Vegetarian cabbage rolls are packed with mushrooms, lentils, and brown rice and simmered in a tomato sauce. They’re umami filled and make a hearty main. This veggie stuffed cabbage roll recipe is make ahead ready and is vegetarian and vegan! [ VIDEO on recipe card ]
This recipe was first shared 12/2015. I updated the photography and added additional recipe notes 12/2020. The recipe remains unchanged.
As a new vegetarian, holiday gatherings were usually awkward for me. Familiar traditions were set aside for new and not so familiar when it came to food. I quickly realized there were many delicious ways to enjoy the holidays meat free.
Vegetarian stuffed cabbage rolls were one of the first recipes I discovered that easily made the holiday table festive and memorable. They’re a bit of effort, and the dishes required many, but in the end, these veggie cabbage rolls are worth the effort to make the holidays feel extra special.
Trying Something New
Years ago, Rob and I went to a little farm-to-table restaurant that served up the most delicious Thanksgiving menu. The traditional turkey and stuffing was served, but for the veggie option they made mouth-watering pierogis stuffed with kale, onions, mushroom, herbs and a bit of cheese. A shallow broth cradled these little packages along with wild mushrooms, carrots, parsnips and herbs. There was a generous serving of pan-fried Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade sourdough.
Have you ever tried a pierogi?
I hadn’t until Thanksgiving that year. They’re little semi-circular dumplings filled with a sweet or savory stuffing, boiled, then pan-fried to impart a bit of a golden color and texture. They’re traditionally made for holiday celebrations.
It was those little pierogis and a rather large head of cabbage from the farm that inspired these stuffed veggie cabbage rolls. I love the idea of little packages of deliciousness that when cut into, they reveal the most flavorful of stuffings. And these stuffed cabbage rolls make such a delightful vegetarian holiday main for all things holiday and special occasions.
And those pierogies? I whipped up a mushroom, potato and pea pierogie recipe for the blog!
Quick Guide: How to How to Make Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls
There’s a bit of overlap in tasking to make this recipe, but it flows easily from one step to the next. Give yourself plenty of time to pull this veggie cabbage roll recipe together, but in case you need a make ahead option, I’m sharing how to on the recipe card. In summary, here’s how to make these cabbage rolls (for full details see recipe card below):
- First, place the cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water to soften the leaves. Drain and set in a colander to cool. Then remove several layers of the outer leaves of the cabbage.
- Next, rehydrate the porcini mushrooms, drain, chop and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the lentils and rice in a small sauce pot. Set aside.
- While the lentils and rice are cooking, saute the mushrooms in a bit of oil on medium high heat. Add the shallots and stir until fragrant.
- Continuing, in a food processor, add the mushroom mixture, bread crumbs, tomato paste, salt and fresh thyme leaves. Pulse to bring the mixture together.
- Next, mix together the lentils, rice and mushroom mixture and add seasonings and stuff the cabbage leaves and place in a baker.
- Last, make the tomato sauce, pour it over the cabbage rolls and bake.
While the vegetarian cabbage rolls bake, there’s plenty of time to whip up a salad or other side for sharing.
What to Serve with Cabbage Rolls
Mushroom stuffed cabbage rolls make a delicious, hearty meal. Make the side(s) light to keep these little vegan cabbage rolls center stage. I like to serve this recipe with crusty bread and any of the following or a seasonal salad:
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pear and Thyme
- Winter Jeweled Salad
- Maple Roasted Cardamom Spiced Carrots and Apples
- Roasted Beet and Apple Salad
- Easy Roasted Beets
- Sourdough Dinner Rolls – three ways
A Few Vegetarian Cabbage Roll Recipe Notes
- When boiling the cabbage to prepare for rolling, handle the leaves gently as they tear easily. To minimize this, after the cabbage has cooled, cut at the base and around the stem to release the cabbage leaves.
- Make ahead? Yes please! Prepare the stuffing and tomato sauce up to two days ahead and store separately in the refrigerator. Or, make rolls one day ahead without making the sauce. Cover the rolls in the casserole dish, and refrigerate. The next evening, make the sauce and bake as written.
- Freezer Friendly? While I’ve not frozen this recipe, I wouldn’t hesitate giving it a try.
- Portions: Depending on appetite, plan for one or two rolls per person. One is plenty for me, while Rob always has two.
- Linda made these and noted: “I used Savoy cabbage which is a little easier to work with then white cabbage and I had excellent results.”
