Unstuffed cabbage roll casserole

Cabbage rolls are one of my favorite food to eat. I love the flavor combination of the meat, tomato sauce, rice, and cabbage. However, if you are like me, making cabbage rolls feels like an impossible affair. The cabbage leaves never seem to cooperate and I am left with ripped leaves that don’t work well. That’s why this unstuffed cabbage roll casserole is a fantastic alternative. It has all the flavor of classic cabbage rolls while not being as finicky as you no longer need to carefully wrap the meat mixture in the leaves. This relatively quick to make recipe has become a family favorite. As an added bonus, they can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. I always made a few of these as part of our winter preparations.

Unstuffed cabbage roll casserole


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 large cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 29oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon dill, fresh or dried
  • 3 Tablespoons parsley, fresh or dried
  • 1-3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 large cabbage, chopped or shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop all vegetables.
  2. In a large pot brown meat. Add onions and garlic, cook until fragrant. In a medium pot, cook rice.
  3. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, parsley, dill, and bay leaves. Simmer covered for 10-30 minutes. Removed bay leaves.
  4. Add rice to tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large pan, cook cabbage until tender. This will need to be done in batches to ensure none of the cabbage becomes overcooked. Alternatively, you can steam the cabbage for 5-10 minutes. I personally prefer to steam the cabbage.
  6. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Add half of the cabbage, then top with half of the beef mixture. Repeat twice more, finishing with the beef mixture on top.
  7. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for extra flavor at serving if you wish. That is my favorite way to eat it.

For the freezer

If you are looking to make some of these ahead of time, they freeze well. Follow the instructions until the baking pan is full. You can still use a glass baking pan or choose to go with a disposable aluminum baking pan instead. Then, allow the entire dish to cool. Cover with a double layer of aluminum foil, being sure to label what it is and the cooking directions. Place in the freezer. This meal can last in the freezer for up to 6 months.

When you are ready, take the pan out of the freezer the day before you want to eat it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you love cabbage rolls, then consider trying this unstuffed cabbage roll casserole.


  1. This sounds delicious! I don’t eat meat, however, I feel like this could easily be tweaked using meat substitutions without compromising the flavour. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You could absolutely use meat alternatives. I don’t know a lot about the different meat alternatives out there, but I’m sure there is one that would work perfectly for this recipe.

  2. This is a great way to get more vegetables in your diet. Love your blog!

    1. Thank you. It really is a tasty meal and a good way to get some veggies in.

  3. I do love cabbage rolls, but can relate to not wanting to take the time to make the rolls. This cabbage roll casserole looks much easier. Thank you for sharing. I’m saving it to try later!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that dislikes trying to work with cabbage leaves. One day I would like to make real cabbage rolls but for now, this dish helps me get through my cravings. I hope you enjoy it when you do give it a try.

  4. This is the perfect winter meal! Something hearty and delicious that’ll warm you up and a cold night. Love the idea, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    1. Absolutely. We make quite a few of these before winter and pop them in the freezer. Great for those busy days of snow shoveling when I don’t feel like cooking.

  5. I just saw these recently at a deli and was wondering how hard it would be to make them myself. Your recipe makes it sound easy and delicious. It looks like the perfect, hearty winter dish.

    1. It’s surprisingly easy, and oh so tasty. I hope you do give it a try.

  6. What a unique casserole. It’s been ages since I’ve had anything with cabbage. I may have to try this out in the near future. It sounds really simple and delicious!

    1. It’s one of my family’s favorite casseroles as it’s filling and really delicious. I hope you do give it a try at some point.

  7. My mom has made this casserole. Like you, I love cabbage rolls but don’t have the patience to make them. I’ve pinned this for future reference.

    1. I hope you do give this a try, it’s much easier to chop the cabbage than it is to try to wrap the leaves around the filling.

