Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls! We are bringing ALL the deliciousness of cabbage rolls without the work. That’s right, this easy, one-pot meal is total comfort food for a faction of the effort. Winner, winner, plant-based dinner!
Fragrant, satisfying, and healthy, this low-fat, oil-free Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls dish is a perfect skillet meal that that whole family with love. It’s so much easier to pull together than the traditional rolling method. Tender cabbage, zesty onions, earthy garlic, sweet carrots, rich tomatoes, protein-packed beans, and hearty rice make for an incredible belly-filling meal!
Whole Food Plant Based, vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients, and gluten free
Hi there, Ameera here!
If you enjoy traditional cabbage rolls, then this dish is for you. We brought rice, beans, and cabbage together to create a tasty dish that gives all the traditional flavors of cabbage rolls in a deconstructed skillet meal.
Don’t get me wrong, when I have time, I love making comforting cabbage rolls. But with this dish, I can get all that cozy goodness without all the work. YAY!
Plus, it will have the family running back for seconds. We were fighting over the left-overs because it was just that good!
I think one of the hardest things about cooking a “rice skillet” recipe like this is selecting the appropriate rice. We have you pre-soaking the rice at the beginning of the recipe to help soften it up a little by the time you are ready to add it to the skillet. This method give the rice a head start on the cooking process.
There are some rice brands that simply won’t work with this dish. Unfortunately, Lundberg Brown Rice is one of them. They have a great rice, but not for this dish as it is really hard to soften up. We tend to use Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice whenever we are doing a skillet like this one. It simply works better and is faster.
Feel free to use the rice and brand that you prefer, but keep in mind cook times will change depending on the rice and brand.
I’ll let Mom tell you more.
Hi! Robin here.
This cabbage/rice skillet has all the hallmarks of a traditional cabbage roll recipe but in a much simpler format. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cabbage rolls, but I tend to shy away from making them as I know it takes some extra time to pull them together.
This recipe cuts down on the time without sacrificing the flavor. I would have never thought to use chili powder in a traditional cabbage roll dish as I would have thought it would tend to give the dish a more Southwestern flair, but it totally doesn’t do that.
The chili powder actually adds a little extra depth of flavor that is unexpected, but definitely not Southwestern. Good job Monkey! Once again, that beautiful nose of hers allows her to create exception spice blends that makes dishes super tasty!
Monkey added a lot of nice tips in the notes second to ensure you have a successful, tasty dish that is sure to please!
We hope you give this recipe a try, we would love to hear from you.
If you try this flavorful dish, we would love to know if you enjoy it as much as we do! Please leave us a review! Post a picture on Facebook or Instagram and tag us! We would love to hear from you.
- Large ceramic/enamel lined skillet, Dutch oven, or similar large stock pot with a tight-fitting lid
Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 45 Minutes
- Total Time: 60 Minutes (+Rest Time)
- Yield: 4-5 Servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
Fragrant, satisfying, and healthy, this low-fat, oil-free Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls skillet is a perfect plant-based, one pot meal.
- 2/3 cup uncooked brown rice (or rice of choice)
- 1 cup yellow onions, fine dice
- ½ cup grated carrots *
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 5 to 6 cups shredded green cabbage *
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth *
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari *
- 1 – [ 14 oz. can ] petite diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 2 – [ 15 oz. cans ] kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon regular chili powder *
- 1 ¼ teaspoons dried crushed thyme leaves
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (+/-)
- Fresh chopped parsley
- Rinse the dry uncooked brown rice really well with hot tap water for several minutes, then place the rinsed rice in a bowl and cover with hot tap water and allow to soak until ready to use in Step 5.
- Place all the Herb/Spice Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well. Set aside.
- In a large ceramic/enamel lined skillet, Dutch oven, or non-stick skillet, add the diced onions and grated carrots, sauté over medium-high heat for 7 to 9 minutes to soften, then add the finely minced garlic and tomato paste, and sauté over medium heat for one minute.
- Next add the shredded cabbage and ¼ cup of water, sauté over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and most (if not all) the water is gone.
- Drain the rice, shake off any excess water, add the rice and the Herb/Spice mix, stir to coat the cabbage/rice mixture with the herbs/spices, sauté over medium heat for several minutes to allow the spices to become fragrant.
- Next add all the remaining Base Ingredients, stir well, increase the heat to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. Then pressed down everything to create a flattened surface. Simmer (with a very low boil – see notes). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 30 minutes undisturbed.
