Beef-Stuffed Onions Recipe (Sogan Dolma)

Sogan Dolma - stuffed onion rings

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One of the classic comfort foods of the Balkans, beef-stuffed onions (aka sogan dolma) are delicious little bundles of flavor. It’s a perfect meal for long winter, heartwarming and nourishing.

 

P I N  THIS RECIPE FOR LATER!

Beef stuffed onions - sogan dolma in a black oval dish.

 

NOTE: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for photos and content.

 

A SHORT BACKGROUND ON BOSNIAN CUISINE

 

You know you’re Bosnian when you first chop up some onions and then decide what to cook for dinner. You can’t get any more Bosnian than that. 🧅

 

The majority of Bosnian meals contain the word “stuffed” in it: stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini, stuffed grape leaves, stuffed fillo dough, stuffed cabbage leaves, and even apples. You name it, and we stuff it! 😆

 

A wooden tray with onions.

 

GROUND BEEF-STUFFED ONIONS

 

But when you stuff beloved onions, you get a mouthwatering specialty. The dish originated in Turkey and was spread through Eastern Europe by the Ottoman Empire. It is now a staple of the Balkans, with slight differences in recipes.

 

This is it folks, the crème de la crème of stuffed things. I mean, isn’t it ingenious using the layers of onions as shells? Onions lose their strong flavor by being cooked in vinegar water, becoming mild and sweet.

 

Delicious beef-stuffed onions with ground beef and rice mixture.

 

WHAT’S IN BOSNIAN SOGAN DOLMA?

Besides using onion layers as a vessel for the filling, you will also need:

 

  • Vinegar
  • Ground beef
  • Rice
  • Egg (optional)
  • Garlic cloves
  • Tomato paste
  • Sweet paprika
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt or Vegeta
  • Black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Lemon
  • Sour Cream

 

Ingredients for stuffed onions with ground beef

 

HOW DO YOU FILL ONIONS?

 

Stuffing onions is not as hard as it seems.

 

  1. We first boil whole onions until soft enough to be pried off, layer by layer.
  2. Each layer is then filled with the meat mixture and cooked again slowly at low heat.
  3. We serve them drizzled with lemon juice, topped with a dollop of sour cream and a loaf of homemade bread on the side.

 

Step by step photos on how to make beef-stuffed onions

 

CAN I FREEZE ONIONS STUFFED WITH BEEF?

 

This meal freezes well, so it makes sense to make a bigger batch.

 

CAN I STUFF THE ONIONS AHEAD OF TIME?

 

Definitely! You can stuff them and keep in the refrigerator for a day before cooking. If you cook them ahead of time, warm them up on low heat before serving. 

 

WHAT IF I CAN’T SEPARATE ONION LAYERS?

 

If separating the layers seems daunting to you, you can cut them lengthwise (from end to end), stopping in the center of the onion (halfway through) before cooking, then cook in vinegar water as per recipe.

 

To fill these layers, separate the ‘shells’ (*this is easier than separating whole rings).

 

Fill onion shells with meat mixture, placing a small amount at one end of the open shell and then rolling towards the other end. Repeat until all stuffing is used.

 

Don’t worry if some of the onion layers break. If you need to, use two to cover up the meat mixture. Follow the recipe steps for cooking on the stovetop to finish.

 

Onion rings filled with ground beef recipe.

 

RECIPE NOTES/PRO TIPS

 

  • Onions of the same size and shape ensure even cooking time.
  • To pry out the onion rings, gently push the center in, and the outer layer will pop out. To help the process, loosen the thin skin between the layers with your finger (*or see above for a different method). Once the rings are separated, peel off the inner skin (called epidermal cell wall). See step-by-step photos above. 
  • Instead of vegetable oil, use olive oil or oil of choice.
  • Cover the stuffed onions with beef stock instead of water. If using water, season it with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • You can also add a light roux to the onions for the last 10 minutes of cooking if you prefer a thicker sauce. 

 

 
 
 
 
Bosnian onions stuffed with beef, served with lemon and sour cream.
 
 
 
 
If you make stuffed onions with beef, be sure to leave a comment and or give this recipe a rating!

 

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ESSENTIALS

for Stuffed Onions


 

In case you haven’t noticed, Bosnians LOVE to stuff stuff! 😀

 

HERE ARE MORE STUFFED RECIPES TO TRY:

 

BOSNIAN STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

PALESTINIAN STUFFED SAVOY CABBAGE ROLLS

SERBIAN STUFFED CUTLET

CHEESE-STUFFED KOHLRABI

STUFFED BUTTERCUP SQUASH 

 

oven-baked sogan dolma.


Delicious beef-stuffed onions with ground beef and rice mixture.
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Beef-Stuffed Onions

This classic Bosnian dish of layers of sweet onion stuffed with ground beef is perfect for long winters but adored year-round.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Bosnian
Servings: 4
Author: Jas

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4-5 medium onions white or yellow
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup rice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt or Vegeta
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

To serve:

  • Sour cream
  • Lemon wedges

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut off the ends of onions and peel off the papery layers. Place the onions into a Dutch oven or a large pot, cover with water, and add 1/4 cup vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook until soft but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove the onions from the water and let them cool enough for handling.
  • Separate onion layers without tearing by gently squeezing out ring after ring (see recipe notes for tips). Set aside the larger rings and chop the smaller, inside rings.
  • In a medium bowl, combine 1 pound ground beef, 1/3 cup rice, one egg, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon salt or Vegeta, and 1/2 tablespoon black pepper. Mix gently with clean hands until just incorporated.
  • Fill onion rings with meat mixture until all stuffing is used.

OVEN-BAKED OPTION:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a casserole pan with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place some of the chopped onions on the bottom of the prepared pan and layer with stuffed onions.
  • Pour enough water to come up about an inch from the top, cover, and bake for about 40 minutes, turning the onions over once halfway through the baking.

STOVETOP OPTION:

  • Grease a large pot with oil and cover with some of the remaining chopped onions. Layer the stuffed onion rings into the pot by placing them tightly next to each other. Top with more chopped onions (you don't have to use them all) and add enough water to cover the onions.
  • Cover the pot with lid and cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat until soft and rice is cooked.
  • To serve, transfer the stuffed onions onto plates and pour with sauce. Serve drizzled with lemon juice and a dollop of sour cream alongside crusty bread.

RECIPE NOTES:

  • Onions of the same size and shape ensure even cooking time.
  • To pry out the onion rings, gently push the center in, and the outer layer will pop out. To help the process, loosen the thin skin between the layers with your finger (*or see the post for a different method). Once the rings are separated, peel off the inner skin (called epidermal cell wall). See the step-by-step photos in the post. 
  • Instead of vegetable oil, use olive oil or oil of choice.
  • Cover the stuffed onions with beef stock instead of water. If using water, season it with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • You can also add a light roux to the onions for the last 10 minutes of cooking if you prefer a thicker sauce.
Tried this recipe?Snap a photo and mention @all_thats_jas or tag #allthatsjas on Instagram for a chance to be featured!

NUTRITIONS:

Nutrition Facts
Beef-Stuffed Onions
Amount Per Serving
Calories 476 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 15g75%
Cholesterol 121mg40%
Sodium 1874mg78%
Potassium 562mg16%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 451IU9%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 62mg6%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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13 Comment

  1. Reply
    thisiswholesome
    January 19, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I love recipes that can be made ahead of time and these onions look so good!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      January 19, 2020 at 6:34 pm

      Definitely make ahead of time. It tastes even better the next day! 🙂

  2. Reply
    Anita
    January 19, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    This dish is something new for me. I’ve seen many stuffed vegetables dishes, but this is the first time seeing stuffed onions dish! Plus, the ingredients are all super familiar, so I should be able to replicate this in my home. 🙂

    1. Reply
      Jas
      January 19, 2020 at 6:33 pm

      Yes, the ingredients are simple. Pretty much how we stuff our peppers too. I hope you try it and let me know if you liked it! xx

  3. Reply
    writerjenn1
    January 19, 2020 at 11:49 am

    I saw this recipe and thought, stuffed onions? What the heck? But, I tried it and I’m now a huge fan! the flavors are fabulous – try it you won’t regret it!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      January 19, 2020 at 6:32 pm

      Thanks a lot! It is one of our favorite stuffed vegetable dishes! 🙂

  4. Reply
    Sue
    January 19, 2020 at 11:41 am

    This is a beautiful post, and you’ve got me craving this for dinner. I love the idea of just using the layers to stuff, its so much more appealing than the whole onion, I can’t wait to taste it!

    1. Reply
      Jas
      January 19, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Happy to read this, Sue! Hope you enjoy them as much as we do! xx

  5. Reply
    whonomstheworld
    January 19, 2020 at 10:46 am

    I literally gasped when I saw your photos. Growing up, I was all about the stuffed bell peppers, but never in a million years had I thought to make stuffed onions! This looks way more interesting in my opinion, and unique. I really, really appreciate that you have both stovetop and oven baking instructions, which makes this recipe easy to follow and very versatile.

    1. Reply
      Jas
      January 19, 2020 at 6:31 pm

      Awe, that is so sweet of you to say. Thank you so much! I hope you’ll try the stuffed onions and let me know how you liked it. 😀

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