Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole

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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole is a true comfort food go-to.

Nothing makes me think of my childhood and family more than Cabbage Rolls.

Growing up with Polish grandparents, they made an appearance at every occasion, from Christmas to Easter, weddings to baptisms!

On days when I don’t have the time to create cabbage rolls, I’m so glad I have a quicker version of this age old favorite that still delivers all the flavor I expect from the original dish!
This delicious unstuffed cabbage roll casserole is a family favorite! Easy to prepare and an inexpensive way to feed a crowd!


I’m sure most of you have enjoyed homemade cabbage rolls before. They’re delicious and truly a comfort food (not to mention budget friendly).

When I just don’t have the time to fiddle with boiling/freezing cabbage leaves and making the rolls, I turn to this simple lazy cabbage roll casserole.

There are a few steps in this recipe, but it is really easy to make!  You’ll create a quick meaty sauce and while it’s simmering you can soften the cabbage in pan.  Once softened, just simply layer and bake.

For the meat sauce layer I use a mixture of ground beef and pork because I find it gives the best flavor.  Any ground meat will work, I’ve even subbed in ground turkey if it’s all I have on hand.  If you do use ground turkey, I’d suggest adding in a beef bouillon cube to add some extra flavor.

Simply layer tender cabbage and a zesty meat sauce to create a lazy cabbage casserole! This delicious unstuffed cabbage casserole is a family favorite! Easy to prepare and an inexpensive way to feed a crowd!

I love the chunky tomatoes in this recipe but if you prefer a smoother sauce, you can simply substitute another can of tomato sauce for the tomatoes.  Be sure to remove the bay leaf from the sauce before stirring the rice in, while it adds good flavor, it’s not good to eat! Long grain rice is traditionally used, but you can also sub in brown rice.  Another tasty option is to substitute cauliflower rice in place of long grain rice make it lower in carbs and incorporate more vegetables into your meal!

The cabbage can be prepped ahead of time by chopping into ½” chunks and refrigerating in a zippered bag. Cabbage will keep for at least a week this way and is so convenient to have on hand (and also great to toss into vegetable soups and stir fries).

This cabbage casserole is much quicker than traditional cabbage rolls! Simply layer tender cabbage and a zesty meat sauce to create a lazy cabbage roll casserole!

Another great thing about this cabbage roll casserole is that it can be prepared the night before (or in the morning) and then simply baked before serving. This makes it the perfect meal for guests and busy school nights!

This recipe does freezes perfectly so if you’re empty nesters or have a small family, this can be divided into 4 portions and frozen for future – a perfect meal ready and waiting!

Your family will absolutely love this Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole and you will love how easy it is! Homemade, ‘holesome’, hearty and healthy – the new definition of 4-H!   It will quickly become a family favorite!


4.4 from 28 votes
Review Recipe

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly N.
Course Casserole
Cuisine American
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole is a true comfort food go-to. Nothing makes me think of my childhood and family more than Cabbage Rolls.


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion , diced
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 oz . canned diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head of cabbage chopped (approx. 8 cups)

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 pan.
  2. Brown ground beef, ground pork, onion and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  3. Add tomato sauce, tomato soup, canned tomatoes,tomato paste, dill, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer covered 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir in rice.
  4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender crisp.
  5. Place half of the cabbage in the pan. Top with half of the beef/rice mixture. Repeat layers ending with beef/rice.
  6. Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes or until hot & bubbly.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 320, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 548mg, Potassium: 1055mg, Carbohydrates: 34g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 11g, Protein: 21g, Vitamin A: 700%, Vitamin C: 62.1%, Calcium: 110%, Iron: 4%

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword unstuffed cabbage roll casserole

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Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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  1. A great secret way to get kiddos to eat some vegetables. If I don’t use rice I use cauliflower instead to hide more veggies. I’m wondering how to do a totally vegetarian one for friends.

