Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew


A couple of months ago I made a big pan of stuffed cabbage when a friend was visiting. It was fine, but honestly, it took a LOT of time and was a LOT of work—making the filling, cooking and separating the cabbage leaves, forming the rolls, making the sauce and then baking the whole shebang—it really didn’t taste good enough for the amount of effort required. The whole experience ended up confirming for me that Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew is a better way to go.

The Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew has all the flavor of the original dish—and is loads easier. I’ve updated this recipe slightly, and included Instant Pot directions too, so now this wonderful stew can be yours in a jiffy. If you want the slow cooker version, it’s still here too, of course.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew

Category: Beef, Fall, Recipes, Soups, Stews, and Chili, Winter

Servings: 8 servings

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil (needed only for slow cooker version)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco® sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 head cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 1 (32 ounce) package beef broth (such as Pacific Natural Foods®)
  • shredded Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)


  1. For the slow cooker version: Warm the oil in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add the beef and onion; cook until onions are soft and meat is browned throughout, about 8 minutes. Drain the fat off the meat mixture. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar (if using), Italian seasoning, garlic, pepper and Tabasco to the beef; mix all ingredients well and set aside.
  2. Place the chopped cabbage in the slow cooker crock. Sprinkle the rice over the cabbage. Spread the beef mixture over the rice; do not stir. Pour the beef broth over all (do not stir).
  3. Cover and cook 8 hours on LOW (4 hours on HIGH). Stir the soup well before serving. Garnish each portion with some of the shredded Parmesan, if desired.
  4. For the Instant Pot version:
  5. Press the "Saute" button on your Instant Pot and let it get hot for a minute or two. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the beef is browned through and no longer pink. Cancel the "Saute" function.
  6. Stir in all remaining ingredients until well-combined. Cover and lock the lid, then set the vent to "Sealing."
  7. Press the "Manual" button and adjust the time to 10 minutes on High pressure. Once the cook time has ended, vent the pot using the Quick Release method. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Dairy Free Variation : Omit Parmesan garnish.

Ingredient Info: Adding a little sugar to a recipe in which tomatoes figure prominently, such as we do here (spaghetti sauce is another example), helps temper some of the acidity the tomatoes contribute to the dish. It should not make the end product sweet (if it does, too much sugar has been added). If you’d prefer, leave it out.

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