Cabbage Roll Casserole

With the cool weather arriving and the leaves starting to change colours, it is time to pull out some comfort food. One pot meals and casseroles are so nice to have during the fall. They are hearty and comforting, warming you up on the inside. I love the smell of a casserole in the oven. The aroma fills the house and seems to put everyone in a good mood.

I am not fan of the fall. I love the summer and autumn is a constant reminder that summer is over and winter is coming. Even though I do not like the season of fall, I love the food associated with it. The warmth of casseroles, the availability of harvest vegetables like squash, root vegetables and cabbage.

Today’s recipe is something I make regularly. I love cabbage rolls and have made them before (recipe), but they do take a while to prepare. Sometimes, I want cabbage rolls, but do not have the time to make them. This cabbage roll casserole can be made in a fraction of the time, but tastes almost as good as the real thing.

I want these to taste as close to cabbage rolls as possible. With cabbage rolls, the texture of the cabbage is tender and the rice is soft. Often, when making a casserole with rice, I like the rice to be a little firm and not mushy. Not so, with this casserole. Therefore, I usually cook it a little longer than the 90 minutes.

Adding a little bit extra water and cooking for another 30 minutes allows this casserole to have a texture closer to cabbage rolls. Either way, they will turn out great! Just like cabbage rolls, I eat this casserole with a dollop of sour cream. Delish!

Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe
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4.73 from 18 votes

Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe

Cabbage roll casserole aka lazy man's cabbage rolls. Delicious comfort food made with cabbage, ground beef or pork, rice and tomato sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Ukrainian
Keyword Cabbage, Casserole
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 391kcal
Author Steve Cylka

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion , minced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/2 large cabbage , cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 3 cups water or beef broth

Instructions

  • Brown the beef in a skillet. Drain the grease and stir in the onions, garlic and spices. Cook on medium/low heat until the onions soften and become transparent.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients and dump into a large casserole dish or deep 13x9 lasagna pan. Cover with aluminum foil.
  • Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 90 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, take the casserole out of the oven and give it a stir.

Notes

If you prefer to have the cabbage soft and the rice very tender, similar to cabbage rolls, add another 1/4 cup of water after the 90 minutes and cook for another 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 775mg | Potassium: 617mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5.1% | Vitamin C: 33.7% | Calcium: 8% | Iron: 18.1%

About Steve Cylka

Steve is the author of The Black Peppercorn. He is a recipe developer and food photographer. His recipes have been featured on websites like Bradley Smoker, Times Picayune, Buzzfeed, and Basil & Salt. He has also authored and co-authored a couple cookbooks.

89 comments

  1. I was waiting for you to post the recipe for the cabbage roll casserole. I love cabbage rolls but not all the work to make them . I can’t wait to try this especially since we have cabbage here in abundance. Is there any chance you could get the nutrient values – especially carb and fat? Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Haven’t had this in years. Will try soon.

  3. It looks delicious and simple. Will try it for sure and see how it turns out.

  4. What a great idea!! I have always wanted to make cabbage rolls… but the work put into them always felt like a lot. I love this simplified version. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

  5. I love this recipe … Lovely flavors without all the work 🙂

  6. Trying this recipe tonight…its in the oven now. 🙂

  7. It was amazing…I posted a pic on your FB page, 🙂 T.y. bunches.

  8. Made this for dinner tonight after seeing it. I love cabbage rolls and this is so quick and easy. Thanks Steve. Have a great Thanksgiving with your family!

  9. Making this tonight for dinner as well!!! Found it on reddit (= will post a link to it in the comment thread once it’s all done and I’ve tasted it!

  10. Okay – I made the casserole on Friday night. Wanted something that I could reheat for a couple more suppers while I prepare a VBS lesson. Oh my – it was delicious! And mine looked just like yours, Steve! This would also make a great potluck dish too! THANKS!

  11. Hi have you tried freezing this? Im trying to fill my freezer with homemade meals and would love if I could add this one in.

