Easy Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

stuffed cabbage casserole with plate and fork

My easy stuffed cabbage casserole has everything you love about classic stuffed cabbage rolls, reworked into a weeknight friendly meal the whole family will love.

stuffed cabbage casserole with fresh dill

stuffed cabbage casserole ~ delicious with less effort

Casseroles are great but, come on, it shouldn’t be a Herculean effort just to put one together (looking at you, lasagna.) I adore stuffed cabbage but by the time I’m finished making it I’m too exhausted to eat! So my mouthwatering stuffed cabbage casserole is an epic innovation for those of us who crave that comforting ground meat and rice with classic Eastern European flavors, but are too busy (or lazy!) to make it happen.

stuffed cabbage casserole

stuffed cabbage casserole fits the way we cook and eat now

There are so many wonderfully complex recipes out there, I wish I could enjoy them all, but let’s be real, most nights I’m lucky to get anything on the table, much less stuffed cabbage rolls. This casserole is a delicious mix of textures and flavors that come together to make something equally good (might I suggest even better?) than the original dish. This one is definitely worth your time. And don’t forget, unless you’re feeding a family of 10, it will last you for days!

Stuffed cabbage casserole on a towel with fresh dill

the important flavor elements in stuffed cabbage

Cabbage rolls are beloved by so many different cultures: Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Serbia, and Greece, just to name a few!

The unique Eastern European flavor profile of this stuffed cabbage casserole is one of the most enticing parts of this dish ~ it’s a break from your regular meal rotation and a chance to sample comfort food from the perspective of a different culture. The star elements are all common to us, just put together in a different way than you might be used to.

  • paprika ~ one of my favorite spices! It’s simply ground chili peppers, and can range from mild to hot. I used Hungarian sweet paprika, which you can find in most supermarkets. If you like spicy foods I recommend also using hot smoked paprika.
  • dill ~ fresh has the most vibrant flavor, but use dried if that’s all you have. Contrary to what you might think, fresh dill has a milder flavor than dried, so you can afford to use more of it.
  • tomato sauce ~ I use a good quality crushed tomato and also tomato sauce for a texture that’s neither too chunky or too smooth.
  • vinegar ~ cider vinegar adds just the right tang to the sauce.
  • sour cream ~ sour cream sauce is often served with cabbage rolls, and so I’ve incorporated it into the casserole as a thin layer. I actually whisk together creme fraiche and lemon juice instead of sour cream, and this is because creme fraiche is more stable and doesn’t curdle the way sour cream can when baked.
a head of savoy cabbage

what’s the best cabbage for a stuffed cabbage casserole?

Normally stuffed cabbage rolls are made with standard ‘white’ cabbage. But I love to use the greener, tastier, Savoy cabbage. Choose a medium sized head with the outer leaves still attached.

how to prep cabbage for stuffed cabbage casserole

No messy vats of boiling water here! Shredding the cabbage is not only easier to prep, it’s easier to eat. Lightly steaming the cabbage in the microwave tenderizes it so that it cooks up perfectly in the casserole.

  1. First remove the loose outer leaves. Then cut the cabbage in half through the stem with a large sharp knife.
  2. Carefully cut out the cores from each half.
  3. Lay the halves cut-side down and cut them in half, again, through the core end.
  4. Shred the quarters into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  5. Put into a large microwave safe bowl and add a good splash of water.
  6. Cover and microwave for 4 minutes and then drain.
how to slice cabbage for stuffed cabbage casserole

the layering process

Start with a layer of the shredded cabbage, then top with the meat sauce, then a layer of rice, then more cabbage. I press everything down gently to compact it. On top of the second layer of cabbage I dollop sour cream (or in this case I mixed creme fraiche with a little lemon juice.) Then a final layer of the meat sauce. It’s ready for the oven!

It’s not at all authentic, but I will sometimes sprinkle some mozzarella cheese over the top during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. If you’re cooking for a family and have picky eaters this can help seal the deal. Calling it a ‘hamburger casserole’ helps too 😉

stuffed cabbage casserole ready to bake

vary it up!

This recipe is pretty perfect, if you ask me. But there are many reasons why you might want to change it up. Here are a few ideas…

Ground pork, or a combination of ground pork and bacon can be used in place of the beef. Ground lamb or sausage meat will also work, and will add lots of flavor, too. Use ground turkey for a leaner option.

Your favorite vegan meat or even mushrooms can stand in for the animal protein.

