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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  • Cynthia Donoho

    Love this recipe !! I used no salt added diced tomatoes, ground turkey, added pinto and black beans. I also used smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and cumin to spice it up and my family went crazy for it !!

  • Maureen

    Absolutely delicious!!! Tastes like stuffed cabbage without all the work! Quick, easy and oh so good!

  • Jill

    I made this recipe almost EXACTLY as shown (except I don’t use black pepper so I omitted that) This was fast, easy and tasted EXACTLY like my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage… SUPER YUMMY!
    Thank you!

  • Judy Hazel

    I want to make this recipe because I’m working to increase veggies in my diet. I like your thought that recipes are just guides. I’ve been cooking and baking for many years and experimenting is now part of the fun of preparing food. I am a dairy and beef producer and would like to challenge your statement that ground turkey is healthier than ground beef. Both are excellent sources of complete proteins. Depending on the brand, ground turkey will often have the turkey skin ground with it which is adding fat. Thanks!

  • Wendy Roberts-Guthrie

    This is an excellent recipe! It smells amazing and tastes just as good as good quality homemade cabbage rolls. Delicious! I followed the proportions of the recipe word for word. Only thing different I did was substitute 1 large hot Italian pork sausage for some of the ground beef and I added garlic salt instead of plain salt and some red pepper flakes. Also, I like my cabbage a little softer so I doubled the simmer time. Thank you for sharing this great recipe!!!!!

  • Burnett Blackmon

    What recipe? Scrolling through thirteen tons of self-agrandizing script and finally hitting a list a mile long of ingredients for chop suey or whatever? Stick to rolls.

    • Sarah F

      Genuinely curious as to what you were hoping to find when clicking on a recipe called “Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls”?

      Have made this recipe twice so far and it is really delicious and makes for great leftovers.

      Hope you are having a better day today!

  • Janet Bradley

    Recipe sounds amazing, but where does all the carbs come from? Gonna make it anyway, but was wondering about all the carbs.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      According to the calculator (which is an estimate) most of it comes from the rice, then some from the cabbage and tomatoes.