Viola’s Cabbage Rolls


This is not a cooked cabbage leaf wrapped around a savory stuffing, this is cabbage and meat AS stuffing inside of a chewy, soft roll.  These are very similar to Russian pirozhki. I made these for the first time when my husband and I were newly dating.  He talked about his grandmother’s cabbage rolls with such affection that I knew I needed to give them a try.  I asked his mother for the recipe (written on a 3 x 5 card the way recipes used to be passed on) and went to work.  Viola’s recipe of course called for making a yeasted dough from scratch.  She was a strong, Midwesterner known for her economies in raising ten children.  Making your dough from scratch will no doubt save money.  For me the ease and mess-free method of buying ready-made dough trumps the cost.  It makes these doable for a Sunday afternoon.  I use a package of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls.  They come in a bag of 32 and they are the perfect size and shape for making these delectable cabbage rolls.  These will keep in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for months.  Reheat them in the oven to keep the bread from becoming sticky. The dough needs to thaw, so start these about three hours before you want to eat them.

  • 1 package of 32 frozen dinner rolls (I should seriously do a Rhodes commercial)
  • 2 t. vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef or pork
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
  • flour for rolling dough


First you need to thaw the rolls- I like the speed method that’s printed on the package.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the rolls on a baking sheet.  When the oven gets to temperature, turn it off and place the rolls inside on the middle rack with a pan of hot water on the bottom rack.  The steam and heat thaws the rolls and keeps them from getting a skin.  The process takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and since the oven is turned off, you can run errands or whatever. When the rolls are thawed and have doubled in size they are read to use.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground beef, onion, and cabbage until the meat is cooked and the cabbage is soft.  Season well with salt and  lots of black pepper. Set aside to cool.

When the filling is cooled you are ready to assemble the rolls. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.  I used a 13 x 9 inch pan, you could also use a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle a cutting board with flour and roll out one ball of bread dough into a round, flat pancake.  Spoon about 1/4 C. of meat/cabbage mixture into the center.  Fold the dough over, folding in the sides, and pinching to close it up, burrito style.  Place the roll into the pan, seam side down. Repeat until you run out of rolls, or run out of filling.

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I usually run out of filling and have about three rolls left, which I bake and devour, hot out of the oven and slathered in butter. Bake the rolls for about 18 -20 minutes, or until golden brown.  These make a great picnic lunch since they taste great at room temperature.

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About swellkid recipes

I am a mother of two boys, a wife, a teacher, and an avid home cook. These recipes are written, tested and created or adapted by me in my home kitchen. All photos were taken by me with my Canon Digital Rebel XT. No filters or Photoshop, usually natural light on my kitchen table. My motto is, if I can do it, you can do it!
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