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Total comfort food! This cabbage roll casserole is a nutritious dinner that’s full of flavor. With ground beef, tomato soup, veggies, rice, bacon, and cheese, the dish includes all of the ingredients from my great grandmother’s Polish stuffed cabbage rolls — with none of the rolling and stuffing required! Pair the cozy unstuffed cabbage roll casserole with a side of cornbread, 3-ingredient buttermilk biscuits, or a basket of blueberry muffins.

Hands serving cabbage roll casserole from a dish

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole

My great grandmother’s old-fashioned stuffed cabbage rolls recipe has been a family favorite for generations. It’s the dish that we serve for special occasions, and it’s the meal that friends and neighbors request when they join us at the table. While nothing will ever replace the original recipe, this cabbage roll casserole is a great way to satisfy the craving without all of the work. Think of this as “lazy cabbage roll casserole,” since it includes all of the ingredients and flavors from my great grandmother’s recipe — without the actual process of stuffing the cabbage leaves!

Even if you think that your family doesn’t like cabbage, trust me: this cabbage casserole recipe will change their minds! The cabbage becomes tender and slightly sweet as it cooks, so that when it’s combined with meat, rice, and cheese, your kids will be begging for more.

Boiled cabbage in a colander

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a cabbage roll casserole. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Cabbage: a head of green cabbage that’s cored and thinly sliced forms the base of the casserole. So many great nutritional benefits from this main ingredient!
  • Bacon: gives the dish a rich, smoky flavor.
  • Ground meat: I use a ground “meatloaf mix,” which is a combination of ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork. You can also just use ground beef or even ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Onion and garlic: adds depth and savory flavor to the dish.
  • Tomato soup: cans of condensed tomato soup are one of the “secret” ingredients in my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage rolls, so of course I’ve included them in this recipe as well. The tomato soup is thicker than tomato sauce, and adds a sweet flavor that’s hard to replicate with sauce alone.
  • Beef broth: to thin the soup slightly. You can substitute with chicken broth, milk, or even water, if necessary.
  • Cooked rice: use any variety of cooked rice that you prefer. Long grain white rice, basmati rice, brown rice, or even wild rice will work. For a shortcut, pick up a packet of 90-second microwaveable rice.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Grated cheese: not necessarily a typical ingredient for stuffed cabbage rolls, the cheese makes a nice, flavorful topping for this casserole. Use cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, or any other good melting cheese that you like.
Pouring tomato soup into a pot

How to Make Cabbage Roll Casserole

This cabbage and hamburger casserole with tomato soup and rice is a nourishing, delicious meal in one dish. With layers of flavor from the bacon, meat, vegetables, and cheese, it’s a family-friendly way to feed your loved ones…and you don’t even have to bother with stuffing cabbage leaves!

  1. Boil the cabbage in a large pot of water until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or large skillet, prepare the filling for your “stuffed cabbage casserole” by frying the bacon, and then browning the meat, onion, and garlic in the bacon drippings. Drain of the excess grease.
  3. Stir in the tomato soup, beef broth, cooked rice, cooked bacon, and drained cabbage.
  4. Transfer the cabbage mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish that’s greased or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese over top.
  6. Bake the casserole in a 350°F oven, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes. The casserole is done when the filling is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted on top.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley just before serving.
Sprinkling cheese on top of casserole

What to Serve with Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole

With meat, veggies, and rice, this casserole is really an entire meal in one dish. That said, if you’d like to round out the dinner with some additional options, here are a few easy sides that go well with the cabbage casserole:

Close up overhead shot of cabbage roll casserole in a white dish

Make Ahead

Assemble the casserole up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Allow the casserole to sit on the counter and come to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes before baking according to the recipe instructions.

Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of cabbage roll casserole

Storage

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze leftover casserole in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

How to Reheat

To reheat a previously baked casserole, cover the dish loosely with foil to prevent the top from excess browning. Warm in a 300°F oven for about 20 minutes, or just until heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes, just until heated through.

