Ukrainian Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

3 hours 30 minutes
12 servings, 2 rolls per serving

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Craving something home cooked? Ukrainian Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a labor of love, and the epitome of an ultimate comfort food meal.

In case you thought cabbage couldn’t fill you up, think again. Serve these delightfully sweet and savory bundles alongside a make-ahead mashed potato casserole, bread and butter, pickled or sautéed beets, sweet and sour pickled onions, and a green salad with homemade mustard dressing.

A plate of food, with Cabbage roll and Chicken

I hit the grocery yesterday so I could pick up a few cabbages. Once the weather turns chilly, there is nothing that quite competes with the aroma that fills my kitchen when I roast cabbage rolls.

Stuffed cabbage rolls are common to the cuisines of the Balkans, Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran, as well as West Asia and Northern China. I learned this method by watching women in my household assemble them for bigger gatherings because they do in fact feed a crowd.

overhead shot of Ukrainian Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Looking for additional comfort food recipes? Be sure to browse my recipes for these great dishes, too!

Most everyone I know refers to these as stuffed cabbage rolls. Others know them as halupki and others a golumpki. I have always known them as Holubtsi and could pronounce them when I was just a wee one.

It brings back childhood, reminds us of humble beginnings, the struggle during the Depression whether we lived through it or came along after, and teaches us not to waste. It is comfort. And it’s a BEAUTIFUL dish.

a head of cabbage on a kitchen countertop

Cabbage leaves, unlike lettuce leaves, are not easily detached from the head. They require ‘softening of the cone,’ the dense whitish stalk that travels up from the bottom of the bloom. Ripped or torn leaves will not work in this method, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to remove them correctly.

Ukrainian Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are filled with hearty combination of ground beef, rice, and chopped onion. The homemade sauce the Holubtsi are baked in is made up of whatever cabbage remains after the filling is used up, condensed tomato soup, canned tomatoes, and our sort-of-not-authentic-secret-ingredient, Heinz chili sauce.

This dish could be described as sweet and savory. It goes very well with mashed potatoes, beets, sweet and sour onions, and a loaf of hearty Challah or other egg bread.

Food on a table, with Cabbage

Ukrainian Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Jenny DeRemer
Ukrainian Holubtsi or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a labor of love, and the epitome of an ultimate comfort food meal.
4.85 from 19 votes
Servings: 12 servings, 2 rolls per serving
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Poland, Ukraine
Servings 12 servings, 2 rolls per serving
Calories 321 kcal



One head of cabbage yields approximately 24 Holubtsi, sometimes more if the cabbage is very large, sometimes less if the leaves are too small to roll. Select a large, tight cabbage when purchasing.

  • 1 large green cabbage
  • 2 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium onion rough chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper cut into strips; alternatively, several to many small sweet gem peppers, any colors, cut into strips
  • 10 cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 2 10 3/4 ounce cans condensed tomato soup
  • 1 1 pound canned tomatoes
  • 1 bottle chili sauce I am using Heinz
  • 1 tablespoon basil dried
  • 4 bay leaves dried


  • Cook rice according to package directs and set aside to cool completely once done.
  • Adjust oven rack to lower half of oven to allow for height of roasting pan. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Draw water into a large pot and set atop burner and bring to a boil. While water is heating, remove tough outer leaves of the cabbage and reserve. Core around the stem of the cabbage at enough of an angle to remove. Gently place cabbage into boiling water core side down. Add additional water to ensure cabbage is not touching bottom of pot.
    a cabbage being cored
  • Reduce heat just a little and boil cabbage for about 5 minutes or until outer leaves become soft. Using kitchen tongs, remove the outer 2 or 3 leaves in tact to a colander placed over a bowl to catch the water. Continue with remaining cabbage leaves one by one, allowing a minute or two between leaves for underlying leaves to soften. You want them to peel apart in one in-tact piece.
    A close up of a person holding a pan of food
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooled rice, chopped onion, eggs, and salt. Using your hands, work the mixture until combined.
    hands mixing rice and meat filling for Ukrainian Holubtsi
  • Position your cooked cabbage leaves alongside your bowl with the mixture in preparation for rolling/stuffing the dumplings. Before stuffing, prepare a large roasting pan by emptying one can of condensed tomato soup or a bit of the canned tomatoes in the bottom and spreading to coat. You do not need much.
    hands stuffing a cabbage leaf
  • Begin rolling/stuffing the cabbage leaves one at a time, by taking a loose handful of beef mixture and centering in a leaf. Fold side to side, and top to bottom. Mom's 'technique,' show here, are more along the lines of fat cigar-shaped bundles. As long as they are tightly packed, they will keep their shape during cooking. Place seam side down in the roasting pan and repeat until all of the meat mixture has been used.
  • Once all of the cabbage rolls are tucked tightly in the roasting pan, scatter the pepper strips and the cherry tomatoes. If there are remaining unstuffed cabbage leaves left, chop them finely and scatter atop as well. Pour the canned tomatoes, the remaining can of tomato soup, and the Heinz Chili Sauce atop the dumplings. Sprinkle with dried basil and add bay leaves. Dunk the reserved outer leaves detached from the cabbage at the beginning of the recipe into the still hot water used to soften the cabbage. This is simply to remove any grit from the surface of the leaves. Use the outer leaves as a 'blanket' and cover the dumplings completely. This is important so they both steam cook and also do not burn.
    roasting pan filled with stuffed cabbage leaves ready to be bakes
  • Place the lid on the roasting pan and bake at 350°F for 2 hours. When 2 hours is up, turn off the oven heat, crack the oven door, and leave the roasting pan in the oven, undisturbed, for an additional hour.
  • The Holubtsi are ready to be eaten as soon as they are done resting. Spoon the sauce over the Holubtsi and serve with plenty of bread for mopping up the sauce and juices.
    finishes baked stuffed cabbage roll on a plate

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 321kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 20gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 680mgPotassium: 514mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 262IUVitamin C: 50mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Bet your grandmother didn’t use canned soup for her sauce! My mother, born in Simferopol, made her’s from scratch, but I don’t know the recipe. Any pointers?

    1. Sergei, I’m afraid I don’t have any pointers for a homemade tomato sauce that will correctly compliment the acidity in the cabbage. I’ve only ever followed my grandmothers recipe which does include the canned tomato soup. Remember, she was an immigrant during the Great Depression. As my mom told me, the canned tomato product was easier and cheaper to come by during cold weather months than fresh tomatoes. Given the pricing of fresh vegetables during our current recession, I absolutely get it. The chili sauce is not original to her recipe, rather something I added to elevate flavor.

  2. Excellent !! Made these for my boyfriend. He remembered his Buba making them when he was young. He loved this dish.5 stars

    1. Diana, it sounds like if your boyfriend had a Buba, then he definitely remembers Holubtsi. Food triggers some of our fondest memories. Thank you for making a point of hopping back on here to tell me this! x – Jenny