Cabbage Rolls CrockPot Recipe

Day 163.

I've never had cabbage rolls before. I didn't even know they existed until I started this blog and kept seeing them pop up here and there on different slow-cooking sites. The very first cabbage roll recipe that I bookmarked, was Sandra's, on a Slow-Cooking Thursday. I thought they sounded intriguing, but couldn't imagine that they tasted good. In my mind cabbage was for the cabbage soup diet.

I was way wrong.

Cabbage was invented for cabbage rolls. And for hiding babies. Or is it growing babies? Or for producing babies whose bodies are too big to fit into any regular doll clothes so you need to go out and get a specific type of doll clothes just for that one doll.


Anyhow, these cabbage rolls were wonderful. And since it's day 4 of Retro Week, you should make them. My photo did not come out anywhere near as good as Sandra's so just pretend that they look better. Because they taste awesome.

The Ingredients.

--1 head of cabbage
--1 egg
--1 8oz can tomato sauce
--1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
--1 envelope onion soup mix
--1 lb lean ground turkey
--1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
--2 cups**(see note below) regular V8 juice

The Directions.

--core your cabbage, and save it for the guinea pigs.
--very carefully, peel off large cabbage leaves (8-12, I used 8, Sandra used 12) and wash them. You need to lightly steam the cabbage leaves to wilt them enough to handle. I put the leaves in a covered casserole dish and microwaved on high for 2 minutes. They were perfect.
--in a mixing bowl, combine the turkey meat, raw rice, the egg, the onion soup mix, the cheese, and the can of tomato sauce. Mix well---the mixture will be like very gloppy meatloaf.
--Using a spoon, scoop about 1/3 of a cup of mixture into each cabbage leaf and roll or fold. Put the stuffed cabbage leaves into the bottom of your crockpot, seam side down.
If your cabbage has a bunch of nice leaves, use them all. I was stuck with only 8 good ones, and got frustrated and fed the rest of the cabbage to the guinea pigs.
It's okay to stack the rolls on top of each other in the crock.
**Top with 2 cups of V8 Juice. I used 2 cups of juice because I made 8 rolls. If you are using more rolls, use another cup of juice. The original recipe called for an entire 46 oz bottle of V8 which is an awful lot. I didn't want to use that much, and did not fully submerge my cabbage rolls. They steamed and cooked fine in less juice.
Cover crock and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Ours cooked for exactly 6 hours, and the meat was cooked and the rice was tender. That's what you're looking for.
The Verdict.
I didn't think I would like these, but I really did. I am greatly looking forward to making them again. Adam and I each ate 3. The kids had packaged macaroni and cheese. I offered it to them, and was not surprised when they ran away. The rolls look really weird, but they taste fantastic.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at June 11, 2008

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What they say about this article

  1. Anonymous6/11/2008

    This is also known as "halupka" where I come from (Pittsburgh). It is a tradition to eat these during Sunday football but I have never seen it done in the crockpot. I will definitely try it this way from now on! Thanks!

  2. They're even better if you pile it onto of a mound of mashed potatoes with the red gravy...and throw some sour cream on top.


    Off to the grocery...

  3. Anonymous6/11/2008

    I'm also from Pittsburgh, and the word we used is galumpki (that's the Polish word). Stuffed cabbage also works. :)

    They don't look weird to me -- that's just the way they look! When you grow up eating them, it's no big deal. Glad you enjoyed them.

  4. thanks, anons! I didn't know that word.

    babblinghousewife, oh that sounds yummy. I need to try it with the leftovers. I think there is only one, though.


  5. I just found your site today thanks to "The Grocery Cart Challenge" blog. Your blog ROCKS! I've glanced through and I've already seen SO many things I want to try. This might make summer dinners a little easier! Keep up your great work.

  6. My best friend married into a Polish family so they call them galumpkis too. Oh wow are they good...but I had not idea how to make them until today!



  7. I LOVE cabbage rolls! I can't wait to try out this recipe. It's a great alternative to stuffed bell peppers since my husband does not like bell peppers. *gasp*

  8. Again with the spoiled brats, except this time my husband is also one of them. I love cabbage rolls but I have to wait for friends to make them for me because no one in my family will eat them and I love them so much I end up eating enough meat to last me 3 weeks.

