These unstuffed cabbage rolls taste just like the traditional recipe with a fraction of the effort. Lightened up with ground turkey and served over cauliflower rice for a low-carb meal.

You may have heard of stuffed cabbage rolls, but what about “unstuffed cabbage rolls”?! I personally love this version because it’s lightened up and so much easier than the classic recipe. You can make this dinner in a fraction of the time it takes to make the traditional stuffed cabbage, which requires boiling the cabbage leaves and rolling the meat inside. And, trust me it is still equally delicious!

Overhead shot of unstuffed cabbage roll bowl. Cabbage and turkey are mixed with a tomato sauce are served over rice in a white ceramic bowl. Gold fork is resting inside the bowl.

Traditional Cabbage Rolls

Traditional cabbage rolls are made up of cooked cabbage leaves holding a variety of fillings. There’s typically a mixture of ground pork and ground beef, rice and some sort of tomato product. It’s a common dish in many areas of Europe, West Asia and Egypt. I’ve never actually made traditional cabbage rolls, but Isaac’s mom makes them. She’s been making them for years and if you asked her she’d probably tell you they are a breeze to whip up, however I know they are time consuming.

To make these unstuffed cabbage rolls a bit lighter, I used ground turkey instead of beef or pork. And instead of brown sugar that most recipes call for, I used apple sauce for a hint of sweetness. Last but not least, I served the unstuffed cabbage rolls over cauliflower rice, which packs in more veggies and keeps this dish low-carb.

Close up image of unstuffed cabbage roll bowl. Cabbage and turkey is mixed with a tomato sauce and served over rice. Food is served in a ceramic bowl with a gold fork resting inside the bowl.

What You Need for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

This lightened up, easy version of cabbage rolls requires less than 15 ingredients.

  • ground turkey
  • vegetables – cabbage, garlic, yellow onion and parsley for garnish
  • cauliflower rice (or regular rice)
  • canned diced tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • unsweetened apple sauce
  • olive oil
  • apple cider vinegar
  • seasoning and spices – cinnamon, salt and pepper

Overhead shot of cabbage and turkey mixture in a blue dutch oven pan. Wooden spoon is stirring mixture.

Cabbage 101

Okay, I have to get this off my chest. Why is cabbage such an underrated vegetable?! I personally love cabbage. Maybe the lack of color makes people think of bland, nutrient-less lettuce, but interesting enough, cabbage isn’t in the lettuce family, it’s actually a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and cauliflower. It’s packed with nutrients, specifically vitamin K, vitamin C and folate. It’s also high in fiber and antioxidants. It has a neutral flavor (in my opinion) and can be eaten raw or cooked. (Source)

Close up shot of unstuffed cabbage roll bowl. Cabbage and turkey are mixed with a tomato sauce and served over rice. Gold fork is resting inside white ceramic bowl.

Love Cabbage? Try These Recipes:

If you make these unstuffed cabbage rolls be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how they turned out. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other readers!

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Close up shot of unstuffed cabbage roll bowl. Cabbage and turkey are mixed with a tomato sauce and served over rice. Gold fork is resting inside white ceramic bowl.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

These unstuffed cabbage rolls taste just like the traditional recipe with a fraction of the effort. Packed with vegetables and flavor, it’s the perfect weeknight dinner.


Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 head (about 7 cups) shredded green cabbage
  • cauliflower rice (or regular rice), for serving
  • fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and once hot add turkey, onion and garlic into the Dutch oven until browned and crumbly, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, apple sauce, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover Dutch oven, reduce heat, and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Stir over warm cauliflower rice or your favorite rice. Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Jewish

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe with cauliflower rice
  • Calories: 291
  • Sugar: 13g
  • Sodium: 575mg
  • Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Protein: 29g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg

Keywords: unstuffed cabbage rolls

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    22 comments
  1. So tasty and super easy prep! Great easy weeknight dinner. Loved the tang of the ACV balanced with the applesauce. I had a bell pepper to use, so added that and served over rice.

  2. Sooo yummy! Really great flavors and the cinnamon gives it that extra unique taste! Didn’t have apple sauce so I subbed it with 1/4 cup brown sugar.

    • Yay!! So glad you enjoyed this dish, Ashley! Thanks for making it and for sharing the sub you made with the apple sauce. The reviews are super helpful for other readers, so I appreciate it. 🙂

  3. My fiance & I loved this. It was so easy to prep, very flavorful and filling. I forgot to pick up tomato sauce so I used 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s black truffle ketchup and it was delicious.

  4. Made this tonight. Hubby and I both loved it. His words were “this has so much flavor!”. This will be in our monthly rotation for sure!

  5. Another tasty, healthy, and quick EFB recipe that will stay in our families dinner rotation! My husband, who isn’t a fan of tomatoes, especially chunks of tomatoes, gobbled this up in no time. Thanks again for another delicious recipe!

    • Ahh yay! That makes me so happy to hear, Samantha! I’m so glad this recipe was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment and star rating. It means so much to me. 🙂

    • Hey Monica – You could add brown sugar, which most traditional recipes call for. I’m sure maple syrup would also work! I would maybe start with less of the sugar / maple syrup and adjust as needed. Let me know how it turns out for you if you try it!

    • Hey Briana – You could use brown sugar, which most traditional recipes call for. I’m sure maple syrup would also work! I would maybe start with less of the sugar / maple syrup and adjust as needed. Let me know how it turns out for you if you try it!

  6. Hey, any idea how long you’d cook this for in the Instant Pot? Thanks…my mom made a version of this, so I’d like to try this one.

  7. I’ve made a similar dish to this for many years. I just wanted to suggest that it tastes twice as good the second day! So much so that now I make it the day before we plan to have it.

    My husband loves this dish and forgets he’s eating vegetables.

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