of Turkey was Greece in the anceint times. So we all do share a bit of simmilar food its no surprise. Please know your facts before posting something like that. Thanks.


kostas October 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Sibel lahanodolmades were made in mikrasia (east turkey) nowfrom the greeks that lived there as most foods that turks copy from greeks,avgolemono is purely greek turkish food is yummy also but you are so wrong here stay hungry eat greek pame pame elladaraaaaaaa!!!


Querino de-Freitas March 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

I love eating stuffed food,, its so pratical and healthy……too Querino


Querino de-Freitas March 21, 2013 at 8:04 am

I love getting stuffed food,,its more practical and tastier…..Barley,,,cus-cus is wonderful cooked this way….There are no rules in stuffed food,,Every country surely has own style….Thanks Querino


Nan Kitras March 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

This is the way we made them at home too. In fact because my dad never made any of the other versions for the the longest time these were simply dolmades. One suggestion you might like to try is using ground pork instead of hamburger. It gives great flavor and they turn out just as well. Thank you for sharing this recipe!


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