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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

These Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls taste just like the original recipe but without all the work! This healthy one-pot meal is ready in 30 minutes making it the perfect easy weeknight meal!

Easy Lazy Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls are like the ultimate healthy comfort food. And sometimes that’s really hard to find! What’s best about this recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls is that you still get all of the rich and warm flavors, but this recipe doesn’t require nearly as much effort as regular cabbage rolls.

Instead of steaming the cabbage and then stuffing each leaf, we’re simply going to add in a bunch of chopped cabbage. It’s really that simple! We love that you can eat it without a knife, too. (This makes it even easier for the kids to enjoy!)

You’ll see that this recipe has simple, healthy, and affordable ingredients…which makes it even better. So, next time you want an easy dinner idea – grab this recipe! It’s one you’ll want to hang onto.

ingredients to make unstuffed cabbage dinner with ground beef, cabbage, onion, garlic, oil, and seasonings

What You’ll Need

The list is pretty basic! You should have a lot of these ingredients and if you don’t, it’s a really quick trip to the store.

  • Olive Oil: Or your cooking oil of choice.
  • Yellow or White Onion
  • Garlic: Fresh is always best for this recipe.
  • Ground Beef: We use a 90/10 blend so that it’s less greasy.
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes: You can add more or less depending on if you like spiciness.
  • Diced Tomatoes: We like to use diced tomatoes with no salt added so that we can control the amount of salt in the dish.
  • Tomato Sauce: The same goes for tomato sauce and we recommend no salt added.
  • Cabbage: Green cabbage is the traditional ingredient for this recipe.
a plate of unstuffed cabbage rolls made with cabbage, beef, and tomatoes

Recipe Variations

Here are a few different ways to use other ingredients to make the recipe a little bit different. This is helpful information when you’re out of an ingredient or you need to adjust it for specific dietary needs.

  • Go Lighter: You can substitute ground turkey for the ground beef if you want a leaner option.
  • Mix in Some Sausage: Instead of doing 2 pounds of ground beef, you could do 1 pound ground pork or sausage.
  • Make it Heartier: Add some cooked rice to the final steps to make the meal a more filling dinner.
a plate of unstuffed cabbage rolls made with cabbage, beef, and tomatoes

How to Make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Dinner will be ready before you know it! Here’s how to make these lazy cabbage rolls.

First, saute the onion in a large dutch oven or pot. Then add the garlic and cook until it’s fragrant.

Then add the ground beef. Break up the meat as it cooks and stir in the onions and garlic.

Add the seasonings, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the cabbage) to the pot once the beef is cooked.

Mix everything together. You may need to strain off any grease that has developed if using a beef that has a high fat content.

Finally, add the chopped cabbage. Stir everything and place a lid on top. Then cook for about 20 minutes or until the cabbage leaves have softened.

lazy cabbage roll dish in a large pot with cabbage, ground beef, tomatoes, and tomato sauce

Tips for Success

Below are some helpful tips to follow when making Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls.

  • Cut the cabbage into equally sized pieces. Bite-sized is ideal! And this will help each piece cook evenly.
  • Use the lid to help the cabbage steam. Putting the lid on top is important because it will seal in the moisture which will help the cabbage soften (and make the recipe cook faster).
  • Make this a day ahead of time. You can make this recipe the day before because we think it tastes even better the next day! It’s a great recipe to make when you know you’re going to have a busy week.
a plated portion of cabbage and beef dinner

What to Serve with Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls

Here are some of our favorite ways to serve this dish.


How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Store leftover Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Then you can reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

close up of unstuffed cabbage rolls

Can I Freeze This?

Yes! This would be a great recipe to freeze. It freezes well because the cabbage is already cooked. So you don’t really run the risk of excess moisture (like if you were to freeze raw cabbage).

We recommend freezing in gallon-sized freezer bags. Then simply thaw them the night before and either reheat on the stovetop.

Unstuffed cabbage rolls on a pate with fresh herbs on top.
5 from 2 votes
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Yield: 4 servings

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

This quick and easy recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls is full of flavorful meat and vegetables. It has all of the flavors you love from cabbage rolls but without the fuss of actually having to make the rolls!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes drained
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 head cabbage, chopped


  • Heat oil in a large deep sided pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the garlic continue to sauté for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat as it cooks, until the meat is no longer pink.(If there is a lot of grease from the meat, use a spoon and remove the excess grease. I used lean ground beef and had minimal grease to drain.)
  • Add the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce stir until blended.
  • Add chopped cabbage and mix everything together, cover with the lid and simmer until the cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately!


Storage: Store leftover Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Then you can reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.


Serving: 1, Calories: 657kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 70g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 202mg, Sodium: 953mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 12g

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3 comments on “Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls”

  1. This is a great recipe. I add riced cauliflower to mine for that like rice ingredient and extra veggie fiber. Thanks!

  2. Can’t wait to make this. The ingredients are what I normally use. What size casserole dish is recommended?

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