    Thanks

  12. Love this recipe! Very good and easy! I used half brown rice/half quinoa. Delicious! I did add more liquid and the remainder of crushed tomatoes that were leftover. Perfect!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing! Down here in Louisiana cabbage rolls are a must on New Years Day but due to some unexpected events, anything requiring that much work just wasn’t going to happen! Now we can still uphold tradition! (and maybe start a new one!)

  14. Wow this sounds awesome! I told my mom at Christmas that I had a craving for my grandma’s Pigs in the Blanket (that’s what we call cabbage rolls here in western PA). Haven’t had them in years because they’re just too time consuming to make. I’m going to try out your recipe and take some to my mom. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. Hey There!

    Super excited about this recipe…

    I just took it out at the halfway mark to stir and its still VERY liquidy..any tips to get that liquid soaked up in the last 45 minutes?

    • I am sure that the rice is still quite crunchy and not fully cooked. The remaining time should allow the rice to soak up the water and soften. If it has not at the end of the 45 minutes, leaving it an extra 10-20 should also help reduce the water. Let me know how it turns out. I always like to hear different reports. 🙂

      • Thanks! It is still crunchy.

        Do I leave the tin foil on the whole time? 🙂

        • That is what I do. I find that if I take the cover off, the rice never fully cooks before the liquid evaporates. Keeping it covered lets the rice absorb the water. It sounds like it should be fine, just needs some more cooking time.

  16. could I possibly sustitute 2 cups of tomato soup instead of the crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce and then the three cups of water or beef broth?? My family likes the taste of the tomato soup, maybe because it is sweeter. Thank you

  17. Great recipe! My only suggestion would be to partially cook the cabbage before adding to the mix. I tried it with adding more liquid and cooking time and the rice was a bit soft for my taste, but I want the cabbage soft and the rice a little firmer. So I think this adjustment would make it perfect for my taste and cut down on the cooking time.

    • AWESOME !!!!!!! Sorry for the slow response. My Mom even popped over and joined us for dinner. She DOES NOT care for cabbage at all (except slaw). She really enjoyed it. Good job Steve. 🙂

  18. Just popped into the oven. Super easy to make. Now to see if its boyfriend approved. He is a cabbage lover (as in, not just rolls) I’ll let you know after dinner. 🙂

  19. Hey Seve, Great recipe!! We usually use 1/3 gr ound pork & minute rice what do u think of the cookin time adjustment & should I precook the cabbage. Gonna try tomorrow!! Yummy!!!

    • I have not used minute rice. My thought is that since minute rice will not need as long to cook, it might be necessary to precook the cabbage. Otherwise the cabbage would likely still be crunchy. Hope that helps

  20. loved this recipe – made it friday night and it was excellent!

  21. I tried stuffed peppers were the ingredients were cut up & you could either bake or add all the ingredients into a casseroll. So I decided to try this since cabbage rolls are such a hassle. I used brown parboiled rice which is better for you because it holds onto all the nutrients & I boiled my cabbage with broth, garlic & tumeric. Once I added everything together I added chili powder & Louisiana Gold Hot Sauce. Since the Gold sauce is more flavor than heat it was perfect for everyone. I took a taste before sticking in the oven & it was so good even w/o being completely done. I also fried the onions with the beef. Can hardly wait for it to be done. Thanks a bunch.

  22. I made this last night but used brown rice. it took twice as long before it wasn’t a liquid mess in a pan. I should have thought about the fact that brown rice uses less water than white. Thankfully, after 3 hours in the oven it came out pretty darn well. The brown rice held up well and wasn’t mushy, and the cabbage wasn’t too soft either. I’ll reduce the amount of water added next time. Thanks for the recipe.

  23. Plan on making this recipe tomorrow nite..one question..after 90 minutes & adding 1/4 cup water, do u cover it back up for the next 30 minutes or not? Tks! Lookin forward to fixin it! Tks!

  24. This recipe looked so good that I HAD to make it for supper tonight… too bad I nearly cut my finger off cutting the cabbage 🙁 it better be some freakin good cabbage casserole lol!! Thanks for the recipe Steve!

