Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Bake: 55 min.
Stuffed cabbage rolls are delicious but time-consuming! This cabbage roll casserole is much easier to make. Cabbage is layered with seasoned ground beef, rice and tomato sauce to create a scoopable version of the classic comfort food.

Updated: Feb. 28, 2024

Traditional cabbage rolls are delicious, warm and comforting, but they’re kind of a pain to make. It takes time to get the cabbage leaves pliable enough to roll, and I don’t always have that time to put in on a busy weeknight. But cabbage roll casserole—now that’s something I can commit to.

Cabbage roll casserole captures all the coziness and flavors of classic cabbage rolls, but without the work. In this recipe, shredded cabbage is layered with a meaty mixture of seasoned ground beef, rice and a rich tomato sauce. A few unexpected ingredients add a playful twist to the traditional recipe.

Ingredients for Cabbage Roll Casserole

  • Cabbage: Layers of shredded cabbage make the backbone of this tasty casserole. If you don’t want to deal with cutting cabbage, swap in a store-bought coleslaw mix.
  • Ground beef: You can use any ground beef for this recipe, though 80/20 blends are more flavorful than 90% lean ground beef or ground sirloin. However, 80/20 blends also contain more fat, so be sure to drain any excess grease after cooking.
  • Rice: Use your favorite cooking method to make rice. Remember that 1 cup of uncooked rice makes about 3 cups of prepared rice. If you end up with extra, use it up in our leftover rice pudding.
  • Bacon: Bacon makes everything better! The bites that contain these chopped bits will surprise and delight everyone.
  • Tomato sauce: Tomato sauce, like marinara sauce, adds a rich flavor to the cabbage-beef mixture.
  • Mozzarella cheese: Cheese isn’t traditional in cabbage rolls, but the melty topping adds to this casserole’s comforting vibes.


Step 1: Brown the beef

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large skillet, cook the beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink, breaking the beef into crumbles as you cook. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute longer. Drain excess grease.

Test Kitchen Tip: You can skip the draining step if you use lean ground beef or ground sirloin.

Step 2: Add the tomato sauce and seasonings

Adding sauce to beef mixture in sauce panTMB Studio

Stir in one can tomato sauce, dried thyme, dill, sage, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for five minutes.

Step 3: Finish the meat mixture

Rice and bacon added over beef mixture in sauce panTMB Studio

Stir in the cooked rice and bacon. Remove the mixture from heat.

Editor’s Tip: Now’s a good time to taste the meat mixture and adjust the seasonings to taste. Everyone’s taste buds are different, so adjust the salt based on your personal preferences. If the mixture tastes a little flat, consider adding a splash of red wine or cider vinegar to perk up the flavors.

Step 4: Layer the meat mixture and cabbage

Beef mixture layers on cabbageTMB Studio

Layer one-third of the cabbage in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Top with half of the meat mixture. Repeat the layers once.

Step 5: Top with the tomato sauce

Topping off with tomato sauce TMB Studio

Top the casserole with the remaining cabbage. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top.

Step 6: Bake the casserole

Sprinkling cheese on beef mixture in casseroleTMB Studio

Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the dish, and sprinkle with the cheese.

Baked Cabbage Roll CasseroleTMB Studio

Continue to bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for five minutes. If desired, sprinkle with coarsely ground pepper. Serve.

Recipe Variations

  • Cut it in half: If you don’t want leftovers, you can easily halve the recipe. Here’s how to convert a 9×13 recipe for an 8×8 pan.
  • Cook the cabbage: For extra-tender veggies, cook the cabbage in butter or oil for about 10 minutes before layering the casserole. You can also add spices like crushed red pepper flakes if desired.
  • Change up the cheeses: Any melting cheese will work in this recipe. Try a sharp-flavored cheddar, or use pepper jack to give the dish a slightly spicy finish.
  • Skip the ground beef: Most ground meats will work in this recipe. Try rich ground pork or sausage, or use lean options like ground turkey or chicken. For meatless cabbage rolls, swap in sauteed mushrooms or tofu. Get info here on how to cook tofu.
  • Swap in another grain: Skip the rice, and use cooked quinoa or farro instead.

Can you make cabbage roll casserole ahead of time?

You can assemble cabbage roll casserole the day before serving. Store it, covered, in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, remove the dish from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking. Bake as directed, adjusting the cook time as needed to compensate for the chilled ingredients.

How to Store Cabbage Roll Casserole

Store leftover cabbage roll casserole in an airtight container for up to four days. Reheat it in the microwave or a 350° oven until a thermometer inserted in the center of the casserole reads 165°.

Can you freeze cabbage roll casserole?

You can freeze the cabbage roll casserole before or after baking. Either way, cover the dish (let it cool first if you baked it), and store it in the freezer for up to three months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the dish from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking. Then bake or reheat the casserole as directed above.

Cabbage Roll Casserole Tips

Cabbage Roll Casserole served in platesTMB Studio

What do you serve with cabbage roll casserole?

Serve cabbage roll casserole with crusty bread or homemade rolls. For a hearty meal, whip up a batch of creamy mashed potatoes and a crisp side salad.

How do you cut cabbage for cabbage roll casserole?

There are several ways to cut cabbage. Each method affects how much water the cabbage will release as it cooks. Hand-chopped cabbage holds more water, so it tends to stay crunchier. Grated or shredded cabbage releases more water, so it will cook up softer, but the casserole may come out a bit runnier. Here are our Test Kitchen’s recommended ways to shred cabbage.

Watch how to Make Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 55 min
Yield 8 servings.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium head cabbage (2 pounds), shredded
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Coarsely ground pepper, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain. Stir in 1 can tomato sauce and next 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Stir in rice and bacon; remove from heat.
  2. Layer a third of the cabbage in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture. Repeat layers; top with remaining cabbage. Pour remaining tomato sauce over top.
  3. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with coarsely ground pepper.

Nutrition Facts

1-1/3 cups: 384 calories, 19g fat (7g saturated fat), 83mg cholesterol, 813mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 5g fiber), 29g protein.

I layer cabbage with tomato sauce and ground beef lasagna-style to create a hearty casserole that tastes like cabbage rolls but without all the work. —Doreen Martin, Kitimat, British Columbia