Lazy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are often considered the most comforting of dishes, so much so that every Eastern European country wants to stake claim on owning the original recipe. While there is no definitive origin story, the prevailing story is this: members of the Russian aristocracy, visiting France in the mid-1700s, became enamored with their dishes of stuffed and roasted pigeons. Upon returning home, they ordered the dish to be recreated, and the closest they could come were the stuffed cabbage rolls we know and love today. This is evidenced by the similarity between the Russian words for stuffed cabbage rolls (Golubtsy) and pigeons (Goluby).

In recent years, a new phenomenon has sprouted up: Lazy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Regular cabbage rolls require you to par-boil the cabbage leaves and roll each wrap before roasting or simmering everything; the whole process can take hours. Instead, home chefs have been simply chopping up the cabbage and adding it to the filling, cooking everything at once in about 1/4 of the time. This is the variation we’re going to tackle today.

Be sure to check out the video after the recipe; now that we’ve relocated to a house with a larger kitchen, I filmed a short cooking demonstration of the dish. I’m still working out some production kinks, but if you like the video I’ll keep cracking at it!

I recently received another box of new products from Whole Foods. The highlight of this most recent shipment are these jars of organic crushed and diced tomatoes from Muir Glen. These jars are super handy, delicious, and free of any BPA or other health concerns that come from canning tomatoes. Scroll down after the recipe (and video) to see some of the other items that are coming soon to Whole Foods.

Lazy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free, Whole30)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

4 tbsp butter, divided (use ghee to make this recipe Whole30)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp salt, more to taste
1 tsp black pepper, more to taste
1 (22oz) can or jar diced or crushed tomatoes
1 head green cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
3 leaves collard greens, stems removed, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, shredded
2 cups cooked rice (optional, see notes below)

1. Warm 2 tbsp of the butter over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef, and sauté until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and the rest of the butter, and stir to combine.

2. Add the tomatoes and cabbage and collard greens; if the cabbage doesn’t fit, simply cook it down for a couple minutes and add some rest. Stir to combine then cover, reduce heat to med/low, and simmer until the cabbage is softened, 10-20 minutes depending on how thick the cabbage is.

3. Add the carrots (and optional cooked rice) and simmer uncovered until the carrots are softened, about 2 minutes, then serve. This dish tastes best when refrigerated overnight and reheated.

* Adding cooked rice adds some body and texture to the dish, but it is just as tasty on its own.


Let me know what you think of the video in the comments below, thanks!

Here are the rest of the new products coming soon to Whole Foods:

I mentioned this popcorn in my last Whole Foods roundup, and it appears they’ve made a microwaveable version. This popcorn is made from heirloom breeds and is flavored with organic palm oil and salt. Note that they use organic sunflower oil for the butter flavor and the kettle corn flavor is sweetened using organic stevia leaf.

These holiday chocolate bars were definitely a favorite. The company is owned by former Peace Corps volunteers who fell in love with Madagascar and decided to start making heirloom chocolate there. Pretty awesome. The bars themselves taste much richer than you’d expect for 63% dark; I really liked them.

I’ll admit it, I’m still a sucker for boxed mac and cheese from time to time. I was super excited to see this organic mac and cheese made with cheese from grass-fed cows, but then I realized that it was made with wheat pasta. Annie’s makes a rice pasta variation, which is the one we eat, so hopefully they’ll mix the two into a mac and cheese superpower. Either way, it’s great to see a large company setting a new standard in food quality, even in the realm of processed foods.

54 thoughts on “Lazy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

  1. Great timing. Just finished the last of the frozen cabbage rolls that my mother makes every year. She has to search high and low for cabbages with big enough leaves for a ‘proper sized roll’ and none of the cabbage I grow gets much past ‘personal sized’. Now here you are with a recipe where I can use all my ‘organic’ little cabbages for a big casserole of my favourite food. On a side note, I love your ‘Ancestral Table’ cookbook…so many fabulous recipes I want to make them all…Your pizza recipe made my husband very happy :)

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  2. Loved the video! I know it’s difficult to get the angles right, but I would have loved to see inside the dish as you added each ingredient, or especially some of the ones that need to cook down first to see at what point you add the next. But I know if you’re doing that by yourself it’s crazy hard. Really enjoyed it though! And fantastic recipe

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  3. I have a big head of cabbage sitting outside and now I know what to do with it. I have to admit that I thought my cabbagw might be too big for this recipe, but your tip about putting it in the pot in batches is really helpful. It was nice to see in your video that you had a mountain of cabbage and managed to get it into that pot. Nice!

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  4. Confession: I’m not an internet video person, but your new kitchen is really lovely! No doubt you’ll have a great time cooking away there. :) And the recipe sounds marvellous! Cabbage rolls are a big favourite around here, particularly with the colder weather, but the convenience of this recipe definitely makes it look like a winner. Thanks!

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  5. Good job with the video! I really enjoyed it – I just made a version of this this week, but cooked the whole cabbage leaves as is for rolls, then layered them with the filling and sauce like lasagna – same idea, took much less time than those rolls! A delicious dish! Thanks!

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  6. This looks awesome! Thanks for sharing. My husband has been bugging me to make cabbage rolls for years. This is a great alternative to spending 2+ hours. Will be making this on the weekend.

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  7. Great job on the video! I liked your little spice bowls, so tiny, where did you get those? Why did you add more butter later? Why not just add it all in the beginning? Does it make a difference?

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    1. Lindsey, the little bowls are from IKEA, they’re sold in four-packs. I added the spices later because of the dill, which can lose flavor quickly; so I pushed it a little nearer to the end of cooking the meat.

