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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls are an easier version of classic cabbage rolls. All of the same ingredients we love are cooked together and then ladled over rice, cornbread or for the low carb diners, simply on it’s own. It hits all of the same flavor points and preparation is a cinch.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

 I love classic cabbage rolls and my Mom made them quite often for us when I was young. My experience has been that depending on the cook’s interpretation of this dish, it can sometimes seem a bit bland and short on seasonings. My Mom’s cabbage rolls always had a really good flavor and I wanted to find a simpler way to enjoy the same flavors without steaming the cabbage leaves and rolling in the traditional way. This is my unstuffed version and it’s so tasty, that it’s landed a regular rotation spot on our dinner menu.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Easy Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

I serve these unstuffed cabbage rolls over steamed basmati rice instead of adding rice to the pot, since the cabbage and rice cook differently. It also gives the carb lovers and keto diners the choice of having it with or without a side of rice. I admit one of my favorite ways to enjoy this is over a piece of hot buttered skillet honey cornbread for a a tasty Southern spin on this cabbage classic.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

How to Make the BEST Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls: Ground beef, Italian sausage, cabbage, canned Italian seasoned tomatoes, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, parsley, onion, olive oil, tomato sauce,  worcestershire sauce, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, fennel seed, black pepper, light brown or granulated sugar, dried Italian seasoning and cooked rice for serving.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: A large skillet or Dutch oven, measuring cups and spoons, large spoon, sharp knife and chopping board.
  • The canned tomatoes used in this recipe are seasoned with garlic, basil and oregano. You can use plain tomatoes but you may need to adjust the other seasonings to accommodate.
  • This recipe uses green cabbage no Napa cabbage just as in classic cabbage rolls. Chop and remove the core as it will taste bitter.
  • I serve these unstuffed cabbage rolls over steamed basmati rice instead of adding rice to the pot. The cabbage and rice cook differently, so in this instance, it’s best to cook them separately. In addition, as I mentioned before, it also allows both carb and low carb eaters to enjoy the same dinner.
  • If preferred, you can omit the Italian sausage and use 2 pounds of extra lean ground beef in this dish. In that case, increase the Italian seasoning to 1 teaspoon.
  • Store Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat or in single servings with rice in the microwave.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

More Easy Cabbage Recipes to Make

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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cabbage-roll-recipes, cabbage-rolls, unstuffed-cabbage-rolls
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 377kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper seeded and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • seasoned salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 lb Italian sausage hot or mild [see Cook's note]
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 lb green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 2 16 oz cans Italian seasoned diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown or granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Italian parsley chopped
  • 3 cup cooked rice or Skillet Honey Cornbread


  • In a large pot or dutch oven cook the onion and green pepper in a couple of drizzles of olive oil. Cook over medium-high for 5-7 minutes until the veggies soften and are beginning to brown. Season with seasoned salt and black pepper to your taste.
  • Add the minced garlic and fennel seeds. Cook until fragrant around 1 minute.
  • Add the ground beef and Italian sausage and cook until no pink remains. Mix in worcestershire sauce. Drain excessive drippings leaving behind 3-4 Tbsp to cook the cabbage.
  • Slice the cabbage into thin strips and remove the core. Add to the pot with the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoned salt and black pepper to your taste
  • Cover and simmer over medium low for 35-45 minutes or until the cabbage has softened. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve over cooked rice or buttered cornbread.


If preferred, you can omit the Italian sausage and use 2 lb extra lean ground beef in this dish. In that case, increase the Italian seasoning to 1 tsp.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 740mg | Potassium: 850mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 252IU | Vitamin C: 58mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!



  1. I made this recipe last night, since their is just my husband and myself, I cut the recipe in half and used just mild Italian sausage. We both really liked it and will definitely make again, plus easy prep.
    Thanks for this recipe!

  2. This looks amazing, but there is only one of me…how do I make this for one, or two with left over’s…?

  3. Hi Melissa,
    just wanted to let you know that I made this for dinner yesterday and It is Wonderful! My husband does not like cabbage rolls but, he loved this! I will be making this often.
    Thanks again!
    Diane M.

  4. Thank you for this recipe! It sounds wonderful and so easy. I love cabbage rolls just don’t like the work that goes into making them. I will be making this recipe as soon as I can.
    Thanks again!
    Have a Wonderful day!
    Diane M.

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