Entrees/ Thanksgiving Dinner

Lazy Cabbage Rolls

Lazy Cabbage Rolls - Domestic Dreamboat

These lazy cabbage rolls are based on Ukrainian sour cabbage rolls with rice, sauerkraut and bacon, but without the extra work to roll them!

Lazy Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Sauerkraut and Bacon

I grew up eating Ukrainian food at all the major holidays.

My mom is 100% Ukrainian, so when we were with her side of the family (which was almost always for holidays, since that’s who we lived closest to) my Grandma cooked the Ukrainian dishes we knew and loved. These dishes included things like perogies (which need no further explanation), nalysnyky (crepes filled with cottage cheese and dill), pyrizhky (buns filled with cottage cheese and dill), and of course, cabbage rolls.

Ukrainian cabbage rolls are nothing like what probably at least 80% of you think cabbage rolls are. They are not cabbage leaves filled with rice and beef in a tomato sauce. They are sour cabbage leaves (which taste just like sauerkraut) filled with rice and a little bacon. At least that’s how my Grandma makes them. And, it turns out, my mother-in-law too.

Lazy Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Sauerkraut and Bacon

Making cabbage rolls – as with making all the Ukrainian food I mentioned – takes a lot of work and a lot of time. So, somewhere along the way, someone came up with a shortcut and found a way to incorporate all the components of cabbage rolls without all the extra labor. I bring you Lazy Cabbage Rolls.

Lazy Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Sauerkraut and Bacon

I do actually know how to make real cabbage rolls, and my mother-in-law often helps me make them when she’s here for a holiday. But when it’s just me my family at home, I don’t usually have an hour (at least) to spend rolling up a bunch of rice into their sour cabbage leave to make perfect little rolls. So instead, I make some rice and throw it in the fridge overnight. Then I cook up some bacon, onions and garlic and throw in a jar of sauerkraut. In goes the rice, and voila. Lazy cabbage rolls. I like to think of it as Ukrainian fried rice.

Lazy Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Sauerkraut and Bacon

While I would (and do) make lazy cabbage rolls as a side dish for any old weeknight, I especially like to make it for holidays since that’s when I would be most likely to have the real deal cabbage rolls for so many years. You can bet they’ll be on my dinner table for Easter just a few short days away!

5 from 3 votes
Lazy Cabbage Rolls
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Lazy Cabbage Rolls is the unrolled version of Ukrainian cabbage rolls made with sauerkraut and rice.

Course: Dinner
Servings: 6
  • 6 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 24 ounce jar sauerkraut, drained and squeezed dry, but not rinsed
  • 4 cups day old or cold cooked rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook bacon in a 12" skillet over medium high heat until well browned and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towel using a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease.

  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions in the remaining bacon grease until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sauerkraut and cook, stirring often until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, salt and pepper until incorporated. Cook until rice is heated through, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Nutrition Info

Lazy Cabbage Rolls Nutrition Notes

If you want to increase the fiber content of this dish, use brown rice instead of white. You can also use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon to decrease fat content slightly, which is how my Grandma made her cabbage rolls for years. However, when it comes time to cook the onions, you may have to add a little oil to the pan.

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  • Reply
    July 17, 2017 at 2:02 PM

    This was delish! I did add ground chicken to mine and I wanted a protein with my dinner. Today Im going to use sausage in place of bacon. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Reply
      July 17, 2017 at 8:45 PM

      I’m so glad you like it! 🙂

      • Reply
        Debora Lee Fleming
        November 20, 2017 at 7:10 PM

        Love your recipe, was raised in Bonnyville, Ab, learned such wonderful Ukranian recipes, always have little sour cabbage rolls made my our friends Babba! We always make nalysnickies and bring them to any potluck! Sheesh, can’t spell them☹️ Always a hit,! Love Ukranian New Years festivities. Now living in Billings Mt, thanks for posting,,, Daja good. Also learned French cooking, please keep the traditions coming. Thanks Deb

  • Reply
    October 3, 2017 at 6:08 PM

    Have you or anyone tried topping this with tomato juice? Just wondering how the flavours would pair. My mother in law is Ukrainian and makes her cabbage rolls with tomato juice. Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      October 3, 2017 at 7:42 PM

      I have tried cabbage rolls with tomato base, but they are generally made differently. They use regular cabbage, not sauerkraut. I did some very quick research in a Ukrainian cookbook I have (it has a whole chapter on cabbage rolls). It does have a recipe for lazy cabbage rolls that uses regular cabbage (not sauerkraut), and also tomato juice. I don’t think tomato juice and sauerkraut would go well together. I would stick with regular cabbage if you’re going the tomato juice route.

    • Reply
      December 28, 2017 at 3:01 PM

      My family (maternal aunt) made cabbage rolls with addition chopped cabbage AND sauerkraut plus tomato base.I don’t know the recipe. I am going to try to get the recipe from my cousin who has been making it for family gatherings since that aunt passed away. I hope to take the recipe and try making it the “easy” way to see if it works or if it needs to be meatballs or “porcupine meatballs” (rice and ground beef meatballs” to get the same flavor without so much of the work. The sauerkraut and tomato combination blends together VERY well. Need to give it time to simmer for the flavors to meld. The ‘kraut adds a nice zip to the taste that really perks it up. YUMMY!

  • Reply
    Sabrina Richard
    October 4, 2017 at 4:18 PM

    My husband’s aunt’s family makes sour cabbage rolls every Christmas and we have been there a few times and they are amazing. Sour cabbage, rice and some bacon but I can’t find a recipe online!! Every single one has tomato sauce and meat! I saw this recipe and I will try it too but could you send me the recipe for the cabbage rolls that you make? They sound like the ones they make!

    • Reply
      October 4, 2017 at 5:48 PM

      I’m afraid I don’t really have a recipe. I’ve made them a couple of times with the help of my Grandma or Mother-in-Law, but never by myself. I don’t have a written recipe from either of them, just advice. However, if I ever get a recipe down on paper, I’ll for sure publish it on here!

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