by Olena

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

by Olena

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe is so darn easy and flavourful, replaces my Ukrainian grandma's labour intensive cabbage rolls. SO tasty and EASY!|

The story behind these lazy cabbage rolls follows as this. On New Year’s Eve we hosted a Ukrainian dinner party for our friends. One of the dishes I made were lazy cabbage rolls. Everyone loved how they were big and meaty. I, on the other hand, swore that day it was last time I made cabbage rolls. Honestly, it took me hours and I was so frustrated in the process I had to take a walk in the park.

I followed others advice to freeze and thaw cabbage instead of boiling it. Well, that didn’t work well, so I ended up boiling it. It was so much mess and work! I was happy to eat them, and a glass or two of wine definitely cheered me up, but now I understand why I haven’t made cabbage rolls for years.


Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe is so darn easy and flavourful, replaces my Ukrainian grandma's labour intensive cabbage rolls. SO tasty and EASY!|

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe is so darn easy and flavourful, replaces my Ukrainian grandma's labour intensive cabbage rolls. SO tasty and EASY!|

Some years ago, I posted a cabbage rolls casserole which is delicious but requires finely shredded cabbage. I really wanted to try the skillet with larger chunks of cabbage so it’s less mush and mess. I love cabbage but any time I shred it, my kitchen becomes a mess. This skillet came out OMG! When cabbage meets tomato sauce, salt and pepper, it becomes one of the most flavourful dishes ever. Plus it adds fiber and complex carbs. Overall, this dish hits all food groups spot on.

Lazy cabbage rolls are perfect for lunches and leftovers can be frozen. I know for us this is enough for 2 meals. If you like cooked cabbage, you might also like cabbage and carrots stir fry with brown rice noodles and pan fried cabbage with apples. Enjoy!

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe is so darn easy and flavourful, replaces my Ukrainian grandma's labour intensive cabbage rolls. SO tasty and EASY!|


Lazy Cabbage Rolls

5 from 2 reviews

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe is so darn easy and flavourful, replaces my Ukrainian grandma’s labour intensive cabbage rolls. SO tasty and EASY!

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 75 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 lbs ground turkey, extra lean
  • 3 lbs cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 2 x 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown long grain rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/4 cups any stock*
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (dill, parsley, green onions) & Greek yogurt, for serving


  1. Preheat large deep non-stick skillet on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium – high, add turkey, oregano and thyme; cook for 10 more minutes, breaking into small pieces and stirring occasionally.
  2. Reduce heat to low – medium, add cabbage, cover and let it cook for a few minutes so it will be easier to stir. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, rice, water, salt, pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 55 – 60 minutes. Do not open! Check if rice is cooked and if not (mine was) add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes. Serve warm topped with Greek yogurt and herbs.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely, and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a microwave or in the oven at 375 F for 10 minutes.


*I used water +  organic bouillon cubes.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

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59 comments on “Lazy Cabbage Rolls

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  1. I wanted something healthy and different. I stumbled across this and decided to give it a try. Never having eaten authentic stuffed cabbage, I’m not sure what it is supposed to taste like. But it was pretty good. My husband liked it too. Although next time I think I’ll add some hot sauce, or maybe red pepper flakes.

  2. The very first iFOODreal recipe I made years ago and still am making it to this day. A definite staple in our house and likely a generations long tradition!!

  3. I had a cabbage and was planning on making cabbage rolls but just didn’t have the energy and time to do. Someone mentioned lazy cabbage rolls — i wanted them to taste like my mom’s . Mom always used beef and pork. I followed your recipe except for the turkey and was very pleased with the results!! My neighbour tasted it and loved it too so i sent her the recipe. Thank you for a simple recipe. All i had to go out and get was the meat, i had everything else, yippee !!

    1. You are welcome, Nancy Ann. My mom and grandma used pork too, ground turkey and chicken were not common. Glad you enjoyed. It is a simple recipe indeed.

  4. This recipe is absolutely wonderful. I am used to making the traditional cabbage rolls like my Baba used to. This recipe has the goodness of traditional without all the tedious time consuming work. This will be my second time making your wonderful recipe. Double batch this time so I can freeze for leftovers. I decided to try half chopped cabbage, and half shredded (food processor makes it quick and easy) I also added a can of tomato paste, some crushed garlic, and a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce. The fresh dill on top, to die for! This recipe will be written down in our family recipe book for generations to enjoy. Thank you very much for sharing!

  5. My husband does not eat meat, would it be okay to use Morning Star Farms Griller Crumbles instead? If okay, is it best to add the crumbles toward the end of the cooking time?
    Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Karen. If crumbles are mostly cooked (I assume they are) add them towards the end. I’m sure you are more experienced with them so whatever time you think they need to get flavoured.

  6. This is AMAZING. not sure how big of a skillet you have though, I had to use a Dutch oven lol. I used beef (drained and rinsed) rather than turkey, a multigrain rice blend and found it slightly bland the first time so I use two cans of tomato sauce now. I don’t use the toppings, I use it for freezer lunches. It is incredible!! I had to share it on Facebook and I don’t do that very often! Thank you! Will definitely be a staple in my freezer from now on! Healthy, filling and super tasty!!

    1. Hi Megan. You should use deep skillet. Not the frying pancake skillet but rather with tall edges. I used wide dutch oven/skillet you see in pictures. Glad you enjoyed my lazy man cabbage rolls (man, am I ever “lazy” to stuff anything into anything these days)! You might also like the stuffed pepper casserole then. Fresh off the stove.:)

  7. This tastes just like stuffed cabbage. So much less work. I was wondering if I could make them in a crock pot. Have you tried?

