Easy Turkey Cabbage Rolls Recipe (video)

several bowls of cabbage rolls on a marble table, with fresh dill

The most delicious and easy turkey cabbage rolls recipe! These Ukrainian cabbage rolls are filled with a juicy meat, rice and carrot mixture, then baked in a carrot, onion and tomato sauce. The rolls come out extra juicy, aromatic and very flavorful. Known as ‘holuptsi’ in Ukraine, these are a childhood favorite of mine! I used to make them all the time with my mom growing up. Serve them with sour cream, pickles and marinated tomatoes for an authentic Ukrainian experience!

Watch My Cabbage Rolls Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube cabbage rolls video tutorial for step-by-step instructions and learn how to shape the rolls perfectly every time. Want to stay up to date on the latest recipes? Make sure to subscribe to my website email list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!

Ingredients for the Recipe

Here are my tips for the main ingredients you’ll need for the recipe. Find the full list of ingredients in the printable recipe card below.

  • Ground Turkey: I like to use 93% lean ground turkey. Turkey breast or chicken will also work well.
  • Cabbage: my favorite variety to use is Napa cabbage. Regular cabbage will also work well, but it will require a few additional minutes of cooking/steaming time.
  • Rice: go with a fluffy, long grain variety for best results and a fluffier filling.
  • Carrots, Onion & Garlic: for making the filling and the sauce.
  • Tomato Sauce: the more delicious the tomato puree, the better the sauce! Go with a good-quality, Italian tomato puree.
  • Fresh Dill & Parsley: these fresh herbs add tons of authentic Ukrainian flavor to the dish!

Supplies & Tools

Need some supplies or tools to make this dish at home? Shop my Amazon Affiliate links for some of the items in my kitchen. Using these links won’t cost you extra and I’ll earn a small commission.

a large casserole filled with cabbage rolls, covered with sauce

Two Methods for Cooking Cabbage Leaves

Before shaping the cabbage rolls, or holuptsi as they’re called in Ukraine, we need to cook the cabbage leaves. There are a few different methods you can use.

  • Microwave: while I don’t usually like to microwave my food, this is a very easy method! Wrap the cabbage tightly with 2 layers of plastic food wrap. Microwave for 10 minutes for a large cabbage, 8 minutes for small ones. Let the wrapped cabbage rest at room temperature another 20 minutes, or until you’re ready to shape the rolls.
  • Stovetop Method: fill a large, tall pot with water and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, carefully cut out the hard, fibrous core from the center of the cabbage. Drop the cabbage into the boil water. As the leaves start to soften and cook, about 1 minute per layer, gently remove them with tongs and set onto a tray lined with paper towels.

Making the Tomato Carrot Sauce

With the rice and the cabbage cooking away, it’s the perfect time to get started on the onion and carrot mixture. We’ll use this mixture for both the filling and the sauce. The carrots add a special sweetness to these turkey cabbage rolls that makes them extra special!

  1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add in the butter, then the onion and carrots. Sauté the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender.
  2. Add in the garlic and all the spices next: salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and paprika. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  3. At this point, you’ll want to remove half of the mixture into a large mixing bowl and save it for the filling.
  4. To the remaining half of the mixture, add in the chicken broth, tomato sauce, and sour cream. Whisk in the sour cream until it’s well combined. Simmer this sauce over medium-low heat for 7 to 9 minutes.
  5. Season the sauce to taste with additional pepper and salt. Sprinkle in a few tablespoons of fresh dill and parsley. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, stir together, then add the slurry to the sauce. Cook the sauce for another minute, until it’s nicely thickened, then remove it from the heat.
a close up image of Ukrainian turkey cabbage rolls, on a table

Making the Turkey & Rice Filling

Allow the cooked rice and the onion and carrot mixture to cool to room temperature, then make the filling for the rolls.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled rice, the onion and carrot mixture, and the ground turkey. Season the filling with salt, pepper, fresh dill and fresh parsley.
  2. Use your hand to combine everything together, forming a uniform mixture.

How to Make Turkey Cabbage Rolls

Once you have the filling done, the cabbage is cooked, and the sauce is ready, it’s time to make some turkey cabbage rolls!

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Pour approximately two-thirds of the prepared sauce into the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish.
  2. If you microwaved the cabbage, this is a great time to dissemble it. Turn the cabbage upside down and use sharp knife to cut the leaves away from the core. Turn the cabbage face side up, then gently peel the leaves away.
  3. Trim away any hard edges from each cabbage leaf. For each roll, add approximately ½ cup of turkey rice filling on one end, where the cabbage meets the core. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, the gently but tightly roll the leaf as you would an egg roll.
  4. Watch my video for step-by-step video instructions to see how I shape the rolls. Place the shaped rolls seam side down into casserole, into the sauce.
  5. Once you have all the rolls done, spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the rolls. Cover the casserole tightly with foil.
a large casserole filled with cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce

Cooking Instructions

Bake the turkey cabbage rolls in a preheated oven set to 375F/190C for 1 hour. Remove the foil after one hour and turn on the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes, to give the rolls some extra color on top.

The rolls will be super-hot when you take them out of the oven! Allow them to cool for 20 to 30 minutes before enjoying.

a small bowl on a table, filled with pickles and tomatoes

Serving Suggestions for Turkey Cabbage Rolls

Before serving, garnish the turkey cabbage rolls with a sprinkle of fresh dill, fresh parsley, and ground black pepper.

