Easy Cabbage Rolls

by Alyona's Cooking

Being Ukrainian, a cabbage rolls recipe is a must! These super easy cabbage rolls shouldn’t disappoint!

These stuffed rolls are a classic Ukrainian dish! The Polish call them “Gulumpki” and the Russians call them “Golubtsi.” So many different variations but it all comes together with ground meat, rice and any tomato base! You can really use any canned tomato variation and get fancy with the sauce that they simmer in, but these are the flavorful rolls I’m used to when it comes down to classic. This cabbage rolls recipe has been simplified making it easier and is my favorite way to prepare them, unless I make the lazy cabbage rolls, which are even easier!


What is the best way for softening cabbage leaves for rolls?

Submerging a head of cabbage into boiling water is the quickest way. A tip my aunt has shared was to freeze a head of fresh cabbage then defrost. This way the cabbage leaves naturally wilt without any water or pots, isn’t that so neat?!

When do know how to remove cabbage leaves from the water? 

The best way to know when to remove the leaves is when they start peeling off the head easily. Cook the leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes then peel and allow them to float once off the head for an additional 2 minutes. Keep repeating until you get down to the core.

Do you have to cook your cabbage leaves?

Yes! Unless you freeze your head of cabbage, like I’ve mentioned. The reason for soft enough to handle leaves is because under-boiled leaves will be tough to roll. However you want to be careful not to overcook them as the leaves will tear easily.

Why are my cabbage leaves tough after cooking?

The longer you cook cabbage the softer it will get. Tough leaves are a result of under-baked rolls.

Freezing tips:

The best way to freeze cabbage rolls are when they are uncooked. Cabbage leaves tend to release water after freezing which is why it’s best to count on baking time to resolve that issue.

Other topping ideas:

  • Diluted jarred tomato sauce with water.
  • A few bay leaves for additional aroma.
  • Reserved sauté mixture with broth.
  • Touch of cream for lighter rolls.
  • Any tomato based sauce for darker rolls.


How to make Easy Cabbage Rolls:

Products to use for cabbage rolls:


4.67 from 3 votes

Easy Cabbage Rolls

Prep Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 20 people
Calories: 303kcal
Author: Alyona's Cooking
Being Ukrainian, a cabbage rolls recipe is a must! These super easy cabbage rolls shouldn't disappoint!
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Easy Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 extra large head cabbage
  • 1 1/4 cup uncooked Jasmine rice
  • 3 1/2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 diced onions divided
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tsp Vegeta Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


How to Make Easy Cabbage Rolls

  • Boil cabbage leaves 5 minutes. (See notes below for removing leaves.) Set aside to cool.
  • Bring rice and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Turn off and allow rice to soak up the water and partially cook. Rice will be underdone. Set aside.
  • Saute the carrots and half of the onions in 4 tbsp of oil, until soft. Stir in the sour cream and tomato sauce and heat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • Combine the rice, pork, tomato mixture, 2 tsp Vegeta seasoning, 1 Tbsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix and set aside.
  • Remove or trim any thick stems on the cabbge leaves. Cut large leaves in half and fill each leaf with the rice filling. Roll-up tucking in sides and place seam down into a baking dish.
  • Garnish each layer with a drizzle of ketchup and reserved onions. Pour the heavy cream over the top and cover with foil. Bake for 2 hours or until cabbage rolls brown in color.


To remove leaves from head of cabbage:

Cut about 1/4" off the bottom of the head and remove core. Submerge cabbage into boiling water and boil 5 min or until leaves easily come off the head. Pull off the softened leaves and continue peeling off the cabbage leaves in boiling water until done. 
Trim or cut off any tough stems before filling. 
Cut large leaves in half.
  • If doubling recipe for a party increase cooking time to one additional hour. 
  • Vegeta is a Russian all-purpose seasoning. To omit simply add more salt and pepper to taste. 


Serving: 1roll | Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 340mg | Potassium: 448mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1283IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Facts
Easy Cabbage Rolls
Amount Per Serving (1 roll)
Calories 303 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 66mg22%
Sodium 340mg15%
Potassium 448mg13%
Carbohydrates 16g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 1283IU26%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 45mg5%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Let us know when you make this recipe!Leave a comment, rate it, and tag #alyonascooking!

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Al November 13, 2018 - 3:13 pm

5 stars
Had them today for lunch, and they were so good that I decided to leave a comment. I have tried a lot of cabbage rolls in my life, and these are the best that I have tried so far. They remind me very much of how my mom used to make them when I was a child. Thank you very much!

Alyona's Cooking November 13, 2018 - 4:27 pm

Thank you for your feedback!

Nelya July 29, 2018 - 8:49 pm

You bake these covered, right?

Alyona's Cooking July 30, 2018 - 8:44 am

Yes, the cabbage rolls should be covered when baking.


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