More Cabbage Recipes to Love
- Lentil-Mushroom Cabbage Roll Soup
- White Bean Cabbage Potato Soup
- Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad
- Thai Ginger Garlic Noodle Bowls
- Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
Mushroom Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- 3 lbs (1.4kg) Head of Green Cabbage go larger if 3lb is unavailable
- 1 oz (28g) Dried Porcini Mushrooms
- 1/4 C (50g) Long Grain Brown Rice
- 1/4 C (50g) French or Green Lentils
- 1 tsp Sea Salt divided
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 Tbs Olive Oil
- 3/4 lb (345g) Cremini Mushrooms stems removed and sliced thick
- 1/2 C (46g) Shallot small chop
- 1/2 C (40g) Bread Crumbs Panko or toasted sourdough
- 1 Tbs Tomato Paste divided
- 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Fist Full of Fresh Thyme divided
- 1 (14.5oz / 411g) Can Diced Tomatoes
- Reserved Mushroom Soaking Liquid
- Dry White Wine and/or Vegetable Broth as needed
- Ground Black Pepper
Prepare the Cabbage:
- Bring a large stock pot, large enough to hold a head of cabbage, of water to a boil. Add the whole head of cabbage and simmer for 9 minutes turning it over once 1/2 way through cooking since it will float. Remove the cabbage and set in a colander to cool. When cool enough to handle, gently remove the leaves attempting to keep them in tact as much as possible. To do this, use a pairing knife to cut around the base of the stem, releasing the cabbage leaves so you can gently pull them away from the head. You'll want to try and obtain at least 10, large in tact leaves for rolling. Set aside the torn leaves and/or other leaves which can be used to line the baking dish and/or eat for lunch the next day.The leaves closest to the core won't fully soften, so if more leaves are needed, you can place these individually in the pot of hot water to soften or store the remaining head in the fridge to be later used in a another recipe.
For the Stuffing:
- Rehydrate the Porcini: Place the porcini in a bowl. Scoop out 2 C (472g) of that very hot water the cabbage is cooking in and pour over the porcini mushroom. Cover the mushrooms with a lid and rehydrate 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze out as much soaking liquid from the mushrooms as possible. Rough chop the mushrooms and set aside.
- Cook the Lentils and Rice: In a small sauce pot bring 1 1/2 C (454g) of water to a boil. Add 1/4 tsp salt, bay-leaf, lentils and rice. Turn heat to low, put a lid on the pot and cook for about 35-40 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender. The lentils will cook faster than the rice, but this is okay for our application.
- Cook the Mushrooms: In a nonstick saute pan add two Tbs of olive oil, heat until shimmering then add all the mushrooms. Give them a good stir then let them cook for about 2 minutes at a time before stirring again. We want to get a good sear on the mushrooms. Cook for about 13-14 minutes. Add the shallots about 3 minutes before the mushrooms are done.
- Process the Mushrooms: In a food processor, add the mushroom mixture, bread crumbs, 1 tsp of tomato paste, 1/2 tsp salt and fresh thyme leaves from about 7 stems. Pulse about 4 times, scrape down bowl and pulse again a few more times so that mixture comes together but is not pasty.
- Mix the Stuffing: When lentils and rice are done, scoop the mushroom mixture into the sauce pot the rice and lentils were cooked in. Add about 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper. Stir well to combine and taste for seasoning adjustment. Set aside.
For the Tomato Sauce:
- To the same pan you sautéed the mushrooms in, pour in the reserved mushroom broth. Simmer on medium for about 2 minutes. The broth will begin to cook down a bit. Stir in the remaining tomato paste until dissolved. Add 1/4 tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook on low for about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly spray a large casserole dish with pan spray.
- Line the dish with 3-4 cabbage leaves, or enough to cover the bottom and most of the sides. If the leaves hang over the edges, this is okay. To lay them flat you may need to cut a notch a the base of each stem.
- For the remaining cabbage leaves, if the stem is tough and won't easily roll, cut a small notch out. Scoop about 1/4 C (40g) of the mushroom mixture and place it near the base of the cabbage leaf. Gently fold in the sides and start rolling, tucking in the sides as needed. Place in baking dish, seam side down, on top of the leaves. Repeat, adjusting the amount of filling as needed for smaller leaves, until all the filling is used. The rolls can be crowded, just not overlapping. If you run out of room, start another baking dish and line as with the first baking dish.