  2. Can I make this a freezer meal? Will the cabbage be okay to freeze then later thaw?

    I am just being introduced to cabbage rolls and they are so yummy! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. This was so good…you are a great cook. I have made a lot of your recipes..I have made stuffed cabbage for most of my life and this is genius…so easy ..tastes the same if-not better

    P.S. i made it exactly as you wrote the recipe..no need to add or take away..never understand why people seem to do that…..always complainers

  4. My Romanian ancestors would turn in their graves yelling: lazy cook!!!
    If we made the cabbage rolls to large, we were called “lazy cooks”!!!
    But just the other day I was thinking to make this casserole. But I don’t use garlic and I add a middle layer of sourkrout, smoked bacon in the meat mix, and a glass of dry white wine.
    Bone appetite!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, despite the voices of ancestors haunting you John! I often imagine my granny giving me grief for buying hashbrowns prepacked. :)

    1. I too have to watch sodium, so for this recipe I will be using Healthy Request Tomato soup. You can also reduce the sodium by using no added salt canned tomatoes. This recipe looks too delicious not to try it and make the adjustments with salt in the canned goods used.

  5. I love cabbage rolls but I don’t have the patience to make them. This recipe is so simple and soooo good! I made a few personal tweaks: used mild Italian turkey sausage for the meat, casings removed, 1 pkg brown basmati Ready Rice, and added 8 gingersnaps, crushed in food processor. Definitely a keeper recipe!

    1. We use cooked rice in the recipe Tim. You can precook or use leftover cooked rice if you have some on hand.

  6. Turns up it’s for way more than 4 servings, it’s like 3x more. this is HUGE! I had to take 2 9×13 casseroles. Good easy and fast, customizable at will. super cheap and super tasty. We loved it!

  7. Awesome recipe I made last night for the family. I used 3 hot sausage links instead of the ground pork, fennel seeds since I had no dill or Terragon. Also used dried Parsley rather than fresh. Plus I used a teaspoon of beef better than bullion when sautéing the cabbage to impart more flavor. The family absolutely loved this recipe. Thank you so much-will definitely make this again.

  8. Nice but I cheat i use raw rice n I just needed a reboot how to throw things together n cant find my own or old recipe. Ill be eating this all week but I dont mind I love cabbage rolls period n this is way easier.

  9. I just finished making this and it tastes delish! I basically look at recipes to get ideas, but don’t follow them to good. I do not like tomato paste and sure as heck don’t like tomato soup. I used a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes with garlic and herbs, one can of Rotel tomatoes and a jar of marinara sauce. As for meat, I used a chub of regular Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage and one lb. of ground turkey. I used brown rice as well.

    I boiled my chopped cabbage and put that in the bottom of buttered casserole dish and I put the meat mixture on top. Then sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top. I didn’t think of layering it until after a reread the recipe. I’m actually thinking about stirring it all up together.

  10. Wow this is delicious! :-) I noticed someone asked about the lack of sugar to counter the acidity in tomatoes. I’m not sure what it is, but there was no acidity. Maybe it was the soup? I totally recommend following the recipe. I tried this recipe twice to try with fermented cabbage. It wasn’t as nice as the original recipe above. I think it added too much sweetness and it took over the rest of the flavours so unless you like that, I don’t recommend it. For the Aussies making this dish, the tomato sauce I used was Napoletana Sauce. I hope this helps, enjoy!

  11. Hi. I am excited to try this dish but I was wondering what steps I could take to freeze it. Should I make it from start to finish then freeze it? Or should I just skip steps 1 and 6? Thanks!

  12. Do you add a can of water to the tomato soup? Also to make the 8 size serving, what size cabbage do you use? Small, medium or large? I think I will also add some cooked bacon and a little of the grease for flavor.

    1. I don’t add water to the soup, just add condensed. I think the bacon would add amazing flavor! You’ll want about 8 cups of chopped cabbage, I use a small to medium cabbage.

  13. Like SHERRY B I found the sauce really bland.
    It required seasoning to a much greater extent than indicated in the recipe!
    The “salt & pepper to taste” is nowhere close to enough.
    I added a stock cube, a teaspoon os MSG, three tablespoons of sugar and two of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.
    It did come out great!

