How do you make unrolled cabbage rolls? It’s easy! Try my low carb and keto unstuffed cabbage rolls recipe for an easy weeknight meal. This is the perfect recipe for when you want all of the flavors of a cabbage roll without all of the work! Make this one pot cabbage roll casserole with cauliflower rice for a keto diet meal. Alternatively, follow my recipe for unstuffed cabbage rolls with rice if you don’t care about the carbs! Either way, you’ll love this hearty and satisfying comfort food.
So, what’s on today’s menu? Shreds of cabbage and a blend of pork and beef have cooked to delicious perfection in a rich tomato sauce. You may find that these deconstructed cabbage rolls start making a regular appearance on your dinner menu!
I am a big proponent of having fun with food, but sometimes I need to take the easy route. Once in a while, I’ll spend a few hours on a weekend making a massive batch of stuffed cabbage rolls. (Or perhaps I’ll make sarmale, another version of this dish. YUM.)
Cabbage rolls are delicious, but few of us have several hours to make dinner every single night. (Lucky you if you do!) That is where this recipe for keto unrolled cabbage rolls comes in.
Sticking to uncomplicated recipes, such as this cabbage roll in a bowl, is one way to save time. Reducing your level of stress is at least as important as nutrition when it comes to leading an overall healthy lifestyle.
Try these low carb unrolled cabbage rolls when you want all of the flavors in a cabbage roll without all of the work! You'll want to make them again and again.
The BEST cabbage rolls
Why are these deconstructed keto cabbage rolls totally going to knock your socks off? Let me count the ways:
- Helps Prevent Food Waste: The leaves in the middle of the cabbage are too small to roll into cabbage rolls. Fortunately, those cabbage middles work perfectly here! Since the cabbage gets sliced into thin shreds, it doesn’t matter what size the leaves are initially.
- Easy One-Pot Meal: If you’re making the carb-y version of this recipe, you’ll need a separate pot to cook the rice. With the keto version of cabbage rolls, everything can get cooked in the same pot. It’s a great time-saver when it comes to clean up!
- No Cooking the Cabbage Ahead: When you make rolled cabbage rolls, you typically drop your cabbage in hot water ahead of time to make the leaves pliable. There’s no need to do that with this recipe! You can just add the raw cabbage shreds directly in with the other ingredients.
- Cabbage Rolls Nutrition: Believe it or not, this low carb recipe has a lot going for it nutritionally! It’s rich in fiber, iron, potassium, provitamin A, vitamin C, and an assortment of other nutrients. You’re also getting 33 grams of protein per serving.
- Delicious: A recipe must be tasty for it to be a win in my book! This recipe definitely meets that criterion.
Here’s what you need to make this super easy and keto friendly dinner:
- Cauliflower rice (or brown rice for a non-keto version)
- Lean ground beef
- Ground pork
- Olive oil
- Finely chopped garlic clove
- Chopped onion
- Thinly sliced or shredded cabbage
- Tomato sauce (without added sugar or added oil)
- Diced tomatoes (from a can, do not drain)
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Dried dill
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- Fresh dill or fresh parsley, for garnish
You can rice your own cauliflower in a food processor, or save yourself some work and get a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. Frozen cauliflower rice steams quickly in the microwave, and will save you time.
BTW, I know it looks like we’re using A LOT of cabbage in this recipe, but it is going to cook down. We’re still going to end up with a high-volume meal, but you’ll get a lot of flavor from the other ingredients. As you can see from the photos, there’s a lot going on in the finished dish beyond the cabbage.
You could use a bag of shredded cabbage (like you’d use for coleslaw) here to save time. However, I like larger pieces of cabbage in this dish, and it doesn’t take long to slice.
Using Greek yogurt gives you a little more protein and a bit less saturated fat than using sour cream. However, since there’s only 1 tablespoon per serving, the difference isn’t that big nutritionally.
Honestly, I’d go for the one you prefer based on taste. Both Greek yogurt and sour cream are low carb friendly options.
