Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls Recipe: This Traditional Holubtsi Recipe Is Easy Ukrainian Comfort Food by 30Seconds Food

Dinner Beef
2 years ago

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls Recipe: This Traditional Holubtsi Recipe Is Easy Ukrainian Comfort Food

Holubtsi, or cabbage rolls, is a favorite comfort food in Ukraine. It's one of the most popular dishes in Ukraine and throughout Central Europe. 

There are many different recipes for cabbage rolls, and they vary from region to region and family to family. This easy cabbage roll recipe is a simple one often served in Ukraine. To make this a vegetarian recipe, simply leave out the meat and double the amount of rice. 

As we enjoy this comforting cabbage roll recipe, let's send positive energy and thoughts to the strong and brave people of Ukraine. If you want to help, here are some ways to support Ukraine.

Cuisine: Ukrainian 
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus overnight to freeze cabbage
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours plus overnight to freeze cabbage

Servings: 6 to 8


Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1 - 2 cups cooked ground beef, ground lamb or your favorite ground meat
  • 2 1/2 cups partially cooked rice (cook it about three-fourths of the cooking time)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped


  • 1 can (10 ounces) tomato soup
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup water

Here's how to make it: 

  1. Put the whole head of cabbage in the freezer overnight. Set it out to thaw the next morning. Once thawed, remove the core from the cabbage and separate all the whole leaves. 
  2. Combine the cooked meat and rice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepot. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion to the rice mixture. Mix well. 
  4. To the same saucepot, add all the sauce ingredients. Cook until butter has melted and incorporated into the sauce. 
  5. To make the cabbage rolls, cut large leaves in half and remove any tough stems. Put about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the bottom of the cabbage leaf and roll it up, making sure to push the ends in to seal the roll. Place it into a lightly oiled baking dish. Repeat with remaining filling and cabbage leaves. 
  6. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the cabbage rolls. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. 
  7. Cover the baking dish and bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for about 1 hour or until leaves are tender. 

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Tomato Soup $2 & Up
Rice $2 & Up
Baking Dishes $8 & Up

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Elisa Schmitz
OMGoodness, my grandmother made cabbage rolls just like these. I have goosebumps thinking of the people of Ukraine, and look forward to making these in their honor. Sending so much love!
I love cabbage rolls old fashioned simple goodness...
Super delicious. 😋
Tomato soup or sauce?
Can't imagine soup!
It says soup and they meant soup. Using canned tomato soup is very common and using sauce or canned tomatoes will add more acid than you want.
Someone named "chefman" should know that canned tomato sauce is too acidic.
Donna John
Yes, the recipe calls for canned soup. You could substitute tomato sauce if you think that would work better for your tastes.
Maybe Ukrainians just like bland food, but compared to how the Romanians make cabbage rolls this recipe is very plain. Try with pickled cabbage, making them smaller, mixing beef and pork, dill, parsley, and garlic, and tossing a strip or two of bork belly into the broth while it cooks.
Marjorie Armbrust
I make my holupkie sauce with 1 can tomato sauce and 1 can of tomato soup. Stir in zaprashka (browned butter and onions and flour and water). the Slovack way.
Arthur Brewer
Using tinned tomato soup is a horrifying idea. It contains high fructose corn syrup and a great deal of sodium. There should be flavorful ingredients used, such as shallots, garlic, paprika, crushed black pepper...otherwise you will have a bland dish indeed. All of you people who think you know how to cook by opening tins of soup need to step back and take cooking lessons.
Wow what a bland nasty dish. How in the world does this have any stars at all? No disrespect to Ukrainians but dang talk about bland food. No garlic, onion, paprika, maybe some oregano, thyme idk something other than s&p. Meat, rice, cabbage, tomato soup and salt and pepper. Yummy. Um not really. I can't get over the tomato soup thing. Nothing wrong with tomato sauce or paste. Add a tiny amount of sugar for the acidity. Would have much more flavor than canned tomato soup. 👎🏻
This is traditional. This is how it's been handed down for generation after generation. I'm sure other ethnic foods from different cultures have their foods that other people think might not be flavorful or would try to change it. I am a chef. I have a culinary degree. And this is exactly the way you make this dish. Say you have a favorite restaurant you go to every week and you get the same thing because you love the way they prepare it. Then you come in one week and somebody changes something and you're never going back again. People need to leave the traditional food alone. And I'm sorry but the haters on here are the ones that don't know how to cook. Obviously you haven't made it and tried it. And I'm sure Campbell's tomato soup's been around since 1902 because it's terrible. This recipe is delicious. And it's amazing all of the recipes you see that throw raw rice into ground meat. Anybody know what happens to raw rice when you throw it into ground meat? It sucks every ounce of liquid and fat out of the meat turning into it a tough ball of meat. If you need some cooking lessons I teach!
Elisa Schmitz
Thank you all for your comments. Many traditional recipes seem to be bland and/or call for tomato soup instead of sauce. For example, here's a popular traditional Amish recipe that calls for tomato soup: food: Amish Shipwreck Casserole Recipe: A Hall of Fame Recipe Worth Repeating

It's up to you if you'd like to add additional seasonings to suit your tastes. No need to assume that everyone prefers a spicier dish. Since you know the flavors you like, just adjust it to suit your own tastes. Thanks for your feedback and for being part of our community! Chefman50 maddie.demelio Marjorie Armbrust Arthur Brewer Vplw1226 Tkeller Donna John
Trisha Young
In my recipe ground beef and rice are mixed in even amounts and then bind this with 1 can of mushroom soup and 1 tsp. - 1 Tbs. Terragon spice (according to personal taste and amount of mixture being made). The terragon flavor elevates as well as it gives a pleasant aroma and matches nicely with both the cabbage and tomato sauce.
Elisa Schmitz
Mmm, nice variation on the recipe, Trisha Young , thank you for sharing. We love trying different ideas!
Hoft Home
I will try this recipe as-is first, then on later attempts consider adding pork, garlic, onions, shallots, dill, oregano, parsley, paprika, tarragon, & thyme per everyone’s suggestions.

How much of each do you suggest, but more importantly, *when* should these other ingredients get added & how (all at once, stir-in gradually, etc.)?

Elisa Schmitz
Thanks for your comment, Hoft Home . In general, if you're adding to the meat and rice, that would be in step 2. If you're adding to the sauce, that would be in step 4. As far as how much, I always measure to my family's personal tastes. It's so individual. However, I'm tagging all those who offered suggestions, in case they can share how much they add, and when. Thank you and let us know how it turns out for you! Donna John Marjorie Armbrust Trisha Young maddie.demelio

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