Thai Beef Cabbage Roll Bake – $5 Dinner Challenge

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on January 9, 2012

The timing was perfect, the sales were perfect…and the ingredients in my pantry seemed to leap out at me as I was working up meal ideas and plans for this month.  I remember Alea’s Cabbage Rolls from last year, and I’d be wanting to try something similar. Cabbage rolls (and lettuce wraps) work wonderfully for those with gluten and/or corn allergies/intolerances. For those who can’t enjoy tortillas. (Because I can’t imagine gluten free or corn free tortillas working so well…maybe I’m wrong.)

I had all the right ingredients (purchased at great prices) to make a Thai variation of Alea’s Cabbage Rolls! And this is how it went down…

Blanche the cabbage leaves. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then plunge into bowl of cold water.

Meanwhile, combine the ground beef (I was using beef I’d already browned…you could certainly brown with the onions and spices.)

Once meat mixture flavors have mingled, remove from heat and toss in chopped peanuts.

Dry the leaves and cut out the tough stem portion.

Fill cabbage leaves with meat-peanut mixture, roll and place in baking dish, seam side down.

Cozy and snug.

Because I’m lazy…

I just added the spices to the sauce in the jar, give a little stir and pour over the top.

No sense in dirtying another dish, right?

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Thai Beef Cabbage Roll Bake

Adapted from Alea’s Cabbage Rolls with Turkey and Brown Rice

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 25 minutes

Cooking Time – 15 minutes


  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil ($.25)
  • 1 tsp garlic cloves, minced ($.05)
  • 1 onion, chopped ($.20)
  • 3/4 lb ground beef, browned ($1.49)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger ($.20)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($.02)
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice ($.10)
  • up to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper ($.03) (depending on how spicy you like things!)
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped ($.25)
  • 1 small cabbage, 12 large leaves gently removed ($1.19)
  • 1 8 oz. tomato sauce ($.29)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger, garlic powder, each ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Crushed red pepper, optional
  • Bread or brown rice ($.40-$.75)



  • Blanche the cabbage leaves. Place 2 or 3 leaves at a time in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Then remove carefully with tongs and plunge into cold water.
  • In a large skillet, add the sesame oil with the garlic, onions, ground beef, ground ginger, brown sugar, lime juice and crushed red pepper. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, to allow flavors to mingle. (Or cook until meat has browned, if starting with raw beef.)
  • Stir in the chopped peanuts.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • To make the rolls, pat dry the cabbage leaves and cut out the hard stem. Spoon the meat mixture into the cabbage leaf and roll up. Place seam side down in a glass baking dish. (I made 12 rolls in 2 small baking dishes…I could have/should have made them into 1 9×13 baking dish.)
  • Make up all the rolls. Then mix together tomato sauce with the ginger, garlic powder, salt and crushed red pepper. Pour it over all the rolls.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Serve Thai Beef Cabbage Rolls with bread or brown rice.

Cost $4.57


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz@PocketChangeGourmet January 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

These remind of PF Chang’s, I’ve been so hungry for their lettuce wraps. Yum!
Thanks for hosting Erin!
~Liz@Pocket Change Gourmet & Hoosier Homemade


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 10, 2012 at 8:21 am

Love those lettuce wraps from PF Changs!


Frugal Jen | Frugal, Freebies and Deals January 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’m not huge on cabbage.. but these look just like my mom used to make when I was growing up!!



Angie Wright January 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I forget about this dish, my hubby loves it! I’ll need to remember to pick up a cabbage head!


Alea Milham January 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I love the Thai twist on the cabbage rolls! I also like the tip for adding spices directly to the can – I’m always looking for ways to cut back on dishes.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 10, 2012 at 8:22 am

I do it that way for when I make homemade pizza sauce too! At first, because I was feeling lazy…but then it occurred to me that it was a smart way to use less dishes :)


Heidi January 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I grew up eating these but instead of peanuts we mixed white rice into the meat mixture and a little of the sauce for moisture. Then we rolled them in the leaves and slathered them with the rest of the sauce. Right before they were done we would top them with provolone cheese.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom January 10, 2012 at 8:23 am

Love that Heidi!

I thought about adding cheese, but decided against it. Will have to try that next time!


Mar H January 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Erin, I really enjoy and appreciate your blog. However, I have one suggestion for improvement. You talk frequently of food allergies, but seem to primarily consider the gluten/soy/dairy/egg issues that your family contends with. I’d love it if you called out peanuts and tree nuts, or even suggested alternatives to those in your recipes. (In some recipes it’s no big deal to leave the nuts out; in others, without the nuts something is just missing.) There are 8 top food allergens (the other 2 being fish and shellfish) – I think it would improve the food allergy portion of your site to address all of those. Thanks!


jessie January 23, 2012 at 12:03 am

I am new to your blog – and these look great! I’d love to try them…but what do you consider a serving size? I have a large family and it is so much easier to shop/plan when recipes say something like “4 servings/8 medium sized cabbage rolls). thank you!!!


Julie June 27, 2014 at 7:11 pm

I am new to cabbage and was clueless as to how to cut it off the head. Other than that, this was super fun to make!! Can’t wait to taste it!


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