Cabbage Strudel Might Be Your New Favorite Dinner

Ever since last year when I fell in love with cabbage, I’ve been collecting recipes that showcase the vegetable as a main course. To that end, I’m so pleased to present Luisa Weiss — you may know her as the Wednesday Chef blogger, author of Classic German Baking or remember her wonderful guide to Berlin — who will be sharing her recipe for Krautstrudel, or cabbage strudel…

Says Luisa:

Choosing favorite recipes from a cookbook you wrote yourself is a little like choosing a favorite child. But if you twist my arm, I’ll admit that this cabbage strudel is at least in the top five. Imagine a crackling, flaky, gossamer-thin crust encasing silky strands of sautéed cabbage, chewy bits of bacon, and the occasional savory crunch of a caraway seed, considered in Central Europe to be cabbage’s soul mate. See what I mean?

You might not think of it by looking at the list of ingredients, but Krautstrudel, as it’s called in German, is a surprisingly delicate dish. In Austria, a slice of this would be considered a light meal, best eaten outdoors with a glass of white wine alongside (though I can’t help but think of it as a winter meal). Most people think of apples, plums or cherries when it comes to strudel fillings, but savory strudels filled with mashed potatoes or sautéed mushrooms are also traditional and one of the best discoveries I made while writing Classic German Baking.

Now, you can absolutely shortcut your way to a delicious strudel, no matter the filling, with packaged phyllo dough (also known as yufka dough, depending on the provenance of your grocers). The instructions for that are below. But let me make my case to you: part of the joy of homemade strudel is making the dough yourself, a surprisingly calming and, yes, simple task.

When I first started writing my cookbook, I was completely intimidated by strudel. A towering classic of Austrian cuisine, I thought only old ladies in dirndls, living in mountaintop villages, with decades of baking experience, could claim mastery over those shatteringly thin, crisp layers. How would I ever learn?

But the truth is that making perfect strudel dough is really not hard at all. (The glaze on a Sacher Torte, well, that’s a different story.) It’s way less work than sourdough, for one thing, or any dough with yeast, for another. In fact, I’d call strudel the perfect easy yet impressive baking project for this phase of our pandemic ennui.

The dough is as simple as it gets: just flour, oil, salt and water kneaded together for 10 minutes until soft and silky. I like to think of it as an upper body workout and meditative practice in one! (Told you it was pandemic perfect.) The long kneading produces a wonderfully elastic dough, which is important, because once the dough rests a little bit, it needs to be rolled, pulled and stretched until it’s so thin that you can famously read a newspaper through it.

This is the hardest part, because it requires a little mix of gentle patience and moxie to pull and stretch the dough until it’s the right size and thickness. But once you’ve mastered it, and that happens quickly, I promise, you’ll be off to the strudel races.

Cabbage strudel recipe

Krautstrudel (Cabbage Strudel)
See note at the bottom of the recipe if you plan to make this with store bought phyllo.
Makes one 16-inch/40-cm long strudel
Serves 4 to 6

1 ¼ cups minus 1 tbsp/150 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1/3 cup/80 ml of cold water

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
5 1/4 ounces/150 grams slab bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 small head green cabbage, shredded
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ¾ ounces/50 grams unsalted butter

First, make the dough: In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt. Pour the oil into the flour mixture, and then slowly add the water, using your index finger to stir. Stir until the dough has come together, then dump it out onto a work surface (you may need a light dusting of flour, but once you start kneading, you shouldn’t need to add more.) Knead for 10 minutes (set an alarm clock; the time will pass faster than you think). At the end, the dough should be soft, supple and silky to the touch. Form it into a ball and place it on the work surface. Invert the bowl over the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, prepare the filling. Put the oil in a large skillet. Place over medium heat and add the bacon and then the onion. Sauté for several minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the shredded cabbage and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Towards the end of the cooking time, season with the salt, caraway and black pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside.