Other cheeses to consider: Gouda, Havarti, Gruyere, Provolone, Monterey Jack.

stuffed cabbage casserole with serving spoon

more cozy casseroles

stuffed cabbage casserole with plate and fork
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4.93 from 14 votes

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

My easy stuffed cabbage casserole has everything you love about classic stuffed cabbage rolls, reworked into a weeknight friendly meal the whole family will love.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American/Eastern European
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 10 servings
Calories 230kcal
Author Sue Moran

Equipment

  • 9×13 casserole

Ingredients

rice

  • 2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh dill, or a large bunch, chopped (fronds only, discard the stems.)

sauce

  • 1 1/2-2 lbs lean ground beef
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika, or more to taste (I added an extra teaspoon)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 28 ounce crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced

cabbage

  • 1 medium head Savoy cabbage

sour cream layer

  • 7 ounces creme fraiche
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

cheese topping (optional)

  • 2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese, or more to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Toss the rice with the fresh dill and set aside.
  • Brown the ground beef off in a large Dutch oven or skillet. Start with a little olive oil if your meat is very lean. Break the meat apart into a coarse crumble as it cookes. Drain off excess fat and set aside on a plate.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan and sauté the onions, garlic, paprika, and cayenne for a few minutes to soften the onions.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, garlic flakes, onion flakes, and salt to the pan and stir to combine. Bring up to a bubble and then turn down and let simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the beef back into the pot, along with the green peppers and keep at a low simmer. Taste to adjust any of the seasonings.
  • Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage and slice in half, through the core. Remove the core and cut the halves in half again, in the same direction. Slice the cabbage into 1/2 inch shreds.
  • Put the cabbage in a large microwave safe bowl and add a splash or two of water. Microwave on high, covered, for 4 minutes. Drain well.
  • Layer the casserole with half the cabbage on the bottom, followed by half the meat sauce. Sprinkle all of the rice evenly over top, then add the remaining cabbage over that and gently press down. Whisk together the creme fraiche with the lemon juice and drizzle or dollop evenly across the top. Then finish with the rest of the meat sauce.
  • Lay a piece of foil loosely over the top (don't crimp) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until bubbling and hot throughout. If you want to top with cheese, remove the foil and sprinkle across the top about 10 minutes before the end of baking to give it a chance to melt.

Nutrition

Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 547mg | Potassium: 803mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1255IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 3mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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13 Comments

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    Please rate this recipe!




  • Reply
    Audrey
    May 15, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    If someone in our family absolutely won’t eat dill what would be a good substitute?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      May 15, 2022 at 6:50 pm

      You can go simple with parsley.

  • Reply
    Alene
    March 15, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    4 stars
    Since I am gluten free and can’t eat rice as well, I’m going to have to find a way to do it with buckwheat. I’m assuming that kasha would work. My Jewish mother made a divine cabbage soup (roots in Lithuania) with beef bones and baby meatballs, tomatoes, and sugar. I don’t have her recipe for that, but I suspect there was nothing written down. And I can’t ask her either, which is heartbreaking still. I’ve tried to reconstruct it, have gotten close, but not perfect. Just thinking about it makes me get teary eyed. So does the Ukraine news as well. Now that’s heartbreaking.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 15, 2022 at 12:46 pm

      Kasha would work perfectly Alene. I would love to try your mother’s soup, I’m going to have to research that, it sounds amazing. And yes, the news these days is devastating.

  • Reply
    Mercy
    March 15, 2022 at 5:54 am

    If microwaving the cabbage isn’t an option, should we cook it on the stove first? How tender do the leaves need to be before they are ready to layer in the dish?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      March 15, 2022 at 6:39 am

      You really only need to blanch it, and remember, the cabbage is going to be shredded, so you could almost use it raw.

  • Reply
    Anna
    February 20, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    Will it work with Napa cabbage as well?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 21, 2022 at 7:21 am

      Absolutely. Since you are shredding the cabbage you can use any type you like.

  • Reply
    June
    February 19, 2022 at 8:22 am

    5 stars
    Hi Sue, I just wanted to say a big thank you for all the lovely free recipes you give us. I have learnt so much from cooking with you. Yesterday I made the Stuffed CabbageCasserole for dinner. It was delicious, I shall certainly make it again. I have had my eye on the Cardamom Crumb Cakes & shall be making them very soon. Thank you again. Keep up the good work. Best wishes, June Richards

  • Reply
    Judit
    February 18, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    5 stars
    This is very similar to a Hungarian dish called Rokott Kaposta except we use souerkraut instead if raw cabbage https://zserbo.com/meat-dishes/kolozsvari-layered-sauerkraut/

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 18, 2022 at 3:05 pm

      Interesting, I’ll have to try that one.

  • Reply
    lowandslow
    February 16, 2022 at 10:00 am

    Was just thinking we have not made our stuffed cabbage this winter and this looks really good .We save left over rice in the freezer and when we have enough make fried rice.Do you think frozen rice(defrosted) would work or might it be too dry ?Thanks,looking forward to trying this.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 16, 2022 at 3:08 pm

      I’m sure it would work, there’s a lot of sauce in this dish. Hope you enjoy it!

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