- After 30 minutes, check to see if the rice is tender, pull up a few rice kernels from the top and test for tenderness. Resist the temptation to stir the rice. If the rice is not tender, remove the cover and cook over low boil until the rice is tender. Brown rice takes longer than most other rice.
- Remove from the stove, allow to set for 10 minutes to marry the flavors, then serve and enjoy!
*Tips for Success:
- Rice: The cooking time is largely dependent on the rice and brand Some rice types, as well as some brands, take longer to cook. Soaking the rice in hot tap water speeds up the cooking time; however, some brands of rice take quite a bit of time. Read rice package directions for estimated cooking times. Resist the urge to stir rice while it is cooking as it causes the rice to release too much starch into the dish and the dish become murky and creamy.
- Shredded Cabbage: We used about ½ of a medium head of cabbage. Make sure you use a sharp-bladed knife and cut it very thinly. Pick through looking for thick veined cabbage to shred again to get consistent thin shreds. It’s important to shred the cabbage thinly in order to allow the cabbage to get tender.
- Flatten the Ingredients in the Skillet: The key is to press all the ingredients down into the liquids so everything is submerged or partially submerged so the rice and cabbage can cook in the liquids until tender.
- Viewing the Skillet while Cooking: You do not want to create a hot rolling boil, you want to gently simmer (low boil) the rice and cabbage in the liquid. After you flatten the ingredients as directed in the bullet above, you should see little bubble holes that gently percolate up through the mixture when you check on it about 10 minutes in. Just gently lift the lid to take a quick peak. Evaluate and increase or decrease the heat accordingly.
- Liquids: This dish has a small amount of liquid that will be remaining after the rice is tender. When the dish rests for 10 minutes (in Step 8), a good amount of the remaining liquids will be absorbed into the rice and cabbage. There will still be some liquid remaining that is reminiscent of “stuffed cabbage” with it broth.
*Tamari: We used San J Tamari Soy Sauce, Gluten Free, Reduced Sodium. You can substitute the tamari with reduced sodium soy sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or Braggs Coconut Liquid Aminos.
*Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
*Brown Rice: We used Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice. Feel free to use your favorite rice.
*Chili Powder: We used Penzeys Regular Chili Powder. It adds just a hint of extra flavor without taking it over the edge to a southwestern flavor component.
*Grated Carrots: We used a vegetable julienne peeler to cut the carrots into long thin strips, then cut those into small pieces. We used grated carrots in previous kitchen tests, and while grated carrots work perfectly in this recipe, we really enjoyed the look and texture of the julienne peeled carrots. We suggest grated or julienned carrots. For those interested, we used a Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary restrictions.
*Serving: 4 to 5
*Storage: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
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I love cabbage, can’t wait to try this vegan version!
Hi there Sergio 🙂
Awesome! We hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
I made this for dinner tonight, and although it was very tasty, I think having the rice cook with the cabbage for so long really dries things out and makes it an unsure finish time. I think if I make it again I’d used pre-cooked brown rice and add it in after cooking the other ingredients for a time to ensure it the rice was soft enough and that there would be enough tomato-y liquid. I also felt the dish could use just a small bit of zing, not too much though. I paired it with roasted potato cubes which… Read more »
Hi there Denise 🙂
We are glad that you enjoyed the flavors of this dish, but we are sorry to hear your struggled with the timing of the rice. We discuss rice brands and types in the notes and how they are a direct link to timing. We have made this dish many times as well as many flavor variations. It sounds like the rice brand/type is why it was taking a lot longer to cook. Feel free to adapt the recipe to how you feel works best. We appreciate you sharing your feedback with us.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
Making this now and I followed the instructions about the rice exactly, but mixing in the rice has taken twice as long as if I had just cooked it separately and then added it at the end, which I will do next time. Otherwise, it is a delicious dish!
Hi there Derek 🙂
We are so happy that you enjoyed the flavors of this dish, but we are sorry to hear that the rice took longer to cook. We’ve not experienced this, but we do make notes referencing how rice brand and type will influence the overall timing of the dish. Feel free to adapt the recipe to how you feel works best.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
Made this today for dinner-delicious! Thanks for another wonderful recipe.
Hi there Kate 🙂
Yaaaay!!! We are so thrilled to hear that you enjoyed this recipe. We appreciate you sharing your awesome feedback with us.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂
Can this be made in an instant pot? If so do I need to change anything? My rice takesv22 minutes in the instan
Hi there Paula 🙂
Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We have not tried this recipe in an instant pot, so we do not have any adjustments for you. If you try it, let us know how it goes.
-Ameera and Robin 🙂