Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Published April 2, 2018. Updated August 21, 2019

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These Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls make the perfect weeknight dinner recipe! Why do all the work of the traditional cabbage rolls when you can have this easy version with a fraction of the time and effort?

Besides I love my meals served layered in a bowl, it’s much funner to dive into it this way, right? I love that hearty layer of rice paired with the beef and cabbage. Total comfort food!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

This is a lot like my Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Soup but rather it’s more of a hearty meal in a bowl vs. the soup. This also makes great leftovers for lunch the next day if you are lucky enough to have any left. The flavors just sit and soak together that much longer.

I love that this recipe, because unlike traditional stuffed cabbage rolls, it doesn’t require any boiling cabbage leaves, then wrapping, and baking it’s all just cooked in a skillet and ready in 35 minutes!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

You may have seen similar recipes made casserole style and baked but you know how I love my skillet dinners.

I have made this two different ways. I’ve seasoned it with those warm spices (ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg – 1/2 tsp ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg) then I’ve made it with dried herbs (thyme and marjoram as listed).

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

I preferred the herb version better but if you grew up eating a slightly spiced version then feel free to try the other. What I’m saying is season it how you like, recipes are just guides a lot of the time right?

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

If you wanted to cut back on carbs here you can omit the rice (and you’ll get closer to 4 servings) or serve it with cauliflower rice – talk about abundance of veggies!

Then if you are opting to use the rice and to keep this a quick meal, go for the minute rice especially if using brown. Or even better use up some leftover regular brown rice from yesterday.

And if you’d like to swap out the ground beef with ground turkey here to make it a little healthier that should work just fine as well.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Note you can also top it with sour cream. We did but it’s totally optional so I didn’t add it because that list of ingredients is already getting lengthy. If you have some on hand try it, if you don’t just skip it.

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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Bowls
5 from 17 votes

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

This is the quicker easier version of the traditional European cabbage rolls. Still all the delicious flavors with half the time and effort! These are so hearty, a good source of protein and they make great leftovers too.
Servings: 5
Prep15 minutes
Cook25 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes



  • Heat olive oil in a deep 12-inch non-stick skillet or a pot over medium-high heat. 
  • Add in onion and saute 2 minutes, add garlic and saute 10 seconds longer. Push to one far side of the pan.
  • Add beef in large crumbles, season with salt and pepper.
  • Let beef brown on bottom about 3 minutes then continue to cook and break up beef, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, about 4 minutes longer.
  • Drain excess fat. Return to heat add in tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, paprika, thyme, marjarom, brown sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer.
  • Toss in cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste, reduce heat to medium-low cover and simmer, tossing occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve warm over rice garnished with parsley (I also like to serve with cayenne pepper which is totally untraditional but try it if you like some spice).
  • *To keep this a quick meal I like to use leftover rice or go for the minute rice - especially if using brown.
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
Amount Per Serving
Calories 434 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 73mg24%
Sodium 342mg15%
Potassium 818mg23%
Carbohydrates 50g17%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 510IU10%
Vitamin C 38.6mg47%
Calcium 92mg9%
Iron 4.4mg24%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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  • Sarah

    great recipe. Really tastes like cabbage rolls. And so easy to make. The hardest part is cutting up the cabbage!

  • Linda Campbell

    My husband loved it. He said it was a cross between spaghetti and chili. 🤷‍♀️. Very good. I added a little vegetable broth to thin it out. Superb! Will make again.

  • McKinley

    I’ve made this recipe many times and it’s delicious! We usually double it and triple the seasoning. We include mushrooms and white beans just to increase the variety of nutrients. This is delicious!

  • Kimberly

    This was very good I did add about a 1/4 green pepper. I made a double batch for leftovers the next day and I made those into a soup.
    I chopped up mor onion, carrots, celery and green peppers cooked them in about a Tbs of olive oil I added 3 small bay leaves a tsp of Italian seasoning about a1/4 tsp of granulated garlic 3 cans of low sodium chicken broth black pepper 2 cups of water with 3 tsp of Knorr chicken bouillon mixed in. I let that cook for about 30 minutes tasted it to make sure it was to salty then added the leftover cabbage mix 1 can of cannellini beans let simmer for about 15 minutes then added 1 cup of elbow macaroni let cook according to package when done I served it with a splash of lemon and cholula hot sauce and it was very glad soup.
    Thank you for the cabbage recipe I will be making it again.

  • Janice Griffin

    Amazing!! Great flavors. Super easy to prep. Hearty winter meal for the entire family.

  • Mariyam

    This is a great base with which you can experiment. I love spicy food so this is what I did:
    1) Used red cabbage – delicious
    2) Pinch of cayenne pepper + 1/4 tsp of kashmiri red chilli powder added + pinch of cumin powder
    3) 2 extra cloves of garlic
    4) Dash of soy sauce
    5) Also added in some beans (white or black) to make it a “heavier” meal.
    6) Meat = turkey
    7) For the tomato based I used Simple Truth Organic fire roasted tomatoes. Adds a slightly smoky flavour to the dish.

    So easy to make and so yummy!

  • Amanda G Roberts

    This recipe was delicious! I sort of combined both versions of the author’s preferred ingredients and added 1/2 tsp of ginger and a pinch of cinnamon, plus cayenne pepper and I doubled the garlic and tomato sauce. It was soooo good over a bed of rice with a little shredded sharp cheddar on top. I will definitely be cooking this again!!

  • Kathy

    What are the amounts of spice if using cinnamon?
    I grew up with Russian Polish neighbors and their cabbage rolls always had a slight sweet tomato sauce with a touch of something – allspice?
    I keep looking for the right recipe. Tried one that used 4 crushed ginger snaps in the sauce. That came very very close.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      1/2 tsp ginger, a pinch of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg then you skip the marjoram and thyme.

    • Marilyn

      Use Campbell’s tomato soup, no water, istead of the other tomato ingrediants. Limit spices to almost zero. Just salt and pepper. Family secret. I’ve been told that I make the best stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage. Try it!