Hands holding a white baking dish full of the best cabbage roll casserole recipe

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute an equal amount of ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken for the meatloaf mix.
  • Tomato sauce will work as a substitute for the tomato soup; however, the tomato sauce has a much thinner consistency and isn’t nearly as sweet. You might want to add some brown sugar to balance the acidity in the tomatoes, as well as some extra salt, pepper, or other seasoning. You can also simmer the tomato sauce for a little while on the stovetop to get it to thicken up and reduce.
  • Any variety of cooked rice will work. I like long-grain white rice, but a short grain rice, basmati rice, wild rice, or brown rice are fine, too. Just make sure that your rice is cooked before adding it to the casserole.
  • Want a cabbage casserole with no rice? Try substituting with an equal amount of riced cauliflower! The cauliflower rice will release some extra liquid in the dish as it cooks, so the sauce will be thinner, but it should still work fine.
  • Try other types of cheese instead of cheddar. Good options include Monterey Jack cheese, Colby, Colby Jack, Swiss, mozzarella cheese, American, and pepper jack cheeses.
  • Crock Pot: After cooking and draining the cabbage and preparing the beef and rice mixture, combine everything in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 1-2 hours, or just until heated through and cheese is melted.
Overhead shot of unstuffed cabbage roll casserole on a wooden dinner table

Tips for the Best Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe

  • To feed a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the casserole in an 8-inch or 9-inch square dish. The rest of the cooking instructions remain the same.
  • If you don’t want to bother with parboiling the cabbage on the stovetop, you can steam the cabbage in the microwave or fry the cabbage in butter in a skillet or Dutch oven.
  • Quick prep: to help this casserole come together easily, use microwaveable packets of rice. Just make sure that you cook the rice in the microwave according the package instructions before adding the rice to this casserole.
  • Bake the casserole just until it’s heated through. All of the ingredients are already cooked, so you just want to warm it in the oven until bubbly. Don’t bake it for too long or it will dry out and the rice will get mushy. You know a casserole is done when the filling is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley, chives, or other herbs for a bright, colorful touch at the end.
Overhead shot of spoon in a dish of the best cabbage roll casserole recipe

More Cabbage Recipes to Try

Hands serving cabbage roll casserole from a dish

Cabbage Roll Casserole

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 6 – 8 people
Calories 340 kcal
An easier twist on my great grandmother’s classic dish, this lazy, unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole is a simple dinner with so much delicious flavor!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 lb. meatloaf mix (a combination of ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal) or sub with just ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 cans (10.75 ounces each) condensed tomato soup, not diluted
  • ½ cup beef broth (or sub with chicken broth, milk, or water)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked rice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese (or other grated cheese of choice)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  • Cook cabbage in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp, about 7-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate, reserving the drippings in the pan.
  • Add the ground meatloaf mix (or ground beef) and onion to the drippings in the pan. Sauté until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Drain off the excess grease.
  • Stir tomato soup, beef broth, cooked rice, and cooked bacon into the skillet.
  • Add the drained cabbage to the beef mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Transfer the cabbage mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over top.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is hot and bubbly.

Notes

  • To feed a smaller family, cut all of the ingredients in half and bake the casserole in an 8-inch or 9-inch square dish. The rest of the cooking instructions remain the same.
  • If you don’t want to bother with parboiling the cabbage on the stovetop, you can steam the cabbage in the microwave or fry the cabbage in butter in a skillet or Dutch oven.
  • Quick prep: to help this casserole come together easily, use microwaveable packets of rice. Just make sure that you cook the rice in the microwave according the package instructions before adding the rice to this casserole.
  • Bake the casserole just until it’s heated through. All of the ingredients are already cooked, so you just want to warm it in the oven until bubbly. Don’t bake it for too long or it will dry out and the rice will get mushy. You know a casserole is done when the filling is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley, chives, or other herbs for a bright, colorful touch at the end.
  • Substitute an equal amount of ground beef, ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken for the meatloaf mix.
  • Tomato sauce will work as a substitute for the tomato soup; however, the tomato sauce has a much thinner consistency and isn’t nearly as sweet. You might want to add some brown sugar to balance the acidity in the tomatoes, as well as some extra salt, pepper, or other seasoning. You can also simmer the tomato sauce for a little while on the stovetop to get it to thicken up and reduce.
  • Any variety of cooked rice will work. I like long-grain white rice, but a short grain rice, basmati rice, wild rice, or brown rice are fine, too. Just make sure that your rice is cooked before adding it to the casserole.
  • Want a cabbage casserole with no rice? Try substituting with an equal amount of riced cauliflower! The cauliflower rice will release some extra liquid in the dish as it cooks, so the sauce will be thinner, but it should still work fine.
  • Try other types of cheese instead of cheddar. Good options include Monterey Jack cheese, Colby, Colby Jack, Swiss, mozzarella cheese, American, and pepper jack cheeses.
  • Crock Pot: After cooking and draining the cabbage and preparing the beef and rice mixture, combine everything in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 1-2 hours, or just until heated through and cheese is melted.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the casseroleCalories: 340kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 21gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 556mgPotassium: 674mgFiber: 4gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 541IUVitamin C: 49mgCalcium: 162mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: Cabbage Casserole, cabbage roll casserole, unstuffed cabbage roll casserole
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, European
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in February, 2019. It was updated in March, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

