Do you enjoy the taste of stuffed cabbage rolls, but find the process of individually wrapping each leaf a bit too tedious? Consider this simplified version of the cabbage roll casserole, also known as the deconstructed or unstuffed cabbage roll casserole.
It offers the same delightful flavors in a far less time-consuming preparation method. This recipe for lazy cabbage roll casserole provides approximately 6-8 servings, making it an ideal option for dinner or lunch, and even as a special holiday meal!
What Makes This Cabbage Roll Casserole Easy And Simple
Rather than laboriously stuffing each cabbage leaf with a mixture of ground meat and rice, this casserole takes a more straightforward approach by layering cabbage, ground beef, and rice in a baking dish. All you need to do is combine all the ingredients, seasoned with your favorite cabbage roll seasoning, cover with a tomato sauce and bake until everything is thoroughly cooked.
“Forget the tedious rolling of cabbage – try making this easy lazy cabbage roll casserole!”
If you have extra ground meat or leftovers, try these Swedish meatballs with creamy sauce.
Ingredient Breakdown: Making A Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole
- Premium Quality Ground Meat: For this lazy cabbage roll casserole, I recommend using organic grass fed ground meat. Whether you prefer beef, pork, turkey, or a combination, the choice of meat can be customized to your personal preference. The meat lends a rich, hearty base to the casserole and makes it a complete dish. I usually use the same type of meat when making beef meatballs.
- Fresh Cabbage: the crunchy cabbage adds a delightful texture contrast, plus is a great source of fiber and nutrients, making this comfort dish surprisingly healthful. You could also mix in some fermented cabbage for extra sourness if you like. Purple cabbage would also work.
- Tangy Tomato Sauce: The tangy tomato sauce is the star of this lazy cabbage roll casserole, adding a robust, vibrant flavor. Made with fresh tomatoes, and a hint of sweetness from ketchup, the combination makes it nicely sweet and sour.
- Parboiled Rice: This rice is partially cooked, which helps it retain its shape and texture during the baking process. The aromatic flavor of jasmine rice further enhances the overall taste, lending an exquisite hint of nuttiness to the dish. I used white Jasmine rice, but white Basmati rice would also work. Mix with brown rice for a healthier version.
- Fresh Carrots: They add a subtle sweetness that complements the savory meat and tangy tomato sauce, striking a perfect balance. Plus, they contribute a wonderful crunch, enhancing the dish’s texture.
- Onion and Garlic: These two ingredients, when sautéed, create a savory aroma and add a depth of flavor that takes the dish to a whole new level.
- Seasonings: (Salt, Pepper, and Smoked Paprika) they are essential for bringing out the flavors of the other ingredients and the smoked paprika imparts a delicious smokiness to the casserole, adding a layer of complexity and warmth that ties all the flavors together perfectly.
Here in the picture below I’m showing the exact ingredients I used for this lazy cabbage roll casserole:
Step-by-Step: How To Make This Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole
Step 1: Preparing Your Ingredients
First, prepare your ingredients. Chop the cabbage into thin slices. Dice the onions and garlic, and set aside your spices and lean ground beef.
Step 2: Partially Cook The Rice
Rince the rice and cook covered with water until it comes to a boil, then remove from heat and rinse with cold water through a colander. Set aside. This step partially cooks the rice, ensuring it softens perfectly during the baking process. It also helps reduce overall cooking time.
Step 3: Cook The Vegetables And Meat Together
In a deep pan (on medium heat) add the chopped onion, garlic and carrot and cook until soft. Then add ground beef along with seasonings: black pepper, papprika and salt. Add a bay leaf for extra flavor (optional).
Step 4: Combine All Ingredients
Then to the same skillet, add the partially cooked rice, tomato sauce and ketchup. Mix to combine and remove the pan from heat.
Step 5: Assembling And Baking the Casserole
Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Next, layer 1/3 of the shredded cabbage at the bottom of a casserole dish (a 9×13 inch), followed by half of the ground beef and rice mixture. Repeat layering with remaining cabbage, beef mixture, and finish with more cabbage on top.
