Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
Thanks to my friend Dolores for this Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole that’s the ultimate in healthy winter comfort food! I also have Low-Carb Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, if you’d like a lower-carb version.
Today’s my birthday, and having a birthday that’s close to the end of the year means a double-dose of reflecting on life every December. One thing I’ve been thinking for a while is how ironically it seemed easier to eat healthy meals when I went off to work every day. In those days I had to take a lunch, and when I got home I had to work on the blog, so there wasn’t much time to go out to eat. Being forced to plan ahead for meals meant I always made diet-friendly casseroles or soups on the weekend to make sure my freezer was well-stocked to get me through the week.
That’s a habit I’m going to work on cultivating again, so over the weekend I made this amazing Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole and I have six servings of it in the freezer waiting for me! This casserole started with a recipe that my friend Dolores sent me after she’d mentioned it on Facebook, and as soon as I saw her recipe I knew I’d love it.
But I do like to add my own twist to recipes, and although I closely followed her idea for a layered dish with cabbage and a meat-rice-tomato mixture, I used less meat, spiced the meat mixture up a bit, used more cabbage in proportion to the other ingredients (which Dolores recommended), and also added some low-fat cheese on top. The red tomato sauce and cheese made this look like lasagna, but I love the healthy idea of a layered dish made with cabbage. If you like cabbage at all, I promise you’ll love this recipe.
What ingredients do you need?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Olive Oil (affiliate link)
- ground beef
- Minced Garlic (affiliate link) or minced fresh garlic
- Dried Thyme (affiliate link)
- sweet Hungarian Paprika, preferably Szeged Sweet Paprika (affiliate link)
- sharp Hungarian Paprika, preferably Szeged Hot Paprika (affiliate link)
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- green cabbage
- caned petite dice tomatoes with juice
- canned tomato sauce
- cooked rice (see notes)
- grated cheese
Want a low-carb version of Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole?
In March 2019 I finally posted Low-Carb Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, which is a. low-carb version of this recipe that uses cauliflower rice. We were thrilled at how well the low-carb version turned out, so check that out if you’d like a version with less carbs. This original recipe still has a lot of fans, and this post has discussions about that possibility, which I am going to leave in place since it shows the historical progression of the recipe! And you can also see how my photography skills have improved!
How to Make Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- You’ll need two cups of cooked rice, and I used brown rice that I cooked in my much-beloved Zojirishi Rice Cooker (affiliate link).
- Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan. (If you use lean ground beef, you’ll need a bit of olive oil, even with a non-stick pan.)
- Remove the ground beef and then brown the onions in a little olive oil. When onions are starting to brown, add the minced garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook a few minutes more.
- Then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and browned ground beef and let the mixture simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- While that simmers, chop up the cabbage. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven with high sides, and cook the cabbage until it’s wilted and about half cooked.
- Here’s how the cabbage looks when it’s done and seasoned with a little salt and pepper.
- When the meat and tomato sauce mixture has cooked 15-20 minutes and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups of cooked rice and gently combine
- Spray a large glass or crockery casserole dish with nonstick spray and start layering, starting with a layer of the cooked cabbage
- Top that with half the meat-tomato-rice mixture. Repeat with another layer of cabbage topped with the meat-tomato-rice mixture
- Cover the casserole tightly with foil and bake at 350F/180C for 40 minutes (or until it’s just starting to bubble on the edges.
- Cheese is completely optional, but at that point I removed the foil, sprinkled over 2 cups of a cheese blend, and baked uncovered until the cheese was nicely melted. (I used a blend of 80% mozzarella, 10% cheddar, and 10% Provolone.
- And here’s how the finished casserole looked when it came out of the oven! Thanks Dolores for a recipe idea that I know is going to be a long-term repeater at my house!
More Tasty Casseroles To Try:
- Cheesy Vegetarian Casserole (with Cauliflower Rice)
- Ham and Broccoli Casserole au Gratin
- Ground Beef Stroganoff Casserole
Weekend Food Prep:
This recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!
- 1 1/2 T olive oil, divided (more or less, depending on your pan)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped small
- 1 T finely minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. sweet Hungarian Paprika (see notes)
- 1/2 tsp. sharp Hungarian Paprika (optional; if making for kids I might leave this out)
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (for seasoning meat mixture and cooked cabbage)
- 1 1/2 heads green cabbage, coarsely chopped
- 1 14.5 oz. can petite dice tomatoes with juice
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup water (just enough to rinse out each of the cans)
- 2 cups cooked rice (see notes)
- 2 cups cheese (optional; see notes)
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Spray a large glass or crockery casserole dish with non-stick spray. (I used a dish that was 12″ x 10″.)
- Heat 1-2 tsp. olive oil in a large frying pan; add ground beef and cook until it’s done and nicely browned, breaking apart as it cooks. (I like to use a potato masher (affiliate link) to break the meat apart once it’s partly done.) Remove ground beef to a bowl.
- In the same pan, add a little more olive oil if needed, then add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika and cook about 2 minutes more.
- Then add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, and ground beef. Rinse each of the cans out with a little water (about 1/4 cup total) and add to the pan. Let mixture simmer until it’s hot and slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
- While the meat mixture simmers, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, and remove any wilted outer leaves, and then chop the cabbage coarsely into pieces. (They don’t have to be all the same size. I chopped it into pieces that varied from 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches.)
- Heat about 2 tsp. olive oil in a large frying pan or dutch oven with high sides, add the cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks. Season cabbage with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
- When the meat and tomato sauce mixture has cooked 15-20 minutes and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups of cooked rice and gently combine.
- Spray a large glass or crockery casserole dish with non-stick spray and the layer half the cabbage, half the meat mixture, other half of cabbage, and other half of meat mixture.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges.
- Remove foil and sprinkle on cheese (if using.) Bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to slightly brown. Serve hot.
I use both Sweet Hungarian Paprika (affiliate link) and Sharp Hungarian Paprika (affiliate link) to make this dish. I love Szeged Paprika (affiliate link) and always use that brand; good quality paprika makes a big difference here. I might leave out the Sharp Hungarian Paprika if making this for kids.
I used brown rice, but use any rice you prefer. I used a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and Provolone for the cheese.
This freezes well, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it several more times when I eat the portions I have in the freezer. To reheat, I would recommend thawing overnight in the refrigerator and then either microwaving it until hot or heating in the oven in a glass dish covered with foil.
This recipe from my good friend Dolores.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 508mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 22g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
If you want a low-carb option for this recipe, check out my Low-Carb Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole which uses cauliflower rice. Cabbage is an extremely low-carb vegetable, and since this recipe is half cabbage that goes a long way towards making it a good option for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. If you’re making this for South Beach it’s recommended to use low-fat ground beef, low-fat cheese, and brown rice (or a low-glycemic type of white rice like Ben’s Converted Rice would also work.)
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Casseroles to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole was first posted in 2011, after I got the recipe from my friend Dolores. The recipe was last updated with more information in 2023.