Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

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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    29 comments
    1. Shannon
      September 2, 2020 AT 8:03 pm

      This was so delicious! I was looking for something new-to-me to make and I’m so glad I picked this. Loved all the flavors! And, I cannot wait to eat the leftovers! Your recipes never disappoint 🙂

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 3, 2020 AT 11:22 pm

        Ahh yay! So glad you loved this recipe, Shannon. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. It means the world to me. <3

    2. Madison
      September 1, 2020 AT 5:32 pm

      Delicious! I had a head of purple cabbage in my fridge so I used that instead of green but it turned out great – just maybe not as aesthetically pleasing lol. I love the flavors! Will definitely make this again. Thank you!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 1, 2020 AT 9:26 pm

        So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Madison! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. <3

    3. Ashley
      August 26, 2020 AT 5:54 pm

      This was very tasty and easy to make!

    4. Julie
      August 6, 2020 AT 9:01 pm

      I made this for supper tonight and it was excellent! Really tasty, and we loved the addition of the applesauce /ACV/ cinnamon. It gave it a nice extra depth of flavour. I added a few shakes of coconut aminos to the brown basmati rice that I served it with, which complemented the whole dish very well. I’m excited to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! I will be making this again for sure.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 6, 2020 AT 9:29 pm

        Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Julie! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it! <3

    5. Marian
      July 25, 2020 AT 9:15 am

      I don’t eat animal protein. Have tired it with tofu to tempeh?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 26, 2020 AT 6:18 pm

        Hey Marian! I haven’t, but I’m sure this would be delicious with either tofu of tempeh as a substitute. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!!

    6. Efogator
      July 24, 2020 AT 6:26 pm

      Hello,

      I guess this will be so tasty and easy to prepare.

      Thank you very much for sharing this post.

    7. Amber
      July 23, 2020 AT 8:29 pm

      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.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 24, 2020 AT 6:28 pm

        Woo-hoo! So glad this recipe was a hit, Amber. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. <3

    8. Ashley
      July 21, 2020 AT 11:12 pm

      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.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 22, 2020 AT 12:17 am

        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. 🙂

    9. Molly
      July 21, 2020 AT 6:24 pm

      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.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 22, 2020 AT 12:20 am

        Ahh yay!! So glad this recipe was a hit, Molly. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I appreciate it!

    10. Jana
      July 21, 2020 AT 6:20 pm

      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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 22, 2020 AT 12:20 am

        Woo-hoo!! So glad this recipe was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. It means the world to me. <3

    11. Samantha
      July 21, 2020 AT 12:13 am

      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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 22, 2020 AT 12:31 am

        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. 🙂

    12. Monica
      July 20, 2020 AT 8:51 pm

      Would love to make this tonight, but I don’t have the apple sauce on hand. Any substitutions for that?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 20, 2020 AT 11:19 pm

        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!

    13. Briana
      July 20, 2020 AT 8:18 pm

      What would a sub be for applesauce?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 20, 2020 AT 11:20 pm

        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!

    14. Dana
      July 20, 2020 AT 6:07 pm

      Love this concept, friend!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 20, 2020 AT 11:19 pm

        Thanks, Dana!!

    15. Julie
      July 20, 2020 AT 2:08 pm

      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.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 21, 2020 AT 1:42 pm

        Hey Julie – I haven’t tried cooking this in the Instant Pot, so I’m not sure. Definitely let me know if you try it out though!

    16. Cyndy
      July 20, 2020 AT 9:24 am

      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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