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 been around this blog a bit, 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.

How to make deliciously healthy cabbage rolls

Watch this video to see the entire process start to finish & get the full recipe below.

Yield: 6 servings

Deliciously Healthy Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls with summer quash
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 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)


  1. Chop all the veggies as finely as you can. A food processor or chopper would be great for this
  2. Place veggies in a large bowl & season with salt, pepper, & smoky seasoning. Taste the mixture & adjust seasonings as needed at this stage.
  3. Add ground meat, rice, & egg. Hand mix until just combined - do NOT overmix or it will be a bit tough.
  4. 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!
  5. Starting at the top of the cabbage leaf, fold the top down over the ball of meat & veggies.
  6. Then fold in each side of the cabbage leaf to cover the meat mixture.
  7. Now roll the leaf from the top down to the stem.
  8. Add 1 Tbsp of oil to the bottom of a heavy bottomed saucepot or everything pan - I use a Dutch oven.
  9. 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.)
  10. Once all the rolls are in the pot, add liquid to the depth of half the cabbage rolls.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 358Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 103mgSodium: 445mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 28g

I am not a nutritionist or dietician. Please consult one or your doctor if you are on a special diet. These numbers are auto-generated based on the ingredients in my recipe.

Homemade Smokey Seasoning (Dry)

Smoky Seasoning
  • 2 T paprika
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T ground black pepper
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T onion powder

Using a funnel, add all ingredients to a spice jar, pop the top on & shake well to combine.

I use a 5oz spice jar from World Market (IKEA has similar ones).

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