Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls In Vegan Cream Sauce

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls In Vegan Cream Sauce

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Give Scraps a Second Chance

Ukrainian cabbage rolls, or sometimes referred to as guluptsie,  evolved of the idea of utilizing every element of the plant-including cooking with the outer cabbage leaves

Too often, those beautiful larger leafs that gently cradle the innards of the ball of cabbage  are doomed to a miserable food death  for the common consumer. 

Outer cabbage leaves get a bad rep.  They’re defiant in their accessibility (If I  don’t peel off that cabbage leaf in one piece now I’m chucking it at the wall this afternoon!)

Outer cabbage leaves  often take the brute of the bugs needing something to munch on in growing season.  And what the hell, why is the flavor of butter cabbage so powerful compared to the rest of the plant?

Outside cabbage leaves are not mean. They are just misunderstood. Save the cabbage leaves, and create some savory mealtime  magic!

Sauteed fresh veggies
sauteed fresh veggies
Sauteed veggies and tofu
saute crumbled tofu

How Do You Separate Cabbage Leaves for Cabbage Rolls?

Imagine this.  You’ve recently peeled off several impossibly beautiful large outer leaves from a particularly pesty patch of cabbage.  

Every time a leaf successfully detaches- you let out the long “whoosh” of air you’ve been holding in as you desperately attempt to not create a massacre of half-leaves and heartache.  

I don’t want you to have to go through that agony. So I’ve gathered these savvy ways to trick your cabbage just for you. 

Cabbage wraps 101 will teach us that in order to pull that plant apart like a champ we first need to: 

  • Fill a pot about halfway  with water
  • Simmer water
  • Place cabbage in water and cover for about 2-3 minutes.

You got this.  Now do yourself a favor and cut out the V of hard vain from the bottom. Otherwise you might  never fold  the leaf into a roll no matter how much of your heart you put into it.  Ask me how I know.  

Make Guluptsie Vegan

To all my face free foodies out there- this one’s for you! I’ll admit, when I first envisioned this dish I was a little hesitant as to how I was going to make it all fit together seamlessly.

There are just SO MANY PLANTS all waiting to have their day wrapped and cozy In a little cabbage sweater!

Each plant with their own personality and punch.

I’ve created the perfect plant based list so you can get everything you need for your cabbage rolls in one shopping stop. 

Here are a few ways I got the plants to be obedient without too many arguments: 

  • Quinoa is natures little power seed. its packed with twice the amount of protein as rice used in this dish. I love it in these Ukrainian cabbage rolls because it really helps create some hearty texture!
  • Tofu mimics the flavor and adds texture to whatever you add it to.  
  • Celery- because no food is good food without crunch!
  • mushrooms are the flavor savor of this dish and pack it plump full of selenium, choline, and vitamin C, and Vitamin D for strong bones and improving mood!
tofu filled cabbage leaf
filled cabbage leaf
Nutritional Yeast Sauce
Nutritional yeast sauce for Ukrainian cabbage rolls

Nutritional Yeast Makes One Size Fits All Sauce

My favorite foods are those that can serve multiple functions. I use nutritional yeast for almost everything including as: 

  • A seasoning
  • Makeshift Sauce
  • A cheese alternative
  • Thickening agent 
In this recipe I use nutritional yeast as both a sauce and thickening agent at multiple stages in the process. 
For this recipe, I use a basic vegan and water mix for the filling.  I then add Nooch Sauce to the top! Nooch sauce is a creamy nutritional yeast based sauce. 

Filling Up Your Rolls

There’s a lot of things that can get boring when they’re not packed with fat and laden with a side of guilt.  These perfect vegan packages are not one of them!  

Traditional cabbage rolls are often packed with  pork or beer, but I just officially made the rule we don’t need all that nonsense.  

Quinoa Filling in Purple Dish
Quinoa Cabbage Roll Filling
Basic Ingredients for Cabbage Rolls Can Vary

What are Cabbage Rolls Served With?

It might be a little challenging to think of something to tag alongside such a robust dish! However, there a few great ones I can think of!

  • Vegan Potato Cakes
  • Garlic roasted carrots
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Garlic Bread
  • Fresh Sliced Apples
  • Garden Salad

Do I serve Cabbage Rolls Hot or Cold?

Great question! The reason I love being vegan so much is because the rules don’t really apply to us!

Enjoy these hot the first time around hot.  Then either re-heat for a second treat or just put it on a plate and dig in.

How Long Can You Keep Your Cabbage rolls the Fridge?

Your vegan rolls can be kept in the fridge for about 3-5 days.  

Leftover cabbage rolls are super versatile.  If you do reheat, I would suggest you use the oven. This helps to keep the heating even. Here are some other ways I would probably get creative with my leftovers: 

  • Create a scramble
  • Toss in a soup (coconut milk and turmeric comes to my mind!)
  • Wrap them AGAIN in a tortilla! 
Mixed Veggies On Cutting Board
Veggies for Vegan Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls
Tofu and cashews in a dish
Vegan Cabbage Roll Basics

How Do I Freeze Cabbage?

First and foremost, I would NOT actually suggest freezing these vegan cabbage rolls.  The reason why is because they tend to get mushy and fall apart when reheated. 

However, you’ll likely have at least half a ball of cabbage left to create magic with once your actual cabbage roll meal is complete. So what could you do with that?  

