Roasted Veggie & Turkey Cabbage Rolls


300 calorie meal.

Sounds tantalizing, doesn’t it?

What if I told you that 1 serving of these cabbage rolls weren’t 300 calories, but 260? And I’m not talking about a tiny wee portion either.

Ridiculous, right? Ah, I know!

Turkey & Roasted Veg Cabbage Rolls (10)

I’m not one to let calories dictate what I do or do not eat. Getting stuck in that game is something I’m not interested in doing ever again. But, when I listen to my intuition, without counting or calculating, I naturally tend to prepare meals for myself that are around the 350 calorie mark.

Reminding myself that I don’t need to overeat (even if it’s just on vegetables the extra mass is very hard on our bodies) allows me to leave the table feeling satisfied but not stuffed to the brim and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. Doing this keeps my digestive system motoring along nicely and doesn’t give me that bloated gut feeling that so many of us struggle with. Small meals more often is the name of the game!

What about you, do you listen to this same intuition when it comes to the size of your meals?

The thing I love about these healthy cabbage rolls is that they’re grain-free. No rice or quinoa, just roasted veggies, ground turkey and sauce. Simple, delicious, and very satisfying!

Kevin and I enjoyed these babies last night and shared a spiced carob cookie for dessert. It was the perfect end to a beautiful day.

Turkey & Roasted Veg Cabbage Rolls (26)

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4.9 from 7 reviews
Roasted Vegetable & Turkey Cabbage Rolls
Recipe type: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Egg-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Lean and clean cabbage rolls made with roasted veggies, homemade marinara and ground turkey. No grains!
Roasted Vegetables:
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed
  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Remaining Ingredients:
  1. Preheat oven to 425F
  2. Combine all roasted vegetable ingredients on a baking sheet and toss until all veggies are coated in oil. Roast for 30 minutes, rotating veggies halfway through. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, remove the core from the cabbage (images below). To do this, score a square into the bottom of the cabbage to remove as much of the core as possible.
  4. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place cabbage in the water and cover with a lid. Continue to boil and cook for 6-7 minutes.Lift the cabbage from the water with tongs or two spoons and allow to drain in a colander. Begin to remove leaves carefully. When you get to the layer of inner leaves that are still a bit crunchy, add back to the water and blanch for an additional 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, add turkey to a pan and cook over medium heat, rotating often. Set aside once grounds are about ¾ of the way cooked.
  6. Change temperature of the oven to 375F and pour 1 cup of marinara on the bottom of a shallow casserole dish.
  7. Combine 1 cup of marinara with roasted vegetables and turkey. Stir to combine.
  8. Taking one cabbage leaf at a time, cut out the stem of the leaf (image below) and scoop about ½ cup of the turkey mixture onto the far end of the leaf. Roll up and place (stem side down) in the prepared casserole dish. Repeat with remaining leaves.
  9. Once complete, pour additional 1 cup of marinara on the top of the casserole and bake; uncovered, in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat, allow to sit for 5 minutes and serve.
I used the marinara recipe that I linked to above but used just 2 teaspoons of olive oil and omitted the red wine.

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This may look like an overwhelming recipe, but I assure you, it’s not. Begin by getting your mix of roasted vegetables in the oven. Once that’s done, it’s smooth sailing!

You’ll want to remove the core from the cabbage as I’ve show below. Once that’s done you can set that baby in boiling water and let it sit for awhile. Alternatively, some suggest throwing the cabbage in the freezer overnight then letting it thaw the following day. Had I planned this recipe far in advance I totally would have done that instead. But I didn’t so blanching was my method of choice.


Now, you can skip slightly cooking the meat. I like my cabbage rolls a bit crumbly (I think it’s a texture thing). Also, if you just slightly cook the meat you won’t have to cook the cabbage rolls as long… and I like that! Doesn’t have to be fully cooked, just about 3/4 of the way will do the trick and add good flavor.


Once the cabbage is complete, let it cool down slightly in a colander.

Then remove the leaves and place on a plate.


