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Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed cabbage rolls, similar to traditional cabbage rolls but much easier to make and faster to cook. This single serving cabbage roll recipe is made with a few simple ingredients in one pan and is served over rice.

Unstuffed cabbage rolls over white rice on a plate with a bowl of lemons in the background

This unstuffed cabbage rolls recipe was created with fond memories of my husband's grandmother, Mary who first introduced me to her amazing polish cabbage rolls she called Golabki.

It almost goes without saying just how loved cabbage rolls are our family. It's a dish my husband, his siblings, and his parents have enjoyed for many years. I was fortunate to have learned how to make cabbage rolls many years ago using Mary's recipe. Her golabki were absolutely delicious but incredibly labor intensive.

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She used a whole cabbage, ground pork and beef, rice and plenty of spices in her recipe. It took quite a long time to prepare the filling and bake the cabbage rolls but it was definitely a wonderful meal and it was a dish I always wanted to convert into a single serving recipe.

Here at One Dish Kitchen, I recreate recipes with the goal of them being very similar to favorite dishes we remember. Sometimes, it just doesn't make sense to recreate a recipe that calls for an extensive ingredient list and one that will leave you with plenty of leftover ingredients.

My goal is always simplicity without sacrificing taste and I aim for minimal waste. This unstuffed cabbage rolls recipe is my version of the cabbage rolls my husband and I remember from his grandmother. It's made with fewer ingredients, much easier and quicker to make and the flavors are totally reminiscent of the ones we remember.

See how to freeze leftover cabbage and how to roast cabbage below.

An overhead view of unstuffed cabbage rolls over white rice on a plate next to a bowl of lemons all on a metal tray with a white cloth napkin

What Are Cabbage Rolls?

Cabbage rolls are often referred to as golabki or galumpki and are popular in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe as well as other places around the world.

A cabbage roll is made by stuffing cooked cabbage leaves with generously spiced fillings often made with beef or pork and rice. The rolls are covered in a tomato based sauce and baked in the oven.

What Are Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls?

Unstuffed cabbage rolls are made with many of the same ingredients you will find in cabbage rolls but they take half the time to make. Sliced cabbage cooks along with the other ingredients in one skillet and is served over rice.

How To Make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

See recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

Ingredients in Cabbage Rolls

  • olive oil
  • lean ground pork (you may also use ground beef)
  • chopped onions
  • garlic
  • tomato
  • salt and pepper
  • cabbage
  • Marinara sauce
  • water
  • apple cider vinegar
  • honey (optional)

Step 1

Cook the pork, onions, garlic, and chopped tomatoes in a medium sized skillet until the pork is browned and the onions are soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Add chopped cabbage to the pan and stir in the sauce, water, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until cabbage has softened.

Step 3

Stir in honey and serve over cooked rice.

Unstuffed cabbage rolls over white rice on a plate next to a bowl of lemons

Do I Have To Add Honey or Sugar To Cabbage Rolls?

No. Instead of honey, you could use agave nectar or brown sugar, or you could leave out the sweetener altogether. I find the honey balances out the acidity in the sauce. It's a matter of personal preference.

Tips For Making Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

How To Cut Cabbage

Follow these helpful steps for cutting cabbage to use in this and many other recipes.

  1. Rinse the head of cabbage by placing it under cool running water and remove any dirt by gently scrubbing the cabbage with your fingertips or a kitchen brush. Remove the tough outer layers and discard them.
  2. With a large, sharp knife slice off the stem (or root) of the cabbage.
  3. Slice the cabbage in half through the stem.
  4. Place each cabbage half cut-side down on a cutting board and cut in half again. Now you will have four pieces of cabbage.
  5. Remove the root from each piece of cabbage by cutting it out at a slight angle.
  6. Slice the cabbage.

What To Do With Leftover Cabbage

This unstuffed cabbage rolls recipe calls for using 3 ounces or about 1 cup of chopped cabbage. Consider slicing the rest of the cabbage into wedges and roasting them. You may also freeze cabbage to use later.

How To Roast Cabbage:

  1. Place the cabbage wedges down on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over each of the slices of cabbage and top with a pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  2. Place in a preheated 425 degree F (220 degree C) oven and bake 15 minutes; flip the cabbage over and continue to cook until the cabbage is crisp and the tops are browned, 12-15 minutes more.

How To Freeze Cabbage:

  1. Rinse the cabbage and slice into thick wedges.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and heat over high heat. When the water is boiling, carefully add the cabbage to the pot. Blanch the cabbage for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the cabbage from the boiling water and immediately place in a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process. Once the cabbage has cooled, remove it from the water and shake off the excess water. Place the cabbage on a cookie sheet and flash freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cabbage to freezer bags and return to the freezer.
  4. When you are ready to use the frozen cabbage, remove the amount you need from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator. Use as desired.

Frozen cabbage should be used within 12 months.

What Goes With Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls?

You might like to consider serving any of these single serving or small batch recipes with your unstuffed cabbage rolls:

How To Make Low Carb Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

If you would like to make this a low carb cabbage recipe, do not serve with rice and leave out the honey.

For this unstuffed cabbage rolls recipe, I use a 10-inch skillet. For best results, use a pan of similar size. If you would like additional information on the dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes we use, please visit our Store page.

unstuffed cabbage rolls | one dish kitchen

Easy Unstuffed Cabbage Roll For One

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Polish
Keywords: cabbage, pork
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 461kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces lean ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 medium Roma tomato chopped, or use 4-5 grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cup Marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup cooked rice

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork, onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pan and cook until the pork is browned and the onions are soft, 5 minutes.
    ground pork cooking in a skillet | unstuffed cabbage rolls | one dish kitchen
  • Add the cabbage to the pan and stir in the sauce, water, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until cabbage has softened.
    filling for unstuffed cabbage rolls | one dish kitchen
  • Stir in honey and serve over cooked rice.
    unstuffed cabbage rolls | one dish kitchen

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 399mg | Potassium: 375mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 265IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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About The Author

7 thoughts on “Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls”

  1. This looks terrific. I have a recipe for unstuffed cabbage that serves close to a dozen people. It is a night before recipe. I start it the night before and finish it the nest day.It calls for meatballs and rice to be cooked with the cabbage the next day.I take it to church pot lucks. However, at home, this would be a problem. I can’t wait to try your dish.
    Jolene Walters

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Joanie
    i am a Aussie newbie to the “One Dish Kitchen” community and just love how quick, easy and delicious your recipes are. And i especially love this recipe as it brings back memories of my mothers Gołąbki which i loved as a kid. And is quick and easy compared to the traditional Polish way.
    i look forward to trying all your recipes.
    5 Stars

      1. 4 stars
        Good, except too sweet ( did not add honey). That must be the marinara sauce??? This is so much faster than the 45 minute cabbage roll recipe that came with the microwave!

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