Skip all the work of making traditional cabbage rolls and make this unstuffed cabbage rolls skillet instead! It’s all made in one pan, has the flavors of the traditional version, and it’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner!
If you aren’t familiar with cabbage rolls, I’m here to introduce you to the classic recipe, with one exception. I’m simplifying it by eliminating the tedious work of stuffing and rolling the cabbage leaves.
All of the flavor and ingredients that you find in traditional cabbage rolls are also found in this skillet recipe. I did swap the ground beef with ground turkey for personal preferences, but you can definitely use beef if you prefer.
What Are Cabbage Rolls?
Cabbage rolls are a cuisine that’s common in many areas of Europe, but can also be found in parts of Asia as well. In Europe the filling often includes meat such as beef, lamb or pork. The meat is seasoned with aromatics like onion, garlic, and dried spices.
Along with the meat there is usually some type of grain such as rice or barley. Fermented or steamed cabbage leaves are used as the wrapper for the filling. The cabbage rolls are either steamed or baked and then served with some type of sauce which can vary depending on the region. The most common type of sauce that you see is a tomato based sauce.
Ingredients For Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Skillet
- yellow onion
- ground turkey or ground chicken
- fresh thyme leaves
- smoked paprika and ground cinnamon
- canned diced tomatoes
- tomato sauce
- apple cider vinegar
- maple syrup
- green cabbage
- flat leaf parsley
- brown rice
How To Make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Skillet
This is such a simple recipe and one that can be ready to eat in about 30 minutes. Before you start this recipe, note that the brown rice needs to already be cooked. If you have some on hand already that’s great, otherwise I recommend using instant, frozen, or the microwaveable pouches to save time.
Start by sautéing the onion and ground turkey, seasoning it with salt and pepper. You’ll want to use a large skillet or pot for this recipe. If using a skillet best to use one that’s deep and with a lid.
When the turkey is nearly cooked through add in the garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add in the dried spices, thyme leaves, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and cooked rice. Stir everything together until it’s coated in the sauce.
Add the sliced cabbage on top of the meat mixture. Your skillet will likely be pretty full so don’t worry about stirring anything yet. Cover the skillet with a lid and let everything cook for several minutes. This will give the cabbage a chance to steam and wilt giving you more space to stir.
Once you’ve stirred the cabbage into the mixture, cover it with the lid and continue to let it cook for about 15 minutes or until the cabbage is soft and tender. You’ll need to stir everything several times so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Finish the meal by stirring in the chopped flat leaf parsley.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. To make the unstuffed cabbage rolls vegetarian or vegan, omit the meat and either add a plant based meat alternative, soy crumbles, an extra cup of brown rice, or a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas.
Yes. Equal amounts of ground beef, chicken, or pork may be used as an alternative to ground turkey.
Yes. Purple/red cabbage or Napa cabbage may be used instead of green cabbage.
White rice, quinoa, barley, or farro can be used as an alternative. You can also omit the rice or use cauliflower rice for a low carb option.
More Skillet Dinners
- Southwest Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Rice Skillet
- Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- Baked Pizza Chicken
- Turkey and Vegetable Skillet
- Skillet Chicken Fajitas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
- 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 a head chopped green cabbage, about 5 cups
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When hot, swirl to coat the bottom and add in the ground turkey, diced onion, salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion is tender and the turkey is nearly cooked through.
- Add in the garlic and spices and sauté for another minute. Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and brown rice. Stir everything together and then add in the chopped cabbage.
- Cover the skillet or pot with a lid and let the cabbage cook down for a few minutes and then stir it in with everything else. Cook with the lid on for 15 minutes on medium-low heat stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the chopped parsley, taste for seasoning, and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 497mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 9gSugar: 16gProtein: 42g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.