  9. Ok, babblinghousewife's comment has me drooling.

  10. Mmm... these sound good! I had something very similar when I was in the middle east, and now I can't remember the name for the life of me. .. but I just went to good old wickipedia, and found out they were called Dolma. Kinda the same thing, but made with grape leaves instead. (but many people substitute cabbage)
    I think I will definitely have to try these and force my hubby to eat them. ;-)

  11. ...aren't husbands picky

    At least I can get my kids to try something once

  12. This blog is amazing......I'm posting a link on my cooking blog here........

  13. Anonymous6/11/2008

    Hey! Did they change the recipe of the soup mix? Last time I looked it wasn't gluten-free.

    I love cabbage rolls...always looks awful...but tastes so good.

  14. Hi Aelfie. Lipton is a Unilever product, and Unilever has stated that they will not "hide" gluten in it's products. The soup mix DOES have MSG in it, and many people react badly to MSG. Here is the contact info for Lipton Recipe Secrets and Unilever.
    It's of course, always best to call the manufacturer and clarify by serial number on the box just in case.

  15. They are even better if you use ground beef. Also use fresh garlic cloves and cans of diced tomatoes, along with real onions.
    That is just the way my grandmother made them. She did not use V-8, just tomato sauce, paste and diced tomatoes instead.
    Also the left over broth can used as a yummy soup starter. Another neat thing to do is add cut up potatoes and carrots toward the end of the cooking.

  16. Anonymous6/11/2008

    Oh Excellent! Thank you for passing that info on. That makes my life easier. I miss cooking with it.

  17. oh, boyohboyohboy! Yum! I bet you could use minced lamb, too, for a Mediterranean influence. Will definitely try these. I put your blog link on my blog, by the way, now that I have figured how to. And PICTURES! I am a genius!

  18. There is even a song about them, "cabbage roll and coffee, mmm, mmm good!"

    I'll have to try these after the baby comes. I can't get a whole cabbage head in my bra so there is always some left over. : )

  19. bwhahahahhahahaha, gallivanter! That's right----cabbage is for three things: the cabbage soup diet, engorgement, and now for cabbage rolls.


  20. Anonymous6/12/2008

    Wow! I'm from Pittsburgh, too, and I can't believe you never had them!!! Isn't stuffed cabbage wonderful??!!!
    My Mom made 2 giant sized pans of them for my son's First Communion party this past April.
    My kids and all of the kids around here, love them.

  21. Anonymous6/12/2008

    I had no idea there were people in the world who hadn't had cabbage rolls!

    Thanks for the recipe - I'm making it tonight!

  22. You are the funniest ever. At this point, I hardly care what you are making, I just love to read your comments.

    Do you still have YOUR CP doll?

  23. Of course, Jules! Roberta Thelma is part of the family. ;-)


  24. Anonymous6/13/2008

    I'm eager to try these in the crockpot. I usually cook my cabbage rolls on the stove top. Thank you for the great idea!
    Homemaker Barbi

  25. I'm in Mississippi... Never heard of or had cabbage rolls before. This sounds SOO good. I'm definitely going to make some (although my husband won't eat them).

    Just found your blog today, and I must say I love it! Although it's bad that I'm pregnant and I tend to crave everything I see. =0)

  26. I have been DYING to make cabbage rolls ever since I had a particularly memorable version while eating out in NYC. Topped with cool greek yogurt and dill. Gah. I just started drooling.

    Will pass this one on to the husband to see if I can persuade him to try it this week.

  27. okay... I have just turned on my crockpot. I can hardly wait until they are ready!!
    I put a few inches of water into my stockpot, and then put the whole cabbage in there to steam while I mixed up the filling... the timing worked out perfectly - by the time my hands were cleaned off the cabbage was soft enough to separate 5 leaves, and I put the head back in to continue steaming while I rolled, and then repeated. I managed to get 15 leaves off this way!!!
    I ran out of filling before leaves, so I emptied the crockpot, lined the bottom with 2 of the firmer leaves from close to the core and put the rolls back in again - just in case it burns a bit.
    I used a larger can of tomato sauce - but only half of it - and I mixed the leftover sauce with the 2 cups of V8 and about a halfcup of water. And then I added 2 more firm leaves to the top of the pot.
    I also added a bit more rice - I remember cabbage rolls being really rice-y, and the recipe just didn't seem like enough. We'll see I guess!!

  28. I made these on Sunday. Yummy!!! I've never had cabbage rolls before and neither did my hubby. They smelled so good cooking - we couldn't wait for dinner. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

    Thanks for all you do!

