One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage


Stuffed cabbage is a delicious traditional dish from eastern Europe. There are lots of ways to make it, but the most familiar way is to mix ground beef with onion, garlic, and cooked rice, wrap this filling in boiled cabbage leaves, cover it with tomato sauce, and bake it in a casserole dish. The juices from the meat ooze out into the rice and blend with the cabbage and tomato sauce to make a delicious comfort meal.

Unfortunately, making it this way is a big hassle. You have to boil the cabbage and separate the leaves, and then mix up the meat and rice filling, and then load it into the cabbage leaves and roll them up and put them in the dish and spoon on the tomato sauce…and then bake for 45 minutes or so – a 2-hour plus process!

I was craving this traditional dish my grandma, and my Mom used to make, but didn’t want to go through all that trouble.  In this one-pot deconstructed version, we can get it all done in 30 minutes and, as my hubby says, you don’t have to cut it up in your bowl!


You saute your onions, peppers and garlic along with your ground meat and spices. Then you add the broth and tomatoes and then finally your rice (if using inside the recipe) and cabbage and let it all cook together until tender. Even easily distracted me can get it done in 30 minutes!

If you wanted to cut back on carbs you can omit the rice altogether or serve it with cauliflower rice – talk about abundance of veggies!


If you are using the rice, it’s easiest to use leftover brown rice from your fridge or freezer, but if you don’t have that, I give you two options in the instructions.  Either add the rice (if using white rice), along with extra water, to the dish at the same time as the tomatoes and let it all cook together ( you will need a bigger pot for this), or just cook the rice separately and serve the meal over it in your bowls as we did with the heated up leftover rice. Then, it’s not a one-pot meal any longer, but you know, nothing’s perfect!  If using brown rice (which I recommend) and wanting to get those flavors absorbed into the rice, I suggest par-boiling the rice separately for about 15 minutes, then adding it to the dish at the same time as the cabbage.  

And if you’d like to swap out the ground beef with ground turkey here to make it a little lighter that will work just fine as well.  For leftovers, I had some egg noodles that needed to be used and served it over noodles rather than rice.  It all works.

So, there you have it –  Stuffed cabbage that tastes just like Grandma’s…but without all the work – and it’s pre-cut for you!

I hope you take a night to make this quick and easy dish. If you do, please let me know in the comments!  I love to hear how you fare with my recipes.  You can also tag me on Instagram @healthysexykitchen and use  #healthysexykitchen so I can see your creation!

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5 from 1 vote

One-pot Un-Stuffed Cabbage

This one-pot deconstructed stuffed cabbage is a quick, easy version of the Eastern European cabbage rolls. All the delicious flavors you want in less than half the time! This meal is so hearty, a good source of protein and makes great leftovers.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: dinner, Main Course, one pan
Cuisine: Eastern European
Keyword: deconstructed, One-pot, stuffed cabbage
Servings: 6 4 large servings or 6 moderate ones
Author: Kiki Simpson, Healthy Sexy Kitchen


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil optional. You can saute your onions and garlic in water before adding meat.
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 1/2 large any color bell pepper chopped
  • 1 hot chile pepper diced, optional
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey - 454 grams
  • 1 tablespoon Anyday Spice Blend see Notes
  • 1/2 head green cabbage about 4-5 cups, sliced thin or chopped - I used half green and half purple cabbage
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes diced - you may choose to add more. 2 cans would not be bad!
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water I used 1 cube of my homemade Vegetable Bouillon with water to make broth - see Notes
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs chopped - I used dill, oregano and marjoram but parsley would work as well or just dill by itself. This is optional.
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice or whatever color rice you like. See notes on cooking rice in the pot.


  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped - optional


  • Heat a large skillet or pot or Dutch oven over medium low heat and add oil, if using. Then add onions and saute a few minutes until translucent. Add garlic and bell pepper and optional chile pepper and saute a minute or two more.
  • Add ground meat and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. I actually didn't thaw my meat ahead and just added it frozen and broke it up as it thawed and cooked. Add your spices and continue to cook until most of the pink is gone.
  • Add cabbage, tomatoes and broth or water and stir well. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Stir in the fresh herbs and simmer one more minute. Serve over hot cooked rice.
    If you are cooking your rice in the one pot, add it (1 cup dry rice) along with the cabbage and tomatoes and 1 cup of extra water. Stir all together and cook for 20-30 minutes - depending on type of rice - until rice is cooked.
  • Serve in bowls with fresh parsley on top, if using.


You can find my recipe for Anyday Spice Blend HERE...  But if you don't have time to make it, here is a short list of spices to add to your dish:
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • fennel, if you have it
  • rosemary, if you have it
  • bay leaf 
Here's my recipe for homemade Vegetable Bouillon Paste.
Carrots and green beans would not be traditional, but I added them because I had them.  Feel free to leave them out or substitute for whatever vegetables you have on hand.

2 thoughts on “One-Pot Unstuffed Cabbage”

  1. 5 stars
    Mmm…comfort food! I used a full half of a green and half of a purple cabbage, still turned out great! I also had some celery and caraway seed I added. This is WAY easier than rolling cabbage leaves 😂


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