Unstuffed Cabbage

Ingredients for Unstuffed Cabbage
Ingredients for Unstuffed Cabbage. arfo at Istockphoto
  • Prep Time
    20 min
  • Cook Time
    60 min
  • Total Time
    80 min
  • Yield
    4 servings

This easy, healthy meal can be made either in the oven or a slow cooker (crock pot). I use a large, covered roasting pan, because the raw cabbage takes up so much space, but it shrinks a lot during cooking. The roots of this dish are Eastern European; there are variations of stuffed cabbage all over that region. This version has the same flavors and ingredients of stuffed cabbage, but is much easier! It can be made low-fat by using very lean ground meat.

If Eastern Europe doesn't have exciting enough flavors for you, feel free to add some hot sauce to the tomatoes.


  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground meat (beef, turkey, combos, whatever), depending on the servings you want
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can tomatoes (about 16 oz) (diced is nice, but whole is fine)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice (can use vinegar, which is actually more traditional)
  • sweetener to taste (zero carb preferred)
  • salt, pepper


1) Cut the cabbage into chunks, about 3 inches on a side (you don't have to be exact). Separate the leaves into pieces, maybe 2 to 4 leaves thickness each. Put about half in the bottom of the roasting pan or crock pot.

2) Mix the meat, onion, and spices, including salt and pepper. Form the mixture into meatballs, and nestle them amongst the cabbage leaves. Put the rest of the leaves on top.

3) Put the tomatoes and lemon juice or vinegar into blender (or into a pot and use a stick blender, or use a food processor).

Pulse a few times. You want the tomatoes partially pureed, but still to have some chunks. You can fully puree half the can, if you'd like. You can do this in a pot on the stove and cook it down a bit if you want (it's probably best to do this in order to blend the flavors, but it's not crucial).

4) Add a little sweetener to the tomato mixture and taste.  Keep going until you get a nice "sweet and sour" effect. Add a bit of salt and pepper, and another tablespoon of caraway seeds, if desired. Pour the mixture over the cabbage.

5) Bake in the oven at 350 F for 1 hour. I like to cover it for the first 20 minutes to get the juices going, and then remove the cover so it isn't swimming in juice. In a crock pot, cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 2 to 3 on high.

Nutritional Analysis: The total calories and fat are going to depend upon meat chosen. For four servings made with 1 1/4 lb. meat, each serving has: 15 grams of effective carbohydrate plus 9 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein.

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