  29. My cabbage rolls turned out fantastic!! They were the best that I have had - and so easy to make (this was my first attempt). The ground turkey was a pleasant surprise... actually seemed to add sweetness.
    I am glad that I added the extra leaves to line the crock - made cleanup so much easier. (see above post)
    Thank you Crockpot Lady!!!
    Happy in Hamilton,

  30. yipppeee! Thank you Ali, and Laurie! I'm so glad they worked so nicely for you1

  31. My husband is from PA and is Lithuanian. His family called these "Blind Pigeons." Don't ask me why?? LOL! Good recipe. I will have to surprise DH with these!

  32. This was great! I tried it for the first time (with a couple of my own substitutions I had at home). I used a package of taco seasoning and one jar of spaghetti sauce instead. I used 1/2 of the jar sauce to mix with the ingredients you mentioned. Then I added water, cilantro and chopped onion to the other 1/2 of the sauce, shook it up in the jar and poured it over the rolls(instead of the juice). It had a nice southwestern flavor! Thanks for our new crockpot meal!

  33. Anonymous7/18/2008

    Made these tonight. I love cabbage rolls but refuse to use the oven during the hot, hot summers in Tucson, AZ so I was excited to try these in my crock pot. Unfortunately, they turned out way less than great. The cabbage cooked nicely but the filling had the texture of mush. The meat and rice couldn't be distinguished, could have just been oatmeal mixed with tomato sauce inside of cabbage. I've not abandoned the idea of cabbage rolls made in the crock pot but I do think I'll brown the meat first next time for a bit of texture.

  34. Interesting holubtsi recipe. I use tomatoes ground up in the food processor and diluted with an equal volume of plain water for the cooking liquid; extra-lean ground beef, fresh garlic, Hungarian hot and sweet paprika, fresh minced hot pepper, and long-grain white rice (it really does matter - brown rice can become mushy) for the filling; and sour cabbage for the wrapping. If you're in Pittsburgh you should be able to find whole sour cabbage somewhere - here in Western Canada it's available in every supermarket right beside the raw cabbage.

    Another really good filling is chopped mushrooms and cooked buckwheat seasoned with salt, pepper, and dill.

    You don't need an egg for any of this. No Ukrainian I know uses egg in their holubtsi simply because it's not necessary. (Same goes for cheese.)

  35. Anonymous8/21/2008

    Hi there, I am from canada, I grew up on cabbage rolls. My grandmother is hungarian and the cabbage roll came from there. Along with the perogie, it is a wedding food of happiness and health. This is a Hungarian tradition that goes as far back as 1764.

  36. Anonymous10/08/2008

    I made these last night in the crock. I think maybe I didn't pick a good head of cabbage, because I could only get 5 rolls out of it. I had a lot of leftover meat and cabbage. I googled "Can you freeze cabbage rolls", and I saw a recipe for "UNstuffed Cabbage", which was everything in the cabbage rolls, just the cabbage was shredded and everything was cooked in a skillet. There was an onion in addition, which I sauteed until tender and then wilted the spinach and then added everything. The only thing was that the rice didn't get very tender, I think if I added some chicken stock or more V8 and covered my skillet and let it go for 30 minutes it would've worked. Anyway! I haven't had the actual cabbage roll yet, but the unstuffed cabbage tastes phenominal! Cabbage rolls are tonight!

  37. Anonymous10/10/2008

    By spinach, I meant cabbage. I'm just so used to wilted Spinach!

  38. Anonymous11/14/2008

    I made these for dinner tonight and was a little nervous since DH doesn't eat cabbage.

    When he took a bite, he had kind of a weird look on his face and I demanded to know how they tasted.

    He said, "Do you see the goosebumps on my arm? These are SOOOO good!"

    Whew! Huge success! The daughter & I loved them too, although my son famously dislikes anything with flavor, so we didn't expect him to like them.

    I did brown the turkey before cooking, because raw ground turkey reminds me too much of canned cat food. I almost used more V8 since my crockpot seems to cook too high on low and all my juice disappears and burns.

    Thanks so much for this year's hard work! Whenever my daughter sees the crockpot out, she asks "Is this one from the year long lady?". And she's always happy when the answer is yes.

  39. I just wanted to say that I'm super excited to find this recipe. We used to have a neighbor who made these cabbage rolls, and he brought some over to us every time. They're such a weird food, yet so tasty. My eight-year-old brother absolutely loves them. He's going to be amazed when I make these for him.

    I'm also wondering whether you've had any experience with replacing the ground meat in recipes like this with vegetarian ground meat substitutes. I'm vegetarian -- my brother and the rest of my family eat chicken (not red meat), so I can still make this recipe for him if the veggie mince doesn't work, but I'd really like to be able to have some myself!

