How To Make Deliciously Healthy Cabbage Rolls

by N'Ckyola
6 servings
1 hr 10 min

My husband grew up eating traditional cabbage rolls in Louisiana. It’s one of his favorite things & a new years tradition for him. I grew up eating stuffed peppers and had never heard of cabbage rolls until we married.

Fast forward 10 years & we combine his cabbage rolls with my stuffed peppers for a super healthy version all our own.

If you’ve followed my journey online, you know all about my sneaky veggie meatballs. I basically use this same method with a few added ingredients to make these deliciously healthy cabbage rolls.

The very first thing you will do is remove the large outer leaves from a head of cabbage. You can use green or red/purple cabbage. In this case I'm using a combination of both.

If you have trouble removing the leaves, try doing it under running water letting the water flow between the leaves.

Put your cabbage leaves aside & work on the filling.

Select your vegetables. I am using carrots, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and little jalapeño for a spicy kick. You can really use any vegetable you like - I would just steer clear of any wet veg - lettuce, cucumber, etc.

Finely chop the vegetables using a food processor/chopper or by hand.

Season the vegetable mixture & taste it for adjustments.

Add in the ground meat, rice, & 1 egg. Mix until just combined. Do NOT overmix or the meat can become tough.

Lay 1 large cabbage leaf on you work surface. Place a ball of filling about the size of your palm or a scoop of ice cream (which is a great tool for this by the way), in the center of the leaf abut an inch or so down from the top.

No roll the top down to cover the filling, wrap each side inward, and roll down the remainder of the leaf like a burrito.

This is easier to see in this quick video.

Place the cabbage roll stem side down in a heavy bottomed pot.

Repeat until you've completed all your rolls & have only 1 layer in the bottom of the pot.

Add enough liquid to reach halfway up the side of the cabbage rolls. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Reduce the heat to medium low, cover & simmer for 15 minutes adding more liquid as needed to keep the bottom from scorching.

Stir in the tomatoes, cover & simmer for another 30 minutes. Check on it regularly to make sure there is enough liquid. Add more as needed.

Your rolls are done when the cabbage is completely cooked & tender including the stem.

Watch this video to see the entire process from beginning to end.

Cabbage Rolls with Summer Squash

How To Make Deliciously Healthy Cabbage Rolls
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 1 Hours Total time: 1 hr 10 min
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  • 6 large cabbage leaves, rinsed well
  • 1 lb ground meat (choice of beef, turkey, chicken, pork or combination)
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 lb of fresh tomatoes or 1 14 oz can
  • a few slices of jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • smoky seasoning (start with 1 Tbs) (recipe to follow)
  • salt & pepper to taste (start with 1 Tbs)
  • 4 cups broth or water
  • 1 Tbsp of healthy oil (EVOO, avocado, & grapeseed are great choices)

Chop all the veggies as finely as you can. A food processor or chopper would be great for this
Place veggies in a large bowl & season with salt, pepper, & smoky seasoning. Taste the mixture & adjust seasonings as needed at this stage.
Add ground meat, rice, & egg. Hand mix until just combined - do NOT overmix or it will be a bit tough.
Lay out a cabbage leaf on a cutting board. Grab about a handful of the beef mixture & lay it slightly below the top center (NOT the stem end) of the leaf. An ice cream scoop works great for this too!
Starting at the top of the cabbage leaf, fold the top down over the ball of meat & veggies.
Then fold in each side of the cabbage leaf to cover the meat mixture.
Now roll the leaf from the top down to the stem.
Add 1 Tbsp of oil to the bottom of a heavy bottomed saucepot or everything pan - I use a Dutch oven.
Place the roll in a stem side down. Repeat until you've filled the pot with 1 layer of rolls. (Any extra mixture can be baked as meatballs to snack on.)
Once all the rolls are in the pot, add liquid to the depth of half the cabbage rolls.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium-low. Cover & cook for about 15 minutes. Add more liquid as needed to keep the bottom from scorching.
Add tomatoes, cover & cook for another 30 minutes, checking for doneness every 10-15 minutes. You can also taste & adjust for seasoning at this point. Keep adding liquid as needed to keep the bottom from scorching.
Your rolls are done when the cabbage is completely cooked including the stem.
Serve hot with your favorite side dish. We love it with sautéed summer squash! This is an amazingly healthy & filling meal that really packs on the veg!
  • This can certainly be a vegetarian meal - leave out the round meat and just increase the veg & rice.
  • Adding a "meaty" veg like eggplant & maybe some mushrooms would help with the texture.
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