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!

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How to Make Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole

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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.

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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!

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole is a true comfort food go-to. Nothing makes me think of my childhood and family more than Cabbage Rolls.

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Ingredients:

  • 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)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 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

Yield: 8 servings, Serving Size:

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 317 Calories

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

©Holly Nilsson for SpendWithPennies.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

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Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Holly

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!

111 comments on “Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole”

  1. 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.

  2. I’m looking for something to do with a bag of cabbage. This looks perfect!

  3. Typographical error in ingredients listing: “groups pork” should be “ground pork”.

  4. 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.

  5. Can you make this with ground turkey instead of beef & pork

  6. How many calories per serving in the unstuffed cabbage casserole?

  7. This looks delicious! Now if only my family liked cabbage as much as I do… :)

  8. Hello, can this dish be frozen in portions to be warmed up later?

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. Was the cabbage precooked like the rice?

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

    Thanks

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

  14. In Russian we call them Lazy Goluptsi (cabbage rolls)
    They definitely hit the spot!

  15. How many calories per serving?

  16. 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?

  17. 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

  18. 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!

  19. Could you top this delicious dish with cheese?

  20. It looks so good, I will try it, but can I boil the cabbage? Instead of frying it in oil. Thanks!

  21. Can the rice be omitted?????

  22. What exactly is tender crisp for when to stop cooking cabbage?

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

  24. 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!!

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

    Rating: 5
  26. 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.

  27. Will definitely try. I believe I will add fresh peppers to my second layer of cabbage before baking.

  28. This was amazing!! We didn’t have a bay leaf but it turned out great anyhow. Thanks!!

  29. 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!

    • 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!

  30. Hi.  Your recipe calls for 1 can of tomato soup.  How many ounces is this?

  31. 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. 

    Rating: 5
  32. 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!! 

    Rating: 4
  33. when do you cook the rice

  34. I made this and added chopped green peppers to the meat and sauce. It was delicious.

    Rating: 4
  35. Do you pre cook the cabbage as well as the rice?

  36. How long would you bake this if the rice wasn’t precooked?

  37. Long cooking rice or instant? Trying this tonight,,,

  38. Could you use sour cabbage?

  39. 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? 

    • 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.

  40. 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. Delicious! 

    Rating: 5
  41. Oh my goodness this was de-lish! It makes a ton of food, yay leftovers!

    Rating: 5
  42. this was delicious and enjoyed by everyone. much lighter than regular lasagna. I have been sharing this with other friends who love it too.

    Rating: 5
  43. I was wondering if you didn’t have tomatoe paste, I’d it would make a difference?

  44. 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.

    Rating: 5
  45. 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?

  46. So many sour products and not mentioned about sugar which must be there !!!

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. The whole family enjoyed this receipe.easy to make..

  50. 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

    Rating: 5
  51. 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 :-)

  52. Made this and it was a great hit. Loved the left overs, tasted better after a few days.

    Rating: 4
  53. 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!

    Rating: 5
  54.  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.

    Rating: 1
  55. 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!!

    Rating: 5
  56. This recipe is my Favorite it makes Cabbage Rolls extremely easy to make

    Rating: 5
  57. 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?

    • 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!

  58. It’s in my oven! Will let you know how it turns out.

  59. 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!

    Rating: 3
  60. 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.

    Rating: 5
  61. 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.

  62. trying this tonite, Made too much cabbage w/my corned beef St pats day. Great way to use up the left overs.

  63. Do you think I could make this on Wednesday night and refrigerate till Friday when company comes? 

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

  65. 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…

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