    1. Hi, Julie! If you like the cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery condensed soups, then you could try any of those flavors for a creamy base to your casserole. If you want more of a tomato base, then you could use canned tomato sauce. The tomato sauce isn’t as thick as the condensed tomato soup, though, so you’ll likely need less of it. Also, the tomato soup is slightly sweet and has some seasoning in it. If you’re using canned tomato sauce, I would suggest adding some sugar, salt and pepper (and any other seasonings that you like). Hope that helps!

    2. I use a can of tomatoes in my recipee. I brown my ground beef, seasoning & onions. Add can of tomatoes & add raw cabbage
      & uncooked rice with a little water. Cook all together in one pot or skillet.

      1. Brenda, that is the way I’ve cooked the dish as well. I like to use wild rice for a little added flavor. It’s really good.

  1. I only have cans of diced tomatoes on hand. Do you think I could substitute these for the cans of tomato soup? Thanks!

    1. Hey, Kristin! The tomatoes won’t be a great substitute for a few reasons. The soup is thick (since it’s condensed), so you don’t end up with a watery casserole. The soup is also sweet, seasoned, and has a smooth texture (unlike the diced tomatoes). If you’re looking for a substitute, a jar of spaghetti sauce would be a better bet. Do you have any of that in your pantry? It still won’t be as thick as the tomato soup, but it would be closer in flavor and texture. Hope that helps!

  2. Would a can of tomato soup and a can of drained diced tomatoes work? Also what about adding saute onions, diced bacon and diced carrots, cooked in the bacon fat?

    1. Hey, Molly! I think using the diced tomatoes would work — it just won’t be as “saucy” as it would with the extra can of soup. If that’s what you’ve got, though, I say go for it! Adding the onion, bacon and carrots sounds absolutely delicious. Enjoy!

  3. I am a single , Male , Senior , always trying to reduce the size of these dishes .
    Could you offer a system for the change of serving sizes down to 2 – 3 ?
    I enjoy cooking , eating , even clean-up , but alone , with no hungry neighbors,
    strains my storage capacity.
    Any recipes that can be reduced , in any way , or tips ,would be a huge help .

    1. Hi, Jim! Yes, you can do that in the recipe card itself on my site. If you’re looking at the recipe box, there is a place where it lists the number of servings. You can change the serving size for the amount that you’d like to prepare, and then the program will automatically re-calculate the measurements for each of the ingredients accordingly. For instance, if you click on the “10” in this recipe and change it to “5,” the recipe will adjust by cutting all of the ingredients in half. I hope that makes sense!

      Also, this is a great meal to freeze, so if you cut it in half and still have extras, you can save them for another meal and then just reheat them later. Enjoy!

    2. Hi Jim, cooking for one person can be hard. Have you seen the website called onedishkitchen? Single serving recipes. You might want to check it out if you haven’t already. This cabbage casserole recipe sounds really yummy. I can’t wait to try it. Hope it works out for you.

  4. Hi! So happy this came into my email this morning. I happen to have a head of cabbage that needs cooked. Do I core and slice the head before I boil it? A great big thank you!

    1. Hi, Kris! Yes, ma’am! I find that it’s easiest to core and thinly slice the cabbage before boiling. Hope you enjoy the meal! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    Hubby grew 12 heads of cabbage for us to use this summer/fall. I’m so glad this receipt calls for a lot of cabbage! I’ve made a double batch, twice now, freezing 1 each time. SO GOOD. I didn’t buy soup, but made some thick tomato goop-like slush from fresh garden tomatoes and some corn starch and a tiny bit of salt and sugar, worked super well! My husband is so excited about this dish! Fantastic recipe!