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Low Carb Cabbage Enchiladas

It’s fair to say most people who grew up in Southern California, like myself, have a thing for good Mexican food. Fresh tortillas, homemade salsas, local avocados… Yum!

But once I realized that I feel my best eating lower-carb, I decided to re-imagine some of my favorites. That meant looking for alternatives to things like tortillas and rice.

Enchiladas have always been a favorite of mine, but with tortillas packing in anywhere from 10-60 grams of carbohydrates a pop, it’s really easy to overdo it. After seeing an Eastern European recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls, I thought maybe it would work for enchiladas

Roasted cabbage is delicious enough on its own (have you tried my recipe for Roasted Purple Cabbage?), that I thought I could get away with it. Or maybe it would be an epic fail… Either way, it was worth a shot.

Luckily, the experiment was a success. Even my tortilla-loving husband thought these low carb cabbage enchiladas were amazing. Enchiladas are a messy dish, so my photos might not be the best, but trust me, they taste de-licious.

And, hey, if you still want your tortillas, but just want to ease up on the carbs a bit or if you have family members than insist on the “real thing,” try making a double batch of this recipe and do one pan of low carb cabbage enchiladas and one pan with tortillas. I’m a big fan of the best of both worlds.

A note about my laziness: Most recipes for cabbage rolls or cabbage enchiladas call for steaming the cabbage leaves, and while that may make for a better looking roll, I’m lazy and would rather my oven do the heavy lifting. Soooo… I opt for using raw cabbage leaves and a longer baking time to soften the cabbage.

I also realized after my first attempt at this recipe that the sauce got too watered down while baking (#rawcabbageproblems), but adding a tablespoon of arrowroot starch or organic corn starch is enough to solve that problem. Low-carbers, rest assured it only adds about 7g of carbs to the entire pan of low-carb cabbage enchiladas.

Low Carb Cabbage Enchiladas

  • Enchilada Filling:
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I like using 1 red and 1 yellow)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp mild organic chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot starch or organic corn starch (see notes)
  • Enchilada Sauce:
  • 1 28 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar or other sweetener
  • 2 Tbsp mild organic chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or more, to taste
  • Remaining Ingredients:
  • 1 head cabbage, separated into individual leaves (see below)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for topping (ideally, from grass-fed cows)


  1. Start by making the enchilada sauce. Put all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. While the sauce is cooking, make the filling.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet on high heat, brown the beef. Do not drain the fat! Once the beef is mostly cooked, add the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Sprinkle with arrowroot starch or corn starch and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. While the filling finishes cooking, prepare cabbage leaves (see below) and arrange in a glass baking dish.
  5. To assemble, fill cabbage leaves with beef filling, fold the leaf over so the seam is on the underside of the cabbage enchilada. Top with enchilada sauce. Cover the baking dish with a layer of parchment paper, then a layer of aluminum foil. Why do I add the layer of parchment? If your baking dish has a lid, use that instead.
  6. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and parchment. Top with cheese and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is browned and cabbage leaves are soft.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: To separate individual cabbage leaves without breaking them, cut off about 2 inches from the bottom of the cabbage, then carefully peel off the leaves. Most cabbage leaves have a thick stem. I use a paring knife to cut this out, so the cabbage leaf will cook evenly in the oven. Save any broken leaves or cabbage stems for slaw.

NOTE ABOUT CHILI POWDER: I like to use this organic chili powder blend, which includes organic chili powder, organic cumin, organic oregano, organic coriander, organic garlic, organic rice concentrate, organic allspice, organic cloves. It’s very mild yet packs a ton of flavor. With so many spices all perfectly blended, it cuts way down on the amount of spices I have to measure out. And it’s incredibly inexpensive for the quality.

NOTE ABOUT ARROWROOT STARCH & ORGANIC CORN STARCH: This helps thicken the sauce. I like this arrowroot starch and this organic corn starch.

And there you have it: low-carb cabbage enchiladas! I like to serve this with a generous heap of sour cream (the real stuff, of course), some avocado, and salsa.

Bring this dish to your next potluck and wait for the compliments to roll in. 😉

Cutting out the stem of the cabbage leaf, so it cooks evenly…

If you give this recipe a shot, please let me know how it turns out in the comments below.

Until next week,

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

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