Cabbage Rolls

You don’t get any more Ukrainian than Cabbage Rolls. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was fed these as my first experience with “real food” as a baby. Not one special dinner has gone by in our family without cabbage rolls being served. There are many variations. But I can tell you now that nobody’s cabbage rolls compare to the ones that Claudia makes. They are simple the best. Not too tomato soupy, not too cabbagey. They are perfect little delights. However, I learned in this blog process that I apparently haven’t inherited the Ukrainian cabbage rolling gene, as I found the process extremely frustrating. My 1/4 Slovakian genes took over my hands and rendered me incapable of “tucking and rolling” the rice and cabbage. But do not fret kids….if you weren’t blessed with the Ukrainian cooking gene like me, it just takes a bit of practise and patience. …and Claudia laughing at you when you curse the rice that fell from your hands and onto your clean floor.

For the best Cabbage Rolls in the history of the world, you will need:

3 cups short grain rice

6 cups water

3/4 cups margarine (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)

1 tsp salt

1 lb ground beef

1 onion

1 can tomato soup

2 heads cabbage (steamed, sectioned, frozen and then thawed)

1/4 lb bacon

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 6 cups of water, 1/4 cup margarine,  and your 3 cups of short grain rice to a boil and simmer until cooked.

While your rice is cooking, brown your ground beef with 1/2 of your onion chopped.

While that is going you might as well brown your bacon along with 1/4 of your onion chopped.

Keep your cooked rice in the large pot.

When your ground beef and onions are cooked, mix in with your white rice and set aside.

Mix your can of tomato soup with 1/2 cup water and set aside.

Next step, bring out the margarine (or butter) and melt with your remaining 1/4 onion chopped.

Lay aluminum foil on the bottom of a large casserole dish and spoon one layer of your tomato soup, bacon and onion mixture.

Now comes the fun part.

Take a cabbage leaf (roughly the size of your hand) and lay it flat.

Take a small spoonful of your rice and beef mixture and place it on the top 1/3 of the cabbage leaf.

Begin to fold the edges over the rice/beef mixture. Seriously, this looks a thousand times easier than it is (at least for me!)

Shape and roll the cabbage leaf and rice/beef mixture to the bottom.

Tuck in both edges of the cabbage roll like so.


Place in your casserole dish.

In ten minutes time, (or 30 minutes time if you’re me), you have two nice layers of cabbage rolls in your casserole dish.

In between the first and second layer, and on top of the second layer, add more tomato soup mixture along with bacon and onion.

Remember that margarine (or butter) and onions we melted?

Pour it over the two layers of cabbage rolls.


Lookin’ good!

Cover second layer with a few remaining cabbage leaves and place foil over top.

Bake in a 325 F oven on the middle rack for approximately 3 hours or until cabbage is soft.

One thing Claudia requested I mention (besides the fact that she is a thousand times better at rolling cabbage rolls than I will ever be) is that you can also freeze cabbage rolls and cook them at a later date. We do this often.

Place uncooked cabbage rolls on a baking pan lined with plastic wrap. Wrap thoroughly and freeze up to a few months.

Remove from oven and enjoy!

You might as well have two.

You know you want to.

From our Ukrainian house to yours.



  1. Naomi (formerly of Winnipeg. now from Edmonton) says:

    Made these last week for Christmas but we tried a few, just to “test” them, they were the best I’d ever made. Awesome! Made some without the ground beef, but onion and bacon with the rice (as that’s how hubby likes them) and some melted butter and half and half cream poured over, instead of tomato soup. Decadent!

  2. Trish says:

    THANK U! I didn’t think so…making right now-my hubby Ukrainian and I was looking for a new more question……no spices to the burger/onion mixture? MERRY CHRISTMAS

  3. Trish says:

    These were DELICIOUS! The step by step pictures and directions were so helpful. Thanks so much; I’m so glad I found this site and recipe! I’ll be making them often!

  4. Heather Boyko Brown says:

    I just found this site while searching for some great Ukrainian recipes. My grandma passed 7 years ago and I never learned any of her recipes. Stupid me! I am going to be trying your Nalysnyky recipe asap. I haven’t had a “fix” for about 10 years. Can’t wait! Oh, also from Saskatchewan….Watson area…tons of Ukrainian heritage there.

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Heather and very sorry to hear about your Grandma. Please let me know how you like the Ukrainian recipes and if they were similar to your Grandma’s!

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Ruth, you simply place the frozen cabbage rolls in your roaster, layer your butter, bacon, onions and tomato soup and bake! Claudia bakes her cabbage rolls from frozen all the time and they turn out great.

  5. Luann Randall says:

    My Grandmother and Mother used to fill them with a mixtureof grits, mashed potatoes and rice. Would you happen to have a recipe for that filling?


    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Luann. Happy Holidays! Unfortunately I’ve never had cabbage rolls with that type of filling. Our family only makes the traditional filling that you see in the posted recipe. The potatoes and grits filling sounds interesting. I’d like to try that one day.

