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This easy cabbage roll casserole recipe has all the cozy flavor of cabbage rolls without rice, all in one dish. If you love the flavor of cabbage soup with hamburger or sauteed cabbage, this recipe takes their comforting flavors up a notch for a healthy dinner you can make any night of the week. No rolling needed!
Why You’ll Love This Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe
- Classic flavor without the work of wrapping each cabbage leaf
- Beefy, cheesy, and loaded with veggies
- Simple grocery store ingredients
- No pre-cooking cauliflower or cabbage, and no layering
- Naturally healthy, gluten-free, & low carb
What Is Cabbage Roll Casserole?
Cabbage roll casserole is a comforting meal that combines the taste of cabbage rolls with the convenience of a casserole. The classic recipe consists of cabbage baked in layers of rich tomato sauce, ground meat, and melty cheese.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for unstuffed cabbage roll casserole, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Avocado Oil – For sauteing. Olive oil or any neutral oil of choice works as well.
- Garlic – I use fresh garlic, but you can use jarred minced garlic for convenience. You can also saute 1/2 an onion along with the garlic if you like. If you don’t have any garlic, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and just add it to the beef instead of sauteing.
- Ground Beef – I use grass-fed 85/15 beef, but any kind works. Ground pork, ground chicken, or ground turkey are also excellent alternatives. If you use a fatty meat, such as pork or 80/20 beef, If using fatty ground beef, be sure to drain the access grease from the meat before mixing into the other ingredients.
- Seasonings – You will need sea salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning for this cabbage roll casserole recipe.
- Rice Of Your Choice – Traditional cabbage roll casserole recipes usually use rice. I used cauliflower rice as a healthy option, but you could use brown or white rice instead. You won’t need to cook raw cauliflower rice separately — it will cook right inside the casserole, and does so much faster than regular rice. However, if using white or brown rice, it’s best to pre-cook it. Otherwise, the casserole will take too long to cook and the recipe would need to be adjusted to include more wet ingredients (chicken or beef broth is commonly added when using uncooked rice), since dry rice would absorb a lot of the moisture.
- Cabbage – You can chop or shred it yourself, or use a pre-shredded variety. It will cook together with everything else, so no pre-cooking necessary. Any color cabbage works!
- Marinara Sauce – I used homemade marinara sauce, but you can use store-bought to keep this recipe super fast. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use canned diced tomatoes (drain first) or tomato sauce instead, and add more Italian seasoning.
- Mozzarella Cheese – You can substitute other melting cheese like Monterey jack cheese. To make this cabbage roll casserole dairy-free, simply omit the cheese. It’s used on top only, so you can easily skip it if you want to.
VARIATION: Make it spicy!
For extra kick, try some of these ways to add spicy flair to this casserole!
- Add a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning at the same time as the other spices.
- Mix 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes with the beef and marinara sauce.
- Use pepper jack cheese in place of mozzarella cheese.
- Stir in minced jalapeno at the same time as minced garlic.
How To Make Cabbage Roll Casserole
This section shows how to make lazy cabbage roll casserole, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Saute garlic. Heat oil in a large saute pan or large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Brown beef. Increase to medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
- Mix cabbage, rice, an seasoning. In a large casserole dish, stir together riced cauliflower (or cooked rice), chopped cabbage, and Italian seasoning.
- Stir in beef and marinara. Add cooked ground beef and marinara sauce to the cabbage mixture. Stir to combine.
- Bake cabbage roll casserole. Cook in a preheated oven until the cabbage is crisp-tender.
- Melt cheese on top. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top of the casserole. Continue baking until cheese is golden brown and the cabbage is completely cooked through. (If the cheese browns before the cabbage is done, remove from the oven, cover with foil, and then continue baking.)
- Store: Place the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can keep lazy cabbage roll casserole in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Reheat: Warm individual portions in the microwave, or reheat the entire leftover casserole in the oven at 350 degrees F. From the freezer, you can either thaw first and then place in the oven, or heat from frozen. You’ll want to cover it if heating the frozen casserole, so that the top doesn’t burn.
Can You Freeze Cabbage Roll Casserole?
Yes, you can freeze cabbage roll casserole. It’s best to freeze it after baking. The cooking process will hinder the enzymes in the cabbage, which preserves its texture.
More Cheesy Casserole Recipes
Enjoy more classic and comforting flavors with these easy casseroles!
Tools To Make Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Casserole
Easy Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe
Cabbage Roll Casserole (Healthy Comfort Food)
This cabbage roll casserole recipe with ground beef has all the flavor of cabbage rolls, without the effort. An easy, healthy dinner!
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for up to a minute, until fragrant.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add the ground beef. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Cook, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned, about 10 minutes. Drain if needed.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
In a 9×13 in (23×33 cm) baking dish, stir together the rice cauliflower, chopped cabbage, and Italian seasoning.
When the ground beef is cooked through, stir that in. Stir in marinara sauce.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage is crisp-tender.
Top with shredded mozzarella, if using. (If not, just continue baking without it.) Continue baking for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and the cabbage is completely cooked through.
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Serving size: 1 cup
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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