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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet

This easy Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet has all the flavor and everything you love about traditional stuffed cabbage rolls but without all the work, and it’s ready in under an hour!

Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki) – a mixture of seasoned ground beef, ground pork and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves and simmered in a delicious tomato sauce – were a dinner staple when I was growing up.

My grandmother made them often, and she always made enough for both our family and for my mom’s two brothers’ families to enjoy. We always called them “piggies” (short for pigs in a blanket).

Everybody loved grandma’s piggies, and we were always excited when she brought them – especially my mom, who got a well-deserved night off from cooking!

Grandma didn’t have a written recipe for her cabbage rolls, so thank goodness my cousin and his wife spent a day with her learning how to cook them so everyone in the family could have the recipe.

I’ve made them lots of times. It’s not hard, but it is a time-consuming process with lots of dishes to do when it’s done. Worth the effort? Sure. But sometimes (okay, most times) you just don’t want to deal with all that.

That’s why this Unstuffed Cabbage Roll skillet is so awesome! It’s just as delicious as grandma’s piggies but without all that work. All you need is one big pan or pot, and it’s ready in about 40 minutes!

Now, it might not be as pretty or impressive as presenting whole cabbage rolls, but what’s the first thing everyone’s going to do with them? Cut them up! So why not take a shortcut to all that awesome flavor?

unstuffed cabbage rolls in a bowl with a fork

Ingredients you need:

  • Olive oil
  • Ground meatloaf mix (beef and pork or beef, pork and veal)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Beef stock or broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base and water)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Long-grain white rice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cabbage
  • Salt and pepper

Here’s a look at how to make Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet:

two images showing the steps to make unstuffed cabbage roll skillet
two images showing the steps to make unstuffed cabbage roll skillet
two images showing how to make unstuffed cabbage roll skillet

Tips & Tidbits:

  • You’ll need a large, deep skillet for this recipe that has a tight-fitting lid. I use an 11-inch skillet that’s 2½ inches deep, and everything fits perfectly. If you don’t have one, a large pot or Dutch oven with a lid will work too.
  • I like to use meatloaf mix, a half-and-half combination of ground beef and pork (some have a little ground veal as well) because I love the flavor and texture, but you could use just ground beef if you prefer.
  • For the beef stock/broth in this recipe, I always use Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base mixed with water (#notsponsored) because I think it has so much more flavor than most stock/broth in a box or can, but use your favorite.
  • Chop the cabbage into larger pieces (I do ½-inch to 1-inch pieces). Don’t use a bag of pre-shredded cabbage – those pieces would be way too small for this recipe. You want nice, big pieces!
  • Leftovers reheat very well. In fact, this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day! The rice may have soaked up some more of the liquid, so add a little broth when reheating if needed. 
unstuffed cabbage rolls in a bowl with mashed potatoes

The best side dish for this meal? Hands down, it’s mashed potatoes topped with butter. The flavors are so good together!

I hope you try this recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet

This easy Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet has all the flavor and everything you love about traditional stuffed cabbage rolls but without all the work, and it's ready in under an hour!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Estimated Calories: 441

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pounds ground meatloaf mix (beef and pork or beef, pork and veal)
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef stock or broth, I use 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base mixed with 2 cups of water
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 7 cups roughly chopped cabbage, ½-inch to 1-inch pieces (about 1½ pounds of cabbage)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet (one that has a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Note: I use an 11-inch skillet that's 2½ inches deep, and everything fits perfectly. If you don't have one, a large pot or Dutch oven with a lid will work too.
  • Add the meatloaf mix and onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onions have begun to soften, about 4 minutes. Drain excess grease, if needed.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute.
  • Add the beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, rice, and Worcestershire sauce; stir to combine.
  • Add the cabbage and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the rice is cooked and the cabbage is tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Give it a stir, then taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Notes

  • You could use all ground beef instead of meatloaf mix if you prefer.
  • I use and recommend the roasted beef base with water for the stock/broth because I think it gives this dish the best flavor, but you can use your favorite beef stock or broth. 
  • I love serving this dish with a side of mashed potatoes topped with butter. Yum!
  • Leftovers reheat very well. In fact, this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day! The rice may have soaked up some more of the liquid, so add a little broth when reheating if needed. 
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
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