Sarma (Croatian Sauerkraut Rolls)

Total Time
Prep 1 hr
Cook 3 hrs

Origin of this meal is Turkish. They also call this meal the same. There are many ways of making “sarma” and they differ according to the region. This recipe is my mother who is an expert in “sarma” making. It is also old recipe, actually my grandmother recipe.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Take the whole sauerkraut head and remove leaves carefully avoiding damaging them. 1500 g should give about 20 to 25 sarmas. Cut the thick part at the bottom of each leaf (cut it triangularly).
  2. Mix grounded beef, pork and bacon. Add two eggs and very finely minced onion. Cook rice until half done and add into meat. Add salt, pepper and mix hard.
  3. Take leaf of sauerkraut and put meat in it and make a small package making sure to close ends. I don’t know how to explain it but you have to press leaf end into. Do it until you have enough meat or leaves.
  4. Take a really large pot and start to put sarmas in it. At the bottom put smoked bacon skins if you have any, than one layer of sarmas, one layer bacon or pork ribs. Also add sliced sauerkraut in between. After you lay all sarmas and bacon, ribs and sliced sauerkraut, pour 2 cups of brine over everything (this is optional, my family like really sour sauerkraut that’s why I’ve put it).
  5. Cook for about 1 hour on mild fire. Some people, and I’m among them like to add this: take small pan, melt lard and fry flour until brownish – add paprika and some cold water and make creamy stuff (we call this “ajmbren”). Add this into sarma and cook 2 to 3 hours.
  6. The best sarma in the next day, not the day you’ve cooked it. You can eat sarma up to whole week; you can also freeze portions. We eat cooked potato on lard and onion with it called “restani krumpir”.


Most Helpful

This is exactly like my mother's recipe, which she got from her mother! It's wonderful stuff.

Jenny D D July 07, 2014

This is an excellent recipe, the flavors were almost identical to those I tasted in Croatia.

If you're in the UK you can find some of these ingredients most importantly the pickled cabbage. I found mine at a Mediterranean food shop. I also found a chunk of smoked bacon which I used in place of the pork ribs. I could not find ground bacon so I substituted for a jar of polish ham I found in Tesco (in the world food section)

Don't throw away the off cuts of the cabbage leaves, instead shred them and save on buying a jar of sauerkraut.

It is not said in this recipe but once you've done all your layers you have to cover the cabbage rolls with water and the (optional) reserved cabbage juice.

You definitely have to make the creamy sauce with it, it gave it that extra something and made them shiny and beautiful.

Great recipe!

Sarah_Zupanja November 07, 2011

Sarma is better the next day. All the flavors meld together and give it just the right amount of sourness. My mom makes it in the oven and always makes a very large pot of this fantiastic dish. It stays well and even freezes wonderfully! We also make the rouge with paprika and water. Try some great rye bread with it too. I think everyone should make Sarma at least once and they'll know exactly what the simple taste of Europe is so heartwarming.

veraj9170 December 15, 2008

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