For an authentic Ukrainian experience, serve the cabbage rolls with pickles, marinated tomatoes, sour cream, and toasted bread on the side.

Need to reheat these the next day? Cut each cabbage roll in half lengthwise. Preheat a large frying pan with a little bit of butter. Fry the rolls with the filling facing down until it’s golden, then turn over and fry the other side. Add some water to the pan to reconstitute the sauce.

several bowls of Ukrainian cabbage rolls on a table

More Recipes!

Enjoyed this easy Ukrainian recipe for turkey cabbage rolls? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy! And, don’t forget to check out my cookbook, Beyond Borscht!

  • Braised Cabbage with Sausage: an easy, one-pan recipe for delicious, braised cabbage with peppers, carrots, zucchini, smoked sausage and more!
  • Meat & Rice Stuffed Peppers: sweet bell peppers filled with a ground beef (or turkey!) and rice filling, then cooked in a rich tomato broth. You’ll love this easy recipe!
  • Turkey Meatballs in Gravy: the ultimate Ukrainian comfort food! Juicy turkey meatballs cooked in a rich and creamy mushroom gravy, served over mashed potatoes.
  • Meat & Cheese Piroshki: my favorite! You’ll love these savory, deep-fried hand pies filled with a juicy ground beef and cheese filling!

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Easy Ukrainian Turkey Cabbage Rolls (video)

30 mins prep + 1 hr 30 mins cook
16 rolls
The most delicious, Ukrainian turkey cabbage rolls recipe, baked in a carrot, onion and tomato sauce!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup long-grain, white rice, such as Basmati
  • 1 extra-large Napa cabbage

For Sauce/Filling:

  • 2 tbsp butter, or oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 large carrots, grated; about 2 1/2 cups
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp EACH: ground coriander, paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup tomato puree, unseasoned
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp EACH: fresh dill, fresh parsley

Add. For Filling:

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp EACH: fresh dill, fresh parsley

For Serving:

  • fresh dill & parsley, for garnishing
  • sour cream
  • pickles & marinated tomatoes

Instructions

  • Begin by cooking the rice. Place it into a small saucepan, add the recommended amount of water and cook according to package instructions; until the rice is fully cooked. Transfer the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool down to room temperature.

Cooking the Cabbage:

  • Next, cook the cabbage. Microwave Method: while I don’t usually like to microwave my food, this is a very easy method! Wrap the cabbage tightly with 2 layers of plastic food wrap. Microwave for 10 minutes for a large cabbage; 8 minutes for small ones. Let the wrapped cabbage rest at room temperature another 20 minutes, or until you’re ready to shape the rolls.
  • Stovetop Method: fill a large, tall pot with water and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, carefully cut out the hard, fibrous core from the center of the cabbage. Drop the cabbage into the boil water. As the leaves start to soften and cook, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per layer, gently remove them with tongs and set onto a tray lined with paper towels.

Making the Sauce:

  • Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add in the butter, then the onion and carrots. Sauté the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender.
  • Add in the garlic and all the spices next: salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and paprika. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • At this point, you’ll want to remove half of the mixture into a large mixing bowl and save it for the filling.
  • To the remaining half of the mixture, add in the chicken broth, tomato sauce, and sour cream. Whisk in the sour cream until it’s well combined. Simmer this sauce over medium-low heat for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Season the sauce to taste with additional pepper and salt, and sprinkle in a few tablespoons of fresh dill and parsley. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, stir together, then add the slurry to the sauce. Cook the sauce for another minute, until it’s nicely thickened, then remove it from the heat.

Making the Filling:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled rice, the reserved 1/2 of the onion and carrot mixture, and the ground turkey. Season the filling with salt, pepper, fresh dill and fresh parsley.
  • Use your hand to combine everything together, forming a uniform mixture.

Shaping the Rolls:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F. Pour approximately two-thirds of the prepared sauce into the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish.
  • If you microwaved the cabbage, this is a great time to dissemble it. Turn the cabbage upside down and use a sharp knife to cut the leaves away from the core. Turn the cabbage face side up and gently peel the leaves away. Trim away any hard edges from each cabbage leaf.
  • For each roll, add approximately ½ cup of turkey rice filling onto the tip of the cabbage leaf (were it meets the core). Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, then gently but tightly roll the leaf as you would an egg roll.
  • Watch my video for step-by-step video instructions to see how I shape the rolls. Place the shaped rolls seam side down into casserole.
  • Once you have all the rolls done, spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the rolls. Cover the casserole tightly with foil.

Baking Instructions:

  • Bake the rolls in a preheated oven set to 375F for 1 hour. Remove the foil after one hour and turn on the broiler for 4 to 5 minutes, to give the rolls some extra color on top.

Serving Suggestions:

  • The rolls will be super-hot when you take them out of the oven! Allow them to cool for 20 to 30 minutes before enjoying.
  • Before serving, garnish the turkey cabbage rolls with a sprinkle of fresh dill, fresh parsley, and ground black pepper.
  • For an authentic Ukrainian experience, serve the cabbage rolls with pickles, marinated tomatoes, sour cream, and toasted bread on the side.

Reheating Instructions:

  • Need to reheat these the next day? Cut each cabbage roll in half lengthwise. Preheat a large frying pan with a little bit of butter. Fry the rolls with the filling facing down until it’s golden, then turn over and fry the other side. Add some water to the pan to reconstitute the sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1roll | Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 527mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3328IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg