Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls, homesteading, homestead. homestead.org

If you’re a fan of stuffed cabbage rolls but not the time-sucking preparation of them, have I  got a recipe for you!  I love stuffed cabbage rolls, but when I have a craving, I have to weigh that craving against the desire (or lack thereof) to put on a big pot of water and wait for it to boil to blanch the leaves, mix up a big bowl of raw-meat filling, clear off a large area of the counter to—carefully, now, we don’t want any torn leaves—stuff and roll the leaves, place them in a pan, mix up the sauce, and heat up the house with the oven for an hour or so… and then there’s all the clean up to do!  I must admit that the weight of the task often crushes my craving.  Lucky for us all,  I’ve found a one-pot method that comes together in about 15 minutes, is ready to serve in less than an hour, and still has all the flavors we love of the original dish. Enter Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 T. sugar, to taste
  • 1 c. long-grain white rice
  • 1 c. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the ground beef, chopped onion, and about 1 t. of salt until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are softened.  Next, add the chopped cabbage and a pinch of black pepper, cover and cook until the cabbage is just wilted, about 5 minutes.

Then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar, and sugar.  Stir it all together well and, finally, add the rice and water.  Stir that together, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, periodically stirring and checking that you have enough water (if it looks a little dry, add a couple tablespoons of water.)  Once the rice is tender, give it a taste and add and a little more sugar, vinegar, salt, or pepper to your liking.  Once you’ve got the seasoning how you like it, cover and let it sit for 5-10 minutes for those last flavors to meld and for the sauce to thicken a little.

Looking for something a little more traditional? Try these classic Stuffed Bell Peppers.


  1. I used to make unstuffed cabbage rolls years ago when my kids were growing up. It was so easy to make and didn’t require any special ingredients to put together. My father always had a big garden and came by once a week with a grocery bag of fresh vegetables. Sometimes he’d give me 2 or 3 heads of cabbage, so I had to find ways to use them, and unstuffed cabbage was a favorite!

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