On your work surface, spread out a clean cotton or linen kitchen towel that measures at least 24 x 32 in/60 x 80 cm. Sprinkle flour lightly over the towel. Place the strudel dough in the middle of the towel and roll it out several times in both directions with a tapered rolling pin. Then ball your hands into loose fists, put them under the rolled-out dough and gently start stretching the dough using the backs of your hands. Alternate with pulling on the dough gently with your fingers to continue stretching the dough evenly. This takes patience and some confidence; you don’t want to the dough to rip, but you do need to stretch out the dough with some assertiveness. Ultimately, the dough should measure about 16×24 inches/40×60 cm. Make sure you pull the edges of the dough as thin as you can. The dough should be uniformly thin.

Brush the strudel dough all over with some of the melted butter. Scrape the cabbage over a quarter of the strudel dough along the longer side, leaving a 1-inch/3 cm border at the edges. Gently fold the sides of the strudel dough over the filling, stretching slightly if necessary, and then pull the bottom edge of the strudel dough over the filling. Working carefully, use the towel to roll the strudel over the remaining dough tightly. Pull the end of the dough over, thinning out the dough as you go, and press it gently against the strudel. Using the towel as a sling, gently roll the strudel onto the baking sheet. You may need a second set of hands for this. Brush the strudel liberally with more of the melted butter.

Bake the strudel for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and brush liberally with the melted butter. Bake for another 15 minutes, the remove and brush with the remaining butter. Bake for additional 10 minutes. The strudel should be flaky and browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Slice into 2-inch/5-cm pieces and serve. Strudel is best the day it is made, but will keep at room temperature for an additional day or two and can be crisped up in a 325°F/165°C oven.

To Make With Phyllo Dough

I always make strudel dough from scratch, but if you want to try this recipe with phyllo dough, this is what I would do: First, find some phyllo dough. In the United States, it’s usually sold frozen. (If you can find fresh phyllo, yay!) In Germany, fresh phyllo dough can usually be found at Turkish grocers, where it’s labeled yufka dough. (I always delight in seeing this little culinary intersection of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires!) Defrost the package, remove three sheets, then reroll the remaining sheets and refreeze or use in a separate recipe. Melt 3 additional tablespoons of butter. Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a kitchen towel. Brush thinly with a tablespoon of melted butter, then place the second sheet on top. Brush that sheet with the second tablespoon of butter, then place the final sheet on top and brush that one with the remaining butter. Then proceed with the rest of Step 4. To make sure that the pastry sheets don’t dry out, prepare the cabbage filling before you start working with the phyllo dough.

Thank you, Luisa!

P.S. A love letter to cabbage and a perfect snacking cake.

  1. Denise says...

    Am I incompetent? Based on other comments, I tried this dough. I bake a lot. I usually have success. The process of wrapping the cabbage in dough, shredded it. I baked a pile of cabbage with hints of dough.

  2. ami_in_germany says...

    This looks great! I have left over red spitzkohl in my fridge and I had no idea what to do with it. Glad to see a recipe from Luisa here. Ever since I have found her book at the lady’s house that I babysat for in Berlin and she told me that she went to school with Luisa, I have been following her blog :)

  3. Janine says...

    This sounds very similar to a sauerkraut quiche dish that my (German) brother-in-law makes – and it’s incredible. Everyone in the family was skeptical the first time we tried it, and then we couldn’t believe how good it was.

  4. Elisabeth says...

    other meals that are considered light vegetarian dishes here in Austria include:
    – lentil stew with bacon
    – salad with fried chicken bits
    -Sausage goulash

  5. Made this last night and it was SO delicious! Served with stewed apples and some of our kielbasa… My husband studied in Austria – so any chance to make him happy… this was FANTASTIC! and the dough was a breeze :)

  6. Lori says...

    Just made this (had cabbage left over from earlier in the week, love it when that happens) and IT IS DELICIOUS!

    Don’t be intimidated by the dough – it was easy to work with and no trouble to stretch.

    What a fabulous recipe!

    • Lori, wonderful! This makes me so happy!

  7. Amanda says...

    I made this tonight and loved it! My 6 yo devoured it and he’s normally pretty picky. I was a little nervous about getting the dough stretched right but it all turned out fine. I may have even gotten it on the thin side that’s how simple it was to stretch without tearing.
    Definitely buy her book! It’s a fantastic resource, especially around the holidays.

