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
4.92 from 194 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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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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  • 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)


  • 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.



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 194 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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About the author

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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Recipe Rating


  1. Wow impressed!! I must admit I wasn’t too enthused to make a cabbage roll recipe, however thought it might be something easy to do for the family. Was I ever surprised, as was my husband when we took our first bite. It was delicious!! Tastes like no other cabbage roll casserole I’ve ever had before. The dill really changes things up. Instead of using diced tomatoes, I used more tomato sauce (Lydia’s Arrabiata tomato sauce). I am definitely keeping this recipe and adding it to my favourites. What a great surprise, Thanks!!5 stars

    1. So happy you enjoyed this recipe, Tania! It’s such an easy way to enjoy cabbage rolls without all the work of rolling them!

  2. I’ve been making a similar dish for about 15 years and it has long been a family winter favourite. In our house we call it “dropped cabbage rolls” and I add a little paprika and use just the canned chopped tomatoes without the added tomato sauce.

    1. Hi Kendra, we have only made this recipe as written but maybe another reader has some suggestions on how to make that substitution.

  3. Easy and delicious. I substituted turkey sausage for the pork sausage to make it a little leaner. My husband even had seconds (which is unusual for him!).
    Yes, it does make a LOT! Will be taking it tomorrow for lunch with the father-in-law. I’ll leave a serving wiht him & then we’ll have one more meal.

    :-) Thanks!5 stars

  4. Made this today just as written. Delicious but Huge! We will be eating this for awhile…. I would say it could serve 12.5 stars

  5. Can I add sugar to the unstuffed cabbage roll casserole? With all of the tomatoes in the recipe, the sugar will decrease the acidity from the tomatoes. I usually make my stuffed cabbage with tomato soup only. Can I use just tomato soup? If so, how much tomato soup?5 stars

    1. Hi Shari, I haven’t tried adding sugar but I think that should work well. We would love to hear how it turns out for you!

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

    1. Oh wow….this made me laugh!!! You didn’t even come close to making this recipe!! Was this a joke review/comment??