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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole is everything you love about a traditional cabbage roll recipe, minus the tedious work of rolling each roll. This cabbage roll casserole is made with delicious beef rice filling and tender melt in your mouth cabbage leaves. The presentation is spot-on, too!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole is my family's latest obsession. It's a lot quicker to make then traditional cabbage rolls, so I can make it more often.

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole

Being born and raised in Ukraine, I know a thing or two about good cabbage rolls. Where I come from, it was custom to make rolls super tiny so that one roll would fit comfortably on a spoon for a perfect single bite. They’re cute! But, just thinking about having to roll them gave me anxiety, ha!

Having a job, kids, and keeping up with housework you sometimes have to take shortcuts. With these Unstuffed Cabbage rolls, the shortcut involves only the labor part, because the flavor is still spot on!

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole is just like the typical cabbage rolls, minus all the rolling. You'll love the melt in your mouth tender beef rice and buttery cabbage .

How to make the Cabbage Roll Casserole

  • You want to start by preparing the cabbage. Soften it by either microwaving it in a covered bowl for about 8-9 minutes or boiling it in in a big pot of water and removing the leaves one by one once soft.
  • Prepare the beef and rice cabbage rolls stuffing.
  • Layer the cabbage roll casserole.
  • Cover with foil and bake until tender perfection!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls - the cabbage leaves are so tender that the spoon glides through them like through butter. Baked low and slow these unstuffed cabbage rolls make the best make ahead dinner.

How to make the Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls stuffing:

  • Parboil the rice.
  • Saute vegetables.
  • Grind meat.
  • Combine all ingredients for the stuffing with a spoon or a mixer.

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll stuffing is made with the perfect ratio of beef and rice, so when baked it is fluffy and delicious, not dense and unappealing.

How to layer the Cabbage Roll Casserole:

  • Spray a 9″x12″ baking dish with nonstick spray, or oil it. Preheat oven.
  • Layer the casserole by spreading 1/4 of the softened cabbage leaves evenly, then 1/3 of the beef rice, then repeat until all ingredients are used up. Cut into squares.
  • Pour the cooking liquid. Don’t be intimidated if the casserole dish is very full, most of the liquid is combined with the rice so there’s not usually any or a lot of overflows.
  • Cover with foil and bake. You know the casserole is done cooking if the spoon goes through the cabbage-like butter. If you’re not able to “spoon” some of the cabbage roll casserole out because the cabbage leaves “drag”, allow baking until the spoon goes through the leaves with no resistance.

Cabbage Rolls Casserole is so much quicker to make then traditional cabbage rolls. No special skills, just layer and bake.

Once done baking, remove the foil and serve. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole is made by layering the beef rice filling and softened cabbage leaves, rather then rolling each cabbage roll. All the great flavors, sans the extra work. Win- win!

Make-ahead unstuffed Cabbage Roll Recipe:

To make this a make-ahead, layer the cabbage roll casserole with cabbage and beef rice. Cover with foil. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Right before baking, pour the cooking liquid, cover with foil and proceed with baking instructions.

You can also prepare the beef rice stuffing and softened cabbage several days ahead, then assemble and start baking a couple of hours before serving.

Can this recipe be made in the Slow Cooker?

Yes! Just layer the Cabbage and beef rice filling inside the slow cooker liner and bake on high for 8-9 hours.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls - lasagna style cabbage rolls casserole is quick, easy and delicious.

Other great Dinner Recipes:

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole is just like the typical cabbage rolls, minus all the rolling. You'll love the melt in your mouth tender beef rice and buttery cabbage .
4.91 from 11 votes

 This Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole is made with delicious beef rice filling and tender melt in your mouth cabbage leaves. 

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: dinner, Main Entree
Cuisine: Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: cabbage rolls, Cabbage rolls casserole, cabbage rolls lasagna, unstuffed cabbage rolls
Calories: 255 kcal
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12


Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, core removed 1 cabbage = 2.5 - 3 lbs

Unstuffed Cabbage Beef Rice Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups round rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (75/100)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, medium, shredded
  • 2 tomatoes, pureed 2 tomatoes = 1 1/3 cups pureed)
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard (optional)
  • 2 tsp dried garlic
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt

Cooking liquid


How to soften the Cabbage for Cabbage Rolls Casserole

  1. Option 1: Core the cabbage and place it into a deep microwave-safe bowl, then cover with plastic wrap so it's not touching the cabbage. Microwave for about 8-10 minutes or until the cabbage is soft* and you can separate the leaves. Option 2: Alternatively, fill a 6-8 quart pot with water halfway, bring to a boil. Place the cabbage with the core removed and boil, rotating the cabbage until you're able to remove the leaves off, one by one. 

    Set aside to cool. 

  2. Separate the cabbage leaves and divide them into 4 equal amounts. 

Parboil rice

  1. Combine rice and water in a sauce-pot and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until all water is evaporated. Watch it closely so it does not burn at the bottom. Fluff the rice and set aside to cool. 

Saute vegetables

  1. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden in color and translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, turn heat to low, and cook covered, stirring often for about 5-8 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

Assemble the Stuffing for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

  1. In a large bowl thoroughly mix parboiled rice, sauteed vegetables, ground meat, and the seasoning. Add pureed tomatoes and mix again. 

Assemble and Bake

  1. Spray the baking dish with nonstick spray or lightly oil it. Line the bottom of the baking dish with 1/4 of the cabbage leaves. Spread 1/3 of the cabbage rolls stuffing into an even layer. Continue layering the cabbage leaves and stuffing in this manner, finishing with the leaves on top.