    • Yay you and yay for your adventurous little guy! Thank you!

  8. Rebbie says...

    My Austrian great-grandmother used to make this and I haven’t had it in so many years. Thank you for the recipe and the memory!

  9. Marie says...

    I adore cabbage SO MUCH. Cabbage rolls are my most favorite comfort food. Too bad no one else in my house likes it, but I’ll try this some day and promise pizza for the picky eaters over here. :)

  10. C says...

    Luisa Weiss is the OG! I love combing through her archives for recipes and seeing what was trendy back whenever she clipped the recipe and her funny critiques. Huge fan, thanks for featuring her.

    • Thank you, C! I am saving your comment for life! :)

  11. At quick glance, I definitely thought the title read “GARBAGE Strudel Might Be Your New Favorite Dinner” 😆

    • Amanda says...

      So did I!! 🤣 Thought maybe it was a clean-out-your-fridge recipe. ☺️

    • Shannah Wischik says...

      Haha, same!

  12. em says...

    luisa, i’ve been reading your blog for years- so nice to see you visit coj! savory pastry seems a bit intimidating as I never quite caught the home baking bug everyone else did, but your writing does make it seem tempting:)

    • kiki says...

      I’m with you! I hate making dough and don’t really like cabbage. but Luisa, reading your approach makes it sound so wonderful I want to give it a try!

    • Em and Kiki, I promise you can do it! Holding your hand even from afar!

  13. Mollie says...

    This sounds great! One of the best things to have come out of my marriage thus far is my newfound love of all things cabbage. No one ate it in my house when I was growing up so I never cooked it for myself as an adult until I met my mother-in-law, who served me a very large pile of kapusta (Polish braised cabbage) the first time I met her. It was utterly delicious, and I’m officially a cabbage-convert. One of my favorites is Marcella Hazan’s smothered cabbage recipe. So good!

  14. Kate says...

    What could be better than an article that starts off with, “when I fell in love with cabbage…” lol But seriously, this veggie is underrated! It’s total comfort food!

    • Kate says...

      PS. I love your blog, Louisa!

    • Thank you, Kate!

  15. Abigail says...

    I have recommended Luisa’s book “My Berlin Kitchen” to so many friends. It’s a lovely, wonderful book💛

    • Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Abigail!

  16. Sarah says...

    I’ve been getting Savoy cabbage in my CSA box for the last month. Cannot wait to try this recipe next week!

  17. Oh this sounds delicious. Also, thank you for linking to the Wednesday Chef – I’ve been looking everywhere for a cabbage soup recipe I made years ago and could not remember where I found it – this brought it all back! It was Bess Feigenbaum’s cabbage soup recipe linked on the Wednesday Chef (another amazing cabbage dish). I’ve been dreaming about it for months
    : ) Hooray for cabbage

  18. Marnie says...

    Do you think capers would be a good salty substitute for bacon? Or other veg option?

    • diana k. says...

      I would do mushroom slices instead of bacon to mimic the texture and flavor contrast to cabbage. There’s no right answer, but capers strike me as too vinegary for my taste.

    • Marnie says...

      I hadn’t thought of mushrooms — I’ve been meaning to try that shitake bacon – now I’m double inspired, thanks!

    • Rusty says...

      Maybe pre-cooked, thin pieces of Haloumi cheese?
      If I make this, that’s what I’ll be using, along with store bought Filo (as we spell it in Australia).

    • Mina says...

      I was thinking of using a bit of crumbled feta cheese…

  19. liz says...

    ugh this looks delicious!! (the “ugh” is just because I am hungry and wish it would magically appear at my desk)

  20. I make a similar dish called kulebyaka in Russian. It’s puff pastry (though bread dough can be used, too), but the filling is exactly the same. My kids love it.

  21. K says...

    This also reminds me of Nora Ephron!

    • LindyO says...