  25. This looks delicious! I’m looking for something to make for my co-workers on these cold days! What type of rice would you recommend using.
    Thanks!
    Jess

  26. Made this tonight. Added some chilli flakes. This made sooo much im gonna have to freeze it. Easy and delicious! Much easier than cabbage rolls but tastes the same. 🙂

  27. Just put this together. I had some cooked rice, so put that in and added about half bag of frozen corn. I’ll top it with some shredded cheese the last 15 minutes. Nothing not to like about this gem. Thank you!

  28. Sooo good 😀 Thanks! Love this recipe. My mom always makes this recipe in her slow cooker… just chucks it all in and voila! Gonna try that next time…

  29. I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR A GOOD RECIPE FOR THIS DISH. THIS ONE LOOKS GREAT. CAN’T WAIT TO TR IT.

  30. I enjoyed this recipe. Used ground pork, fire roasted tomatoes and tomato bollion. Nice cruch to the cabbage, we will make again.

  31. I was just wondering if I could do this in the crock pot and if so, what would your suggestion be for cooking time. I cooked this recipe before and my family LOVED it and none of them really like cabbage. Now that my kids are in sports I have to come up with recipes I can make ahead of time. Thank you!

    • I am sure that it would work fine, but I am unsure the time to suggest. I would think that 4-6 hours on low should be fine. It is all dependent on whether the cabbage gets soft or not. I may try this sometime as well!

  32. do yu use any kind of rice or just instant rice

  33. It’s in the oven here. I made two versions – recipe version and one without the beef and using vegetable herb broth. Has anyone tried a meatless version?

  34. Have made a version of this for years. But your spices are a little different. I sometimes use a mixture of brown rice with wild rice. It’s really good but you have to pre-cook the wild rice. This dish freezes so well. I freeze into many individual dishes and then give them to my son to bring home. He loves it as its low carb and very nutritional.

  35. My daugather made this for a 4-H computation and won grand champion. In our parish. I am so proud of her she is only 12 years old.

  36. I made this for a New Years Day supper. I made it as written, except I switched out the tomato’s for saurkraut. Delicious, and omg, so much of it! We are going to have leftovers for days. My Mom, who does not like cooked cabbage, but loves saurkraut, even really liked this one despite having normal cabbage in it as well. I did not cook it for the extra time, just the 90 minutes it normally calls for. We think it ends up being more a hash than a casserole, and I am going to pan fry some potatoes with a big scoop of this leftover. Yum!

  37. This is a great recipe. I added a tsp. of cinnamon to the ground beef, as I do with regular cabbage rolls. It gives it a great flavor! I am making it again today as I’ve got fresh garden cabbage to use.

  38. Can you freeze leftovers ?

  39. when I make this I always add sauerkraut and I use tomato juice and tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes it always turns out great my family loves it everyone have a great fall and a beautiful Christmas and of course I use hamburger and onions and rice and cabbage

  40. OMG! I’ve been making this now for two years. This is the BEST cabbage roll casserole recipe I have made. I grew up on cabbage rolls, my mother is from Ukraine, and I found this to be the easiest and best tasting recipe I have made and this is also coming from my 4 children, in fact there are toss ups on who gets to take the leftovers home lol

  41. I rarely use cabbage other then for coleslaw, but ended up with one in my organic CSA box. Was going to make cabbage rolls but then my wife alerted me to cabbage roll casserole, a search for which landed me on your site. Made this recipe, using half and half ground beef and pork( 2lb total) flavoured rice, fresh thyme from my herb garden and adding some steak seasoning. Used the beef broth( not sure how water would add any flavor to this dish) My wife was a little nervous about the fact there was not a lot of tomato sauce to the recipe( as you might find with traditional cabbage rolls) but I stuck to my guns and the recipe. Result: delicious…she absolutely loved it as did I. I only baked two portions and froze the rest once it was all combined to bake off at some point in the future. Hope that will work out. Definitely a new staple for the delicious fall comfort food menus at our house.

  42. Can I use the same recipe in the slow cooker?

    • Hmmm – not sure. It would be interesting to try. My biggest concern would be the rice and I would be worried that it might get too mushy. If you do try it, please come back and share your thoughts on how it turns out.

