Unstuffed cabbage rolls are a delicious way to enjoy all the flavor of homemade cabbage rolls without any of the fuss!
This Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole is an easy must-make recipe that everyone will love! Layers of hearty beef, seasoned rice, and shredded cabbage are topped with a savory tomato sauce and baked to bubbly perfection! Sometimes referred to as “lazy cabbage rolls” this baked entrée is super easy to make in one pan, but so flavorful. It’s also loaded with healthy ingredients. Try it for supper tonight with some crusty bread.
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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole!
- No wrapping or rolling is required! Simply prepare the ingredients and layer them in the prepared dish, then pop it in the oven!
- Healthy, hearty, and a potluck favorite, unstuffed cabbage rolls can be cooked in advance, covered, and shared at a potluck or party! Pair unstuffed cabbage roll casserole with a tangy Greek Salad Recipe and some Sourdough Soda Bread.
- Similar to the Weight Watchers stuffed cabbage rolls recipe, this casserole is still low in calories, but so much easier to put together! It’s great for workday lunches that will keep everyone energized all day.
Ingredients and Variations
MEAT & VEGGIES Fresh ground beef is cooked with flavorful onions and garlic! Plus the sliced cabbage gives the dish a healthy crunch! Unstuffed cabbage roll casserole is also an excellent way to use up leftover ground turkey, too!
RICE Instant or converted rice cooks up with the ground beef, making this dish that much faster to get on the table. Keeping it low carb or keto? Sub in cauliflower rice for the regular rice, or omit it altogether and add extra meat and cabbage or a bag of frozen veggies!
SAUCE Pre-made pasta sauce is a huge timesaver in this recipe! Choose mild, spicy, mushroom, or a garden blend. Mix in some sweet and savory condiments (per recipe) to really punch up the flavor!
How to Make Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
Super easy assembly! Just cook, layer, and bake!
- Sauté beef and vegetables. Add rice.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl.
- Layer the casserole as follows:
- Bottom – 1/3 cabbage, 1/2 beef & rice, 1/3 sauce.
- Middle – 1/3 cabbage, 1/2 beef & rice, 1/3 sauce.
- Top – 1/3 cabbage, 1/3 sauce
- Cover and bake until bubbly.
In a Slow Cooker
Unstuffed cabbage roll casserole can be made Crock Pot or slow cooker:
- Make as directed in the recipe below, just sauté the ground beef, onions, and garlic in a skillet first.
- Layer the remaining ingredients and cover.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-3 hours until cabbage is soft and casserole is bubbly.
Tips & Tricks
- Use a can of tomato soup if you don’t have pasta sauce on hand. Add 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to the condensed soup for added flavor.
- Short on time? Purchased pre-shredded cabbage in bags that is ready to go in a pinch!
- Experiment with different colors of cabbage like green and purple for a new look!
Can you Make it Ahead?
The ground beef and rice mixture can be made and then assembled into the unstuffed cabbage roll casserole. Cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Or, bake completely, cool, cover, and keep in the refrigerator.
Can You Freeze?
Freeze portions in air-tight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. This casserole heats up quickly, either in portions on the stovetop or in the microwave. Leftovers will taste even better as the flavors blend together!
Easy Recipes To Try!
- Cabbage and Potato Foil Pack – a quick and easy clean up!
- Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage – so flavorful.
- Skillet Lasagna – easy one pan dinner.
- Turkey Tetrazzini – perfect way to use up leftover turkey.
- Hamburger Casserole – so easy and cheesy!
Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cups onion chopped, about 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup uncooked converted rice like Minute Rice
- 2 ½ cups tomato pasta sauce or tomato sauce, 1 can (spicy, or your favorite flavor)
- 3 Tablespoons vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8-9 cups cabbage shredded, about ½ large head of cabbage
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
- Add beef, onion, and garlic to a medium skillet. Cook until browned, breaking up meat with meat chopper or a wooden spoon, about 5-6 minutes. Add rice, stir, and set aside.
- In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, combine pasta sauce, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.
- Layer bottom of baking dish with ⅓ of the cabbage. Spoon ½ of the rice mixture on top and drizzle with ⅓ of the tomato sauce mixture. Layer ⅓ of the cabbage, remaining ½ of the rice mixture and drizzle with ⅓ of tomato sauce mixture. Layer remaining ⅓ of the cabbage and ⅓ of the tomato sauce mixture. See notes for laye details.
- Cover and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, continue to bake uncovered for 15-30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender, rice is cooked, and casserole is bubbling.
- Gently stir and serve.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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Definitely yummy. I did only use 1 tblsp sugar with the jarred pasta sauce. I also added crushed chili peppers to the meat/rice (used brown minute rice) which gave a nice spice. Otherwise I followed recipe. Perhaps next time I’d use plain tomato sauce and not pasta sauce in a jar to cut the sweetness a bit. All in all a very yummy easy (inexpensive) meal.
It’s an easy recipe to change to suit your taste Nadine, so glad you enjoyed it!
Is instant white rice the same as converted rice? If not, can I use instant white rice in this recipe?
Converted rice is not the same, and takes 20-25 minutes to cook typically. Minute Rice, or converted rice, will equate to about 1 ½ cups of cooked rice. While I haven’t tried it, you could try to cook ½ cup the converted rice about two thirds of the way, and add it in that way.
How the hell can I print this recipe in a few pages…… NOT 30 or more pages?????!!!!!
There is a print button right near above the full recipe ingredients and instructions. Clicking that will allow you to print a nicely formatted recipe!
I was excited about this recipe until I saw that it makes 8 servings. So many families are 2 – 4 people. Please have recipes adjusted accordingly. I won’t make it because it’s too much time and waste if we don’t like it.
You can adjust the number of servings on the PRINT page once you click print (find the print button just above the full recipe ingredients and instructons). Please note that adjusting the servings will adjust only the amounts on the ingredients list (and not the written directions).
Made this for supper tonight and was delicious!! Will be added to my regular menu rotation.
So glad to hear that Shauna! It’s so easy and so good!
Can this be done in a large frypan?
Hi Joy, I have not tried this in a frying pan, but I think it’d work. Perhaps follow directions similar to the Egg Roll in a Bowl. Let us know if you try it!
I can’t rate this yet because I haven’t made it, but the recipe looks great! I too wondered about using brown rice. I know it takes awhile to cook brown rice, so I may try this recipe with partially cooked brown rice. I can even make the rice a day ahead of time. Thanks for the recipe!!!
You’re welcome Janet! I haven’t used brown rice yet, but partially cooked is a great idea. It’d taste awesome in this casserole.
Thank you 🙂
Made this for a potluck dinner. I put some chopped up kielbasa into the casserole. This turned out okay, I think it would be better with stewed tomatoes instead of the sauce. This sauce was a bit on the sweet side.
Kielbasa sounds like an amazing addition to this recipe Kim! Stewed tomatoes would be delicious too! Perhaps the sauce you used had a little added sugar. That could be something to check.
Love stuffed cabbage….but what a time saver…definitely on the dinner menu this week
Yes, definitely a much quicker way to enjoy the same delicious flavors Irene. Enjoy!
Easy to do in a slow cooker too!
Sure is Mary!
How can I make this without the minute rice (I can’t get that in my country)? I can get white, whole wheat, black and red but no converted. Would love to make this.
Minute Rice, or converted rice, will equate to about 1 ½ cups of cooked rice. While I haven’t tried it, you could try to cook ½ cup regular white rice about two thirds of the way cooked, and add it in that way. Let us know if you try it Sherri!