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  8. I’m a new runner and dedicated gym enthusiast, and I am always looking for healthy protein and complex carb rich meals. This seems easy to make, and looks ideal to take for lunch after a mid-day run or workout! Also, this looks like a single-mommy’s dream – easy, quick, filling, healthy and tasty. You ROCK!

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  9. This is terrific!!
    I’ve been following you for a little while and just bought your book yesterday. Excited to try your recipes, you’ve already inspired me tomake some changes to my meals just from reading your blog.
    So glad you are adding videos, would love to see a close up of the cooked meal on a serving plate and perhaps have yourself or a family member/friend/guest try it out with you?
    (Yes, I loved watching the galloping gourmet as a kid)

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  10. I made this meal for the family tonight and it was a HUGE success. I love stuffed cabbage, but not a big fan of the prep work. WIth this recipe, just toss everything in the pot and let it cook. Really a great recipe that I will got back to often. Thanks.

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  11. I liked the video – this is the next thing I’ll be making myself. One thought – maybe you could somehow rig up a camera above the stove so people can get the view of the inside of the pot that they seem to want. The side shots don’t add too much but some kind of rig would allow you to show all the stages of cooking. I love the idea of the video!

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  12. I really appreciated the video– I’m a big fan of recipes with step-by-step photos, so this was a great alternative. There were a few moments that felt a bit rushed (adding the spices and the cabbage, in particular)– I know you were piecing together shots, but maybe you could do those steps in a continuous shot so we can see whether you stir after the spices are added/what stage the meat is at when you add the spices/what you actually mean by “cooking down” the cabbage? I wonder if something like a GoPro would help with the angle issue. But these are really nitpicky comments, altogether I really enjoyed the video! Well done!

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  13. I love this, it sounds wonderful and fast! I’m probably going to have colorful fun with it, and use both red and green cabbage. Anyhow, one thing I always appreciate about your posts (besides the food itself) is the backstory behind the recipes or dishes which you usually incorporate.

    Nice video, too — I like your kitchen; it’s about four times the size of my own.

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  14. This is such a rich and easy dish to make! I put your dish on my “to-make” list, and I finally got to it today. I only ate one bowl, and I am so full and…HAPPY! This was so easy to make, and it made my kitchen smell divine! I noted after watching the video, when collecting items to make the recipe, that I would get the leanest ground beef in the store so I wouldn’t have to worry about added fat or grease (since there’s no draining of the meat) in this amazingly healthy dish. I really like this dish, and look forward to it for lunch tomorrow! It even met my brother’s stamp of approval; his palate is so basic and he’s very unwilling to try anything he isn’t acquainted with. Great meal, recipe and video!

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  15. This dish was fantastic. It was quick and easy and the kids ate it! I added an extra 1/2 lb of hamburger and veg/meat ratio was still great. I might kick it up to 2lbs next time.

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  16. Trying this now as we type – has anyone else had the thought of making actual golubtsy using this lazy man version as the stuffing?! mmmm kinda like a turducken :)

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  17. After putting in the dill and tomatos I started wondering what the heck this would taste like…it was so good I had two helpings! I’ve never had a cababge roll but love one pot dinners. Thank you for such a delicious recipe.

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  18. Yes!! I’m all about saving time but not sacrificing on taste and quality. I’ll be making this tonight!! Thanks!!

    Just found this website on a Google search for Paleo stuffed cabbage. Looking forward to exploring more.

    Thanks!!

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  19. hi!

    I’m new to your site but it looks great. Stuffed cabbage is one of my all time favorite foods, so I’m really excited to see this version.

    A question – I can’t eat rice so do you think think cauliflower rice would work out instead?

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  20. Made this tonight for the first time and the whole family had seconds. We really enjoyed it, and my husband asked for it to be added to our regular rotation. I used about 2 tsp of all the spices (1.5 tsp black pepper) and the flavor was very nice. I also added some chopped celery and carrot when sauteeing the onoins that I needed to use up. Thank you very much for the recipe.

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  21. If only I would feel less guilty taking the lazy road. Seriously, slaving over a pot of simmering water to get the perfect cabbage leaf is something I dread. I make stuffed cabbage rolls ever since I could reach the countertop and of course I think I make the best ones out there. LOL The thing with the lazy version is that it isn’t new at all. A traditional dish from Transylvanian region of Romania is called Varza a la Cluj or cabbage a la Cluj or lazy cabbage rolls is one of my favorite cabbage and meat recipes. Oh wait, I love everything cabbage and meat. Here is a link to a recipe that is pretty authentic.Who knows, you might find it interesting enough to try. :)
    http://www.intrepideats.com/wordpress/layered-cabbage-and-mince-meat-pie/

    Also, I thought I should mention that Romanians (including myself) brine whole heads of cabbage and that makes the cabbage leaves soft and pliable, eliminating the need for the hot water bath. The flavor goes through the roof too. And although a lot of eastern europeans are using beef, mine always have pork. And layered in between the rows some type of smoked pork.
    Glad I found your site, the pho is on my to do list!

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    1. Hi Carrie, the rice is an optional accompaniment to the dish; I’m well aware that rice is typically not considered Paleo. As I write extensively on this blog and in my cookbooks, I consider it to be a “gray area” food in the Paleo spectrum, dependent on individual tolerance and generally poorly understood in the Paleo world, and I started the hashtag #teamwhiterice on social media to separate my rice-friendly recipes from those which don’t incorporate rice. Riced cauliflower can definitely be used in this dish, but it won’t add the same body and texture to the dish since it isn’t inherently absorbing like rice; I did not list it as a stated option since cauliflower rice is not a traditional component of this dish (while rice is). Hope that makes sense, please let me know if you have any questions!

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  22. We have been making your recipe for sometime now. Just wanted to say thank you! I think it really falls into the category of comfort food :) Every one enjoys it,especially our children 2, 5 and 6.

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