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Unstuffed Cabbage

All the rich and hearty flavor of stuffed cabbage without all the work!  This unstuffed cabbage recipe transforms the classic into a one pot wonder.

All the rich and hearty flavor of stuffed cabbage without all the work! This unstuffed cabbage recipe transforms the classic into a one pot wonder.


Welcome to unstuffed cabbage—the amazing flavors of stuffed cabbage, but without all the work!  We all love a warm, hearty, comforting stuffed cabbage.   But not the amount of time that goes into it.  Boiling the cabbage, trimming the leaves, making the filling, stuffing, rolling, layering, simmering.  Wow that’s a lot of steps!  And how long before we get to my favorite step of eating?!  Unstuffed cabbage has all the delicious richness and irresistible flavor, but transformed into a one-pot meal.  Now you can serve stuffed cabbage any day of the week.  But it’s so delicious that you also can serve it for special occasions with rave reviews.

Coming from an Eastern-European Jewish household, stuffed cabbage is a staple.  And even more so, a staple for the holidays.  Every family has their own recipe variation, but they all have the same things in common—a savory meat and rice filling rolled inside tender cabbage leaves and simmered in a sweet and tangy tomato sauce.  (In my house it’s called a sweet and sour sauce, but that name kinda makes me think of Chinese food.)  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

All the rich and hearty flavor of stuffed cabbage without all the work! This unstuffed cabbage recipe transforms the classic into a one pot wonder.


I’m sure my grandma (and all Jewish grandmas) have spent many hours standing at the kitchen counter filling and rolling hundreds of stuffed cabbages.  But seeing as I don’t have a lot of patience (oops) and like to be quick in the kitchen (so I have more time to try more recipes, of course!), I created this unstuffed cabbage recipe that can be made in one pot.  Yup, a one pot wonder.  Or a deconstructed stuffed cabbage if you want to sound all fancy and stuff.

Regardless of what you call it, the bottom line is this tastes DELICIOUS.  The richness of the beef mixed with soft and tender cabbage and a perfectly balanced, rich yet delicate tomato sauce is just out of this world.  Serve over rice, and you have a completely irresistible weeknight dinner or a guest-worthy dish.  And most importantly for me, a dish that tastes just like home.  Enjoy!

All the rich and hearty flavor of stuffed cabbage without all the work! This unstuffed cabbage recipe transforms the classic into a one pot wonder.

5.0 from 5 reviews
Unstuffed Cabbage
Recipe type: Meat
Serves: 6
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small green cabbage
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  1. To prepare the green cabbage, remove the first layer of outer leaves and cut cabbage in half from top to bottom. Cut out tough inner core from each half and discard. Cut each cabbage half into thin slices.
  2. Dice onion and mince garlic.
  3. In a large pan with sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until soft and slightly golden, about 7 minutes.
  4. Clear a small hole in the center of the pan and add the minced garlic. Cook garlic in the center until fragrant, stirring constantly to avoid burning (about 30-60 seconds).
  5. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking apart the meat into small pieces as you stir.
  6. Remove any fat from the meat mixture using a large spoon.
  7. Add the sliced cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper, to the mixture. Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring a couple times initially to incorporate the cabbage as it cooks down. Leave the lid cracked open to allow the sauce to thicken nicely.
  8. Add the juice of ½ lemon and 2 Tbsp sugar (or more or less to taste). Cook for another 5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Garnish with roughly chopped flat leaf parsley (optional) and serve piping hot over rice. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Food’s Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Another weeknight dinner idea:

Crunchy Cornflakes Chicken– A quick and impressive oven-baked chicken recipe with a crispy cornflakes coating.

Crunchy Cornflakes Chicken


Unstuffed Cabbage- All the rich and hearty flavor of stuffed cabbage without all the work! Transforms the classic recipe into an EASY and HEALTHY one pot wonder. I could just swim in that luscious tomato sauce. ♡ passthechallah.com
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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Thalia @ butter and brioche August 19, 2015, 1:32 am

    This looks like something my grandparents would make too! I love a good hearty stew like this… definitely brings back some memories.

    • Samantha August 19, 2015, 7:16 pm

      There’s nothing like those old, familiar flavors! Sounds like we have one in common :)

  • John Bailey August 19, 2015, 5:30 am

    Unstuffed Cabbage invented by DANA CARPENDER of Low Carb cookbook fame. Original recipe published long ago.
    just saying

    • Samantha August 19, 2015, 7:20 pm

      Thanks John! Wanted to make sure I gave credit to the direct recipe that my inspiration came from. I’m sure there have been so many delicious variations of the classic stuffed cabbage over the years. I’m happy to add my variation to the list!

  • Kate @ Babaganosh.org August 23, 2015, 3:10 pm

    This is a great idea! I tried making stuffed cabbage once and it just took *so long* – I don’t know how our grandmas have the patience to make the dish, but I am sure glad they do! Instead I made an unstuffed cabbage casserole once, but even that was too much work for a regular weeknight dinner. I think you are onto something with the one pot idea – this looks very do-able and VERY delicious!

  • Anna August 24, 2015, 5:40 pm

    I am so happy to have found this recipe-it was SO delicious!! I am used to rice in my stuffed cabbage and just happened to have some cooked brown rice in my fridge, so I threw some of that in! I also used fresh from the garden diced tomatoes instead of canned just because that’s all I had. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the “T” and it turned out great! Will definitely make this several more times in the future! Thank you for sharing!!!

  • Rachel May 18, 2016, 11:30 am

    This looks delicious! I’ve made something similar with a bit of a more sweet taste. The parsley sounds like it will be delicious on top!

    • Samantha May 18, 2016, 9:29 pm

      Hi Rachel! Thank you! Feel free to add more sugar to taste (which is actually what my grandma does to this recipe). Let me know if you make it!

  • TS May 20, 2016, 11:16 am

    I made this last night and it was SO good. I love stuffed cabbage but thinking about the amount of work is enough to deter me…but this is all of the taste without the effort. Even my husband who doesn’t love ground beef was a fan. Thanks for the great recipe, can’t wait to browse your website for more recipes!

  • Rust May 21, 2016, 6:12 am

    This recipe reminds me of one I recently discovered (in my quest to learn more about Polish cooking). It’s called hunter’s stew (bigos) and is super hearty and delicious. Your recipe looks like a much simpler (easier!) version, one I have to try! Yum!

  • Arnica July 3, 2016, 4:57 pm

    I love this recipe. What cracks me up, though, are the various stories of how the poster(s) invented it and coincidentally used the exact proportions of the same ingredients 400 other recipe creators did, some of th hem even published. Amazing. This is my preferred version, with a titch of vinegar and brown sugar.

  • Mariellen Perch February 6, 2017, 5:51 pm

    One of my favorite easy recipes. In my estimation this makes a lot more than 6 servings. I’ve also made it with rice on the side since stuffed cabbage typically has rice. However I do like this low carb version and don’t really miss the rice. It freezes and re-heats well too!

    • Samantha February 6, 2017, 9:43 pm

      Hi! I am so happy to hear that you like it! I also make this with rice on the side sometimes. Thanks so much for stopping by :)

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