Combine the veggies, homemade sauce or you could just use any ‘ol store-bought pasta sauce. Be sure to look for a sauce that doesn’t have sugar. There are loads of them surprisingly.

Turkey & Roasted Veg Cabbage Rolls (48)

Remove the stem from the cabbage with a little knife, then add the mixture.

Roll that baby up and place in your casserole dish.


Once you’ve made all 12 rolls, cover with sauce and place in the oven.

Turkey & Roasted Veg Cabbage Rolls (41)

If you’ve chosen to pre-cook your meat, cook for 40 minutes. If you’ve chosen to add the raw meat to the roasted vegetable mixture the rolls will need about 2 hours. Now, can you see why I precooked? 2 hours is just too long for this lady!

Do you listen to the natural queues and appetite of your body? If not, are you willing to explore the process of taping into the queues your body signals to you?

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. Yippee you made them! And they turned out absolutely amazing – your photos are gorgeous! As far as intuitive eating goes, I can honestly say I’m a lot better than I used to be, but it’s still certainly something I could work on. I’m definitely not one to give into cravings for sweets or heavily processed foods (in fact, I don’t crave them at all) but you know my veggie eating style and sometimes that can get a little out of hand!

    • I sure did :D They were SO good! I’ll never go back to adding the meat in raw again. Pre-cooking it got everything done quicker. Huge fan. I totally believe in just setting the intention out there and reminding ourselves of our goals throughout the day. It’s bound to stick if we’re setting that constant reminder!

  2. I really really want to make cabbage rolls, but I’ve been intimidated by the process. I need to buckle down and try it! They look so delicious, and I love the simple veggie and protein combo. Thanks for the step by step directions–very helpful!

  3. I’ve never cooked cabbage like that, but I really like the look of everything about this recipe – About how long does the cabbage need to be in the water? Does the water need to stay at a low boil the whole time or do you turn it off when you put the cabbage in? (I’ve only ever used cabbage in cold dishes or stir fries, so I’m an absolute novice here…)

    My intuitive eating is best on weekends or when I’m on vacation, which is probably the opposite of most people – It’s definitely when I’m at work that I struggle most. Most of this has to do with having to do advance preparation for lunch at work… I prefer selecting what I’m hungry for when I’m getting hungry rather than deciding hours ahead of time what I MIGHT be hungry for later. Weird, maybe, but it’s what I’ve observed of my tendencies. :)

    • Thanks for your questions, Michelle. I’ll edit the recipe so that it’s a bit more clear for all of the cabbage newbies out there. You just add the cabbage in the water, cover and cook for about 7 minutes. Then remove the outer leaves. You’ll get to more of the core of the cabbage and the leaves will be a bit crunchy. Add it back to the water and blanch for another 4 minutes. And you’re done! This process just gets the leaves nice and soft so that they’re easier to roll.

      It’s so great that you brought that up, what a great observation. I noticed the same thing when I was working out of an office, too. I ended up eating through my lunch every day and can tell you right now that 7 times out of 10 I really, really didn’t need to. Sounds like you’re really in touch with it though, that’s great!

  4. Yum, yum! Can you make these in a slow cooker? If so, how? Hoping it can turn into a weekinight meal :)

    • That’s a really great question, Chris. I’m sure that you could! I would keep the meat uncooked if you’re doing in the slow cooker and just lightly saute the veggies. Let me know if you give it a try, now I’m curious!

  5. I’m working on eating intuitively as well, especially quitting eating when I am satisfied. I can really pack in the food if I’m not careful. Lately, I’ve been struggling with craving hamburgers and fries which I haven’t eaten regularly in years. I’m trying to figure out what my body is really craving. Sometimes the veggies are not satisfying enough :-(

    • Hi Caroline – mindful eating can be a challenge but is definitely worth our efforts! Great of you to think to connect your cravings to something you’re missing in your diet. Do you find that you avoid sodium? Often times our bodies will crave those types of foods when we’re not getting enough sodium. That, or healthy fats?

