If you like cabbage rolls but don’t have the time for all the prep, these unstuffed cabbage rolls are your ticket. You can make this on stovetop or in your slow-cooker (I have both methods for you here!) Easy, super scrumptious unstuffed cabbage rolls with lean ground beef and brown rice. Loads of Mediterranean flavors from aromatics, fresh herbs, and warm spices. Gluten Free. Vegan option below.
Why this Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe works?
My mom makes the best cabbage rolls. She can literally roll those things in no time, and they turn out perfectly every single time! I am not that efficient, so I’ll roll cabbage on special occasions or on a weekend when I don’t have much else going on. On busy nights I crave cabbage rolls, I go for these lazy, but equally scrumptious, unstuffed cabbage rolls. No shame in shortcuts, right?!
Unstuffed cabbage rolls with lean ground beef (or turkey) and brown rice is a hearty and wholesome one-pot dinner. Many unstuffed cabbage recipes call for a heavy load of cheese maybe for flavor? We skip cheese all together in this recipe, leaning on Mediterranean flavors from a good amount of fresh herbs and warm spices like allspice and cumin.
I often make this on stovetop, but you can also try the slow-cooker version. I have both for you today.
How to Make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
1. First, prepare the cabbage. I like to core and cut my green cabbage into large chunks (they don’t need to be of equal size or neat in any way.) Then cook the chopped cabbage in boiling water until nice and tender (it’ll turn a brighter green.) Dump water out and leave the cabbage in a colander to drain.
2. Wipe the same pot dry and let’s cook the meat. You can use lean ground beef or turkey. I like to start with a little extra virgin olive oil to cook the onions until golden, then add the meat and garlic. Cook until fully browned (drain any fat). Season with a little salt and pepper.
3. Now, let’s put everything together! To the cooked beef, add the cabbage, cooked brown rice, and loads of parsley and dill. Add spices, salt and pepper. Stir to combine everything
4. Now we add tomatoes (diced and sauce) and some water to help everything come together. Boil, then lower heat to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
5- Serve hot with a drizzle of Private Reserve EVOO and maybe a little crushed red pepper flakes for those who like the extra heat.
Prepare Ahead Tips for Stovetop Method
If you want to get a head start on the unstuffed cabbage, you can work one night in advance. Prep and boil the cabbage, then drain well and store in tight-lid glass container. You can also brown the meat and cook your brown rice (according to package) refrigerate each in separate glass containers for one night.
Slow Cooker Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
To make unstuffed cabbage rolls in the slow cooker, you can do three things differently:
1. Skip browning the meat (I still like to brown the meat with my onions and garlic, but that’s my personal preference.)
2. You do not need to boil the cabbage.
3. And you can use uncooked brown rice (you will be adding more liquid to help the rice cook properly.)
All you need to do is, lightly oil the bottom of a large slow cooker, add all the ingredients. Add more water, about 1 1/2 cup more than listed in recipe, Mix everything together. Set the slow-cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for about 6 to 7 hours.
Can You Make A Vegetarian Unstuffed Cabbage?
Yes! You can make a vegetarian (even vegan) version of this unstuffed cabbage recipe. Swap the meat out for 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (canned chickpeas will work).
What to serve along?
The beauty of one-pot recipes like this one is that you really don’t need much else for dinner. But I like to add a fresh salad like this easy Mediterranean salad.
Refrigerate leftovers unstuffed cabbage rolls in shallow airtight glass containers for 3 days. You can also freeze leftovers in portions for use as needed. Thaw overnight in the fridge, heat stovetop over medium heat with a little more liquid added, stir regularly till warmed through.Print
BEST unstaffed cabbage rolls recipe, prepared Mediterranean-style with brown rice and lean ground beef. Fresh herbs and warm spices bring it together! Gluten Free
- 1 small head cabbage, cored and chopped into large pieces
- Boiling Water
- Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cup/nearly 600 g already cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup/12.5 g chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup/6 g chopped fresh dill
- 1 tsp/1.90 g ground allspice
- 1 tsp/2 g ground cumin
- 1 15-oz/425.243 g can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz/425.243 g can tomato sauce
- In a large pot or Dutch oven like this one, boil plenty of water. Add cabbage and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until tender (cabbage will turn brighter in color.) Discard water and transfer cooked cabbage to a colander to drain.
- Wipe empty pot and return to heat. Add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and heat on medium until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, for 3 to 4 minutes then add garlic and ground beef (or turkey.) Break the meat apart using a wooden spoon. Raise heat to medium-high. Cook until meat is fully browned, stirring occasionally. Carefully drain any fat, and return to heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Now add cooked cabbage, cooked brown rice, chopped herbs, and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Transfer to serving bowls and drizzle a bit more extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
- Cook’s Tip: For the brown rice, you need to use 1 1/2 cups of already cooked brown rice. Consult your package instructions for raw amount and cooking instructions.
- Vegan Option: You can make a vegan version of this unstuffed cabbage recipe. Swap the meat out for 2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned chickpeas are fine here) and follow recipe as written!
- Prepare Ahead Tip: If you want to get a head start on the unstuffed cabbage, you can work one night in advance. Prep and boil the cabbage, then drain well and store in tight-lid glass container. You can also brown the meat and cook your brown rice (according to package) refrigerate each in separate glass containers for one night.
- Slow-Cooker Version: To make unstuffed cabbage rolls in the slow cooker, you can do three things differently. You may skip browning the meat (I still like to brown the meat with my onions and garlic, but that’s my personal preference.) You do not need to boil the cabbage. And you can use uncooked brown rice (you will be adding more liquid to help the rice cook properly.) Lightly oil the bottom of a large slow cooker, add all the ingredients, then add more water about 1 1/2 cup more water than listed.) Mix everything together. Set the slow-cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for about 6 to 7 hours.
- Tips for Storing Leftovers: Refrigerate leftovers in shallow airtight glass containers for 3 days. You can also freeze leftovers in portions for use as needed. Thaw overnight in the fridge, heat stovetop over medium heat with a little more liquid added, stir regularly till warmed through.
- Recommended for this Recipe: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives.) And from our all-natural spice collection: ground allspice and ground cumin.
- SAVE! Try our Greek Olive Oil Bundle! Create your own 6-pack or 3-pack from our spice collection, or try the Ultimate Spice Bundle.
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: unstuffed cabbage rolls, unstuffed cabbage rolls with brown rice and beef