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Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage is a quick and delicious weeknight meal the entire family will love!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

When Jack and I start to plan out our upcoming recipes, to share here on A Family Feast, we always spend a lot of time talking about old family recipes.

On Jack’s side of the family – Italian fare was the standard, so recipes like beef braciole and lasagna were part of the menu.  On my side of the family – being Polish – we always served kielbasa, pierogi, kapusta, and golumpki (pronounced (gaw-WOHMP-kee) – or what is more commonly known in the United States as Stuffed Cabbage.

This recipe for Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage is what my mom would have called “lazy golumpki.”  Making stuffed cabbage rolls can be somewhat time consuming, and working with the large cabbage leaves can be tricky – but this deconstructed version is so quick and easy, even a novice cook can easily make it!


Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

How do you make Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage?

You’ll start by cooking up some rice. My mom used white rice, but you could use brown rice if you prefer.

While the rice cooks, blanch chunks of green cabbage in boiling water – then set aside to cool.

Next, saute bacon and onions until cooked-through and tender.

Then add ground meat to the skillet to cook through and brown. We used a mixture of ground beef, pork and veal – but if you prefer not to use veal, just replace that with additional ground pork. Or, use all ground beef – this recipe is very flexible!

Next, we made a simple but flavorful sauce with tomato juice, tomato paste, vinegar, and seasonings – then we added the cooked cabbage and some fresh sauerkraut to the skillet.


Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Stir to combine – and you’ve got a wonderful one-pot meal that’s ready to serve!

This Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage recipe makes a generous amount – about ten to twelve servings – so it’s a great, inexpensive way to feed a hungry crowd at dinnertime. But feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’d like.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage


Can I freeze this recipe?

Cooked cabbage will get very soft and mushy after freezing and thawing – so, unfortunately, the answer is no. (Unless a softer texture doesn’t bother you.) If this large recipe is too much food for you, you’d be better off cutting the recipe in half.

This post originally appeared on A Family Feast in December 2013. We’ve updated the post and photos.

You may like these other Polish recipes:


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Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 10-12 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Polish


1 cup uncooked white rice (or any rice of your choice)

2 pounds green cabbage, cleaned, cored and cut into two-inch chunks

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces raw bacon diced

1 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tart red wine such as Merlot

1 pound lean ground beef (90/10)

½ pound ground pork

½ pound ground veal (if you can’t get ground veal, increase ground pork to one pound)

3 cups tomato juice (or for a more intense flavor, use V-8)

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon dry thyme

¼ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup drained sauerkraut


  1. Cook rice according to package directions. Try to time the rice so that it finishes cooking as the preparation of the dish nears the end. If rice is finishes too soon, fluff and leave at room temperature to cool.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch cabbage chunks for five minutes. Drain, cool and set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, place olive oil and bacon and cook until bacon is almost browned, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add onions and sauté for three minutes. Add garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add red wine and deglaze the pan.
  4. Move the cooked onion mixture to the edges of the pan and place all three meats into the center. Keep moving the meat around to brown and slowly work in onion mixture until the meat is fully browned.
  5. Add tomato juice, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. Reduce to medium and simmer for five minutes.
  6. Add in sauerkraut, cooked rice and cooked cabbage. Bring back up to heat and simmer for five more minutes.
  7. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Keywords: Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage, Lazy Golumpki


Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

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  • Marlene Stabin wrote:

    Funny to read your menu. I use to similar things for Christmas. My side is Italian and the husband’s side had Polish/Russian and English/Scottish. I would make something Italian, like our Family Antipasta my grandmother’s way. Then make Stuffed Cabbage using his grandmother’s recipe and then Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding. Covered them all.
    I found my boys were not thrilled with the cabbage rolls so I started making it simpler like you decided. I still make the meat and rice balls, though. His grandmother used Honey insteady of sugar. Thanks for sharing.

    • Marlene Stabin wrote:

      I didnt see you used brown rice and sauerkraut. Interesting change

      • Martha wrote:

        Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank YOU for sharing Marlene – what a nice memory. (Hope your boys will come around one of these days and grow to love Polish food!) 🙂

  • Dani wrote:

    Wow!!! I made this last night and it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! I wasn’t too sure about the brown rice and sauerkraut but I love stuffed cabbage, I had some cabbage that needed to used, and I wanted a healthy meal. I had bought some short grain organic brown rice awhile back and although we like to eat heathy, the rice we really don’t care for. However, it was awesome in this dish! I didn’t have any bacon but I had some bacon fat in the fridge and only used that with no olive oil to cook up the onions and garlic. Thank you so much! It is really good!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Dani! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Billie wrote:

    My mother in law would make this easier version of her time consuming cabbage rolls- she would make a large batch & freeze it in smaller portions. Reheating in the oven was always just as good as freshly made. Can’t wait to do this recipe myself soon! Thanks for sharing!

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope our version is as delicious as your mother in law’s version Billie! Thanks for writing to us today!

  • Jennifer wrote:

    I’ve never had stuffed cabbage but this looked good so I gave it a try. Definitely yummy! A little greasy though – I might need to drain part of the fat next time. Also might try with a little bit more rice. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Jennifer!

  • Sue wrote:

    Could you use red/purple cabbage instead of the green?

    • Martha wrote:

      Sure Sue – The color of the dish will be different, but the flavor should be very similar!

  • Theresa Steingard wrote:

    Love your page and I can’t wait to try this recipe. Unfortunately, my Baci passed away before she could teach me how to make golumpki’s. Thank you for sharing. :O)

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Theresa! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Caroline wrote:

    I love your traditional, warm and flavorful recipes.
    Could you scale this one down for me to 4-6 servings.
    Many thanks.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Caroline! I would just use half the amount of each ingredient in the list to reduce to 4-6 portions!

  • Shirley wrote:

    this looks fantastic! Does it freeze well? Thanks!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Shirley! We haven’t tried freezing it ourselves so I can’t say for sure. If you try freezing it, please let us know how it comes out!

  • jeninga75 wrote:

    I’m so trying this this weekend. I’m Polish and Ukranian and grew up on stuffed cabbage. My mom taught me to make it and I have a few times but, as I’m sure you know, it’s a lot of work. This sounds so good!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Jen! I hope you enjoy it!

  • Kathy wrote:

    I love easier recipes like this! Sounds delicious!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Kathy!

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