  2. Cut the layered casserole into 3"x3" squares and pour the seasoned broth over them. Shake the baking dish slightly to allow the liquid to reach between each square.  Cover with foil. Place the glass baking dish onto a bigger rimmed sheet pan, which would catch if there's any overflow when it bakes.  

  3. Bake in a preheated to 450F° oven for 30 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325F° and cook for another 1 to 2 hours. or until the leaves are tender and the rice is cooked through.

To Serve

  1. Remove foil and transfer to the table. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with sour cream.

Recipe Notes

*If making the casserole with a large cabbage, microwave the cabbage head for about 7 minutes, remove the outer leaves, then continue microwaving until the rest of the cabbage is soft. 

Nutrition Facts
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls Casserole
Amount Per Serving
Calories 255 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 35mg12%
Sodium 1410mg61%
Potassium 465mg13%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 1140IU23%
Vitamin C 44.7mg54%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

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  • Ally

    Hi Marina, by dried garlic do you mean garlic powder?

    · Reply
  • Jacqueline Jonsen

    Need to modify my comment. Actually used only 1 tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp. Pepper.

    · Reply
  • Jacqueline Jonsen

    Made this for dinner last night exactly as directed. Absolutely delicious! My daughter and I loved it.

    · Reply
  • Karen

    Good casserole but are you really supposed to use 1 1/2 tablespoons of pepper and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Seems like a lot.

    · Reply
  • Joyce

    I was a little Leary of making this recipe. My mom used to make cabbage rolls every year and for my wedding. When she went blind it was the end of cabbage rolls. I do not know where she got her recipe, but I loved it. Your recipe was not like my moms. You had carrots and mustard powder. So I gave it a try, hoping it would taste good. I add some tomato puree with the sauce, I couldn’t have cabbage rolls without tomatoe on top. Let me tell you it was so good. I am definitely making these again. It was a little too peppery for my husband but he went back for more. So the only thing I might change is the amount of pepper. He recipe said 1 1/2 tablespoons. I might cut it to teaspoons. Thank you so much for making my day! Also I found the microwave version easier then steaming the cabbage.

    · Reply
  • Marina Momotok

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe. It was a huge hit for my boys and my husband. I’m not joking when I say there were no leftovers. Every since recipe from your blog has been a success. Thank you!

    · Reply
    • Thank you Marina, so much! Makes me unbelievably happy to hear that! I appreciate you following and your trust in my recipes

      · Reply
  • Maya Aloni

    I just made this recipe which looks wonderful. It is currently baking. I was wondering if it was possible to make it in the instant pot? If so, do you have any recommendations for how long and on what settings? Thank you so much.

    · Reply
  • Angie

    By puréed tomatoes do you mean I actually have to purée some tomatoes or can I just use tomato sauce?

    · Reply
  • Candice

    Made it, loved it, will make it again. Just one little change for next time…I found 2 tablespoons of kosher salt way too much (hence 4 stars otherwise it would be 5). Will cut in half next time.

    · Reply
  • Nancy

    Do I need to add any liquid when heating up leftovers?

    · Reply
    • If you’re microwaving, then no.
      If heating on a stovetop, add a little water, cover with lid and steam through until hot.
      If heating in the oven, I probably would add a splash of water, cover with foil and heat through.

      · Reply
  • Kristina

    This recipe was a hit! Cabbage rolls is one of my favorite dishes but having 4 kids I don’t have the time to make them into rolls! This was perfect! I used brown rice, cooked it in the rice cooker and it turned out delicious.

    · Reply
  • Vika

    1 1/2 cups of rice meaning uncooked correct? T
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes Marina

    · Reply
  • Olga

    Hello Natalya , I have all the ingredients on hand except the round rice. Can I use jasmine rice? Or brown basmati rice? If so, do I use less water to prepare the rice? Thanks 🙂

    · Reply
    • Hi Olga,
      Use any kind of rice and still use the same amount of liquid. I haven’t made this recipe with brown rice, so not sure how well it will work since brown rice does take longer to cook. If anything, just increase the cooking time until the rice is soft.

      · Reply
  • natalya

    Can I freeze it? WOuld love to double this recipe and make one as a freezer meal

    · Reply
    • Hi Natalya,
      I have no frozen this dish yet, but I would think that cooking it, cooling it, then freezing it should be fine. Can’t make any guarantees though, as I haven’t done it myself.

      · Reply
  • Karen

    This sounds wonderful, and I’d like to try it soon. I just have one question–do you brown the ground beef before mixing it with the rice and vegetables? Thanks!

    · Reply
    • Hi Karen,
      I hope you love it when you do!
      No, I do not brown the meat before adding to the stuffing. When the beef cooks together with the rice it permeates the rice with its juices making it pretty good 😉 I think if you do brown the beef before adding to the rice, the casserole might not hold up its shape as well when you try to serve it? Not sure though, because I haven’t tried it.

      · Reply
      • Karen

        Thanks for your quick reply, Marina! I certainly won’t complain about having one fewer steps.

        · Reply
      • Very good recipe as is. Nicknamed it “lazy lasagna cabbage rolls”. The next time I made it, I altered it to my personal preference and it turned out quite well. I shredded the cabbage and then chopped the shreds into roughly 1” or larger pieces and layered as in recipe. Instead of pouring broth, I poured 2 cans of tomato soup diluted with 1/2 cup water and left out the salt, soup has enough. I also fried the hamburger just until pink was gone, drained and mixed with rice and veggies.

        · Reply
        • Thank you so much for your feedback and for sharing your take on this recipe.

          Also thank you for sharing the link of your ministry’s work. As someone whose family is always involved in various aspects of missionary work overseas, I thank you for doing what you do and may God bless you and your ministry!

          · Reply

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