This Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe doubles as a one-pot dinner for lazy nights and a wholesome, low-carb main dish. All of the comforting, beefy goodness of traditional stuffed cabbage rolls but without the effort!
Nostalgic comfort food doesn’t get much better than stuffed cabbage rolls. Soft and tender cabbage leaves stuffed with a well-seasoned beef, veggie, and rice filling—yum! But as much as I love eating cabbage rolls, I’m not a big fan of stuffing, rolling, and waiting for them to slowly simmer in tomato sauce (especially on busy weeknights!).
Luckily, this Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe skips all of that effort!
Once it’s done, your bowl of deconstructed cabbage rolls is ready to be devoured. Every bite is as savory and comforting as the classic dish but skips the long prep and cleanup!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- No stuffing and rolling! I love traditional stuffed cabbage rolls but NOT the intricate stuffing and rolling that comes with them. Like deconstructed cabbage rolls, this recipe takes all of the effort out of the classic dish but never skimps on flavor.
- An easy one-pot dinner: Just toss everything in a pot and cook!
- A low-carb wonder: I skipped the cooked rice in this recipe to lower the carbs. Feel free to serve with white rice or serve the beef and tomato goodness with cauliflower rice instead.
- Choose your cooking method: I made these inside out cabbage rolls in a pot on the stove but you can use the slow cooker or Instant Pot to keep the recipe as hands-off as possible.
- Ground beef – Lean ground beef.
- Aromatics – Chopped yellow onion and fresh garlic.
- Diced tomatoes – Use a can of diced tomatoes and save the juices! They’ll slowly tenderize the cabbage leaves and give the seasoned tomato-beef broth a delicious flavor.
- Condensed tomato soup – Canned tomato soup keeps this recipe quick and easy.
- Beef broth – A rich and meaty beef broth is perfect in this recipe for unstuffed cabbage but you can use vegetable broth or chicken broth instead if that’s what you already have at home.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and black pepper
- Bay leaf
- Cabbage – You’ll need a head of cabbage that weighs approximately 2 to 2-¼ pounds to yield 12 cups of chopped cabbage (after it has been cored).
- Fresh parsley – Optional garnish.
How to Prepare
For the detailed instructions, please see the recipe card.
- Cook the beef and onions: Sauté the beef and onions in a large pot until the beef is browned. Drain the excess fat.
- Make the tomato sauce: Cook the garlic in the pan before stirring in the diced tomatoes, tomato soup, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.
- Add the cabbage: Stir the chopped cabbage into the beef and tomato mixture. Heat to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer until the cabbage is tender.
- Serve: Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve the deconstructed cabbage rolls in bowls with fresh parsley on top. Enjoy!
5 Star Review“Love this recipe! Not only is it “diet” friendly, it is absolutely delicious!!!! Don’t feel guilty about second helpings!” ~ Anne
Yes, you can absolutely make this recipe in a crockpot to keep it hands-off. Sauté the beef, onions, and garlic on the stove as normal, then add the mixture to a slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 5 to 6 hours.
If you want to make unstuffed cabbage rolls in the Instant Pot, start by sautéing the beef, onions, and garlic as normal using Sauté mode. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, seal the lid on top, and cook on High Pressure for 15 minutes. Quick Release the pressure, then serve.
Traditionally, yes, eggs help bind the cabbage roll filling together. However, this deconstructed version is eggless since we’re not stuffing the filling into cabbage leaves.
- Use a different protein. Ground turkey is my favorite substitute for ground beef but ground chicken or ground lamb are delicious as well.
- Add paprika. Hungarian paprika is traditionally used in cabbage roll recipes, so go ahead and use a sprinkle if you’re craving that traditional sweet-smoky flavor!
- Give it a kick of heat. Season the beef with a dash of smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, or cayenne, or top your bowl with a drizzle of Sriracha hot sauce.
Storage and Reheating
- Refrigerator: Transfer the cooled leftovers to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: Freeze the cooled leftovers in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- Reheating: Reheat the leftovers in the microwave for a hearty and easy meal.
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 (10 ¾ ounce) condensed tomato soup
- ¼ cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 cups chopped cabbage (chopped into 1-inch pieces) about a 2 to 2-¼ pound head of cabbage, cored and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley optional garnish
- Cook beef and onions in a 6 quart Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat, crumbling beef as it cooks until beef is browned and no longer pink (about 7 to 8 minutes). Drain off fat.
- Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add diced tomatoes with juices, tomato soup, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
- Add chopped cabbage and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a simmer.
- Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes (stirring occasionally), or until cabbage is tender. Remove and discard bay leaf. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley when serving, if desired.
- Refrigerator: Transfer cooled leftovers to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: Freeze cooled leftovers in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- This recipe yields approximately 13 cups.
If provided, nutritional info is a courtesy, is not guaranteed and should only be considered as a guideline.