To Freeze cabbage: 

  • Slice or dice (assuming you’ve already washed it.)
  • Blanch cabbage prior to freezing. This can be done by tossing the pieced cabbage into a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes. 
  • Line a baking sheet with the cabbage and freeze.  
  • Cabbage can be moved to a sealed bag post initial freezing and be frozen for up to 12 months.  

For successful cabbage freezing, don’t forget the blanching. This is an easy enough step to miss, but will compromise your nutrients!

cabbage head
Green Cabbage Head

Can I eat the Cabbage Core?

I’m sure this is about to blow your mind, but actually YES! Another great way reducing food waste saves the day! 

Most people chalk up the core of cabbage to nothing but rubbish.  Cabbage cores are a bit radish like in taste and texture.  Here are a few ways to use cabbage cores: 

  • In a puree
  • Shredded in salad
  • In Soups

Check out more ways to use your cabbage core here


Why is the Cabbage on My Cabbage Rolls Tough?

Can I eat the Cabbage Core?

Remember all that attention cabbage demanded at the beginning of this cooking episode to peel off its outer layers? 

Well if you became impatient and tried to short the cabbage steaming process, the cabbage rolls may be tough! Even after an hour of baking!

If you’ve done this its no big deal. Just continue to cook checking about every ten minutes until cabbage rolls are tender. 

Purple Outer Cabbage Leaves
Outer Cabbage Leaves
Secure ukrainian cabbage rolls
secured guluptsie roll

That's a Wrap

You’ve come too far to let a brilliantly beautiful garden leaf tell you what to do.  So wrap it up and secure it with a toothpick before it plots any further rebellions.

The awesome thing about these Ukrainian cabbage rolls, is you can make just about anything fit with a little creativity! 

While a labor of love and a little more time intensive than most of my throw together madness, they’re worth the wait! These are also freezer friendly, so you can enjoy them again. 

How do you create your cabbage rolls? Do you have a must have ingredient not listed here that really takes the cake (cabbage roll… same thing)? I’d love to hear your creations! Leave me the deets below! 

Cabbage with Cream Sauce in a Dish
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls With Vegan Cream Sauce

These savory Ukrainian cabbage rolls add a delicious twist to the once meaty favorite. A comforting winter favorite lower in calories and loaded with veggies.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
baking time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 736kcal
Author: Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian
Cost: $5


  • 8x8 baking dish
  • Skillet


  • 2 tbsp olive oil may use 2-4
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 whole jalapeno chopped
  • ½ cup mushrooms chopped
  • ½ cup celery chopped
  • 1 cup tofu extra firm
  • ½ cup quinoa cooked
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast add water to create sauce
  • cup crushed tomato or tomato sauce
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup v8 juice

Creamy Vegan Sauce

  • 2 tbsp lime juice fresh squeezed
  • 1 cup cashews soaked
  • ¼ tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar


Cabbage Rolls

  • Core and freeze cabbage. Alternatively boil head of cabbage for 2-3 minutes.
  • Peel about 10 large leaves from outside of cabbage.
  • Cut out hard center piece in leaves making a small V.
  • Add 2-4 tbsp olive oil to pan. Add in oregano and red pepper flakes.
  • Chop garlic, celery, mushroom, and jalapeno
  • squeeze moisture from tofu with hands making into crumbles.
  • Add all veggies to skillet over medium heat. Brown slightly before adding tofu as tofu will add moisture and veggies will not saute as well.
  • combine nutritional yeast with 2 parts water to create sauce. Add to sauteed veggies along with 1 cup of tomato sauce.
  • Add filling to cabbage leave to create ukrainian cabbage rolls. Secure with toothpick. Add v8 juice and 1/2 cup tomato sauce combiend to top. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 1-1.5 hours until leaves are soft at 350 degrees.

Creamy Vegan Sauce

  • combine all ingredients for vegan cream sauce. Use high powered blender to create desired consistency. Add more water if desired than specified to create the right texture.
  • top with fresh cilantro.



Nutrition Facts
Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls With Vegan Cream Sauce
Amount Per Serving (3 cabbage rolls)
Calories 736 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Polyunsaturated Fat 8g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Sodium 563mg24%
Potassium 1458mg42%
Carbohydrates 92g31%
Fiber 19g79%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 44g88%
Vitamin A 32IU1%
Vitamin C 41mg50%
Calcium 141mg14%
Iron 22mg122%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Serving size is for 2 Ukrainian
Sauteed fresh veggies
sauteed fresh veggies for ukrainian cabbage rolls
Sauteed veggies and tofu
saute crumbled tofu for Ukrainian cabbage rolls
Nutritional Yeast Sauce
Nutritional yeast sauce for Ukrainian cabbage rolls
Ukrainian cabbage roll filling
Ukrainian cabbage roll filling
filled cabbage leaf for ukrainian cabbage rolls
filled cabbage leaf for ukrainian cabbage rolls
cabbage rolls, Calories will vary for Ukrainian cabbage rolls slightly based on size of roll and quantity of topping added. 
These Ukrainian cabbage rolls can be made spicier by adding sriracha sauce to the tomato sauce topping. 


Serving: 3cabbage rolls | Calories: 736kcal | Carbohydrates: 92g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 563mg | Potassium: 1458mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 22mg
Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian
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Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian

Hi I'm Shena. I believe in choosing plants first, honoring your hunger, and that a little humor goes a long way.

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