  6. These rolls are going to happen at my house this week!

    Eating intuitively is a theme in my life these days. I’m participating in a health challenge this year at work. This month’s goal is to eat at least one meal per day slowly, until you no longer feel hungry and feel about 80% full. I’ve realized through this challenge that I have felt entitled to eat what and however much I want because of my food allergies. Unfortunately, eating that way means I’ve packed on some extra weight, despite eating food that is healthy. As I’ve paid more attention to my inner cues, I’ve noticed I don’t leave every meal stuffed full, but satisfied. I have also noticed I get hungry more regularly AND I am starting to drop some extra weight. :)

    • Nice! Can’t wait to hear how you like them.

      All of this is great news, taking our time when eating is a challenge so I’m happy to hear you’re practicing it and seeing positive changes already, that’s so great! How awesome is it that your workplace is doing this… sounds like a radical job!

      • Yeah! I think the greatest benefit my eployer offers is a Health & Fitness Academy. It’s a free (and nice!) gym facility on campus, staffed with certified personal trainers. My employer (a hospital) subsidized personal training at 50% so employees receive a super discount on this service. HFA also does quarterly and annual health and wellness challenges and gives out prizes to participants. It’s AWESOME.

        • Wow. That’s amazing! Great that you’re taking advantage of it!

    • Thanks Kelly! Stuffing and rolling is where it’s at! There’s something so comforting and Winter-like in eating stuffed anything when it’s cold outside!

  7. Oh my YUM! This is a recipe I have wanted for a long time without even knowing it. I love cabbage rolls but the last time I made them they took the entire day and they really weren’t that worth it. I think they were kind of greasy and I was just mad that it took so long. It’s going to be hard to eat lunch now. All I want are these :) Thank you so much for making this classic healthy. I never thought I’d ever have homemade cabbage rolls again.

    • Some of the cabbage roll processes out there are crazy, aren’t they? I don’t blame you in the least. Using lean ground turkey instead of red meat really cut down the grease in this recipe, not to mention the sauce wasn’t full of fats either. I’m sure you’re going to love it!

  8. I started to eat intuitively around the beginning of December when I got fed up with the extra 70lbs. I have been carrying around. I was done with diets and starving myself. I can’t believe the differences! My sugar/carb cravings are gone, I am sleeping better and I don’t feel out of control around food. And just last night someone commented that I looked like I was losing weight. What a wonderful feeling. She wanted to know how much I have lost and was shocked when I said that I didn’t own a scale. I figure if I am going to eat instinctively a scale would be very counterproductive. My body knows what it needs to do. I just have to shut, listen then get out of it’s way.
    Thanks so much for your post Leanne! It was nice to read about someone else doing similar things.

    • Wow, good on you, Kerrin! This is just fabulous. There are so many things I just love about your comment and the journey that you’re on. Thanks for sharing your story, staying strong and trusting that your body KNOWS what to do.

  9. Love that it is gluten free! Honestly cannot wait to try.

    In answer to your question, I think I eat more when I know it is lower in calories. Not necessarily a good thing and proof that diet products don’t work. So if I have a ton of veggies or nuts in front of me – I am more likely to over eat on the veggies. Silly – but true. I love my volume! :)

    • I’m a volume girl too, through and through. You’re right about those diet foods, many of us don’t hold back because we feel there are no limits!

  10. I’ve been looking for a cabbage roll recipe that could easily be turned vegan..and I definitely think your recipe would work great. I love all the roasted veggies! Maybe I’ll sub the ground turkey with lentils..hmm. Beautiful pictures btw :)

    • Great idea to add lentils! I’d love to know how it goes if you give it a shot!

  11. Thanks for the listen to your body challenge today. I noticed I was that hungry at lunch. And when it came time for my mid afternoon snack, I wasn’t very hungry, but ate it out of convenience. I had a full evening planned and wouldn’t get dinner until late, so I ate it.
    The biggest thing I noticed was, on Sunday, the day before the suggestion, I was bored and lead to the Kitchen often. I have this less when I am at home, but I am staying at my boyfriend’s while my bathroom is being remodeled. Definitely something to be aware of while I am here. Thanks for the prompting. It was interesting!

