Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole

This delicious Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole tastes exactly like homemade cabbage rolls - but only a third of the work!

lazy cabbage casserole on a stack of white plates
Jump to RecipePinSave to Favorites

Site Index Cabbage Casserole Ground beef Ground beef casserole Rice

This post may contain affiliate links. See my privacy policy for details.

This delicious Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole tastes exactly like homemade cabbage rolls – but only needs a third of the work!

Why not try serving your casserole with a side of Crispy Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts? Or if you’re not a sprouts fan, you could also serve a side of Air Fryer Green Beans!

lazy cabbage casserole on a stack of white plates

Cabbage rolls are one of those delicious things that most people only really get at specific restaurants; they are usually just an appetizer in Eastern European restaurants, so rarely do the people actually order it themselves.

Well, if it is the complexity that stops you from making these yourself, why not try turning them into a casserole instead?

This recipe produces an incredibly simple yet robust and filling, cabbage roll casserole that is sure to satisfy your weeknight carby and meat-laden cravings

lazy cabbage casserole ingredients in small white bowls

Do You Have To Drain The Fat From The Meat?

One of the most common steps included in recipes involving any kind of pork or beef involves draining the fat after browning the meat.

When you drain the fat, you are trying to remove the additional greasiness from the final meal, as well as hoping to reduce the calories by at least a little bit.

However, you don’t absolutely have to remove all of the fat from your beef, pork, and bacon for this recipe.

While it will definitely result in a fattier, and slightly greasy, end product, by skipping the draining step, you will end up with a huge amount of bonus flavor.

The fat will enrich everything, and leave every bite giving you a slightly gray, fatty, and rich taste that lingers in your mouth.

In fact, even if you do decide to drain your fat, why not keep the fat instead of throwing it away? Pouring all of the drained fat into a prepared ramekin and then covering it gives you a ton of flavorful and delicious fat that you can use in all kinds of other recipes.

lazy cabbage casserole meats all in a large pot

Could You Use Brown Rice?

This recipe calls for the use of some simple long-grain white rice, the perfect carb staple to add some bulk and calories to these cabbage rolls.

However, one of the big problems with white rice is the fact that it doesn’t really have a lot of nutrition in it, not to mention being high on the glycemic index and low in fiber.

For a slightly healthier alternative, why not consider using brown rice instead?

Brown rice not only has that fiber-rich husk still on it, but it has a lot more protein as well.

However, if you do choose to swap the white rice for brown rice, make sure to give the brown rice a really good soaking beforehand.

If you didn’t soak it, you might end up with incredibly dry and undercooked brown rice at the end.

You may also need to increase your cooking time by around 20%, to ensure the brown rice actually gets a chance to properly cook.

If you wanted, you could even parboil your rice for about 10 minutes first in some lightly salted water to make absolutely sure that your brown rice was totally cooked before it went into the casserole.

lazy cabbage casserole on a white plate with a fork

What To Serve With Your Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole

This cabbage roll casserole is surprisingly filling and healthy, with meat, vegetables, and carbs all rolled into one.

If you did still want a good healthy side alongside this casserole, however, make sure to go for one that requires very little prep time – recipes using an air fryer are great for this, so here are a few suggestions.

  • Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts

Simple, easy, and surprisingly delicious, Brussels sprouts don’t get the love that they deserve.

So long as you brown them and make sure to cover them in lots of lovely fat, then they should be some of the best vegetables you will ever eat!

  • Air Fryer Green Beans

Perhaps the easiest vegetable to prepare there is, some simple green beans cooked in an air fryer are not only tender and delicious but also crispy and satisfying when cooked properly!

  • Air Fryer Carrots

Carrots are another easily cooked vegetable, requiring very little to turn them into pure deliciousness. So long as you take the time to really brown them, they can become super tasty really fast, making them a perfect side dish for any kind of big meal.

Looking for more delicious Casserole recipes? Try these out:

Happy Cooking!




This delicious Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole tastes exactly like homemade cabbage rolls - but only a third of the work!

Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole

This delicious Lazy Cabbage Roll Casserole tastes exactly like homemade cabbage rolls – but only a third of the work!
4.96 from 66 votes
lazy cabbage casserole on a stack of white plates
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 45 minutes
Main Course
Karlynn Johnston


  • 8 slices bacon. diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 10 cups cabbage washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice


  • Place bacon, ground beef and ground pork together in a large frying pan.
  • Sautee until the beef and pork are no longer pink. Drain the fat.
  • Whisk in the tomato juice, and soup.
  • Spread the cabbage out evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle rice on top, then spread beef mixture on top. Cover and bake in the oven for 90 minutes at 350 until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Remove, let sit for a couple of minutes, then serve!