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      It’s a lot easier to roll them out afterward if you blanch and then freeze them. Even if it’s only for a few hours, but ideally over night.

  6. Tess says:

    Hi there :) I come from Ukrainian heritage myself and grew up having cabbage rolls at every family gathering! Unfortunately I never learned to make them from my Grandmother before I moved to South Africa and so I haven’t had them in over 20 years!! :( my grandmother was never really one for the email or internet and sadly she passed away this past year. I would really like to honour her memory by ‘rekindling’ this tradition with my own family and so would like to thank you very much for posting this recipe. I have one small question however. I’m pretty sure, going through the steps and ingredients I see listed that this recipe is very close to that of my grandmothers (bacon, tomato soup, etc) the only critical ingredient that appears to be missing would be that of the ‘kasha’ or ‘buckwheat’. Critical only to me and the memory of my tastebuds! LOL :D would you perhaps be able to suggest how I might adapt this recipe to include this? Would it be added to the rice while cooking or replace the rice entirely? And if its meant to be added, would you have an approximate measurement or quantity to suggest? Thank you so much! I’m looking very forward to trying this out (with or without the buckwheat! LOL) Happy New Year! God Bless, Tess

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Tess! Happy New Year to you as well! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you can find some comfort in our Cabbage Roll recipe :) We have never made our cabbage roll recipe with buckwheat, but from what I understand, you simply replace the rice with buckwheat. The recipes I’ve seen have usually used 1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked buckwheat. I am now curious to make our own cabbage roll recipe with buckwheat, so thank you very much again for your comments! All the best!

  7. Tracy says:

    Just tried your recipe today. They we’re great though my better half (the Ukrainian half) wants to try to double the meat next time (we favor a lower carb diet). But this is absolutely a great recipe. Thank you! Very close to his grandmother’s recipe.

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Thanks for your feedback Tracy! You can’t go wrong with double meat :) So glad you and your better half enjoyed the cabbage rolls and that they reminded you of your Grandmother’s. That’s pretty much the best compliment ever :)

  8. Chris says:

    I never really learned how to make cabbage rolls from my Ukrainian parents. (Dad spent just as much time in the kitchen as Mum) I therefore had no skills to pass on to my daughter. One day she blew my socks off with the best cabbage rolls ever which was the recipe she got from your website. Well I finally made them yesterday and they are fantastic! Thanks for reconnecting me to my heritage. I can’t wait to try your other recipes.
    Thanks so much, Chris

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Thank you so much for sharing Chris! Your comment seriously warmed my heart. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cabbage rolls and it connected you to your heritage :) That is really the whole reason why we started this blog in the first place!! Thanks again!

  9. Luba says:

    Thanks so much for your website. Just made the cabbage rolls and froze them for Christmas dinner. Your recipe sounds very close to how my mom used to make holobchi.

    Does your family make chlystu (some people call them nothings). They are deep fried doughy twists or bow-ties with icing sugar sprinkled on top. They are very light and crumbly and melt in your mouth.

    One more question, I noticed you mention your baba’s meatballs but I can’t find the recipe. Just wondering if its similar to my moms (made with beef, pork and cornmeal).

    Again great site, it sure helped to give me confidence to make the cabbage rolls.

    Chlustos pozdraetza!
    Luba from Manitoba

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Luba! Thank you so much for your kind comment. I’m glad our holobchi recipe helped you out! I was very intimidated the first time I made them as well but found the images and making them with my Mom helped. Regarding chlystu, I know exactly what you’re talking about. My family never really made them before but I can try to find a recipe to try for you! I’ve had them before and they are yummy. I have never posted the recipe for my Baba’s meatballs only because I don’t have it. I do believe my Mom (Claudia) does so I will post it in the new year! :)

      Thanks again Luba!! Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

  10. Ruth says:

    I froze these cabbage rolls after baking them in the sauce. When I reheat them in the oven what temperature and allotted time should I use; should I thaw them first?

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Ruth, you can place them in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven from frozen. No need to thaw first. Hope that helps!

  11. Jonathan says:

    I’m so glad I stumbled onto this recipe. My wife and my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning and afternoon is cooking something together, the longer it takes the better! That’s what Saturdays are made for. We just took these out of the oven and they’re so delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe, and know that you have given us a new favorite recipe for cold Michigan Saturdays! :-)

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi Jonathan! I am SO happy you enjoyed the cabbage roll recipe! You and your wife sound totally adorable. I firmly believe that a couple that cooks together, stays together. All the best and stay warm in Michigan :)

  12. May says:

    Can I bake them then freeze? Like home-made TV dinner. Would that affect the texture or taste?

    I know a few friends who are always on the go, & I wonder if I can make these beforehand, so they can just heat it up in the microwave for dinner when they get home.

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      Hi May, You definitely can bake and freeze them. We typically assemble the cabbage rolls and freeze them before baking, but I don’t see why you couldn’t bake them and freeze them afterwards.

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