These lazy cabbage rolls are based on Ukrainian sour cabbage rolls with rice, sauerkraut and bacon, but without the extra work to roll them!
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) 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.
What are Ukrainian Sour Cabbage Rolls?
Ukrainian sour cabbage rolls are nothing like what probably at least 80% of you think cabbage rolls are.
They are NOT fresh-cooked cabbage leaves filled with rice and beef in a tomato-based sauce.
They are sour cabbage leaves (think sauerkraut) filled with rice and a little bacon. At least that's how my Grandma makes them. And, as it turns out, my mother-in-law too.
How do you make sour cabbage rolls?
Making cabbage rolls - as with making all the Ukrainian food I mentioned - takes a lot of work and a lot of time.
After making the rice filling, you carefully separate and assess the size of each sour cabbage leaf. Then you cut any tough ribs from them, and cut them to the correct size for rolling.
Next comes the stuffing and rolling. Then, once assembled, the casserole dish full of cabbage rolls gets baked.
In order to avoid this time-consuming procedure, 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.
While, I do actually occasionally make real cabbage rolls, when it's just me and 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 leaves to make perfect little rolls. So I make the much quicker and easier version of lazy cabbage rolls.
How do you make Lazy Cabbage Rolls?
Making lazy cabbage rolls is much simpler and faster than making real cabbage rolls.
Lazy cabbage rolls should be made with cold rice to keep the rice kernels separate and prevent them from sticking together and becoming mushy.
Start with leftover rice, or make rice and chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before continuing the recipe.
Brown some chopped bacon in a skillet and add onion, garlic, and sauerkraut. Stir in the chilled rice and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Lazy Cabbage Roll Ingredients:
- Bacon: use regular bacon, or turkey bacon works fine too if you don't eat pork, but you may have to add a little extra oil to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
- Leftover or cold rice: If you don't have any leftover rice, at least make sure you cook it a couple of hours before you plan to make dinner, then let it chill in the fridge.
- Black pepper
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.
After all, that's when I would most likely 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!
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.
Want more delicious side dishes?
Lazy Cabbage Rolls
- 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
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 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.
- 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.