For kitchen equipment, I recommend having a large cast iron Dutch oven, a good knife, and a spatula. Once you’ve rounded up your ingredients, we’re ready to start putting everything together.
How to Make Keto Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
If you are making the carb-y version of this recipe, you should start cooking the rice first. Brown rice can take up to 45 minutes to cook on the stovetop. It can cook while you prepare the rest of the meal.
You’ll also want to prepare all the veggies before you begin. Thinly slice the cabbage, chop the onion, mince the garlic, steam the riced cauliflower, and chop the parsley. Once we get cooking, things are going to move fast!
I thawed the frozen cauliflower by heating it in the microwave for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Drain the cauliflower well if it is watery. I skipped this step since mine was not.
Put a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the ground beef and pork (no oil is needed here; the pork has plenty). Use a spatula to break the meat into crumbles as it browns.
Once the meat has cooked, use a spatula to remove it from the pot and set it aside. It will take about 10-12 minutes for the meat to brown.
Next, put the olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the cabbage shreds, onion, and garlic. Cook until the cabbage softens and browns slightly, stirring occasionally. This step will take about 10 minutes.
Now add the cooked meat back to the pot, and also stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Heat everything to a simmer. It should only take 1-2 minutes.
Stir the steamed cauliflower rice (or cooked and drained brown rice) in with the other ingredients. Divide your deconstructed low carb cabbage rolls between four bowls. Top with fresh herbs and a dollop of plain yogurt (or sour cream) and serve.
What are good side dishes for cabbage rolls?
I like to add egg noodles or additional veggie dishes to Polish cabbage rolls (golabki). Roasted carrots or the roasted potatoes in my Kielbasa Salad Meal Prep would be great side dish options.
Unlike traditional cabbage rolls, these keto unstuffed cabbage rolls are really a complete meal in a bowl. If you wanted to make something else to go with the meal, why not try making your own yogurt topping? Here are two different ways to make yogurt:
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). I originally posted this recipe using brown rice and sour cream instead of cauliflower rice and yogurt. Using riced cauliflower instead of regular rice makes this a keto recipe and knocks off around 150 calories per serving. This leaves us with a keto cabbage meal that is under 500 calories (but still super delicious).
BTW, it’s not a coincidence that the strategy that made this a low carb recipe also made it low calorie. Many of the strategies that make a meal lower in carbs also reduce the calories.
Meanwhile, the meal components that best promote satiety (meat, non-starchy veggies) are kept with low-carb. This is part of the reason that low-carb diets are a successful weight loss approach for many folks. It can be a way to create satisfying, low calorie meals without worrying about the numbers.
That said, I wanted to leave the rice option there for those who want it. I get that some don’t feel you truly have a cabbage roll without the rice! With the brown rice, this recipe is 613 calories per serving, a nice moderate-calorie meal.
Is the cauliflower version of this recipe “better” than the rice version? If your goal is weight loss or a low carb diet is your nutrition therapy for diabetes, yes, the cauliflower rice cabbage rolls may be a better option for you. Overall, however, either dish can be considered healthy in the sense that both are rich in nutritious whole foods.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make this low carb unstuffed cabbage rolls recipe using the “sauté” function on your Instant Pot. Follow the recipe as written, leaving the lid on the Instant Pot off for the entire cooking time.
Brown the meat and then add all ingredients EXCEPT cauliflower rice (or brown rice), yogurt, and fresh herbs to the crockpot. Cook on low for about 6 hours, adding the thawed cauliflower rice to the crock pot 30 minutes before serving. Top with fresh herbs and yogurt (or sour cream), as usual.
Yes, you can freeze the leftovers, but the riced cauliflower will get watery when you defrost it. I recommend freezing this keto unstuffed cabbage roll skillet without cauliflower. Add the cauliflower in after reheating the dish, when you are ready to eat.
