Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
The Spruce
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 Rolls (6-8 Servings)
Ratings (74)

With this recipe, you can have cabbage roll flavors in a fraction of the time! This flavorful "unstuffed cabbage" is a simmered ground beef and cabbage combination made with lean ground beef, tomatoes, and cabbage. If you like cabbage rolls but don't like the prep work, this dish is for you!

The cinnamon and nutmeg in the recipe add a pleasant, somewhat exotic flavor, but they are not essential. If you aren't sure if you would like the spices, leave them out or add a smaller amount.

If you'd like to make this a complete one-pot meal, add a cup of long-grain white rice and 1 1/2 cups of water or stock to the skillet along with the cabbage and simmer as directed until the cabbage and rice are tender.

Savoy cabbage is another option for this casserole. While it is milder in flavor than green cabbage, both kinds of cabbage can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

Serve this easy skillet cabbage dish with rice or potatoes and a tossed salad. Biscuits or crusty rolls would be excellent with the dish as well. If you're following a low-carb diet, serve it with mashed cauliflower or zucchini or summer squash noodles.

This casserole is freezer-friendly, too! See the recipe instructions for how to freeze and reheat the dish.

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 head cabbage (small, chopped)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (or wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: pinch nutmeg

How to Make It

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook until the beef is no longer pink and onion is tender.
  2. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute longer.
  3. Add the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and the cinnamon and nutmeg, if using. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.

    Freezer Instructions: Transfer the cooked cabbage and beef mixture to a lightly greased casserole or disposable aluminum baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight. Bake the covered casserole in a preheated 350 F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the casserole is hot and bubbling.


    • Canned stewed tomatoes make a good replacement for the diced tomatoes. Stewed tomatoes are sliced into rings and might include some celery, onions, and other seasonings. If you use stewed tomatoes, give them a rough chop or dice them before you add them to the dish.
    • For thicker and richer tomato flavor, replace the tomato sauce with a (10 3/4 oz) can of tomato soup.
    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories 337
    Total Fat 14 g
    Saturated Fat 5 g
    Unsaturated Fat 6 g
    Cholesterol 88 mg
    Sodium 417 mg
    Carbohydrates 22 g
    Dietary Fiber 6 g
    Protein 33 g
    (The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)