Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls have the comforting flavor of traditional cabbage rolls but without all the work! Chopped cabbage, ground beef, and a spice-infused tomato sauce come together easily to make this a perfect one-pot weeknight meal. 

pan of unstuffed cabbage rolls

I always looked forward to my mom’s homemade cabbage rolls when I was a kid. There was something about the sticky rice, ground beef, and slightly sweet tomato sauce that made me gobble it up.

When I started making traditional cabbage rolls on my own, I had a newfound respect for the meal my mom effortlessly brought to the table. Turns out making cabbage rolls is a lot of work! Blanching the cabbage, cooking the sauce, and assembling the rolls took hours.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe tastes just as rich, flavorful, and comforting, but is made in a fraction of the time, with barely any effort. Serve this one-pot meal over cooked rice, or omit the rice all together for a low carb option. Or try this slow cooker version.

If you love classic comfort food dishes, be sure to check out other favorites, such as Stuffed Pepper Soup, Beef Stroganoff, and Chicken Tetrazzini.

unstuffed cabbage rolls on serving spoon

Helpful Tips to make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:

  • This makes a great freezer meal. Double the recipe and cook in a
    larger pot, such as a dutch oven. Cool and freeze half for a later meal.
  • To make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls healthier, substitute ground turkey 
  • Use up the leftover cabbage in coleslaw, add to soups, fried rice, or make cabbage and noodles.
  • If you like a little spice add 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

What you will need to make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls:

  • A large skillet  –  A deep, large skillet is perfect for easy, one pot meals and can go from stovetop to oven.
  • Santoku Knife – My most used knife in the kitchen! Perfect size for chopping, mincing, and dicing all kinds of foods. 
  • Silicone Spoon – From mixing, scraping to sautéing, this is my hardest working utensil in the kitchen.
unstuffed cabage rolls on bed of white rice

Check out more of our favorite one-pot recipes: 

One-Pot Cheesy Italian Pasta and Chicken

One-Pot Mexican Pasta and Sausage 

One-Pot Mexican Rice Casserole  


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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unstuffed cabbage rolls in skillet

Bowl of Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Donna Elick
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls have the comforting flavor of traditional cabbage rolls, but without all the work! Chopped cabbage, ground beef, and a spice-infused tomato sauce comes together easily to make this a perfect one pot weeknight meal.
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 6


  • 1/2 small cabbage, chopped (about 6-7 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 14 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • fresh parsley and cooked rice, for serving


  • In a large 10-inch skillet cook ground beef and onion over medium heat, for about 5 minutes. When beef is cooked and onion is translucent, drain excess liquid. Add garlic to the skillet and sauté for 30 seconds more.
  • Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, paprika, thyme, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to skillet and stir. Add chopped cabbage and toss gently. Bring mixture to a boil.
  • Cover skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir, recover, then simmer for 10 minutes longer, or until cabbage is tender.
  • Remove lid and add 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir and simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, or until sauce reduces slightly. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add additional tomato paste and stir. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve over cooked rice.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 315cal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 1053mg | Sugar: 10g | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 4mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
unstuffed cabbage rolls
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  1. Great! I did stuffed cabbage 3 days ago, and had some cabbage left and didn't know what to do with it, and suddenly your recipe came to my phone!
    I had no ground beef anymore (used it in the stuffed ones), so I cut in small pieces the beefsteaks, some sausage and, as you can see, changed the recipe a little bit, but it was worth it. It came out great too!

  2. In the recipe you said beef stock but in the directions you said beef broth. Those are two different ingredients. Which should I use?

  3. I made this today and it looked great but it had very little flavor. I would suggest more salt, more sugar, more thyme and other Italian seasonings to give it flavor.

  4. 5 stars
    These were so good! I had leftovers to save for later in the week too! I’ll be making this a lot during the holidays

  5. Oh what a great idea! I love real Stuffed Cabbage, but as you said it is a lot of work. As a senior I still love to cook, so this is terrific to get all these flavors, thanks for sharing. I intend on making it this weekend. 🙂

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