Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole

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Full of spiced ground beef and covered in tangy tomato sauce, cabbage roll casserole is a hearty stick-to-your-ribs meal. With all the flavor of the more labor-intensive Cabbage Rolls and a minimum of effort, this is a dinner-time win.

You know those meals that are never pretty, but they are always tasty? The meals that your family requests and you cringe because you never really can get excited about “just a casserole” for dinner? This is one of them.

Layered Cabbage Rolls may not be the prettiest meal I make but it is nonetheless often requested by my husband.

Layered Cabbage Roll Bowls

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Rolls are one of Sean’s favorite foods. This recipe simplifies the traditional rolled version down to just a couple of steps and despite appearances, they really are tasty! I’ve been making this version of cabbage rolls for years.

Along with how easy it is to put together, I also really like that I never have to worry about what side dishes to serve. This is an “all-in-one” meal that’s filling, hearty, and completely satisfying.

That’s more than worth the trade-off of not having the most aesthetically pleasing dinner every so often.

Layered Cabbage Casserole

This method of making cabbage rolls is a little simpler than the traditional version which involves rolling tons of individual cabbage leaves.

Ground beef and onions are cooked with herbs and spices in the skillet, then layered on top of cabbage leaves in a casserole dish along with uncooked rice.

After mixing together a simple tomato sauce and pouring it over the cabbage rolls, the whole thing bakes in the oven in one dish. The flavors of the meat and sauce shine against the simple backdrop of tender cabbage and fluffy grains of rice.

All the flavor of classic cabbage rolls with a minimum of fuss!

This Cabbage Roll Casserole is a very quick meal to put together and then it cooks in the oven through the busiest part of the day.

I usually prep two smaller pans and freeze one to cook on another day. If I have extra time on the weekend before a busy week, I might even prep a couple of pans of this casserole to pop in the freezer and have on hand for those hectic weekday nights.

This casserole freezes extremely well with little extra effort. Simply thaw the casserole completely prior to placing the frozen one in the oven and then bake as directed below.

Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe

My whole family loves cabbage rolls of all kinds but I typically don’t have the time or patience to stuff and roll cabbage leaf after cabbage leaf.

Over the years, I’ve found plenty of alternative ways to eat our favorite cabbage rolls without spending hours in the kitchen and I’m happy to share them with you.

The method I use that most closely resembles traditional rolled cabbage leaves stuffed with sausage or beef is the recipe I’m sharing below.

Instead of being rolled, cabbage leaves are layered for a casserole that slightly messier in appearance but just as delicious in taste as the rolled version.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the cabbage across the bottom of a 9×13 dish (two smaller pans will work as well). In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef along with the onion.
  2. Drain any grease from the pan and add the rice, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the skillet with the meat. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Spread the meat mixture over the cabbage in the baking dish.
  3. Mix together the tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar and pour over the meat and cabbage. Cover with foil and then bake for 90 minutes. Uncover and let rest for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.
Layered Cabbage Rolls are a favorite here!

This Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet is basically a cheater version of a cabbage roll casserole, requiring no rolling or baking and using cooked rice for a quick cooking time. I love making that dish whenever we’re craving cabbage rolls but are short on time.

My friend Holly’s Crock-Pot Cabbage Roll Soup is another great way to enjoy these flavors in an easy dinner option.

This Twice-Cooked Bacon Cabbage Casserole from Kayln’s Kitchen is another tasty cabbage casserole to try.

If you enjoy this Layered Cabbage Rolls recipe (or any kind of cabbage casserole), you’re also bound to go nuts for my 20 Minute Kielbasa, Cabbage and Potato Skillet meal and this easy Cabbage and Sausage Skillet.

And when it comes to hearty breakfasts, you can’t go wrong with Sausage Hash with Cabbage and Potatoes.

Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole is one of my husband's favorite meals!

This recipe makes a terrific make-ahead freezer meal too. Layer everything into a freezer-safe pan and when it has cooled completely, cover with foil or lid and freeze.

A day or two before you plan to eat this, take it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge. Once thawed, bake as noted below.

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Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole

Layered Cabbage Rolls

4.49 from 43 votes
This shortcut version of classic cabbage rolls provides all of that traditional flavor with a minimum of fuss!
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Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 medium head of cabbage, sliced into 1/2" strips
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped small
  • cup uncooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • cup light brown sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the cabbage across the bottom of a 9×13 dish (two smaller pans will work as well). In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef along with the onion.
  • Drain any grease from the pan and add the rice, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the skillet with the meat. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Spread the meat mixture over the cabbage in the baking dish.
  • Mix together the tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar and pour over the meat and cabbage. Cover with foil and then bake for 90 minutes. Uncover and let rest for 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!

Notes

FREEZER MEAL: Layer everything into the pan and when it has cooled completely, cover with foil or lids and freeze. 1-2 days before you plan to eat this, take it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge. Once thawed, bake as noted above.

Nutrition

Calories: 456kcal · Carbohydrates: 39g · Protein: 24g · Fat: 23g · Saturated Fat: 9g · Cholesterol: 81mg · Sodium: 786mg · Potassium: 984mg · Fiber: 6g · Sugar: 19g · Vitamin A: 598IU · Vitamin C: 54mg · Calcium: 117mg · Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 11/8/12 – recipe notes and photos updated 3/23/20}

Cabbage Roll Casserole

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Penny says

    This casserole was AMAZING!!! I will never roll a cabbage leaf again. Thank you for such a tastey and comforting meal YUMMMMM5 stars

  2. Betty says

    Hi Mary, I am going to make this tomorrow but you say in the recipe crushed tomatoes but the picture looks like diced tomatoes to me. Can you clarify which it is. Thank you. Looks awesome.

    • Mary Younkin says

      I do use crushed tomatoes, Betty. I’ve found that some brands have larger chunks of tomato than others. I zoomed in on the photo just to make sure, and that is definitely a can of Kroger crushed tomatoes in the background. I’ve made this with more finely crushed tomatoes as well and it works great either way.

  3. Rosanne says

    I am definitely going to make this. One question though: I am a widow, cooking for one, but I generally like to get a first meal, then a leftover meal, and 2 freezer meals. I was thinking of making these in2 loaf pans, but I probably will have some of the beef and tomato mixture left over. Is this the same mixture that could be stuffed into a bell pepper? I’m also going to try it in my instapot.5 stars

  4. Joan says

    This recipe looks really tasty. In Ireland we would know tomato sauce as being same as tomato ketchup – what would be the Irish equivalent of American tomato sauce. Can’t wait to try this recipe thanks

    • Mary Younkin says

      Joan – That is an excellent question, you have me thinking . . . the best way I can describe the version of tomato sauce I use in the recipe is that it is tomato pulp based, but a puree that has been cooked with olive oil, garlic, basil, very mild spices. Here we use it more as part of a dish than a condiment. Ketchup is something completely different. You could use this recipe to make a sauce for the Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole https://barefeetinthekitchen.com/five-minute-marinara/

  5. Sonia says

    From experience, I feel that the cabbage has to sit in boiling water for 10 mins, so that it softens a little. I haven’t made this yet, but will try later.4 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      I plan on 8 servings from the 9 x 13 pan. I don’t measure the portion sizes when I make this recipe. Just divide the pan into the number of portions you need.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Without knowing exactly how much liquid is there it is hard to tell. But I am going to say if the can is really watery when you open it, you will likely want to drain some of the liquid off.

  6. Judy Saunders says

    Hello! Im about to make this yummy sounding recipe. Am I to lay the intact cabbage slices in the pan, or separate the layers in each slice before placing in the pan? 🤔 Thank you! 😁