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.

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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.

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

4.56 from 69 votes
This shortcut version of classic cabbage rolls provides all of that traditional flavor with a minimum of fuss!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
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. Kelly Charbula says

    My husband loved this! I thought the top sauce needed salt and pepper but I didn’t have the white wine vinegar5 stars

  2. Linda says

    Followed the recipe and it was way too sweet. Cabbage rolls should be acidic and tomorrow forward with the cabbage and not sweet at all. 1/3 cup brown sugar! I should have went with my gut and skipped it. Tossed what a waste

    • Mary Younkin says

      Sorry to hear it wasn’t a hit with you, Linda. That’s never fun. Next time I recommend finding a recipe without any sweetener added or simply skipping the sugar here. I’ve made it both ways and we prefer it lightly sweetened.

  3. Amy says

    My daughter and I love the sweet and tangy addition to a traditional favorite. Thank you so much for this recipe and taking all of the hassles out of stuffed cabbage. We love it as a go to for dinner.5 stars

  4. June Volkman says

    Just made this and found it very good. I didn’t have any white wine vinegar so used a little balsamic vinegar and worked real well.

  5. Kandie says

    Love this recipe! I cut up some bacon and cooked it along with the ground beef. I also used apple cider vinegar instead of the white wine vinegar. And I used swerve brown sugar instead of regular and it was delicious! Will make again and again! Thanks for sharing this recipe 😊5 stars

  6. Kandie says

    Love this recipe! I cut up some bacon and
    cooked it along with the ground beef. I
    also used apple cider vinegar instead of
    the white wine vinegar. And I used swerve
    brown sugar instead of regular and it was
    delicious! Will make again and again!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe!5 stars

  7. Raymond says

    Absolutely a hit. I made it for my girlfriend and me. I told Treva I’d freeze some, she said I’d have to make some to freeze. Easy and delicious !!!5 stars

  8. Gayla Ortlieb says

    I actually put everything in a Dutch oven and simmered till cabbage was tender and rice was done, sauce is delicious! Easy, busy day recipe, thank you! (Also used cider vinegar)5 stars

  9. Carol Darr says

    I have made this casserole several times now and absolutely love it! I love how the flavors meld together and the delicious sauce. I see that there are some who do not care for the sweetness, but I enjoy it with the cabbage. I also love the simplicity versus rolling stuffed cabbages. It’s also been an easy dish to give to friends in need who have also enjoyed it.5 stars

  10. Katharina says

    Just made this. Saw in the comments someone ask about making it in crockpot. I have made something similar for years and always put it in the crock pot. I put hunks of cabbage on top and stir it in when serving. Also when I was short on prep time I used manwich. Works great and don’t have to chop all veggies. Thanks for sharing. Waiting for it to cook. I’m sure it will be great.

  11. Susie Davis says

    After reading the comments I chose to cut the amount of brown sugar down to less than half that the recipe calls for. It was perfectly delicious!5 stars

  12. Jessica Gibbs says

    I’ve made this several times, and it is so delicious!! My family loves it. My rice is always crunchy, though. I’m going to try pre-cooking the rice a little next time. Thanks for the recipe 🙂5 stars

  13. Shari says

    I have a couple questions (your recipe sounds great but I don’t have any ‘green cabbage’), can I use Napa Cabbage. We don’t use beef so can I use sweet Italian sausage? I only have medium grain rice, would that work? ❤️5 stars

  14. Jennifer says

    May seem like an odd question but do you steam the cabbage leaves first before putting them in the pan?

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi, Jennifer! Typically I don’t steam the cabbage leaves first; the tomato and ground beef sauce is enough to soften the leaves inside the pan.

    • Mary Younkin says

      Traditionally, there is a sweet flavor to the dish. (Some people love it, and others not so much.) Fortunately, you can reduce the sugar without lessening the deliciousness here. I’m glad it was a hit for you!

  15. Diane Humphrey says

    My husband absolutely loved this recipe! He couldn’t quit raving about it! He even told me he doesn’t want his cabbage cooked any other way from now on. That was quite a compliment coming from him, so thank you, thank you for the delicious Layered Cabbage Rolls recipe! It’s a gem.5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      You are welcome, Diane! I’m glad to hear that your husband loved the casserole. It’s always great to hear that a recipe changed someone’s view on ingredients they weren’t as strong a fan of before. Happy cooking!