This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
These Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls will be your new weeknight favorite. They have all the flavors and textures of the classic recipe but without all the work. No boiling, stuffing, or waiting...just cook everything in one pan and serve it on a bed of rice.
Busy weeknights call for quick and easy meals, but that doesn't mean they have to be bland or boring. And these Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls are the perfect example...they are full of savory flavor, but the method is simplified.
Plus, the cooking time is cut in half and this dish will be on your table in 45 minutes or less. And that includes the prep time, too.
So, basically, it's a deconstructed cabbage roll in a bowl and it's so darn good! It's a full-on comfort meal that my family loves and it's in heavy rotation right now along with my Sausage and Peppers Pasta and Cabbage Soup.
Let's get started!
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Before you head to the full recipe at the end of this post, here are a few quick notes about the ingredients and possible substitutions that you could use.
- Cabbage - I prefer green cabbage for this recipe, but savoy is nice too...just a bit milder in flavor.
- Diced Tomatoes - I prefer fire-roasted for an extra smoky flavor, but regular is delicious, too.
- Tomato Paste - it deepens the flavor, but it's not required. You can also add depth of flavor by deglazing the pan with ½ cup of dry white wine. Add after the garlic and spices step. Simmer until reduced, about 1-2 minutes.
- Vegan Ground - I used Beyond Meat for this recipe, but you can use any vegan ground or even crumbles. Just make sure to read the package cooking instructions.
- Brown Sugar - Feel free to use any sweetener you prefer. Maple syrup is a nice substitute. You can reduce or omit the sugar as well.
- Vinegar - I used red wine vinegar, but you can also use balsamic or apple cider vinegar. If you don't like vinegar, try 2-3 teaspoons of vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- Seasonings - I used smoked paprika, thyme, and red chili flakes, but feel free to switch it up here. You can use oregano, sweet paprika, chili powder, or cayenne pepper.
How to make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
It's easy to make these Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls. Here's how to do it:
- Sauté the onion in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Push the onions to the side and add the vegan ground. Cook for 4-7 minutes until slightly browned. Now combine with the onions and cook for another few minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, and seasonings. Sauté for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.
- Now add the broth, tomatoes, cabbage, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 20-30 minutes until cabbage is tender, then simmer uncovered for a few minutes until thickened. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed.
Ways to serve Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
I served it over a bed of jasmine rice, but here are some other tasty ideas to try:
- For a low-carb option, try it with cauliflower rice instead of rice.
- To make it extra hearty, pair it with roasted or mashed potatoes.
- Serve it with a loaf of my no-knead artisan bread. It's fantastic!
- Instead of rice, you can pair it with lentils, couscous, orzo, barley, or bulgur.
Topping Ideas + Flavor Variations
I used fresh parsley to keep it simple, but here are a few other ideas to try:
- For extra zing, serve it with a dollop of vegan sour cream on top.
- Add some fresh flavor with chopped dill, chives, or green onion.
- For extra smoky flavor, add a few dashes of liquid smoke to the simmering mixture.
Reheating + Storing Tips
Unstuffed Cabbage rolls become even more flavorful after they sit in the fridge so leftovers are perfect. Here's how to store and reheat:
Reheating - warm gently on the stove over medium-low heat or in the microwave for a few minutes. Stir occasionally.
Storing - leftovers will last in the fridge for a few days stored in an airtight container or frozen for 2-3 months in a freezer-safe container. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight.
Cut the stem off first using a sharp knife then slice the cabbage in half lengthwise. Now cut each piece in half lengthwise to create 4 wedges. Now make an angled cut to remove the core from each wedge.
Need a visual guide? Here's a great step-by-step visual process on how to core a cabbage.
More easy weeknight meals to try
Want more easy meals for busy weeknights? Here are a few reader favorites:
Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think by leaving a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and sharing your feedback in the comment section below. It would really make my day! You can also share your remake with me on Instagram. Just tag #veganhuggs and @veganhuggs so I don’t miss it!
⭐️ Subscribe to the Vegan Huggs Newsletter and receive weekly recipes straight to your inbox! You'll also receive my FREE eCookbook featuring my top 10 recipes.
Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil or preferred oil
- 1 large onion , diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic , chopped or minced
- 12-16 ounces vegan ground meat or crumbles
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (*optional)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes , fire-roasted (sub regular)
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 small head green cabbage , cored and chopped/sliced (about 7-8 cups)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
- Fresh cracked pepper , to taste
- 1.5 cups uncooked long-grain rice (I used Jasmine)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Large Pan with Lid
- Medium Pot
- Cook the rice according to package directions (I usually add a ¼-1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water). When fully cooked, fluff with a fork, cover, and set aside (the rice takes about 15-20 minutes - you can start making the mixture while it cooks).
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt. Sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Push the onions to the side and add the vegan ground. Break up into crumbly bite-sized pieces. Cook for 4-7 minutes until cooked throughout and slightly browned. Now combine with the onions and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, cabbage, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then raise the heat to get things simmering, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender. Now remove the lid and simmer for another 2-3 minutes, or until thickened. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed
- Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley, and serve on a bed of rice. Enjoy!
This was awesome…all the flavors I remember from childhood. Can this be frozen?
Hi Susan, I'm so glad you loved it. Yes, you can freeze it for 2-3 months in an airtight container. Thanks for trying the recipe and sharing your wonderful feedback 🙂
This recipe is fantastic! I've made it twice now. The second time I used lentils (that I cooked ahead) in place of the Beyond Burger. Just as good and even healthier!
That sounds great, Chris! Thanks for giving the recipe a try and sharing your modifications. 🙂
Oh my, this looks absolutely delicious. Will definitely try 😍
Thanks, Kristina! Hope you enjoy it.
Wow, this was fantastic! I was wanting to find a main dish recipe using cabbage and this was great! I love the way it’s seasoned. This is a keeper and I’ll be making it often. Thanks so much for creating it. I followed the recipe except I didn’t have parsley to put on the top and was out of rice, so I served it on quinoa.
You are welcome, Lorna! Thanks for the great feedback. Quinoa is great with this too. 🙂
Really tasty meal. Great fresh, great fridge-cold. Loved the flavours and textures
Thanks, Amy! I am glad you loved this recipe. 🙂
Could you use tofu in place of the Beyond Burger? I'm trying to stay away from processed foods.
Hi Joyce, yes, I think you could do that. Just drain and press it first. I would probably cook it separately and add it near the end so it doesn't fall apart. Just season and brown it well. I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I’ve never actually had traditional cabbage rolls but this was SoOo good- just made it for dinner! I love your deconstructed cabbage rolls recipe. I actually can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow because I can just tell it’s going to be even more flavorful, thank you for the recipe!!
Hi Reina, I'm so happy you liked the recipe. The leftovers will be delish! Thank you for trying the recipe and sharing your feedback. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂
Do you have a legume suggestion that you think would work in this? Lentils or chickpeas maybe? Trying to eliminate processed stuff for climate reasons.
Hi Debra, I think chickpeas would work wonderfully. Just add them when the broth and tomatoes go in. 🙂
Hello - I have to share with you, this recipe was one I grew up with when my Ukrainian Baba (grandmother) or my Mom had left over ingredients from making cabbage rolls (holopchi). We grew up calling them "Lazy Cabbage Rolls" and there are so many cookbooks in Canada that have Ukrainian recipes, and lazy cabbage rolls is one of them. Thank you for sharing your version. I truly enjoy your recipes- Connie from Canada
Hi Connie, I love how food can bring up special memories like that. I like the name "lazy cabbage rolls". Thank you for sharing 🙂