Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

We love slow cooker meals, and these unstuffed cabbage rolls are absolutely no exception. "I love stuffed cabbage! It was a fave as a kid, so the recipe brings back comfort food memories of dinner in NJ growing up," says Jason Goldstein of Chop Happy, who developed this hearty and delicious slow cooker recipe.

This is a filling meal that will, without a doubt, satisfy your palate for lunch, dinner, or a few days worth of meal prep. Goldstein confirms, "This stays fresh four days. Store in the fridge in the slow cooker dish. Then, you can just reheat it in the slow cooker so you don't mess up more pots and pans." Less dishes to clean and a leftover container that also serves as a reheating vessel? We are totally here for it.

While this recipe is very straightforward and easy to prepare, keep reading for details on how to really reach the full cabbage potential.

Gather the ingredients to prepare unstuffed cabbage rolls

For these unstuffed cabbage rolls, you should have one small cabbage, which you'll cut into small chunks, one onion (chopped), one pepper (chopped), salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (out of casing and cut into chunks), one (32-ounce) bottle of marinara sauce, a cup of water, and ½ cup of rice (uncooked).

Put the sausage, vegetables, and spices into the slow cooker

After you have all of your ingredients ready, the sausage is out of the casing and cut, and the cabbage, onion, and pepper are chopped, you can start to put everything into the slow cooker. First, add the sausage, cabbage chunks, diced onion, and pepper. Then, season everything with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.

If you'd prefer a different type of sausage, by the way, Goldstein confirms, "You can make it spicy with spicy Italian sausage, use Italian chicken or turkey sausage, too!" Feel free to get creative based on your personal preferences.

Add the rice and water to the slow cooker

After the sausage, veggies, and spices are nestled into the slow cooker, next add the rice and cup of water. Then, stir everything together. Not having to cook the rice in advance is another huge perk of this easy recipe.

There are so many rice options, so if you're wondering which one to get for these unstuffed cabbage rolls, or want to know if what you already have in your pantry will work, Goldstein says, "Any rice will do, but long grain rice will be foolproof to [obtain] the perfect cook."

Pour the marinara sauce over the unstuffed cabbage roll ingredients

The final step before starting the slow cook is pouring the marinara sauce over the sausage, onions, pepper, spices, rice, and water. Use the whole jar of marinara sauce for the ultimate coating and flavor. Stir so that you combine everything really well.

If you're feeling extra ambitious, you can do double duty with your slow cooker and use it for homemade marinara sauce prior to making these unstuffed cabbage rolls. Again, that's totally if you're up for the extra work. The jarred kind is completely acceptable for this recipe.

Slow cook the unstuffed cabbage rolls

When everything is combined in the slow cooker, put on the lid, then set it to cook on low for six hours. When the six hours are up, you're officially done cooking. You can spoon the cabbage and sausage goodness into a bowl, then serve and enjoy.

What should you put on the table alongside these bowls of unstuffed cabbage, might you ask? "I would serve with a big chunk of crusty bread with butter to dip into the stuffed cabbage juices," suggests Goldstein. Bread and butter does have a way of making everything better, so this is solid advice in our book.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
5 from 41 ratings
These unstuffed cabbage rolls make a filling meal that will, without a doubt, satisfy your palate for lunch, dinner, or a few days worth of meal prep.
Prep Time
Cook Time
unstuffed cabbage rolls in slow cooker
Total time: 6 hours, 10 minutes
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage (out of casing and in chunks)
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into small chunks
  • 1 pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup rice (uncooked)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (32-ounce) bottle of marinara sauce
  1. Place the sausage, cabbage, peppers, onions, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes into the slow cooker.
  2. Add rice and water, and mix again.
  3. Top with marinara sauce, and mix.
  4. Cover the slow cooker, and place on low for 6 hours.
  5. When done, mix and enjoy!
Calories per Serving 313
Total Fat 10.5 g
Saturated Fat 3.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 30.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 35.5 g
Dietary Fiber 4.4 g
Total Sugars 11.7 g
Sodium 1,282.1 mg
Protein 19.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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