Easy cabbage roll side dish recipes and ideas, from hearty tomato soup to cucumber salad, and slow-cooked kielbasa to mashed potato. Discover what to serve with cabbage rolls today.
Cabbage rolls are an Eastern European staple with their influence stretching as far as the Mediterranean and Egypt. Naturally, recipes vary between countries and cultures, but the main concept remains the same: Meat or vegetable filling cased in cooked cabbage leaves.
These easy serving ideas will complete your meal platter, including sauerkraut, pierogies, and barley pilaf. Find your new favorite cabbage roll side dish today.
Cabbage rolls already have enough cabbage flavor, but adding sauerkraut takes the dish to a new level with bitter, briny, delicious flavors. The fermented flavors of sauerkraut are a traditional accompaniment to cabbage rolls in many Eastern European traditional recipes.
Sauerkraut is chopped pickled cabbage popular in Central and Eastern Europe. You can buy it at the store or make your own using cabbage, salt, and caraway leaves. Pack it into a jar and leave it to ferment for several days.
If you want to keep your cabbage rolls as traditional as possible, serve them with pierogies, another traditional Polish dish. Pierogies are filled dumplings that come in savory and sweet varieties. Their creamy, comforting flavor helps to balance out some of the fermented flavors of cabbage rolls.
To make pierogi dough, combine flour, water, eggs, and butter. Combine boiled potatoes, onions, cheese, and salt for the traditional filling. Fold the dough into dumplings and boil, then finish off by quickly pan-frying them.
Kielbasa is a traditional Polish smoked sausage that comes in a U-shape. Its smoky, savory flavors make the ultimate comforting meal when paired with cabbage rolls. It can bring out the flavors of the meat filling in the rolls.
Kielbasa is a blanket name for many different types of sausage, ranging from the spicy flavors of kielbasa krakowska to milder, uncooked kielbasa biala often served with soup. Whichever type of kielbasa you buy, you can prepare it by pan-frying it or grilling it.
For something different, try our turkey kielbasa recipe. The turkey sausage is slow cooked in beer and mustard to elevate the flavor to a new level.
German Cucumber Salad
German cucumber salad, or gurkensalat, is a refreshing, cooling salad packed with herby flavors. This light salad is the perfect pairing with a heavy dish such as cabbage rolls. If you want to keep it traditional when planning your meal but don’t like some of the other, rich traditional side dishes popular in Central Europe, this dish is for you.
Besides cucumbers, you will need sour cream, vinegar, sugar, dill sprigs, salt, and pepper. Thinly slice the cucumbers, then combine the other ingredients into a dressing. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers, then chill overnight before serving.
Potato pancakes are a staple throughout Central and Eastern Europe, from the latkes popular in Jewish communities during Hanukkah to bramboraky, a favorite snack in the Czech Republic. Their mild, comforting flavor is the perfect accompaniment to the sometimes-bitter flavor that cabbage rolls have due to the pickling of the cabbage leaves.
To make potato pancakes, start with a base of shredded or ground potatoes. Add flour and egg to bind the potatoes together, season with salt and pepper, then form into flat pancakes and fry.
When you’re making cabbage rolls, you want something to soak up the delicious sauce that comes with the rolls. That’s where rye bread steps in. This dark, rich loaf is a favorite in Central and Eastern Europe, where cabbage rolls come from, and is a better way to soak up the flavor from cabbage rolls than plain white bread.
You can always buy rye bread from the store or make your own using a combination of rye and regular flour, active dry yeast, and molasses. Activate the yeast, then knead the dough (some bakers add caraway seeds for extra flavor). Let it rise, then bake!
Soup is a great way to start any meal. A light appetizer course whets the appetite even for a heavier main dish. Among our best soup recipes, tomato soup is a great appetizer because it is light while still packed with savory flavor from the tomatoes. Thanks to both dishes’ intense tangy flavor., it goes well with cabbage rolls
You can buy canned tomato soup, but where is the fun in that? Making your own is easy with canned tomatoes, broth, onion, and salt (add extra vegetables such as celery and carrots for more flavor). Simmer the tomatoes, then blend until the soup is smooth.
Mashed potatoes are a great side dish with almost any dish. Their mild flavor is the perfect base for the intense taste of cabbage rolls. Plus, you can use mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce from the cabbage rolls.
Make mashed potatoes by boiling them. Then, add butter, milk, and seasonings like salt and pepper. Mash them with a potato masher until smooth.
Russian Cabbage Soup
If you’re serving cabbage rolls, why not make the whole meal a cabbage party and start with an appetizer of cabbage soup? A traditional Russian cabbage soup, called shchi, is a great appetizer. Shchi has a mild, savory flavor that enhances the flavor of cabbage rolls.
Besides cabbage, you need other vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes. Cook the vegetables and add broth and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender.
Barley pilaf is a spin on rice pilaf, a traditional dish of layered rice and vegetables popular in northern Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Barley’s robust, earthy flavor adds an extra dimension to pilaf and a bit of health. It pairs well with the rich flavors of cabbage rolls.
Besides barley, you will need chicken broth, olive oil, and vegetables such as carrots and peas. To make the pilaf, start by toasting the barley in a greased skillet with onions and garlic. Boil the barley until tender, season, and add your choice of vegetables.
Cabbage rolls are a popular winter dish thanks to their hardiness and long shelf life, but you can add a bit of spring flavors by serving them with roasted asparagus. Roasting mellows out the natural bitter flavors of asparagus, making them a great accompaniment to cabbage rolls.
This quick vegetable side couldn’t be easier to make. For simple asparagus baked in foil simply drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and salty and fresh black pepper. Trim the asparagus, season, and bake until tender and slightly browned.