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!
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole on a plate


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.

Ingredients for Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole in a dish

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).

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole in a dish with a spoon

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!

Ingredients for Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole in a dish
4.82 from 94 votes
Review Recipe

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

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


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 ½ cups cooked rice (brown or white)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head of cabbage chopped (approx. 8 cups)

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  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13 pan.
  • Brown ground beef, ground pork, onion and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender crisp.
  • Place half of the cabbage in the pan. Top with half of the beef/rice mixture. Repeat layers ending with beef/rice.
  • Bake uncovered 25-30 minutes or until hot & bubbly.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 320, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 548mg, Potassium: 1055mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 700IU, Vitamin C: 62.1mg, Calcium: 110mg, Iron: 4mg

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

Keyword how to make an unstuffed cabbage roll casserole, unstuffed cabbage roll casserole, unstuffed cabbage roll casserole recipe
Course Casserole
Cuisine American

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Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole on a plate and in a casserole dish with writing
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole with writing
About the author


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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!

More Posts by Holly

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Recipe Rating


  1. FINALLY! A recipe that tastes exactly like my mother’s cabbage rolls! She was taught how to make them by a Polish friend about 60 years ago. The only change I made was to add a bit more cooked rice (personal preference). DH, whose mother was Ukrainian, also loved this recipe. I have never understood why all of the other recipes I find online add things like cheese and bacon – to me, traditional cabbage rolls do NOT include this tuff! lol. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  2. I made this and it was delicious. I do not like chunky tomatoes so I used puree instead. I also added ketchup and chopped green peppers and let it all sit for the flavors to meld.

  3. Love this recipe! I was craving cabbage rolls but didn’t have the patience to make them. This was the perfect substitute – all the flavor with way less work!5 stars

    1. This may take approximately 15 minutes, depending on your cabbage and how finely you cut it. Check at about 10 minutes.

  4. I love this recipe. I was being really lazy and it’s not exactly the same texture but have made this using packaged coleslaw mix..green and purple cabbage and carrots. It is a real timesaver and still super tasty.

  5. I made this tonight exactly as written. I absolutely loved it! I never appreciated my grandma’s cabbage rolls as a kid. I was missing out.5 stars

  6. Made your recipe – my husband gave it a 9 out of 10. Said the only thing that would make it better would be more beef (this coming from a man who loves his meat). I did not have a bay leaf, tomato sauce or tomato soup. I left out the bay leaf, substituted herb and garlic pasta sauce and ketchup. I added some cooked bacon, a bit of Sriracha sauce and some nutmeg. I also added a thin layer of sauerkraut on one of the layers. The flavour was unbelievable! Have bookmarked this recipe and will definitely be making it in future. Excellent!5 stars

  7. Made this with hot Italian sausage and added some worchestershire sauce. Sooo delicious! Thanks so much! This is a definite keeper!

      1. Ashley, prepare and freeze then thaw and bake when you are ready to enjoy!

  8. 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.5 stars

  9. 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!