The right spices can really turn a dish from good to great.
That’s especially true for cabbage rolls!
Whether you’re making Ukrainian Holubtsi, Russian Golubtsy, or another variety, these small but delicious rolls deserve the perfect seasoning blend.
In this collection of my favorite spices for cabbage rolls, I’m sharing 13 flavor boosters that will take your recipe to the next level—trust me, even your pickiest eaters won’t be able to say no.
I love the flavor of thyme.
It has a sharp, almost minty taste that’s balanced by earthy and floral notes with a subtle sweetness and pepperiness.
This flavor profile works for so many dishes!
When I’m adding thyme to my cabbage rolls, I usually add about one teaspoon of dried or two teaspoons of fresh leaves.
Of course, feel free to adjust based on your own preference!
You can always add more once you’ve tasted it if the level isn’t quite right yet.
Seasoning is all about finding an individual balance that you like best.
I love parsley because of its natural beauty, peppery taste, and earthy aroma.
Its unmistakable flavor is due to the aromatic oil which runs through each leaf; it’s simultaneously strong and refreshing, adding a delightful dimension to any dish.
This makes parsley an incredibly versatile ingredient – use it in soups and salads, sprinkle over pasta dishes, or add some freshly chopped leaves to your stir-fries. It even adds a lovely texture when used as a garnish on cooked vegetables or sandwiches!
When making cabbage rolls I would recommend adding at least one tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley for added flavor – you can also tweak this depending on how much of an herbaceous kick you want!
Parsley will brighten up your roll without overpowering its savoriness, so don’t be shy with the amounts.
3. Salt and Pepper
When it comes to these two seasonings, I think it’s all about balance.
Salt is great for enhancing flavor, but adding too much will leave your dish tasting overly salty.
Pepper adds a delicious aroma and deeper flavors of spice, so be sure not to underestimate the power of this ingredient!
When cooking cabbage rolls specifically, I usually add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper or a sprinkle of them both.
You don’t need too much depending on how flavorful your ingredients are before you cook them – it’s amazing what just one teaspoon can do!
Just remember that when using salt and pepper together they work best in harmony so try adding small amounts steadily until you get the desired taste you seek.
4. Cayenne Pepper
I love the heat that cayenne pepper brings!
It has a fiery, hot effect on the taste buds but is surprisingly mild in aroma.
I find it a great addition to any dish and usually add no more than a teaspoon during cooking.
Cayenne can easily become overpowering if you’re not careful so it’s important to adjust your measurements accordingly.
Generally, half-teaspoons are sufficient when adding it to soup or chili while quarter-teaspoons do the trick for glazing and pickling recipes.
Whenever I make cabbage rolls, I use only slightly above one-eighth of a teaspoon – just enough for some added flavor without making them too spicy or burning my mouth!
Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs for flavoring food!
It has a unique pungent, bittersweet flavor that’s often compared to licorice, anise, and fennel.
That’s all thanks to the presence of methyl chavicol—a naturally occurring compound found in many plants and trees with a distinct licorice-like taste and fragrance.
I love adding tarragon to almost any savory dish — it adds complexity without taking over the other flavors.
When you’re making cabbage rolls, I would recommend adding three teaspoons per pound of filling for just the right balance of sweet and bitter.
Tarragon pairs especially well with sauerkraut or other tart ingredients used in traditional Hungarian-style cabbage rolls.
Ah oregano, the name itself brings with it an air of unmistakable flavor.
Many people appreciate its strongly aromatic characteristics, with a camphoraceous aroma and a slightly bitter, pungent flavor.
This distinct taste is composed of earthy/musty, green, hay, and minty notes that often give food dishes character and zest.
Additionally, the spice imparts a slightly astringent mouthfeel sensation too!
When it comes to adding some oregano to your cabbage rolls, you should keep in mind how much you really want the oregano to stand out among all other flavors since it may overpower them if added in excess.
It’s always best to start small – perhaps just ½ tsp per batch would be enough – then add more as needed until achieving your desired result.
7. Italian Seasoning
I absolutely love Italian seasoning, it has so many flavorful spices that work perfectly together.
The mix includes oregano, thyme, basil, garlic powder, and more.
