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Japanese Cabbage Rolls - Instant Pot + Stovetop

These Japanese Cabbage Rolls are the Asian version of the traditional stuffed rolls our mothers often cooked. The hearty beef filling has Panko bread crumbs, and is encased in cabbage leaves and simmered in a tomato sauce made of diced tomatoes, soup stock, white wine, bay leaves and seasonings. This recipe was inspired by Just One Cookbook's Namiko Chen. This is an Asian in America recipe post by Elizabeth Ann Quirino.
*I shared how to cook this classic meal in 3 different ways: on the stovetop, the slow cooker, or the Instant Pot. Cooking time shown is for the stovetop. In the Instant Pot it cooks for 22 minutes. In the slow cooker, this cooks on Low for 6 to 7 hours.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Japanese
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 368kcal
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Instant Pot Multicooker - 6 or 8 quarts - if using a multicooker
  • Large stockpot - if cooking stovetop
  • Slow cooker (Crockpot) - if cooking with a slow cooker



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 whole medium-sized onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs; or use regular bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Cabbage wraps

  • 1 whole cabbage, or about 12 whole leaves
  • water, for blanching

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can (14. 5 g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups soup stock; chicken or vegetable
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For serving

  • steamed rice


To prepare Cabbage:

  • In a large stockpot, over high heat, boil about 2 quarts water, or enough to cover the cabbage.
    When water boils, add and submerge the entire cabbage head. Some leaves will start to peel off after 5 minutes. By then, remove the cabbage, using a pair of long tongs or two large cooking spoons.
    Place cabbage on a chopping board. When cabbage has cooled, carefully remove each leaf. You should have about 12 whole pieces.
    Using a sharp knife, remove the middle vein of the leaf, which is thick and tough. Set the veins aside, and chop them to include with the filling.
    Set the leaves aside to cool down.

To prepare the Filling:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground meat, onions, egg, flour, bread crumbs, soy sauce, salt and pepper. If desired, add the chopped veins from the leaves.
    Set aside in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, for easier handling.

To wrap the Cabbage Rolls:

  • Take one whole cabbage leaf and lay it flat on a chopping board. Place about 2 tablespoons of the beef filling in the center.
    Wrap the cabbage roll like a burrito. Roll it away from you, tuck the left and right sides inwards. Repeat process for the rest of the cabbage rolls. You can either tie these rolls with butcher string or leave them untied, but be sure to place them downward with the seam side under, inside the pot.
    (Note: My Mom used to seal the edges with a toothpick or tied them with butcher's string so they won't unravel while cooking. The toothpicks or strings were removed after cooking, and before serving).

To cook on the stovetop: (option 1)

  • Use the same large stockpot for blanching the cabbage. Rinse and dry with paper towels.
    Over medium-high heat, add the oil. When oil is hot, saute the garlic.
    Place the cabbage rolls inside the stockpot, side by side, nestled close, leaving no space in between.
    Add the diced tomatoes, and bay leaves. Pour the wine and soup stock. Season with salt and pepper.
    Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 to 40 minutes.
    Serve warm with rice.

To cook in the Instant Pot (option 2)

  • Click on the Saute button on the keypad.
    Pour the oil. When oil is hot in 2 minutes, saute the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes.
    Turn off the Saute function by clicking Cancel.
    Add the cabbage rolls into the inside pot, side by side, nestled next to one another.
    Add the diced tomatoes and bay leaves. Pour the white wine, and soup stock. Season with salt and pepper.
    Cover and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing.
    Click on Manual + High Pressure + 22 minutes.
    When buzzer sounds to announce cooking is done, do a Natural Release. Carefully unlock and open the lid. Set lid on a dry safe surface of counter.
    Use a long cooking spoon to carefully remove the cabbage rolls and plate on a platter. Serve warm with rice.

To cook in a slow cooker (Crock Pot) - [option 3]

  • Pour oil in bottom of the pot. Add garlic.
    Place the cabbage rolls side by side inside the pot. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves. Pour the white wine, and soup stock (2 cups if using a slow cooker). Season with salt and pepper.
    Cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours. When done, serve warm with rice.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 1161mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 3mg