There are 460 calories per serving in these homemade cabbage rolls in a bowl. Additionally, you’re getting lots more cabbage than you’d get in a regular cabbage roll. That means you get a much larger volume of food for the calories with this recipe.
This keto unstuffed cabbage recipe provides 17 grams of net carbs per serving. The deconstructed cabbage rolls with rice version provides 48 grams of net carbs per serving. The small swap makes a HUGE difference!
Other Low Carb Cabbage and Ground Beef Recipes
Looking for more keto cabbage recipes? Inexpensive, low-calorie cabbage and satiating, high protein beef make a dynamite combo for weight loss! Here are some other low carb recipes using beef and cabbage:
- Best Cabbage Soup Diet Recipe
- Try the Cabbage Soup with Beef from Café Delites
- Serve my Smoked Burgers with Fermented Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Low Carb Keto Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 3 cups riced cauliflower, frozen (this is about 300 grams; or substitute 1 cup dry brown rice for a carb-rich version of the dish)
- 1 lb. ground beef, lean
- ½ lb. ground pork
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 10 cups cabbage, thinly sliced (about 24 ounces of shredded cabbage)
- 8 ounces tomato sauce (pick one with no added sugar, no added oil; canned tomato sauce or marinara sauce works here)
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes (canned)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dill weed, dried
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- salt, to taste
- ¼ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, plain (can substitute with ¼ cup of sour cream)
- additional dill or parsley, to garnish (optional)
- If you are using rice instead of riced cauliflower, start cooking the brown rice in water according to package directions. It may take up to 45 minutes, so prepare the rest of the meal while it cooks. (The keto version is a bit easier!)
- Thinly slice the cabbage, chop the onion, mince the garlic, steam the riced cauliflower, and chop the parsley. I steamed the frozen cauliflower rice by heating it in the microwave for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Drain the cauliflower rice well if it is watery (mine was not).
- Brown the beef and pork together in a Dutch oven on the stovetop (medium heat). Use a spatula to break the meat into crumbles as it cooks. After it browns (about 10-12 minutes), remove it from the pan and set it aside.
- Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven (you don't have to wipe it out after cooking the meat). Add the garlic, onion, and cabbage shreds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage softens, shrinks down, and browns a little. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the cooked meat, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes (undrained), parsley, black pepper, salt, and dill weed to your cabbage mixture. Heat everything through to a simmer. It should only take a minute or two.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Stir the cooked cauliflower rice (or the brown rice) in with the rest of the ingredients.
- To serve: Divide the unstuffed cabbage roll mixture in the Dutch oven between four bowls or food storage containers. Add 1 tablespoon of yogurt (or sour cream) on top of your unrolled cabbage rolls and garnish with additional parsley or dill, if desired.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). I originally posted this recipe using brown rice and sour cream instead of cauliflower rice and yogurt. Using riced cauliflower instead of regular rice makes this a keto recipe and knocks off around 150 calories per serving. This leaves us with a keto cabbage meal that is under 500 calories (but still super delicious). BTW, it’s not a coincidence that the strategy that made this a low carb recipe also made it low calorie. Many of the strategies that make a meal lower in carbs also reduce the calories. Meanwhile, the meal components that best promote satiety (meat, non-starchy veggies) are kept with low-carb. This is part of the reason that low-carb diets are a successful weight loss approach for many folks. It can be a way to create satisfying, low calorie meals without worrying about the numbers. That said, I wanted to leave the rice option there for those who want it. I get that some don’t feel you truly have a cabbage roll without the rice! With the brown rice, this recipe is 613 calories per serving, a nice moderate-calorie meal. Is the cauliflower version of this recipe “better” than the rice version? If your goal is weight loss or a low carb diet is your nutrition therapy for diabetes, yes, the cauliflower rice cabbage rolls may be a better option for you. Overall, however, either dish can be considered healthy in the sense that both are rich in nutritious whole foods. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe with cauliflower rice and non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Carbohydrate content listed is for net carbs (total carbs minus fiber).