  8. I have to admit that I’ve never had a cabbage roll in my life but this looks delicious! And it sounds way easier than trying to roll stuff into a cabbage leaf. I’m always looking for new recipes and am definitely game to try this unstuffed cabbage roll casserole! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Oh you have got to try this then so you can experience all of the flavors of cabbage rolls without the hard work. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. This seems like a nice recipe to try out and it looks so tasty 😋

    1. Thank you. It’s really good. I hope you give it a try.

  10. Gosh, this is a famous traditional meal in North-West Transylvania, too, and one of my favourite meat meals! The parmesan is a bonus; I’ll remember next time I make this:))

    1. Neat! I didn’t know it was popular elsewhere but I can certainly see why it would be. The parmesan really makes it that much better.

  11. This looks so good!! Great way to add some extra veggies, too.

    1. Thank you. It is a good source of veggies and I’m sure you could add other veggies in if you wanted to.

  12. Wow this looks amazing! I absolutely love cabbage rolls but agree that they never turn out pretty. At least for me. I’ve been looking for new healthier recipes and have just bookmarked this. Thanks so much!

    1. I more often tear the leaves than successfully roll them, that’s why this is such a great alternative to cabbage rolls. I hope you enjoy it when you do give ti a try.

  13. I have not actually heard of this before (I don’t know where I have been haha). I am not a fan of cabbage, but my partner is so I feel like I want to give this a go so that he can try it! I mean I would probably also try it just to see what it’s like too 🙂

    1. I hope you do give it a try even if your not a huge fan of cabbage, this might be the dish that makes you like it. I hope he enjoys it if you do decide to make some.

  14. Ooh this actually looks delicious! Just meal planning now so I can’t wait to try that!


    1. Thanks. I hope you enjoy it when you get around to making it.

  15. this is such a nice addition to my usual cauliflower rice template! thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. I bet this would be great with cauliflower rice.

  16. I’ve never tried anything like this before but it looks really yummy and a great meal for Winter! x

    1. You should give it a try, it’s the perfect meal for this cold winter weather.

  17. Yum! I haven’t heard of this kind of casserole before, but it sounds delicious. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. It’s really good and pretty darn easy to make too. I hope you give it a try.

  18. Ooh this looks so nice and a lovely wholesome meal. Thanks for sharing.

    Tash – A Girl with a View

    1. It’s a perfect meal for the winter, or really any time of the year. I hope you give it a try.

  19. This sounds interesting. I have never heard of this before. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    1. I hope you give it a try, it’s delicious and perfect for the winter months.

  20. That casserole looks so tasty and delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe

    1. It’s so good and a nice filling meal too. I hope you give it a try.

  21. I love the idea of un-stuffed cabbage rolls. Stuffing cabbage leaves is frustrating. This is great! Thank you.

    1. It certainly is great for those of us who dislike working those cabbage leaves into rolls but want all the flavors of that dish. I hope you give it a try.

  22. This sounds like a perfect meal for a rainy day! I love the tomato cabbage combo! Thanks for sharing x

    1. It really is. I hope you give it a try, I’m sure you will love it.

  23. Oh my goodness, I feel the SAME way! I love eating them but I hate all the work to make them. This is such a great option. Thank you!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who hates working with the leaves. This meal is perfect to satisfy the cabbage roll craving without having to fuss with the leaves.

  24. This looks so good! I never really got into cabbage but will have to give it a whirl in this recipe.

    1. Author

      I hope you do give it a try. It’s a great dish.

  25. This recipe looks truly delicious. I like cabage and got to try it soon. Awesome recipe indeed!

    1. Author

      It’s so good. I hope you enjoy it when you do give it a try.

  26. This sounds like their perfect meal for a busy weeknight! Thank you for showing the photograph of recommend products.

    1. Author

      Yes, it’s a great meal when busy or on a chill day. I love making a bunch ahead of time and putting them in the freezer.

  27. I think my husband will love this recipe. I will have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Author

      I hope he enjoys it when you do make it for him.

  28. This looks yummy! I’m gluten free so this is perfect! Thanks!

    1. Author

      Glad to hear it works for your gluten free eating. I hope you enjoy it.

  29. I love eating cabbabe but wanted more recipes for it, thanks so much for posting this! Looks good!

    1. Author

      I hope you enjoy this is you do get around to trying it.

  30. This looks like a really satisfying casserole!!

    1. Author

      It’s great. Nice and filling with great flavor.

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