  43. I tried this recipe and did everything just as written, but my casserole came out like a soup. I’m not quite sure where I went wrong, because I only used 3 cups of water, as called for. I’d really like to try this recipe again, but I’m afraid of getting the same result. Any suggestions?

    • Hmm – that is odd as I have not had this happen. Was the rice fully cooked and tender? The liquid gets absorbed by the rice and my only thought is maybe it needed to be cooked a bit longer for the water to absorb. Hope it turns out better for you next time! Feel free to comment again if you have further questions.

  44. I made today. Used 2 smaller dishes for taking some to work. I used marinara sauce as the tomato sauce. Rice still a lil to firm after 90 min so I added 30 min along with a lil more water. That being said, it turned out great

  45. Absolutely wonderful recipe! And so easy! This is a real keeper!! I didn’t make a single change.

  46. can you use sour cabbage? or is there another recipe I can use for sour cabbage?

  47. I’ve heard that savoy cabbage is more tender so thought I would use it rather thsn regular green cabbage for your cabbsge roll ŕecipe. Do you think this would reduce cooking time? If so, maybe i should use a different type of rice (rather than standard long grain white) and change the amount of liquid. What do you think? Thanks

    • Interesting idea. I have never used savoy cabbage in this, so I am not really sure how that would affect the cooking time. If you were going to change the type of rice, maybe basmati cause it is a thinner rice and can cook more quickly. If you try out the savoy cabbage, please come back and share how it turned out. I would love to hear!

  48. Just made this as a vegan meal!!! It was wonderful. Replaced the meat with vegan ground vegetables Italian . Love, love, love this. Used mushroom broth to replace beef broth. Thank you.

  49. I made this today. Followed recipe except replaced 1 cup of beef broth with red wine, added 1/2 tspn oregano, 2 bay leafs, a little brown sugar. Turned out excellent! Thank you.

  50. This is a great cabbage roll casserole recipe! It’s almost the very same as the one I have used for years. When the kids were at home they loved coming in from school and smelling this baking in the oven. My recipe has a little lemon juice in it and also a spray of sauerkraut on top and occasionally I’ve also added a few slices of bacon on top.

  51. Hi Steve,

    Can I cook the cabbage, meat & sauce separate from the rice, then cook the rice, freeze all in a casserole dish with the cooked rice at the bottom & cabbage mixture on top?

    To do this would I need to put a little bit of sauce or liquid under the rice layer at the bottom of the casserole dish so it doesn’t dry out when reheating it, or would the sauce from the cabbage mixture go down into the rice while reheating & keep it moist, …. after of course thawing it out in the fridge overnight before hand.

    Sorry if this is a bit confusing to understand. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Interesting idea Helen! I am sure it would work, the only worry that I would have it in the drying out of the rice like you mention. You idea sounds similar to a dish my wife makes, called seven layer dinner and she has a layer of rice as well. Putting some sauce on the bottom should help.

      If you try it, please come back and share how it turned out!!

      Thanks for stopping by the site! 😄

  52. I made this for dinner this eve, was delicious! I followed the recipe except i added about 6 slices of chopped bacon when brownng the beef and used 1 can of tomato soup and 1 can of tomato sauce instead of the crushed tomato. I used basmati for the rice. Thanks for the great recipe!

  53. Hi Steve,

    Can this be made on a stove top instead of the oven?
    If so, what cook time do you suggest and are there any changes to be made with the quantity of liquids/other ingredients?

    Can’t wait to try this!

    Thanks

  54. This recipe looks great so I have bookmarked it and will be trying it soon (hence no rating because I haven’t actually made it yet. 🙂

    I have read all of the comments and noted several where people say that the rice isn’t cooked properly. I suspect that those instances might be because people are not covering the casserole dish tightly enough. Just covering with tinfoil is not enough for rice. The tinfoil must be crimped around your baking dish (easier to do if the dish has a rolled rim to crimp to). Otherwise the rice won’t absorb the liquid properly. Even cooking rice in a saucepan requires a tight fitting lid, not a loose one. Just a thought.

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