Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet

By Ann Fulton

All the flavor of traditional cabbage rolls in one easy pot–or skillet!
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All the flavor of traditional cabbage rolls in one easy pot – or skillet!


As the days grow shorter and the nights become colder, this is a meal we eat often. Comfort food for all the right reasons. It’s an economical, one-pan meal that can be assembled quickly and left to simmer. Hearty yet healthy, this meal is a favorite of my boys–even with a whole head of cabbage in the mix.

To make dinnertime assembly extra easy, I often combine the seasonings and chop the vegetables earlier in the day. Leftovers are delicious, as the flavors meld over time. For this reason, the meal can be successfully prepared earlier in the day and gently reheated.

When I was dishing out the pictured batch, Grace, my three-year-old niece, appeared at the door. She eyed the contents of the pan and requested some. I had my doubts as to whether she would like this cabbage-centric dish that looks a little goopy but happily offered her a plate. She devoured her small serving and asked for more. Not wanting to spoil the dinner she was soon to eat at her house, we settled on the second portion sent home in a doggy bag.

All the flavor of traditional cabbage rolls in one easy pot - or skillet! (Gluten-free, dairy-free if optional cheese topping is omitted and Paleo if pinch of sugar is omitted.)

Brown the onion and ground beef, add the remaining ingredients to the same pan, cover and let simmer. This all-in-one dinner has amazing flavor and is so easy.

All the flavor of traditional cabbage rolls in one easy pot - or skillet! (Gluten-free and dairy-free and Paleo adaptable.)
Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet
Yields 6-8 servings.
  • Olive oil for the pan
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound ground beef (may use half ground beef, half sausage)
  • 1 small cabbage (about 2 – 2  1/4 pounds), cored and chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (I like long grain; see notes for brown rice substitution)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato puree or sauce (see notes)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (may substitute dried thyme leaves or Italian seasoning)
  • Optional toppings:  shredded cheese (Swiss, Italian blend, or mozzarella are all good choices), fresh parsley or dill for garnish
  1. On medium-high, heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a very large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. (If you don’t have a lidded skillet big enough to hold all of the ingredients–a 14-inch diameter works well–use a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot.) Add the onion to the pan, and sauté 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Add the ground beef and cook until you see very little pink, breaking up as you go.
  2. Stir in the rice, broth, tomato puree and sauce, salt, pepper, sugar and dill.  Add the cabbage and toss to mix all of the ingredients.  Increase the heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil.  Once the mixture reaches a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes or until the rice is just tender.  Remove the skillet from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Check for seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with cheese (1/4 – 1/2 cup–you may also sprinkle to taste on individual servings) and fresh herbs (about 1-2 tablespoons), if using.
  • On occasion, I have used brown rice in this recipe.  Because of its longer cooking time, however, the mixture will need to be simmered for approximately twice as long.  Stir occasionally and remove from heat, as above, when the rice is tender.
  • Homemade or your favorite jarred sauce may be substituted for the two cans of sauce and/or puree specified in the recipe. And as long as you have about three cups total, it doesn’t matter if you use all sauce or all puree.
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  1. Colleen

    Although not traditional to stuffed cabbage, adding some sweet white corn would help with the sweetness factor, drop the sugar. Very easy to make and tasty!

  2. Pam Herrlinger

    The unstuffed cabbage roll skillet will be perfect to use up the remainder of a very large head of cabbage we picked up for $1 at the Corn Wagon!

    1. Ann Post author

      Those cabbage heads can be quite large! Thanks for checking in, Pam, and hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

  3. Bryan Post author

    Hi Ann. I made this last night but I substituted cubed potatoes for the rice. It was perfect for a chilly windy night!

  4. Kim Roberts

    I would make only one alteration to this recipe. Cook the cabbage separately in boiling water for 8 minutes and then stir into the dish after the rice has cooked. The “rest phase” will continue the cooking process of the cabbage and it should maintain its color and nutrients.

  5. Ellen

    I made this two nights ago and it was delicious. Last night’s leftovers were even better. Thanks for another keeper!

  6. Melissa McMurtrie

    Grace loves ALL of Aunt Ann’s delicious meals…and she’s welcome to spoil her appetite any day as your taste tester!!!