    1. I know, right?! Why wouldn’t it since it has all the components and cabbage rolls become am use once on your plate anyways. At least that is how I like to eat cabbage rolls.
      No, I haven’t tried. I know meat has to be pre-browned for sure. What will happen to rice I don’t know. I just wonder if it is too big of amount of cabbage to fit in a slow cooker before it cooks down. Maybe I will test one day. Sorry I wish I had a better answer for you, Carol.

  8. Hands down the best lazy cabbage rolls I’ve tried. Forgot to pick up sour cream or greek yogurt but even without I loved it! Will get some to have with the leftovers!

  9. I can’t wait to try this. But I would love to make it in the crockpot instead. Do you have any recommendation? Could this cook all the on low for 6-8 hours? Or 4 hours on high?

    1. Hmm. I honesty don’t remember the last time I cooked rice in s crock pot how long it took. Low for 8 hours should be enough. 6 might be too short.

  10. This was a huge hit! My husband wanted stuffed cabbages and I didn’t wand to make them since it takes a lot of time. This was so easy to make and the family loved it. Thank you for a great recipe.

  11. Made this today for dinner. Only change I made was to cut the recipe in half and omit the yogurt. My fiancé and I both loved it, and he’s super picky! We’ll be having this one again, for sure. I think I just found my new go-to recipe site. ?

    1. Oh my. Comment of the week. Really? So happy to hear I helped someone to please a picky eater. Those picky eaters…I want to give them limes for dinner sometimes.

  12. Hi! Sorry if this is a silly question, but I’m just learning about “clean eating” and read that if it’s canned, it’s not clean. But, you used caned tomatoes, so is that only true for certain things? This recipe looks amazing, btw. Can’t wait to try.

    1. Hi Melissa. Nothing silly. Here is the best description of clean eating. It is more relative to canned processed meals like soup, stew etc. Again, organic Amy’s soup has only clean ingredients vs. Campbell’s ones full of chemicals, preservatives and GMOs. Canned tomato sauce, tomatoes etc. is just a form of preservation of ingredients.
      At the end of the day, the goal of clean eating is to eat real food which includes pickles and canned tomatoes, and excludes fries from a package but includes homemade baked fries.

  13. My mummo made the best cabbage rolls, but, they are a lot of work. I love the combination of all the ingredients in a one pot deal!! Such a comfort food. Since I haven’t been eating meat… I wonder how I can veganize this 🙂

  14. I’m going to cook this soon (without the rice though, I have to measure that separately).Yours is almost the only blog I read – most of them ramble on and on about stuff that has nothing to do with the recipe. I like your style.

    1. Thanks Michelle. I just really think people who never met me really want to know what my kids did or said yesterday. As cute as they are … for me. Let me know how you like this dish.

  15. This looks delicious, we’ll be making this tonight!! Have you ever tried using sour cabbage for your cabbage rolls? So much easier and no boiling/freezing required!

    1. Honestly no because I tried them once in a Croatian home and wasn’t impressed. Too sour and salty to my liking. Maybe matters the way they are prepared…

  16. I thought the idea of lazy cabbage rolls great! My mom used to make cabbage rolls all the time but I just don’t have the patience. I altered this recipe a little to make it more like my mom used to make. I added garlic, bay leaves and sugar.

  17. Olena do you have any recipes for white turnips(Japanese turnip)? Or what I could use them in or with. Thanks

  18. How would you recommend reheating this after it has been frozen & thawed? I froze some for my cousin & her husband who just had a baby!

    1. In the oven at 350 until heated through. I usually put thawed right away, no need to wait for oven to preheat. I do not use microwave however that works too.

  19. This morning I stared at the fridge….I was at a total loss of what to make for our work lunch. Then I saw that big head of cabbge and remembered this recipe….a quick check for the ingredients and a glance at the clock…could I do this and be ready and out the door for work in an hour and 10 mins.?? I was willing to give it my best shot! I cooked up the turkey and threw the ingredients together and put the lld on and set the timer…I blended up our green smoothies and was off and running…5 mins. before we walked out the door I dished up two glass containers and saved the rest for later. For lunch I had a delicious and gratifying meal. I loved this recipe for the taste and for how quickly it all came together…such an easy healthy recipe. I will be making this again! Many thanks! So yummy!

    1. Loved the story! Two thumbs up – you are a true superwoman! That’s how we eat – some simple meal like this with a green smoothie and I feel so complete. Glad you liked it! My husband’s co-worker was having it for lunch yesterday too.:)

      1. As a variation, it would be great with some grated carrots and mushrooms too (that is what I put in my vegan cabbage rolls) but I did not have time to get carried away!! I am curious to hear how my husband liked it…he loves cabbage and red sauce so I am sure he will rave about it too! By the way…the rice turned out perfect!

        1. For sure. Or even lentils with more water. I just made marinara sauce 1/3 meat and 2/3 black lentils – OMG. The size and texture were perfect meat replacement! Will post soon. Even my kids were like OMG. Good idea about vegan cabbage rolls! My rice came out very good too. Well, hope your husband liked it.:)

  20. I do believe my Russian Grandmother would have called these “Gwumpkies” (in skillet form of course) Of course, I think those are more Polish? But boy, did she make dishes like this, and I just remember gobbling them down. Now I do need to carry on the tradition and make these for my kids, and cabbage is quite nice.