  40. Hi Sea,

    I haven't done it myself, but I think it can be done successfully. You might want to contact Susan at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for help.


  41. Anonymous1/18/2009

    Please, please, please stop steaming your cabbage!!! My mom taught me a great trick for softening the leaves before you roll your 'rolls'. Core the cabbage, THEN FREEZE IT!!! Take it out the night before you're going to make your rolls and you won't believe how pliable the leaves are.
    We've always made our cabbage rolls in the traditional oven...but did make a few in our crockpot last time and thought they were stellar.

  42. Anonymous2/16/2009

    OK, I've been wanting to make these for months, since I first saw them. I have never made stuffed cabbage before, but love the stuff. I didn't have onion soup mix, or V8, or tomato sauce, so I just used dried minced onions and some seasonings, and plain marinara. I got about 10 out of it, although I'm worried that a couple of the last rolls may come undone... Anyway, they're cooking and I cannot wait to try them!! Thanks!

  43. Anonymous5/19/2009

    Another Pittsburgh girl here!!
    My aunt used to make these and we called them "pigs in a blanket." We're Hungarian, so maybe that's why we didn't use the polish These definitely remind me of Sunday football (Go Steelers)!

  44. My grandmother was Russian/slavic, from Scranton, PA. These were a staple. My daughter loved them so much she always asked for them on her birthday. Our tradition was to make them with a meatloaf mix (I know, you don't do pork), no cheese. My mother used the can of soup, not V8, as the steaming liquid, and always added a touch of vinegar -- gave it a slightly sweet-sour taste. If you can hold off eating them, they are actually way better the next day. Doing them in the crock pot makes a lot of sense & makes it a lot easier.

  45. My Mother called them pigs in the blanket (who knows why) but anyway I tried these twice....1st time with less V-8 and took Babblinghousewife's suggestion and served with mashed potatoes.......
    Yesterday I made again but used all the juice because it was such a hit over the potatoes......Ummm
    Thumbs up from the family
    Thanks for the website.....I have purchased the it The best one around
    Congrats on the new bundle of Joy

  46. Cabbage rolls were comfort food for us (six hungry children) when we were growing up. My Mom made the best, sweetest tasting cabbage rolls! I am unfamiliar with adding parmesean to the meat mix, and I may leave that out. But hubby and I were at a casino buffet today and we each had two cabbage rolls. He asked if I could make these, as in ANYTIME soon! He said to check out the Crockpot lady's website. When I checked your site, you referred to another site for another recipe of galumpki. My Goodness, two totally fabulous recipes for cabbage rolls or Polish galumpki! Looks like my crockpot will be getting a workout this summer! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  47. Yum Yum (a poem by Ruby)

    Here's an easier recipe for cabbage & beef:

    Lazy Cabbage Rolls

    1 1/2 lbs burger
    1 chopped medium onion, drain.
    1 small head cabbage
    1/4 tsp. cinnamon
    2 – 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
    1 C. rice (long-grain, uncooked)
    1 can tomato soup
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Place beef mixture in crockpot. Sprinkle rice over beef mixture. Slice cabbage into small wedges and place on top of beef. Mix remaining ingredients, pour over all. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours

  48. Cabbage rolls are traditionally what my family eats on Christmas Eve. My great great grandmother started making them (she's from Poland) and every generation has made them since. The only real difference is that we add drained sauerkraut and canned chopped tomatoes. Instead of ground turkey, we use 2 parts ground beef to one part ground pork. YUM!

  49. I grew up knowing these as Holupki. My Slovak grandma makes these in GIANT batches and then freezes most of them for later meals. She also doesn't make them in the crock pot. Since my dad didn't make them for my brother and I, it was a real treat when we flew to PA to visit my grandma because we always knew we would be getting these! And pierogies!

    In an attempt to get our grocery bills (and eating out bills) down a whole lot I am planning out my weekly meals and shopping according to that list and I am so happy that I happened upon your sight. I have already made a few (very delicious) things and was so happy to find a Holupki recipe on here too!

  50. My family makes something similar and my grandmother called them halubi. She learned the recipes from her mother-in-law from Czech Rep.
    The way my dad makes them is:
    white rice (precooked)
    ground pork (precooked)
    raw cabbage leaves

    one scoop in each leaf and then boiled in a brown gravy with red wine for 30min-1hr.