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Calories: 390kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 90mg, Sodium: 236mg, Potassium: 670mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 303IU, Vitamin C: 41mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 3mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

Made this recipe?

Share a photo of what you made on Instagram or Facebook and tag me @thekitchenmagpie or hashtag it #thekitchenmagpie.

Please rate this recipe in the comments below to help out your fellow cooks!

Learn to cook like the Kitchen Magpie

A Very Prairie Christmas Bakebook

Vintage Baking to Celebrate the Festive Season!

Learn More

a copy of Flapper Pie cook book

Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky

A Modern Baker’s Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts

Learn More

The Prairie Table

Suppers, Potlucks & Socials: Crowd-Pleasing Recipes to Bring People Together

Learn More

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

Learn more about me

Site Index Cabbage Casserole Ground beef Ground beef casserole Rice

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Marianne says

    Also…because of that extra rice I added an extra half-pound of meat. And baked it all in five 8×8 disposable pans, to share.5 stars

  2. Marianne says

    So easy and delicious ! I doubled the rice and liquid. Used V8 for the liquid. Threw in some grated carrots for color. Yum.

  3. Eleanor says

    Made this tonight for supper. We really enjoyed it. Very flavourful. I wanted more rice so doubled it and also the tomato juice and soup.5 stars

  4. Eleanor Campbell says

    Made this tonight for supper. We really enjoyed it. Very flavourful. I wanted more rice so doubled it and also the tomato juice and soup.5 stars

  5. Sue says

    Having a mom who was born in Poland stuffed cabbage rolls were a staple in our house. I have been making them for years, but they are time consuming. If I am going to make them I’m not going to make just a few (not even worth the effort), I make a huge amount so we have a lot of leftovers and they always taste better a few days later as the flavors meld together. In my opinion separating the cabbage leaves is the worst part, that’s why so many people don’t even bother making them. Making the filling and even rolling them up doesn’t take that much time. I’ve seen this lazy casserole but never made it. I decided to make it the other day because I had a big head of cabbage and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I had all the other ingredients on hand. It came out better than I thought it would but you still can’t beat the real deal. I think that the filling actually simmering inside the cabbage leaf for a long time makes all the difference. I followed your recipe but did change a few things. I didn’t use the tomato soup or the tomato juice. Instead I concocted my own sauce. I used V-8 Juice combined with some crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to to get it to the consistency that I liked. I also added a pinch of brown sugar for a subtle sweetness. Also added some onion and garlic powder to the sauce. I substituted smoked polish kielbasa (thinly sliced) for the bacon. Would make this again–maybe next time I’ll try using the bacon.5 stars

    • S. V. says

      Yes, separating the leaves is indeed a chore, so I started using savoy cabbage instead. The leaves come off much more easily than off a regular cabbage. In fact, if you cut a cone-shaped wedge into the core, the leaves come off without steaming or boiling the cabbage first. The taste is the same, or maybe a touch milder. But it really makes a difference in terms of effort and time.

    • Jolene Hoover says

      I Don’t use any tomato products in my cabbage rolls or casserole because my hubby has an aversion to tomatoes. I sprinkle a light layer of sauerkraut between each
      layer of cabbage rolls, ending with more kraut for the top layer. I also lay the unused small center leaves of the cabbage on top, add a couple splashes of apple cider vinegar, and simmer for 3-5 hours. We really like them fixed like this

  6. Angie says

    I haven’t made rolled cabbage rolls in forever and have tried my own version and a bunch of different versions of lazy man cabbage rolls but could never get the taste/consistency right. I used this recipe as the guide (i added slightly more rice so slightly more juice) and it was the perfect taste and consistency I had been searching for! And so quick and easy to make! So glad I came across the recipe.5 stars

  7. Carla R says

    First time trying this, and gotta say it was pretty f’n good!! Easy…quick and satisfying! Yum. No need to roll as my Baba did as it’s destroyed on plate anyway and tastes just as good!
    I’m saving this one.4 stars

  8. Kimmie Wargo says

    This casserole tastes just like the heart and soul of my grandmother’s golumpki minus the labor and time! Stumbling across this recipe has been the greatest discovery! Thank you for creating it!