- Pour the sauce over and around the top of the rolls. The sauce should come just up the sides of the rolls, not submerged. Drizzle white wine and/or veggie broth over the top as needed.
- Give each roll a good few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of salt over the top. Lay 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme across the top.
- Bake, uncovered for 40-50 minutes until the tops are a bit golden with some a little crispy. Remove from oven, discard crispy thyme leaves and let set for five minutes before serving. Sprinkle fresh thyme over the top before serving.
- Store in lidded container in fridge for up to two days.
I expected it wouldn’t taste like cabbage rolls, but in their own right they were amazing I will make these again and again
Thank you for your note and star rating, Tammy! Super excited to hear you’re enjoying the cabbage rolls!
Gosh what a delicious recipe. I’m making it for my block party this weekend and want to flavors to blend after cooking. I used estaragon for the main flavor profile which is more southeastern European style. Totally vegan.
Hi Robert! Thank you for your feedback! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the cabbage rolls, and that you’ll be making it for your block party – what a great dish for sharing! Estaragon? Is that tarragon? Sounds absolutely scrumptious!
I made your vegetarian brown rice with mushrooms cabbage rolls tonight, I usually make the standard Ukrainian cabbage rolls you know white rice ground beef and ground pork. but I came across your recipe I decided to made it instead just for something different I didn’t use cremin mushrooms I used Gourmet mushroom mix which worked out just fine, I was just letting you know what a nice change so much flavor I will make it again. thank you for posting it your new follower
Hi Nancy! Thank you for your note and giving the recipe a go! A gourmet mushroom mix is perfect for this recipe. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this flavor packed recipe! Thank you too for following! So happy you’re here! :D
I never baked my stuffed cabbage, always on the stove. do you think this would work?
Hi Amy! I’ve not tried this recipe on the stove top.. but, I’m afraid the bottoms would burn.
This looks so delicious, curious about it’s taste.
Katherine | Love In My Oven
Traci these cabbage rolls sound divine! I am a huge fan of cabbage rolls, but I’ve only ever had them stuffed with meat, so I would LOVE to try your vegetarian version!!
Oh my goodness this looks so good. I’ve bookmarked it and going to give it a try! I LOVE that there’s no heavy pastry involved and you’ve used cabbage leaves for the rolls.
KD the Kitteh Mama
I’m Polish so I regularly had homemade Polish food growing up, especially pierogi and stuffed cabbage. My grandmothers made everything from scratch. I was spoiled! If you want authentic Polish food but don’t have a Polish grandma, go to a Polish or general Eastern European restaurant. Unless they’re made in a Polish deli or shop, frozen pierogi frankly suck. The mass-produced stuff is just awful and not even close to the real thing.
My grandma stuffed her cabbage with rice and meat and served them in a rich tomato sauce. They were delicious. I have one vegan recipe already, and it is very good. I will try yours.
Julia Child recommended freezing the entire head of cabbage for 24 hours prior to use instead of boiling the leaves. She also used savoy cabbage instead of plain green. I’ve tried this and it works. My Polish grandmas are probably rolling in their graves, LOL.
Simply delicious and easy to make. I used Savoy cabbage which is a little easier to work with then white cabbage and I had excellent results. I grew up eating meat stuffing in my cabbage rolls, but with this recipe, I didn’t miss the meat at all!
SO happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Linda! Thank you for your note, tip on Savoy and rating. I absolutely love this recipe too… so much flavor from the mushrooms, so happy you didn’t miss the meat!
I make these every Christmas Eve with (meat) the way my mother taught me many years ago. This is a favorite and common meal in much of Europe and I love them. I appreciate a vegetarian option that sounds delicious…I think mushrooms are key to the success of this recipe. Yum. I look forward to making them! Thank you!
I’m going to make this tonight for a potluck, but I’m going the easy route and will use red chard (which only requires a quick blanch) instead of cabbage. This recipe looks awesome!
Hi Janet! Thank you for your note. red chard sounds lovely. Please do let us know how it goes!
I am trying to make this recipe gluten free. If I add another 1/2 cup cooked rice, will it totally unbalance the recipe? Thanks, Patty
Hey Patty…. it won’t quite hold together as well as the Panko, but I wouldn’t hesitate trying it. You may want to consider short grain brown rice instead of long grain as it is a bit stickier. I hope this helps. Please let us know if you give it a go!