    • So interesting that you picked up on all of those tiny queues when you stopped and listened, Jennifer. I’m so happy that you got something out of the exercise!

    • Oh you can totally do it! If you have the time, just throw the whole cabbage in the freezer overnight, then thaw for a day. You’ll get the same result as blanching and you don’t have to remove the core. Whoop whoop! Can’t wait to hear how you like the recipe!

  12. These were delicious, and didn’t take that long to make! I only roasted eggplant, onions and butternut squash (that’s all I had laying around), and it made for a great flavour. Definitely on the ‘will make again’ list!

    • Hey Farah – I’m so happy that you liked the cabbage rolls! I bet the butternut squash was awesome in there. I’ll have to try that next time.

    • Wow, thank you! I’ve never had anyone tell me my cabbage rolls were pretty ;) Oh yes, packing things with veggies is pretty common over here!

  13. These look amazing! I really would love to try making them, but as a college student with minimal amounts of time to actually cook a nice dinner, I am a little overwhelmed by the process! I also think it’s a great recipe that would be worth my while to indulge in because I need to focus more on the quality of food I eat (instead of the quantity!). If I ever do get around to making them, I’m sure the dinner will keep me full without having to snack again later in the evening when I am up late studying. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Carolyn – sometimes I don’t want to spend a lot of time on cabbage rolls either. To save time, you can just chop up the cabbage and mix it in with the rest of the ingredients! Bake and you’re good to go ;)

  14. I’ll definitely have to try these sometime soon (once I’m home from college) except sub lentils or chickpeas for the turkey… I could definitely have some fun with this!
    In terms of intuitive eating, I’m starting to get a handle on it! I just started intuitive eating (with your help, actually! Hehe) on Wednesday. It’s been a bit of a struggle, but I’m slowly learning! I just want to say thanks again for all the help you’ve given me, and I look forward to greeting you with some awesome news later this week!!

    • A bunch of people have told me that chickpeas work well in this recipe. I’m sure you’ll love it!

      So very awesome that you’re rockin’ the intuitive eating party! Be sure to check in with me and let me know how your journey is going ;)

  15. Whoa…what a delicious take on a Eastern-European dish! :-) I might try in pickled whole cabbage leaves!

    Thank you!

    • Oh, pickled leaves? I like your style, Danielle!

  16. Hey Leanne,

    These look great! Our of curiosity what are you considering one serving for your calorie count?

    Thanks in advance,

    • Hi Kirsten! I considered 1 serving to be 2 rolls. The recipe makes 12 rolls. I hope that helps!

  17. Found this on pinterest and made it tonight! We loved it so good! I used coconut oil instead of olive oil to coat my veggies. it even looked pretty coming out of the oven! My husband said this is a do over! Thank you for sharing!

  18. OOOOOO im going to make these tonight BUT ima change it up a bit :) Im vegan so instead of the meat im going to use veggie meat ( crushed walnuts, tamari and parsley!) in the sauce ooooo cant wait!!!!!

  19. I’m not sure if you answered this question already, but how many cups of veggies would you say you have total?? I’m making this for the second time and each time I just use whatever I have on hand, I’m just trying to get the ratios right. :) love the recipe!!!

    • Hi Amy – hmmm maybe 6 cups of veggies total? If I had to guess? So happy that you like it!

  20. Hi! You mentioned freezing the cabbage overnight and then defrosting it instead of blanching it. I don’t know much about cooking – I would like to try this recipe (without the ground turkey), but I am not sure I understand the purpose of either method (is it to soften the leaves?) I’m new to cooking and any help you can provide will be very appreciated =)

  21. This was soooo good! Made a LOT too…. we used ground chicken instead of turkey, but still very good!

  22. This sounds delicious! I’d like to calculate out the nutrients, particularly for the carbohydrates and protein. What program do you use?

  23. I freeze the cabbage and when want to play it I defrost it in a microwave so the leaves separate one by one just like boiling – because I’m a vegetarian I fill the cabbage only with the vegetables and add chopped dill – the sauce is a little oil and lemon to taste (I like sour) and salt or chicken soup (I did not add salt) and water.

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