    Has anyone ever tried to bake this recipe in smaller aluminum pans? Such as disposable aluminum bread pans? I’m wondering if I should alter the bake time? I want to prepare this dish for multiple friends and I think dividing it among multiple mini loaf pans would be cute! Any insight on cooking smaller batches at once would be much appreciated!5 stars

  9. c.michaels says

    Snowing like crazy out so not a good day to shop but a great day to cook. I have this giant cabbage in my refrigerator but no tomato soup. So I made a sauce using 3 cups v8 juice (regular not spicy), 1/4 cup brown sugar, about 1 T. grated ginger, 4 T. tomato paste. Turned out great. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I’d never heard of a cabbage casserole before.5 stars

  10. Nadine says

    I make (Polish) galumpkis that are sort of like these. I don’t like ingredients other recipes contain, peppers, onions, garlic, etc. My grandmothers recipe only calls for 3 basic ingredients. Rice (cooked), raw hamburger and pancetta (sautéed) and black pepper. This recipe is deconstructed galumpkis. If I make cabbage rolls I cook them in a large kettle in apple cider vinegar and water until cabbage is cooked. I also cook the cabbage rolls in the oven with tomatoes (canned) or tomato sauce (canned). These are my great-grandmothers recipes. This recipe is the closest to hers. I love it! I decided to try making the deconstructed version and this is basically how I did it, except I do add apple cider vinegar in it. Thank you for posting!4 stars

    • Nadine says

      I had 5 stars originally. I must have touched the screen without noticing. I don’t see an edit button.5 stars

  11. Stefanie Stephens says

    Made this tonight. I doubled the rice and the soup/juice and it was FANTASTIC! Thank you for developing this awesome recipe!!5 stars

  12. Rosemarie says

    About “real” cabbage rolls . . . . .

    My mother-in-law was known for making the tastiest, tiniest, tightest cabbage rolls in the world. A personal challenge for me has been to try to make cabbage rolls that are sort of as good as hers. Although my family says they’re just like hers and I think I’ve been really close, mine still don’t always have the uniformity that hers did. (Good thing I don’t make them that often, or I’d drive myself crazy!!)

    I wish I would have had her teach me how to make them before she passed away but what I have figured out since though, is that for tiny cbbage rolls, you either need to:

    – buy the largest heads of cabbage you can find and cut the leaves in halves or quarters while trimming out the hard middle rib
    – buy the smallest heads of cabbage you can find and thinning out the hard middle rib of each leaf with a sharp little knife.

    I also only cook the rice about 3/4 of the way. It cooks the rest of the way in the roll with the tomato juice and soup mixture I pour on top of everything for the liquid needed to cook the rice completely as my own mom used to do. That helps to keep the cabbage rolls firmly packed.

    I generally save any “scraps” and large leaves that don’t go on the bottom of the pan or on top of the “holopchis”, along with any extra filling to make lazy cabbage rolls.

    For our Canadian Thanksgiving in October I made some cabbage rolls with a HUGE – almost the size of a curling rock – frozen Savoy cabbage that was given to me in early September by a recently widowed person. (Although I’ve used frozen cabbage the odd time in the past, my preference is to use fresh, but there was no way this year-old frozen veggie was going to be used by this fellow, so rather than letting it go to waste, he gave it to me.) Anyway, after thawing the thing in a mesh strainer over the sink and trimming out the middle ribs, I had to cut the majority of the leaves into quarters vs. only in halves unless I wanted football-sized rolls like my mom used to make. So this was a first for me both in size and type of cabbage; however, I have to say that these holopchi were the easiest that ever came together for me . . . .

    Am considering buying Savoy the next time the urge to make some cabbage rolls hits me!!

  13. Roxana says

    What if you want the non-tomato cabbage rolls? What could you sub instead?

    • Julia Mendieta says

      Roxana, I have never done this because cabbage rolls are a Romanian meal made w/tomatoe recipe but I would imagine you could use beef stock. That does sound good. Good luck

    • JoAnn says

      I make cabbage rolls all the same except for the tomato parts. I use brown gravy an a little soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. I make enough gravy mix to put some in the meat mixture and extra for the top of the cabbage.

  14. Cynthia says

    If you use sauerkraut instead of cabbage, this tastes just like cabbage rolls made from sour cabbage, which is the Roumanian method!

    • Marilyn says

      I wish you put in some idea of how you did this–My grandmas’ cabbage rolls were always with sauerkraut and never with tomatoes. She was from Croatia!

Leave a Comment or Recipe Tip

Recipe Rating

Enter your email to get this recipe emailed to you, so you don’t lose it and get new recipes daily!