        1. Hi Linda, We’ve only made this recipe as listed. So you would have 6 generous portions or enough for leftovers. With a casserole this tasty, I’m sure the “leftovers” will get gobbled up too!

  14. This is excellent! We don’t eat pork so I used seasoned ground chicken for some extra flavor. Otherwise everything was the same. Very tasty and makes a lot!

  15. Can you use tomato juice instead of the tomato soup? My family is not fond of dishes made with canned soups.

    1. It would likely work but may change the consistency as the juice is runnier and the tomato soup gives it a bit of creaminess. If you try it, please let us know how it goes!

  16. I tried Sherrie B’s add ins and I couldn’t stop eating it. Cooked at 325 for an hour. Sherrie added 2 tsp lemon juice, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup light brown sugar.

  17. I made this but with 2 lbs of ground beef and I used I large can of hunts herb and garlic sauce. It was so good and I’m making it tonight again. My hubby loved it. It will be on my menu board from now on. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  18. Yes today, for tonight and it was awesome..added a can of hotel also for fun..Glad I did..Thanks though followed it to a T and it was a hit…

  19. Made this tonight for dinner delicious, rave reviews even with my grandchildren.
    It’s definitely a keeper.
    Thanks Holly!!

  20. This recipe was so much easier than making cabbage rolls and the taste was phenomenal. My husband who was raised eating stuffed cabbage rolls love this.

  21. Delish. Didn’t have any ground pork, so I only used  a pound of 88% lean beef, and it was plenty. I took luxurious afternoon nap and woke up late, I forgot to precook my brown rice, so I used cooked minute white rice, which I upped to nearly 4 cups, which really worked well.  This is my third attempt at an unstuffed cabbage roll casserole, (using different recipes) and both other times I didn’t like the “hardness” of the cabbage (second time it cooked all day in a crock pot!) so for this one I used 8 cups of shredded cabbage which I chopped a bit finer with my salad chopper, and this was perfect! I added some mozzarella the last 5 minutes, but it would be excellent without it. Loved the dill, don’t leave that out! Itsa keeper.

  22. Made this and it was absolutely delicious, but am I the only one who thought there was a lot more prep time than what the recipe said?  It says 20min. prep time but it took me an hour and 20 minutes to get this in the baking dish!  I almost feel that making the actual rolls would’ve been more time efficient!

  23. Hi Holly.. in Australia we call ketchup tomato sauce..is that what you mean when you say tomato sauce(ketchup?) Or do you mean say a passata type sauce?

    1. I am referring to tomato sauce that is not ketchup. It is often canned and used in spaghetti and other tomato based meals. Passata is typically thicker than tomato sauce, but should work in its place. Let me know how it works out for you!

  24. My family and I loved this recipe! My only change to the recipe was that I topped the casserole  with shredded cheddar cheese before I placed it in the oven to bake. This will definitely become one of my go to meals!!

  25.  Seeing that this had five stars I decided to give it a try. I followed the directions perfectly and I am a good cook, but it was awful. Nobody in my family like that. I will never make this again.

  26. What a great dish for today! 5 degrees and windy outside……Just made this, it’s in the oven as I write this post. It is very easy to make. The only complaint that I have was when I tasted the sauce it was a bit bland. I added 2 tsp lemon juice, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup light brown sugar. It smells so good and I can guarantee that I will be making this again!

  27. We loved it! Easy to make, made a few tweaks as didn’t have tomato sauce or parsley, but it turned out amazing. The husband is fussy and he didn’t complain :-)

  28. OMGosh!!!!! Thank you!! This recipe was so scrumptious! Well written and easy to follow. Used brown rice, and wouldn’t change a thing. Reminded me of my Mom’s Polish home cooking also

  29. This is delicious! I have tried several recipes for stuffed cabbage rolls and they just never came out right. So when I saw this recipe I decided to give it a try and am glad I did. It is so good! My husband now asks me to make it at least once a month.
    I make extra of the meat and rice mixture and use it for baked stuffed red peppers.

  30. I don’t have ground pork, but I do have ground pork sausage. Would that be weird? I’m a horrible cook so I’m not able to make an actual judgement call on this.

