Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

April 2, 2018

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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.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

5 from 12 votes

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
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/4 lbs lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp marjarom
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped (5 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice or white rice,* cooked according to package instructions


  1. Heat olive oil in a deep 12-inch non-stick skillet or a pot over medium-high heat. 

  2. Add in onion and saute 2 minutes, add garlic and saute 10 seconds longer. Push to one far side of the pan.

  3. Add beef in large crumbles, season with salt and pepper.

  4. 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.

  5. Drain excess fat. Return to heat add in tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, paprika, thyme, marjarom, brown sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer.

  6. 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.

  7. 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).

  8. *To keep this a quick meal I like to use leftover rice or go for the minute rice - especially if using brown.

  9. 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.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Russian
Keyword: Cabbage Rolls