Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls


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 Rolls

5 from 7 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*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 73mg 24%
Sodium 342mg 14%
Potassium 818mg 23%
Total Carbohydrates 50g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 8g
Protein 24g 48%
Vitamin A 10.2%
Vitamin C 46.8%
Calcium 9.2%
Iron 24.6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Russian
Keyword: Cabbage Rolls
Calories: 434 kcal


  • Rebecca Thomas: So good!!! I didn’t have marjoram, so I threw in some dill. So fantastic! I look forward to leftovers. January 7, 2019 at 9:19pm Reply

  • Evelyn Troy: Yes I made it and its do yummy! Liked the added spices ad well. And will serve over the rice. Thanks
    sharing your receipe.
    Ev December 2, 2018 at 2:06pm Reply

  • Laura: Made this last night, delish ! Served it over mashed potatoes, not a rice fan. Hubby couldn’t get enough. Looking forward to leftovers ???? THANK you for a great recipe, it’s a keeper. May 7, 2018 at 7:32am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad to hear it! May 9, 2018 at 9:31am Reply

  • Céline: Bonjour, on a adoré cette nouvelle version du cigare au chou! Très facile à faire et très goûteux!! Bravo! April 10, 2018 at 5:10pm Reply

  • Jocelyn: I made this for dinner tonight, and we loved it. I have long wanted to make cabbage rolls, but was put off by the laborious process. This simplified version is not only easy, but delicious. Thank you very much. April 7, 2018 at 7:38pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked this recipe Jocelyn! Thanks for your review! April 8, 2018 at 12:50am Reply

    • Elaine: But, the laborious process is therapeutic.
      So is making dpaghetti sauce all day.
      When you have the time, try making the stuffed cabbage, serve it the next day and your taste buds will love you!!!
      My motto is: if you’re in a funk, cook. November 8, 2018 at 8:57am Reply

  • Lori: Recipe sounds great can’t wait to make it. If I were to use ground turkey how much would that bring the calorie count down? April 4, 2018 at 9:26am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry I don’t have that info as it’s an automated calculator, the best way to calculate would be to look up 4 oz ground beef (since thats what is in 1 serving) and 4 oz ground turkey then subtract the ground beef amount and add the turkey. Hope that helps! April 4, 2018 at 9:52am Reply

  • 2pots2cook: You clever girl ! This is so great :-) Love it ! April 4, 2018 at 5:18am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks! Hope you get a chance to try them! April 4, 2018 at 9:49am Reply

  • Angela Foley: I like you recipes April 3, 2018 at 6:09am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m happy to hear that Angela, thanks for letting me know! April 3, 2018 at 6:37pm Reply

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