Cabbage Roll Casserole

Cabbage rolls are a classic in so many cultures for good reason, but they do take a bit of effort. And while we all might love cabbage rolls, we might not love the work that goes into them quite as much. But that’s where this casserole comes in. It has the same flavor as the classic, but you don’t have to roll a single thing and that means you get to crush a cabbage roll craving with very little work.

How easy is this? For starters, you don’t even have to pre-cook, boil, blanch, steam, or saute any cabbage. You just slice that cabbage up, brown some ground beef and onions, and get to layering.

A layer of cabbage goes in first, followed by some of the ground beef and onions (mixed with marinara and bacon and rice, yum). Rinse and repeat.

A simple layer of tomato sauce finishes it off. That moisture and a tight layer of foil helps the cabbage cook down sufficiently without any pre-cooking. (We don’t want crunchy cabbage after all. At least not here.)

The foil comes off, some cheese goes on, and it bakes until the cheese is melted and irresistibly bubbly.

A few minutes of work, a few layers, and you’ve got a hearty and reasonably healthy meal with all that cabbage roll flavor – and none of the rolling. (For the lazy cooks among us, that’s definitely a win-win.)

Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 hour to prepare serves 8


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (24 oz) jars marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium head (2 lbs) cabbage, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. In a large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium heat until meat is cooked through. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Drain grease and stir in 1 jar of the marinara sauce, along with the thyme, dill, sage, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in bacon and rice and remove from heat.
  4. Line baking dish with a third of the cabbage. Evenly top with half of the meat/rice mixture. Top with another third of the cabbage, remaining meat mixture, and final third of the cabbage.
  5. Pour remaining jar of marinara sauce over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove foil, top with cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly and melted, 10-12 minutes.
  7. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Small Town Woman.