    I dont eat pork and so I will be changing my own recipe and fololowing your cooking directions so I can make them in the crock pot.

    Thanks for posting!

  51. I come from Romania. We use pickled cabbage, white rice, mix of ground beef (30)and pork (70), dill, salt and pepper. I make about 50 of these every Christmas. Never made them in the crock pot. Maybe I will try it this year :)

  52. Anonymous2/16/2011

    Hey Stephanie!
    I just KNEW I could count on your site having THE recipe I needed. My dear husband has been asking for cabbage rolls. I wanted an excellent recipe for the crock pot. BINGO!
    ~Mrs. R

  53. Anonymous3/22/2011

    Add a bag/can of drained sauerkraut over top of the galupkies with a can of tomatoes crushed slightly with a can of tomato soup....yum!

  54. hillbilly mama6/12/2011

    These are sarmas in northern Minnesota..... absolute necessity at funeral wakes, wedding parties and other traditional get-togethers! Don't think I'd go for the cheese...but throw on a can of sauerkraut and...I think I am going to make some right now!!

  55. My grandma used to make these with a little ground sausage mixed in the burger. She is a stout German woman and calls them pigs in a blanket. I don't have any cabbage on hand, so I am going to try wrapping them in kale, but I'm not telling gramma that!

  56. I came across your site looking for ideas on how long to cook cabbage rolls in a crock pot. My husband and I are "grain free" and low carb so I am adjusting my recipes accordingly. I grew up with cabbage rolls pronounced "halukee"? My grand mother was from Germany, so I am guessing that's were the addition of sauerkraut, tomatoes and bacon come from. Each layer of rolls are layered with kraut, canned tomatoes and bacon. To die for!
    Just finished rolling the cabbage so I can pop them in the crock pot on our way out the door tomorrow morning.
    FYI- I have used ground veggie crumbles in these. I always added a little olive oil to simulate the fat from the meat, as well as a little liquid smoke for the bacon flavor.
    I will miss dipping my home made rye bread in the juice. But the new diet is fab- small sacrifice!
    Thanks for a fun site-

  57. I am also from Germany and we never had them w/anything tomatoe, or rice inside. Just the meat, rolled up in the leaves (you don't need to tenderize/steam them prior, btw), broil in the pan for 30 min. or so, then serve with gravy and potatoes. yummy. I got a cabbage head from my CSA, and wanted to see if one could make these in the crockpot (addicted to my crockpot now, so easy to cook stuff!) and, of course, you say Yes You Can! Will be making them tonight.
    Love your funny writing style, too.

  58. Delicious and so easy to make, although I am thinking of substituting regular tomato juice with some garlic for the V8 next time. Used a Knorr onion soup mix. Was a huge hit with the cabbage roll lovers in my family.

  59. Oh My Goodness! A mention of halupkis! That sure takes me back, Anonymous! I have made these in the oven, but not in the crockpot...yet! I think I'll do some shopping later this week, for the ground turkey & onion soup mix -- and we'll have halupkis this weekend. YUM!

  60. Kezz from Oz6/11/2012

    Thankyou soooo much Stephanie, I've recently bought a 5 in 1 cooker & had never used a slow cooker or crockpot I can't believe what was I missing out on. Love your blog, yummy recipes & style...cheers

  61. Anonymous6/28/2013

    Hi, where I am from cabbage rolls are called Halupkies,it is the ethnic name.We use 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground pork and make large pots ...They are sold at all fire house picnics and church picnics here..I use diced tomatoes and tomato soup as broth and I and some ketcup to that.I usually use a large head of cabbage and steam it,then cut the thick vein off leave and put my burger mix in there

  62. I have found that when there are only a few good leaves on the cabbage head to make only a few rolls an alternative for my family is to brown what meat you choose to use first, then dice the cabbage into bite size pieces, then throw all the rest of the ingredients of your favorite cabbage roll recipe into the crockpot and it turns it into a wonderful casserole. This can also be baked on a cold winter day but I like the throw it together and go method.

  63. Just happened on to your site...I think I'm going to love it.
    Croatians call cabbage rolls "sarma" and they are made with ground beef and pork. I'm looking forward to trying the recipes both ways. Thanks, LV

  64. Anonymous10/17/2016

    I loooove cabbage rolls but with all the mixing, rolling... eh, I just rough chop the cabbage and mix everything together and cook it like a stew / casserole. And you thought the rolls looked funny! But it's quick and easy and tastes good. Even hubby liked it. I think I need to make this now...