This looks absolutely delicious! Could i substitute savoy cabbage, and do you think it would alter the cooking time or liquid needed? I have an entire savoy to use up and i want to do something more interesting than just fling it into herby mash. Thanks!
Hi Grace! Thank you for your note. I’ve not used savoy cabbage in this recipe, although I don’t see why it couldn’t be used. It’s more tender then green cabbage, so consider reducing the boiling time to 5 minutes. I think that’s the only change I’d make. I hope you enjoy the recipe and the savoy works! Would love to know how you like it with savoy. I hope this helps.
Hi thank you for a great recipe! We are new to finding the joys of mushroom…after many nose turn ups at the way the look and the thought of it being a fungus, I finally grew up! I was looking for a recipe with mushroom and came across yours. I had the cabbage, green lentils and quionoa, so I said ok I can make something similar! It was delicious,since I didn’t have any tomatoes I used an Indian curry dinner sauce I had and changed up the seasonings to keep in line with the Indian route I was going for (turmeric, curry). I followed your directions except I wasn’t patient enough to let them stay in the oven that long. I’m actually making it now (got my cabbage in the pot as we speak!), and since I still don’t have a can of tomatoes (crazy I know), I’m switching it up once again. Tonight I will be using an ancient grain blend from Costco and an Asian inspired sauce. Thank you again for this recipe, I appreciate how easy it is to switch up a few things and still come out great. Your pics look delish!! Let me know when you want my address to invite me over for dinner!!
Oh wow, Sheri, so many variations to think about! Thank you for sharing your creative ideas. I’m really loving the Indian flavor route.. stay tuned! I’m so happy you’ve found ways to change the recipe up, infusing different flavors and spices. It’s such a great idea! :D
I’m excited to try this recipe but it doesn’t say how you cook the rice and lintels. I like lintels but have never made them. Do you cook them with the rice together? I would like to make this for dinner tonight :) thanks
Hi Autumn! Check step number two. ☺️
I have a whole head of purple cabbage would that work?
Hi Kathleen! I’ve not tried purple cabbage, but you can give it a go. I’d love to know how you like it! ☺️
I love to read your posts and recipes. The photos you post make me really hungry. Thanks for sharing this recipe
Hi Mike! Thank you so much for stopping by and your kind words! :D
Looks really good, but I have a problem with and am not ‘suppose’ to eat tomatoes. Can you recommend a different sauce for these?
Hi Mindi! I hear you, I’m not ‘suppose’ to have peanut butter so I have to stay away from that :( ! I’ve not tried cabbage rolls with any other sauce, but I imagine that the tomatoes and juice could be replaced with vegetable broth and perhaps more white wine. Adding a bundle of herbs for even more savory flavor would be delicious too. I’m thinking sage and thyme perhaps. Adding diced sautéed mushrooms would be fabulous as well. Making a slurry of cornstarch to thicken the sauce could work too. Try making a slurry first; one part cornstarch mixed with one part cold broth (you wont need much here), then add it to the mushroom broth just a tsp at a time while whisking, to thicken it. You want more of a sauce, not a gravy, so be careful here. I hope this helps! :D
Thank you for the great recipes, Traci!! This vegetarian option for cabbage rolls look amazing. We make them a lot here in Greece with avgolemmo (egg and lemon) sauce. Maybe Mindi could try that. My husband also uses an interesting technique for the cabbage. He freezes the whole head overnight instead of boiling..when defrosted, the leaves are ready to roll…?
Molly! Pardon my delay.. I somehow missed your brilliant suggestion! Thank you for this tip. I’ll give it a go next time I make this recipe!
You’re husband might be a genius! Please thank him for us
Yum!!! I’m polish so pierogi are a regular for the holidays and for whenever comfort is needed! Stuffed cabbage rolls are actually called GOLABKI in polish and at Christmas time my mother and I make a ton filled with rice, meat, and onions completely drowned in homemade mushroom sauce that my grandpa makes. TALK ABOUT COMFORT DURING THE HOLIDAYS! Can’t wait to show my mom this recipe, she will probably freak out! :) Have a great holiday!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen
What a treat to go out to eat on Thanksgiving! It must have been lovely to have a break and your meal sound absolutely delicious! I too ADORE the idea of little packets/bundles of food. Just something very special about them that really resonates with me. I’ve never made stuffed cabbage rolls before. Think I need to change that ASAP!
Hi Traci, found your site through Robyn’s. These cabbage rolls scream comfort to me, love this recipe. Happy Holidays to you!!