Pour the water (or stock) over the prepared casserole (about 1 cup), cover with a foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, give it a mix and bake the casserole an additional 15 minutes to brown the top. At this time you can shred some cheese if you like. But it’s still delicious without any cheese. The total cook time is about 1 hour.
The result is just perfect – the cabbage casserole is perfeclty juicy and tender without any floating liquid or overly dry ingredients. It just melts in yout mouth!
Serve the lazy cabbage roll casserole hot with extra tomato sauce or with a dollop of sour cream on top; Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and dill, and a warm piece of crusty bread on the side.
Best Pairings For Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole
This versatile unstuffed lazy man cabbage roll casserole can be beautifully complemented with various sides and beverages to create a well-rounded meal. Here are a few suggestions:
- Light salads like this Radish Cucumber Salad, this Watermelon Radish Salad, Healthy Coleslaw or a Fermented Shaved Carrot Salad for extra probiotics;
- During cold season: enjoy it with a Russian Beet Salad With Sauerkraut (Vinaigrette)
- Plain steamed vegetables or roasted vegetables are also great.
- Use leftover casserole in a wrap filling along with other fresh chopped veggies and a smoky sauce.
- Red Wine: A glass of red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, can beautifully complement the rich flavors of the casserole.
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- Grain-free, low-carb version of the casserole: substitute regular rice with cauliflower rice.
- Tomato sauce – I used 15 oz of unsalted canned tomato sauce. If you’re out of tomato sauce replace it by mixing 1 part tomato paste and 1 part water. Other options to use: canned diced tomatoes, tomato soup, pasta sauce, tomato juice or fresh tomatoes and ketchup. Or maybe a homemade sugar free BBQ sauce.
- Add more flavor: add some sweet bell pepper, some cayenne pepper or chilli for extra kick.
Storing The Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole
Just like the traditional cabbage rolls this unstaffed cabbage roll casserole will keep well in the fridge for days (up to 5-6 days).
It can be reheated easily in the oven or on stove top by adding a touch of water and covering to provide steam inside.
For longer storage – freeze covered for up to 3 months. The cabbage casserole can be frozen either before or after baking.
More Lunch or Dinner Recipes With Cabbage
- Red Cabbage Soup | Sweet & Sour
- Healthy Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Shrimp Cabbage Salad
- Cabbage Fritters
- Creamy Chickpea Salad With Cabbage
More Casserole Recipes To Try
Yes, they are the same thing. The lazy cabbage rolls are just a quicker version of cabbage rolls as there is no stuffing involved. It’s also sometimes referred to as unstuffed cabbage rolls. Both versions are delicious and satisfying.
Yes, it can. You can assemble the cabbage roll casserole and store it covered in the fridge until ready to bake (up to 2 days).
Yes, it can be frozen either before or after baking. Just make sure to cover it well and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Absolutely. You can replace the ground meat with beans and use vegetable broth instead of meat broth.
If your family loved this lazy cabbage roll casserole, please leave a 5 star rating or a comment below the recipe card. It’s really helpful for me and readers. Bon appétit!
Best Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole
Prepare The Rice
- Rince the rice and cook covered with water until it comes to a boil, then remove from heat and rinse with cold water through a colander. Set aside. The partially cooked rice will ensure it softens adequately during oven baking.
Stove Top Cooking
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Then continue by cooking in a deep pan (on medium heat) the chopped onion, garlic and carrot until soft.
- Then add ground beef along with seasonings such as black pepper, papprika and salt. Just until no longer red.
- Then add the partially cooked rice, tomato sauce and ketchup (for a more intense flavor) in the same skillet. Mix to combine and remove the pan from heat.
Assemble The Casserole And Bake In The Oven
- Next, layer 1/3 of the shredded cabbage in the bottom of a casserole dish (a 9×13 inch), followed by half of the ground beef and rice mixture.
- Repeat layering with remaining cabbage, beef mixture, and finish with cabbage on top.
- Pour the water (or stock) over the prepared casserole, cover and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove the foil, give it a mix and bake the casserole an additional 15 minutes to brown the top.
- At this time you can shred some cheese if you like. But it’s still delicious without cheese.The total cook time is about 1 hour. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and dill. Dinner is served!
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.
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