      Made this last night. Delicious! Very easy, except for the dough stretching. Be patient. Hubby said it smelled like childhood as I was sauteing.
      Nice to try something different and yummy. Served alongside brats and roasted red bliss with grainy mustard and horseradish.
      Thanks for sharing this recipe. Will definitely check out Luisa’s blog.

  22. Adriana says...

    Luisa’s blog, books, and cooking are the best. Glad to see her on COJ!

    • AmesB says...

      Would anyone have an idea of how I’d alter measurements to make a gf dough? My sister is a cabbage loving coeliac and this would be right up her street!

    • Amesb, I’m afraid it would be pretty hard to make the dough for this gluten-free because it relies on strands of gluten to keep it together when it’s so thin. I’m married to a Celiac and do a lot of GF baking … I’d suggest you use another kind of dough altogether, such as a GF pie dough. Good luck! I bet your sister appreciates you so much!

    • Thank you!

  23. Molly says...

    My grandma used to make apple and cheese strudels. It was an all-day affair, and she stretched her dough to cover her entire kitchen table. She lived halfway across the country from us, so when she’d visit, she’d pack a second suitcase full of frozen strudel! I loved waking up to the smell of fresh apple-strudel, and the big puff of powdered sugar in my face as I dug in. I never had the chance to make it with her while she was living, but shortly after my wedding, my aunt sent me my grandma’s old, battered recipe binder which included the tiniest newspaper clipping with a recipe for strudel dough. I set out to learn how to make it, and Louisa is right that it is easier than it seems. I cried as I stretched that first ball of dough, thinking of my grandma and the countless time she did the same, making her family’s favorite treat. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face as he took his first bite of my first strudel, the first strudel he’d had in many years since he lost his mom. This past Christmas was the first year in many that I didn’t make strudel (pandemic issues, etc. etc.). I cannot wait to get back to it next winter, and I think I’ll be adding this one to the mix! Maybe I can even get my dad to share my grandma’s sauerkraut recipe for the filling!!

    • Jessica says...

      This is such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing. I took my grandmother’s special recipes for granted (I was younger when she died). What I would give to watch her make them again! What a treasure that you have your grandmother’s recipe book to remember her, sadly my grandmother’s live only in my head now.

    • Agus says...

      Oh this was lovely, thank you for sharing with us your beautiful story…

    • This is so lovely. One of the best things that has come out of writing Classic German Baking have been all the letters from readers telling me that making the recipes from the book has brought the flavors and smells from long-gone grandmothers’ kitchens back to them!!

  24. Cynthia says...

    This looks so delicious!

  25. Christina B. says...

    Grew up in Poland and love any and all cabbage. This one looks particularly great! Do you think the dough recipe would work with gluten free flour? (I have Bob’s Red Mill). Thanks!

  26. Ashley says...

    Oh my goodness, THANK YOU. Our CSA this year feels like 80% cabbages –– I was truly at a loss at the last pick-up trying to figure out what to do with all of them! This looks so good!

    • Kate says...

      You can make lots of sauerkraut or kimchi! And fried cabbage is also divine!!

    • jane says...

      I’ve also somehow got 5 cabbages in the fridge, a red and green assortment haha. I am going to make healthy sauerkraut and reserve one entire cabbage, yay!, for a vegetarian version of this. Thanks!

    • Denise says...

      If you have too much cabbage & other greens, perhaps adopting a bunny would be a good idea. I don’t have a bunny now, but in the past it was very satisfying to feed extra or near-the-end produce & carrot tops etc.. to our family pet rabbit and guinea pigs.

    • Molly says...

      That Smitten Kitchen cabbage recipe is such a winner! It’s perfect with just cabbage, but I’ve also included fennel, onion, radicchio, turnips, and more. I make extra of the garlic/lemon/walnut/cheese/(add parsley) mixture and keep it in the fridge for a week of delicious roasted vegetables.

  27. Laura S says...

    Love Luisa and her blog! I’ve especially enjoyed her dinner chronicles throughout the pandemic of what she makes to feed her family. She’s lovely & so relatable.

    FYI, her name is misspelled in one place, where it says “Says Louisa.”

    Thanks for sharing her with your readers!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Laura!