This Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe is loaded with nutrition and has all the flavor of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, but comes together in just 30 minutes and has much fewer carbs!
For the longest time, cabbage just wasn’t my thing. And to be honest, I think it was mostly because of the smell.
Growing up, if coleslaw was a side option I’d opt for anything else.
When cabbage rolls were on the menu I’d unroll them and eat the filling.
And as a kid, sauerkraut night was the worst! There was no escaping that pungency.
I’m not sure when or how it happened, but over time I grew to realize that not every recipe with cabbage was offensive. For example, in Guinness Beef Stew the cabbage basically cooks down into the rich stew and you can’t even tell it’s there!
And then I realized that not all slaw has to have loads of mayo and sugar. You can easily make a crisp, fresh cabbage slaw with bright citrus flavor and it’s perfect on Tilapia Fish Tacos.
Or if you sauté cabbage with onion, salt, and pepper in butter, it’s pretty much a melt-in-your-mouth perfect side dish that’s made even better when you mix it into creamy mashed potatoes. (Hello, Colcannon.)
After that, a whole new world of delicious cabbage recipes opened up to me!
My Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe uses cabbage and crushed tomatoes as the base. Onion, garlic, herbs, and spices add complex savory flavor. Ground beef adds protein and richness, and helps make it a filling meal.
This meal takes just 30 minutes to whip up, so it’s a great healthy choice for busy weeknights. And it’s the type of dish that’s even better a day or two later once the flavors have had the chance to blend, so it’s perfect for meal prep.
The Best Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
This recipe uses minimal ingredients, and most of them are from the produce department! It’s loaded with real-food ingredients, and accented with a few simple herbs and spices.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground beef
- Crushed tomatoes
- Coconut sugar
- Fresh thyme
- Black pepper
- Smoked sweet paprika
- Fresh parsley
Pro Tip: For the low carb version of this recipe, use keto brown sugar instead of coconut sugar.
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls FAQs
Can I Freeze Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls?
Yes! You can freeze this recipe for up to 3 months.
The day before you want to eat it, thaw it overnight. Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls reheat well in a skillet on the stovetop or in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave.
What is the Best Type of Cabbage to Use for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls?
For this recipe I like to use regular green cabbage because it’s a bit sturdier than other types, such as Savoy cabbage or Napa cabbage. That helps make sure that the end result isn’t mushy!
What Should I Serve with Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls?
If You Want to Keep the Meal Paleo:
- Smoky Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Rice with Toasted Almonds
- Best Paleo Bread
- Green salad with oil and vinegar
For a Low Carb and Keto-Friendly Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Meal:
Or If You Don’t Have Dietary Restrictions:
- No Knead Bread
How Can I Make This Into Stuffed Cabbage Casserole?
It’s easy make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls into a Stuffed Cabbage Casserole!
To do so:
- Make the Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe as written.
- Prepare 1 cup of uncooked rice. You will end up with about 3 cups of cooked rice. White rice is fine, and brown rice would also be delicious!
- Spread the cooked rice into the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Spread the Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls evenly on top of the rice. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese on top, such as mozzarella, provolone, white cheddar, or manchego.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375F until the casserole is warm throughout and the cheese is melted, about 30 to 45 minutes. If you want to brown the cheese on top, run it under the broiler briefly.
More Dinner Recipes with Cabbage
- Paleo Chicken Sausage Skillet with Cabbage, Apple, and Cranberries
- Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry
- Lazy Pierogi Casserole with Sauerkraut and Apple
- Cabbage with Chicken
- Cabbage, Carrot, and Chicken Stir Fry
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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium head green cabbage thinly sliced (about 7 to 8 cups sliced)
- 1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 7 cloves garlic crushed
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juices
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar or light brown sugar or keto brown sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Minced fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Heat a 5-quart pot over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and the cabbage. Cook until the cabbage starts to wilt, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beef, onion, and garlic, cover the pot, and cook until the meat is browned, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the meat.
- Stir in the tomatoes (with their juices), coconut sugar, salt, thyme, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Cover the pot and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve warm, garnished with parsley if desired.
- Paleo and Whole30: This recipe is paleo as written. To make it Whole30 compliant, omit the coconut sugar.
- Low Carb Version: Use keto brown sugar instead of coconut sugar. Without the coconut sugar, this recipe has 12g net carbs per serving.
Aunt Gretchen says
Perfect timing… I have half a head of cabbage I want to use up, and this sounds yummy. Thanks, Faith :-)
I hope you enjoy it, Aunt Gretchen! xoxo