It has a savory, earthy flavor and the herbs balance out all of the different flavors really well.
Italian seasoning is perfect for adding to dishes when you don’t have time to chop a lot of herbs or you’re trying something new – just add as much as you like and voila!
For example, when making cabbage rolls I’d recommend adding ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning per roll.
This will give your dish an amazing ‘just cooked in mom’s kitchen’ aroma along with the yummy taste of oregano, thyme, and garlic!
But remember – always adjust the seasonings according to your own personal preference; everybody’s tastes are different after all!
When it comes to flavor, cinnamon can range from sweet and woody to spicy and pungent.
I think one of the things that people truly enjoy about cinnamon is its versatility — you can use it in sweet dishes like pies, cakes, cookies, and more but also savory items such as meatballs or stir-fries.
Plus, if used properly, cinnamon can add a beautiful golden hue to your dish that looks completely delicious!
When it comes to cabbage rolls specifically, I recommend adding only half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon per 500g mix; any more than this could easily overpower the softness of the cabbage with its own aggressive flavor which might not be desirable for all palates!
I love using paprika to add a special flavor to my dishes!
It has such an amazing variety of tastes depending on the type of peppers used.
You can use mild or sweet paprika for soft, subtle notes, and then hot varieties if you’re looking for a bit more spice in your meal.
When it comes to adding it to cabbage rolls, I recommend starting with just ½ teaspoon per roll and increasing from there until you find the level of spiciness that’s perfect for you.
Be careful not to add too much at once as it may overpower your dish.
One thing is certain – once added, paprika will give any dish interesting shades of red-orange color which makes food look even more appetizing.
So don’t hesitate to experiment with this spice – sooner or later you’ll discover how delicious and nutritious your meal can be!
10. Onion Powder
Onion powder is one of my favorite ingredients.
It provides all the flavor you can get from fresh onions with a more concentrated flavor profile that isn’t too overpowering.
When it comes to adding onion powder to your cabbage rolls, know that less is more.
This will help ensure your cabbage rolls don’t become bitter or overly pungent because the concentration of onion powder is so strong.
Start off by adding about 1/4 teaspoon for every 3 cups of assorted vegetables you’re using – adjust accordingly if needed as some people might prefer a stronger flavor than others!
11. Garlic Powder
As someone who loves to cook, garlic is essential in my kitchen.
But in some cases, I’d much rather go for the convenience of garlic powder.
Garlic powder is made from dehydrated and ground-up garlic cloves.
Though the flavor does remind you of fresh-chopped garlic, it’s sweet rather than spicy and nowhere near as potent.
You don’t get those lovely caramelly undertones that grilling or sautéing gives but still get a punch of deliciousness if needed!
When adjusting how much to use per dish: It generally takes 1/8 teaspoon of powdered garlic to replace one clove of minced (1 teaspoon) garlic in recipes.
So if your recipe calls for 4 cloves worth of minced garlic then add 1 teaspoon instead – just keep a balance between what the original intended effect was versus using other flavors instead.
I absolutely love the flavor of dill!
The feathery green leaves have such a bright and sweet flavor – almost like anise, parsley, and celery.
If you’ve ever tried dried dill seed then you would have experienced its pungent aroma.
When it comes to adding dill in cabbage rolls or any other dish, it really depends on how much flavor you want to bring out.
Generally speaking, I recommend adding one teaspoon of fresh or 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill per cup of filling depending on your preference.
It also depends if the recipe includes other strong flavors as that can overwhelm the taste of dill easily.
13. Brown Sugar
I absolutely love the deep, rich flavor brown sugar has!
It’s so sweet and distinct; this is due to the added molasses.
I always use it when a recipe calls for brown sugar because of how heavenly delicious it tastes.
For those who don’t know what to do with it – try adding some to your cabbage rolls for a bit of sweetness and added depth!
If you go with this option, be sure not to add too much, or else the dish can become overly sweet.
I suggest using no more than 2 tablespoons per meal – but feel free to adjust this amount based on your preferences!
13 Spices for Cabbage Rolls That Pack a Punch
- Salt and Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Brown Sugar
- Pick your favorite spices from this collection to add to your cabbage roll recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your delicious meal.
- Enjoy in no time!