Super easy vegan cabbage rolls!*

I’ve been dying to try making cabbage rolls ever since I saw a tip that you can freeze and thaw the cabbage instead of boiling it. (and yes, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I saw the said tip on Steven and Chris).

*Well, ok, these are still cabbage rolls so they aren’t super easy. But they are way easier than the traditional way of making cabbage rolls!

The first time I tried, I didn’t freeze the cabbage long enough so the leaves were still very stiff and a pain to work with. The result was delicious but not worth the over an hour of time it took to pry the leaves off without ripping them and then boiling them in batches.

So I vowed to try again.

This time I left the cabbage in the freezer for a good three days and let it thaw in the fridge for two days. With my fingers crossed, I took it out of the bag, and sure enough the leaves were super soft. They were easy to get off and didn’t need to be boiled. Yay!

Another reason why I love these is that cabbage is one of the few types of produce that I can still get locally.

So now you have no excuse, go and make cabbage rolls!

Vegan Cabbage Rolls (inspired by this recipe )

Sauce Ingredients
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can crushed tomatoes (or use diced and puree them a bit with an immersion blender)
½ cup veggie broth
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbs white vinegar

Filling Ingredients
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp thyme
1 tsp vegan Worshesere sauce (this is how I make lentils taste beefy, I use this brand)
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup tomato sauce (see above)
1-1 ½ cup cooked brown lentils
1-1 ½ cups cooked short grain brown rice

1 medium head green cabbage, frozen and thawed

1. Freeze and thaw your cabbage. This takes a few days, so plan in advance.
2. Make the lentils and brown rice in advance. I cooked ½ cup each dried lentils and rice.
3. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium pot, add the minced garlic and sautee for 3-5 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Make the filling: Heat 1 tbs water or oil in a large sauce pan and saute the onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes until onion are soft and transparent. And remaining ingredients and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add lots of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
5. Cut the core out of your cabbage and carefully peel off the leaves. Rinse the leaves in a large strainer and shake off excess water.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F.
7. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch glass pan.
8. One leaf at a time, cut the core out of the cabbage leaf and fill with ¼ to ½ cup filling. Roll it up and place in the glass dish.
9. When all of the leaves are done, cover with sauce.
10. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Note: The cabbage didn't get quite as soft as when I had actually boiled it but we preferred the firmer texture. If you like your cabbage really soft you may still want to boil it, but be sure to still freeze and thaw it as it will make it a million times easier to get the leaves off.


These rolls bring back great memories of my childhood. My aunt was a master at cooking and used to make amazing cabbage rolls for Sunday dinners. I would love to see how she likes these, minus the beef. I will have to make these one day and let her try them. I would love to see her reaction to an old fashioned favorite veganized. Thank you for this.

It's always fun to veganize old favorites. You could probably make them even more authentic by using veggie ground round instead of the lentils. I never really ate cabbage rolls in my pre-vegan days so I'm not every sure how they compare. If she does try them, I'd love to hear what she thinks!

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Hooray!! I'm so happy to have found your blog!! I am also vegan and trying my best to stay within the locally grown produce and as you say, cabbage is one of them! :) I'm so very much looking forward to trying these fabulous looking rolls. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! (my cabbage is in the freezer!) :))

In response to my first comment:
I brought these rolls to a potluck of omnivores. They didn't go over very well, most people pulled the filling out and tossed the cabbage out because it was tough. :( The filling and sauce was awesome but I will not do the frozen cabbage trick again, not worth it. 

Aww, that's too bad that most people found the cabbage too tough. It definitely does have more bite to it than regular cooked cabbage rolls, but I actually like it better that way. But then again, I really like cabbage! Freezing the cabbage is still helpful even if you want to cook the cabbage first as it is way easier to get each leaf off intact!

I made this recipes today, but put it in the crockpot on low for about 7 hours, instead of baking it in the oven.  The cabbage was fully cooked and not tough at all.  Yum!

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