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

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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.

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
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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.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
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Ingredients  

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

Instructions 

  • 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, parsley, dill, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir in rice.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan 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.

Video

Notes

Store covered leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
This casserole will keep in the freezer for 3 months.
To bake from frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge & bake as per the directions in the original recipe. 

 

4.92 from 195 votes

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.

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

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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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Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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 complainers5 stars

  5. 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!5 stars

    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. It would change the consistency and flavor a bit but you can definitely try! Let us know how it turns out.

    2. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!5 stars