This easy Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe is cabbage rolls deconstructed, with all the same great components and flavors, but half the time made in a skillet!
We also converted cabbage rolls into a cabbage roll soup, perfect for the chillier months. Alternatively, if you want the traditional way, make our classic cabbage rolls – a labor of love, but so worth it.
Easy Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Skillet
It’s hard to beat a classic, but sometimes I just don’t have the time or patience to prepare stuffed cabbage rolls, yet I still want all the same components and flavors. Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls are basically all that! This dish takes all the elements of regular cabbage rolls and deconstructs them, then cooks everything up in a skillet. There’s no stuffing, rolling, or baking needed.
The ground beef is browned in a skillet along with seasonings and then simmers in a rich tomato sauce with chopped up cabbage and rice. I add golden raisins to mine, which lends a sweet balance to the tangy sauce. You can simply omit them if raisins aren’t your thing.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy cabbage dish.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Cabbage – You’ll need 1 small head of green cabbage, core removed, chopped (about 6 cups.)
- Ground beef – We prefer lean ground beef 80/20.
- Onion and Garlic – Provides aromatics and great flavor.
- Tomato sauce – Plain canned tomato sauce, not seasoned spaghetti sauce.
- Beef broth – This provides necessary moisture and adds depth of flavor. Chicken or vegetable broth can be used instead, if preferred.
- Uncooked white rice – Dry uncooked white rice cooks in the sauce and absorbs all the great flavor.
- Golden raisins – These give balance to the tomato sauce. You can omit them, but I recommend adding in some brown sugar to replace that missing sweetness.
- Olive oil – Used to sauté the onion and beef.
- Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and paprika.
- For serving – The coolness of tangy sour cream pairs wonderfully with the rich tomato and beef flavor.
How to Make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
This meal is on your table in 30 minutes! Here’s a summary of how to make it.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Sauté the beef and onion. Add the beef and onion to a nonstick skillet with the olive oil. Brown the beef, breaking it up into small crumbles, cooking until no pink remains and onion is soft. Drain off the grease. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, then stir in the salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Add other ingredients. Add in the uncooked rice, raisins, tomato sauce, broth, and cabbage to the skillet; mix to combine.
- Cover and simmer. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 22 minutes, lifting the lid to stir a couple times, until cabbage and rice are tender.
- Serve. Serve portions in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.
Video: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
Because you’ve got your protein and vegetables all mixed in, it eliminates the need for a side dish. It’s quite substantial on its own, but it does pair nicely with a side salad, cucumber salad, or crusty dutch oven bread.
We like to serve portions with a dollop of sour cream. The cool tanginess really balances out the rich tomato beef flavor, but you can leave it off if you need this to remain dairy-free.
- Store leftovers. Allow to cool completely, then store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- To freeze. Cool completely, then store in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
More Cabbage Recipes:
I hope you love this delicious and easy recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small sweet onion , diced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 & 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 small head cabbage , core removed, chopped (about 6 cups)
- sour cream or Greek yogurt , for serving, optional but recommended
- In a large nonstick skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and onion; sauté, breaking the beef up into small crumbles and cook until no pink remains and onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Drain off the grease.
- Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Stir in the salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Add uncooked rice, raisins, tomato sauce, broth, and cabbage to the skillet; mix to combine.
- Add rice, raisins, tomato sauce, broth, and cabbage to the skillet; mix to combine. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 22 to 25 minutes, lifting the lid to stir a couple times, until cabbage and rice are tender.
- Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.
Reader Questions and Reviews
This unstuffed cabbage is so delicious! I will not hesitate to make it again and will enjoy all the flavor of cabbage rolls without any fuss.
This recipe is so much better than any I have tried over the last 40 years — so tasty.
This was amazing! I used my flat top outside and got it smoking hot. Browned up the meat and cabbage…maybe some bacon got in there by accident. Then I put everything in the pressure cooker for 30 mins. Holy money delicious and easy!!! I love cabbage rolls but they take forever. This was easy and tasted better. Thanks for the awesome idea, I’ll be making this often.
We love this recipe and cook it about once a month….and we don’t have many that we eat monthly.
This sounded too good to pass up and we loved it! We love traditional stuffed cabbage rolls, so this is a great replacement for busy weeknights. So delicious! Another quick meal never hurts to add to the menu.
One of our favorite meals!