  31. I have frozen stuffed bell peppers before, after defrosting in fridge then baking, the rice was a mushy mess…. does this happen with freezing this Dish?

  32. Whole family loved this dish. It is one of our go to meals now. I always double the dish and freeze the other half so we always have some on hand.

  33. this was delicious and enjoyed by everyone. much lighter than regular lasagna. I have been sharing this with other friends who love it too.

  34. Holy smokes this is both delicious and makes a LOT of food! No cooking next week because we are having freezer left overs. 

    I would probably cook my rice with chicken broth next time to add some more flavor to counter having to add so much salt to flavor the cabbage, rice and tomato soup. 


  35. I see the cooked rice in the Ingedients and then in the instructions it says the “meat/rice mixture” but at some point am I supposed to mix in and boil the rice with the tomatoes and meat or just layer the rice? 

    1. Hi! In step 3) you add the already cooked rice to the beef/tomato sauce mixture (after removing the bay leaf). Then just proceed to layer this entire mixture with the tender crisp cabbage mixture – beginning with the cabbage and ending with the tomato/beef/rice mixture. Hope that clarifies.

  36. Made this for dinner tonight it was really yummy! We had no bay leaf or parsley it was still good! I did 15oz can tomatoe sauce 15oz can chopped tomatoes and a tablespoon of Splenda – perfect!! 

  37. We loved it!!!  Just my hubby and I so will be freezing enough left overs for several more meals.  Served with side of cranberry sauce. 

  38. Looks delicious..but I am trying to cook without any processed soups or sauces so what would others suggest I use in lieu of the tomato soup. Perhaps more tomato sauce? Would love suggestions!

    1. I have only made this recipe as written. I find the tomato soup adds a little bit of creaminess to the recipe. If you substitute it, please let us know how it works out for you!

  39. Just finished making this for a church dinner tomorrow. I used cauliflower rice instead of rice. I tasted it & can’t wait to have some on a plate, it’s delicious.

  40. Made this for dinner-I didn’t have tomato sauce so used crushed tomatoes-everything else in recipe was the same–it was delish!!!

  41. Hi Holly! We really love cabbage rolls in our house and I’ve always thought, of course, that my mom makes the best! I’ve seen other recipes for a Cabbage Roll casserole and yours, by far, looks the best. Your combination of ingredients just sounds delicious. I’ll be making this before the week is out and I have a feeling this recipe will make it onto my “tried and true” list. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  42. I have been using shredded zucchini in my cabbage rolls. It is really good! I replace the rice with zucchini in the same amount.

  43. Hi! The 8 servings – is that true to how a normal adult would eat? Like would it feed 8 adults, or does it go by the standard serving size of things? Like if a box of pasta says it has 6 servings, but it only really feeds 2 people. Thanks!! Can’t wait to try this!

  44. I am going to try this. I love cabbage casserole and soup. I will be subbing Lentils for the meat, maybe adding some “meat crumbles” and omitting the tomato soup. Sounds really good. Thanks for sharing

  45. If you want to freeze do you bake it first and then freeze or put in 4 separate containers and freeze and bake when wanted?

  46. Thanks so much for the recipe on making French onion soup in the crock pot. Ingenious, also want to try your deconstructed cabbage rolls.

  47. I am excited about this recipe. I am a novelist at this. What size cans are you using for the tomato paste etc?


  48. This looks really good! I love cabbage and this is dairy-free which is a must in our house. Maybe this will get my kids to eat cabbage!

  49. I am trying this tonight, I made extra sauce and used a 11x 15 with a big head of cabbage, the wife says it smells just like her stuffed cabbage rolls, but not all the work

  50. Do you know how many calories per serving in the Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole? It sounds delicious and simple to make and you did mention it is healthy but Inam a calorie counter.
    Thank you.

  51. I’ve done a dish very similar…but used only diced tomatoes and for extra liquid used chicken bouillon mixed with slightly less water than directions call for and added in a few diced green peppers. Great flavour! And it works well for people who don’t care for too many tomatoes.