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Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Vegan Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

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  • Author: Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures
  • 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.



Base Ingredients:

  • 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

Herb/Spice Ingredients:

  • 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 (+/-) 

Optional Toppings:

  • Fresh chopped parsley


  1. 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.
  2. Place all the Herb/Spice Ingredients into a small bowl, mix well.  Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

*Notes Continued:

*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.