Stuffed Cabbage Casserole is a rustic, comforting meal with layers of seasoned ground meat and rice in tomato sauce, smoky bacon, melty cheese, and tender vegetables. So filling and easy!
I have a soft spot for casseroles. They’re so simple to make, and there’s always plenty to share. For breakfast, this Chocolate French Toast Casserole is always a hit. You can never go wrong with Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese or my Loaded Cheeseburger Casserole, too!
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole is as delicious as the traditional roll version but without the extra work. No rolling up leaves here! You just have to prepare each tasty component, arrange them in a layer, and bake. This is a beloved recipe in my household and is often requested at potlucks.
Also, if you like doing freezer meals (they’re so convenient!), add this to your roster because it freezes and reheats so beautifully. This dish is so good because every component is delicious on its own.
You’ve got that ground meat, tomato, and rice mixture that’s loaded with herbs and spices. A whole cup of bacon and two kinds of cheese: cheddar and mozzarella. The vegetable is tender but retains a bit of crispiness. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream on top, and you’ve got one of the best meals ever.
- Meat – I usually use 90% lean ground beef. However, you can use more or less fat content based on your desire.
- Olive oil
- Cabbage leaves – I usually buy a head of cabbage from the local market.
- Bacon – Who doesn’t like bacon?! 🙂 You can use more if you want.
- Fresh garlic and onion
- Seasoning – dried thyme, rosemary, basil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
- Tomato sauce, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Chicken broth – a store-bought version is ok. However, if possible use homemade chicken stock. You will feel the difference!
- Cheese – Mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese.
- Cooked white rice
How to make Stuffed cabbage casserole?
- Make the meat mixture: First, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and set aside.
- Make the tomato mixture: Next, saute onion, garlic, then add the herbs and spices. Pour in the diced tomatoes, Worcestershire, tomato sauce, broth, and return the meat. Simmer until some of the liquids evaporate and the sauce becomes a bit thicker. Then, gently stir the cooked rice in.
- Cook the vegetable: Next, chop, season, then sauté them. Over medium heat, add some olive oil to a large frying pan, and cook them and wilted.
- Layer: First, lay half of the vegetable in a casserole dish. Then, add half of the beef mixture over that. Sprinkle half of the bacon on top, then cover half of the cheese. Repeat. The last layer should be the mixed mixture.
- Bake: Cover with aluminum foil tightly, then bake for around 40 minutes. Uncover, then sprinkle the rest of the bacon and cheese on top. Bake uncovered until cheese is golden and bubbly.
- Serve: Cut into your preferred serving size. Garnish with roughly chopped parsley and sour cream. Enjoy.
Recipe Variations and substitutions:
- Meat – You can make this dish with other meats. Simply swap the ground beef with ground turkey, ground chicken, or even sausage.
- Dairy-free – To make it dairy-free, omit the cheese. Alternatively, use dairy-free cheeses.
- Seasoning – Feel free to add your favorite mix of seasonings. Great additions here would be Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, ranch seasoning, etc.
- Rice – Swap the white rice with brown rice.
- Instant Pot – If you have an Instant Pot, you can easily make this Instant Pot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls. A great thing about makes it in the Instant Pot is that you can use uncooked rice. Simply dump everything together and cook. A great recipe and super easy dinner!
- Keto – If you are following a keto diet, you can easily turn this into a delicious low carb dinner. Simply swap the rice with cauliflower rice. Also, add more meat.
What is stuffed cabbage casserole?
You’ll find a wide variety of this recipe across Europe, Africa, and Asia. But it’s commonly credited to the Polish dish gołąbki, in which the leaves are parboiled, stuffed with meat and rice filling, then rolled and baked in sauce.
I love a good stuffed roll, but sometimes I don’t have time – or not in the mood – to make individual rolls. Therefore, this casserole version satisfies the craving just as well, but with less work involved.
In addition, you can tweak the recipe in so many ways. Use other meats, other types of rice, and experiment with seasoning combinations. As long as the main components are there, you’re good to good.
How to make Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Casserole?
If you prefer the crockpot, follow my slow cooker version instead. The ingredients are very similar. The main difference is that you don’t have to cook each layer individually. Instead, they cook at the same time inside the crockpot. Below are the steps to make it the slow cooker:
- Prepare the leaves: Parboil then cut off the thick part to flatten.
- Make the filling: Except for the vegetables, combine the filling ingredients of beef, rice, herbs, and seasonings.
- Make the sauce: Next, combine broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and the rest of the sauce ingredients.
- Assemble Stuff each leaf with filling and roll. Layer the crockpot bottom with three leaves, then spread half of the sauce on top. Arrange the rolls and cover with the rest of the sauce.
- Cook: Lastly, cook for 4 hours on HIGH, or 8 hours on LOW.
Can you make it with other meats?
Sure! Any ground meat will work, such as chicken, turkey, and pork. Also, rotisserie chicken or sausage can be used here. You can even use plant-based meat substitutes if you prefer.
What to serve with cabbage rolls?
More delicious cabbage recipes:
Transfer the completely cool leftovers to an airtight container. It stays good in the fridge for up to three days and more than three months in the freezer.
To reheat, let it thaw first overnight in the fridge. Then, pop it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 7-1o minutes. Alternatively, feel free to microwave leftovers for a few minutes until warm.
- Don’t forget to remove the tough core of the vegetable head.
- Also, if you don’t have a casserole dish, use any available baking dish on hand.
- Cover during the initial baking to prevent the top of the dish from drying out.
- Alternatively, feel free to swap the meat and make it with ground turkey, chicken, or pork.
- Feel free to shred some of your favorite cheese on top. Also, to make it dairy-free omit the cheese altogether.
- To make it keto or low-carb, swap the rice with cauliflower rice, and add more meat.
- In addition, you can use a can of chopped tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes.
- To make it spicier, add some crushed red pepper or chopped jalapeno to the tomato sauce.
Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 cup bacon (chopped and cooked)
- 1 large onion (finely diced)
- 3 cloves cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1 1/2 heads medium green cabbage (coarsely chopped)
- 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with juice)
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 1/2 cups cooked white rice (or brown rice)
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray, 9x13 or 10x13.
- Place a large frying pan over medium heat, once hot, add ground beef and cook until browned and cooked through. Break it apart as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Once done, remove from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and once the oil is shimmering, add chopped onion, cook until translucent, stirring often for about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, rosemary, basil, smoked paprika, and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce. Add the ground beef back to the pan. Stir.
- Add broth, stir and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the cabbage by cutting it in half, removing the core, and any wilted leaves. Chop it into 1-inch pieces.
- Add the remaining olive oil to a large dutch oven or frying pan and add the cabbage. Cook it over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, stir it a few times while cooking, and season with salt and pepper.
- When the meat mixture has thickened a bit, stir in the 2 1/2 cups of cooked rice and gently stir to combine.
- Layer half of the cabbage on the bottom of the casserole dish, top with half of the meat mixture, half of the cooked bacon, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Add remaining cabbage and remaining meat mixture on top.