Finnish style Cabbage Rolls

One of my childhood favourites was my Isoäiti’s (Grandma’s) cabbage rolls and now being a plant-based eater, I wanted to take the challenge on and create my own version of them as close to the flavour that I can remember. The challenge in this case was the fact that grandma uses beef mince as the main ingredient. Soy sauce and balsamic vinegar are two main ingredients that I use to create “salty meat” flavours. I would say, that if you are a vegan or vegetarian that doesn’t like the flavour of meat or anything that reminds you of meat – this recipe is not for you. Cabbages are in season in the summer, so save this recipe for later as well!


History doesn’t tell us where cabbage rolls originally came from, but there are trades in Jewish cooking around 2000 years ago. Also some of the first recipes came from Romania and the North Pole. In Sweden and Finland the traditional cabbage rolls are eaten with cranberry sauce and boiled potatoes. I am not a big fan of boiled potatoes so I served the cabbage rolls only with cranberry sauce.

So how can you make these delicious vegan version, Nordic rolls at home?

For this recipe you will need:

  • Fan oven
  • Large oven tray
  • Foil
  • Large pot
  • Small pot
  • Large pan
  • Scale
  • Colander


  • 1 Savoy Cabbage
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Vegetable stock cube


  • 100 g Pearl Barley
  • 50 g Red Lentils
  • 300 g of Quorn Mince
  • 125 g Chestnut Mushrooms
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 White Onion
  • 4 tbsp of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of Light Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp/ 10 Sprays of Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tsp of Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp of Paprika
  • 1 tbsp of Marjoram
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 tsp of Pepper


You want to start by removing the hard stem of the cabbage to make the cooking process quicker. See picture below. Add cabbage into the large pot and boil for 10-15mins.


You don’t want to over cook the cabbage because the leaves will break later on when you’re trying to roll them up. Once this is done, place the pot to the side to cool down and save some of the boiled cabbage water as we’re going to need it later on.


Rinse out the pearl barley and place in the smaller pot. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 25mins. After 15mins of cooking the barley, add red lentils into the boiling water. Remember to stir. After 25 minutes, drain the water and set aside.


Finely cut the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Add onions and garlic into a large pan with some olive oil. Cook until golden brown and add Quorn mince and mushrooms into the pan. The Quorn mince that I used was frozen so I cooked for approx 5mins before adding any spices. Add all the rest of the filling ingredients herbs and spices to your mix and cook on a low heat until you are happy with the flavour. Stir in the pearl barley and red lentils, cooking for another 5mins.



 The mix feels quite dry at this point but remember that the cabbage rolls will be cooking in water so we don’t want to make the filling too wet at this stage.

Pour some olive oil into a large oven tray and spread it all over with kitchen towel or a baking brush.

And now we need to start rolling…


You want to cut the end of those leaves off so it’s easier to roll. Place some mix on top of the leaf as shown in the picture above.



Once you have finished rolling, pour some of the cabbage water on top of the cabbage rolls and place the dish into the oven for 10 minutes in 225 celsius. While the cabbage rolls are cooking in the oven, boil some water in a kettle and pour this into a bowl and add the vegetable stock cube. Mix well with a fork.

Take out the tray and pour this vegetable stock water on top of the cabbage rolls so that the bottom of the tray has liquid all over.


Use the tin foil from earlier to cover up the tray and place it back to the oven. Cook the dish another 30 – 45 mins in lower heat at 175 celsius.


Serve with cranberry sauce and enjoy!


thevegescandi x