by Olena

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

by Olena

4.9 from 18 reviews

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

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 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.

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 cabbage rolls 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, these inside out cabbage rolls hit all food groups spot on.

Lazy turkey 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!

How to Make Lazy Cabbage Rolls Recipe

  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. Lazy Cabbage Rolls ingredientsshredded cabbage
  2. Reduce heat to low – medium, add cabbage, cover and let it cook for a few minutes so it will be easier to stir.
  3. 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!
  4. After check if rice is cooked and if not (mine was) add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes.
  5. Serve warm topped with Greek yogurt and herbs. Lazy Cabbage Rolls

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

4.9 from 18 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: Olena of
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 75 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Casserole
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Ukrainian


  • 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 water or 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.
  2. Increase heat to medium – high, add turkey, oregano and thyme; cook for 10 more minutes, breaking into small pieces and stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to low – medium, add cabbage, cover and let it cook for a few minutes so it will be easier to stir.
  4. 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!
  5. After check if rice is cooked and if not (mine was) add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. 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.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

102 comments on “Lazy Cabbage Rolls

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  1. Delicious i’ve made it twice in the last two weeks . So easy 😀 I used the cabbage 🥬 and roma tomatoes 🍅 from our garden! I also added bacon 🥓. Highly recommend this recipe! I also live on magical Vancouver Island 🌴.

    1. This one?

      Cabbage Rolls Casserole

      Print Recipe
      Healthy Cabbage Rolls Casserole that doesn’t require pre-cooking rice, boiling cabbage and wrapping the leaves. Lazy man cabbage rolls.

      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook Time: 115 minutes
      Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
      Yield: 8 servings 1x
      SCALE 1x2x3x

      1 tbsp olive oil
      1 large onion, diced
      6 cloves garlic, crushed & divided
      1.5 lbs extra lean ground turkey
      2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, divided
      1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked*
      1 cup water
      2 tsp brown sugar, divided
      5 bay leaves
      1/2 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp ground black pepper
      1 medium cabbage (3 lbs), thinly shredded
      1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
      Greek yoghurt (for garnish)
      8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (optional)
      Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and half of garlic. Saute until golden brown stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer in a separate bowl and set aside.

      In the same skillet brown ground turkey, breaking into pieces with a spatula. Add onion and garlic from step 1, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, rice (see Notes), water, 1 tsp brown sugar, bay leaves, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

      In the meanwhile, remove the outer leaves from cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half and using a sharp knife or mandoline thinly slice/shred it. Place in a mixing bowl along with 1/8 tsp salt. Massage cabbage using your hands until the volume of cabbage decreases. This helps to soften the cabbage.
      Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. In a 2.5″ deep 9 x 13 casserole dish, spread evenly half of the shredded cabbage topping with half of the meat-rice sauce. Then another layer of remaining cabbage and another layer of meat-rice sauce, until all used up.
      To remaining can of crushed tomatoes, add remaining garlic, 1 tsp of brown sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper and mix together. Pour over the layered casserole, spreading evenly with spatula. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 10 minutes and cut with a knife into 8 pieces. Serve warm (I like hot) with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt and a slice of rye bread. The casserole tastes even better the next day and makes great leftovers and work lunch.
      Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 3 days. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To defrost, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in a microwave.

      *A few readers reported that rice was still uncooked after an hour. I didn’t have this problem when creating the recipe, neither I had a chance to re-test this casserole again. Alternatively, you could pre-cook the rice with half amount of water and time as specified on the package.

  2. Loved it… it’s just perfect and my kids loved it too!!! Definitely doing this many times.. and the fact you can freeze is just perfect for busy moms.

  3. This is SO good!! First time I made it i followed the method exactly, and it took way longer because of the brown rice. Everything kind of over cooked by the time the rice was done. Second time I cooked the rice separately
    and it was awesome!
    I love your site by the way! 🙂

  4. Made this 2 nights ago – makes a lot! Which I love – if you’re going to be cutting veggies & cooking, etc. – why not do it once and have extra meals, right? My husband LOVED this – so did I 🙂 Didn’t have avocado oil, so used olive oil. The only thing I added were some spices to the tomato sauce & diced tomatoes – I whisked them together in a separate bowl and added a bit of garlic powder, onion powder, basil & oregano before adding them to the pan. Will DEFINITELY be making this again!! We had some leftovers for lunch today – quick and easy. Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Your comment makes me smile because your “a lot” is our dinner and maybe 2 people lunch. It’s so sad here LOL. Glad you liked this recipe so much!

    1. Unfortunately you can’t use white rice with this recipe. Brown and white rice require different cooking time and amount of liquid. I don’t cook white rice so I won’t know.

      1. Good to know. I did use long grain brown rice, cooked it too long and it dissolved! Guess I didn’t account for carry-over time. I don’t feel bad because the same thing has happened with long grain white rice.

        None of it mattered. It was DELICIOUS and my family wanted to take leftovers home!

  5. Hi Olena,
    Can I reheat the frozen cooked lazy cabbage rolls in a crock pot on low after defrosting then overnight in the fridge instead of reheating them in the microwave or oven?? Thanks ☺

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

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