This easy cabbage roll casserole recipe has all the flavors of traditional cabbage rolls without the fuss of rolling them. A hearty casserole made with simple ingredients of rice, tender cabbage, juicy, seasoned ground beef, tomatoes, with plenty of melty cheese on top!
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Easy Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
These deconstructed cabbage rolls are what I like to call my lazy cabbage roll casserole and I’m kind of in love with this type of dish. It’s a healthy, family favorite recipe that has all of the elements of a traditional homemade cabbage rolls without the hassle of rolling cabbage leaves!
To make it even more convenient, when I have leftover rice or leftover ground beef I throw it in there to save time. It’s one I like to keep on hand when I get the cravings for a classic cabbage roll but don’t feel like putting too much effort into dinner.
It’s the ultimate comfort food that is super satisfying and that the whole family loves!
- Olive Oil: We use a neutral-flavored oil to sauté the cabbage to wilt it down a soften it a bit. Use whichever is your favorite, or use butter for extra flavor.
- Cabbage: Cut a small cabbage into 1-inch pieces. Wash and drain first. In a classic cabbage roll recipe, savoy cabbage is typically used, but because we’re not rolling them, you can use any type of cabbage you like.
- Seasoning: Salt, Italian seasoning, and black pepper.
- Ground Beef: I stick with using lean ground beef to avoid too much excess grease. It’s leaner but the entire cabbage roll casserole is super flavorful so I’m not worried about needing beef with higher fat content. If you do, you may want to drain the grease from the pan once it’s done browning.
- Onion & Garlic: Aromatics that help to build the layers of flavor when cooked with the beef. I like fresh garlic but use a teaspoon of garlic powder or garlic salt if you’d like.
- Diced Tomatoes & Tomato Sauce: The delicious sauciness that gives the cabbage, beef, and rice, extra flavor, a pleasant texture, and a slight acidity that works so well with everything! You can use crushed tomatoes instead of diced if you’d like.
- Cooked white rice: You’ll need about 1 cup of uncooked white rice to make 2 cups of cook rice. Keep in mind, if you decide to cook brown rice it will take longer. You can use leftover rice if you have it.
- Shredded cheese: Freshly grated cheddar cheese is my favorite to use, however, you use whatever type of cheese you prefer.
1. Add some diced red bell peppers.
2. For heat, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes goes a long way.
3. Swap ground beef for another ground meat like ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork.
4. To make it a vegetarian cabbage roll casserole, omit the beef and replace it with a meatless crumble.
5. Use your favorite shredded cheese. Mozzarella cheese, Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Havarti, or Fontina are great choices.
6. For dairy-free, you can leave off the cheese altogether.
7. Add a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.
8. Make it low carb by using cauliflower rice instead of regular rice.
9. Swap the Italian seasoning for chili powder if you’d like.
How to Make this UnStuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole
Save yourself some prep time and cook the rice ahead according to package directions. Then, carry on with this quick and easy casserole.
Step 1: In a large skillet, add the chopped cabbage and a bit of salt and cook the cabbage over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want it barely tender as it will continue to cook in the oven. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and set it aside.
Step 2: In the same skillet, turn the heat to medium-high heat and cook the ground beef for 5 minutes until no longer pink. Stir, and break apart the meat as it cooks. Add the onion and garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Step 3: Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Then sprinkle in the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, then stir to combine.
Step 4: Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add in the cooked rice and softened cabbage. Stir well to combine.
Step 5: Transfer the rice mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray and top with freshly grated cheese.
Step 6: Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbly. Enjoy!
- Green cabbage is the best type to use, but whatever type you do use, remember to cut the core out and remove any tough stems.
- If you are using a cast-iron skillet to sauté the cabbage mixture, feel free to have one less dirty dish and use it as the baking dish.
- If adding cheese to the top of your cabbage casserole just isn’t enough cheese for you, mix shredded cheese into the mixture as well!
- Freshly grated from a block is better to use than the pre-shredded cheese that comes in a bag. It melts better because it doesn’t have the anti-clumping coating that pre-shredded cheese has.
- Some people prefer to add a bit of sugar to mellow out the acidity in the tomato sauce. I don’t find it needs it, but you do you.
- You know what they say, work smarter, not harder. Store-bought bagged coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage works too!
Certainly! You can never go wrong with making a homemade casserole using simple, wholesome ingredients.
Not only that but there are plenty of ways to increase the nutritional value like using brown rice instead of white rice or sticking with lean ground beef or lighter ground chicken or ground turkey. You can also be mindful of the added sugar found in the tomato sauce and limit the amount of cheese on top.
Yes! Make two batches and freeze one for later. Maybe you have a friend or neighbor who could use a home-cooked meal.
Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, leftover casserole will be good for up to 4 days.
Once completely cooled, wrap the dish in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight.
If you’re reheating an entire cabbage roll casserole, place the cold dish in the oven and turn it on 350° F. Heat for about 20-30 minutes to heat through. Give or take a little extra time if the casserole is going in cold. You can also reheat portions in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for 20-30 seconds until heated through.
Cabbage Roll Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups cabbage cut into 1” pieces (1 small cabbage)
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes 1 can
- 8 ounces tomato sauce 1 can
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups white rice cooked
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded (cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack)
- Cook 1 cup of dry rice per the package directions. (most white rice takes about 15 minutes)2 cups white rice
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9×13″ casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray
- In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat.2 tablespoons olive oil
- When the oil is warm, add the diced cabbage and 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté the cabbage for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is just barely tender. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and set aside.8 cups cabbage, 2 teaspoons salt
- In the same skillet, add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring and browning.1 pound ground beef
- Then add the diced onion and garlic and cook for an additional 4-5minutes until the onion is tender.1 small onion, 2 cloves garlic
- Next, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt and stir to combine well.14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, 8 ounces tomato sauce, 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Remove the pan from the heat add the cooked rice and cabbage and stir to mix thoroughly.
- Transfer the casserole mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with shredded cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.1 cup cheddar cheese
- Garnish with sliced green onions or chopped parsley
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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