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Kalyn's Kitchen

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Thanks to my friend Dolores for this Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole that’s the ultimate in healthy winter comfort food! This recipe is gluten-free, low-glycemic, South Beach Diet Phase Two. In 2019 I created Low-Carb Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole, if you’d like a lower-carb version. Use the Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

Click here to PIN Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole Recipe found on KalynsKitchen.com

[EDIT 2019 – 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 post still has a lot of discussion about that possibility, which I am going to leave in place since it shows the historical progression of the recipe! Both versions freeze beautifully, making this a great idea for Weekend Food Prep.]

Today’s my birthday, and even though this is not a milestone birthday I still like to get as much birthday mileage out of the day as I can, so I’m in San Francisco where I’ll be visiting Karyn and Bobbi. 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 now 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 at home!

The picture above is how the finished casserole looked just out of the oven.  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.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole Recipe found on KalynsKitchen.com

You’ll need two cups of cooked rice, and I used brown rice that I cooked in my much-beloved Zojirishi Rice Cooker. Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan.  (If you use lean ground beef like I did, you’ll need a tiny bit of olive oil, even with a non-stick pan.)

Remove the ground beef and then saute 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 1 1/2 heads of green 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. You’ll need to turn the cabbage over a few times so it all gets wilted and cook about 8-10 minutes.  Here’s how it looks when it’s done and seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole Recipe found on KalynsKitchen.com

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 low-fat cheese blend, and baked uncovered until the cheese was nicely melted.  (I used a blend of 80% low-fat mozzarella, 10% low-fat 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!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole Recipe found on KalynsKitchen.com

More Tasty Casseroles To Try:

Amazing Low-Carb and Keto Casseroles with Cauliflower ~ Kalyn’s kitchen
20 Delicious Low-Carb and Keto Casserole Recipes ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

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!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

This Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole is the ultimate in healthy winter comfort food!


  • 1 1/2 T olive oil, divided (more or less, depending on your pan)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 1 T finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. sweet Hungarian Paprika (good quality paprika makes a big difference in flavor in a dish like this)
  • 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 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water (just enough to rinse out each of the cans)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I used brown rice)
  • 2 cups low-fat cheese (optional; I used a blend of 80% low-fat mozzarella, 10% low-fat cheddar, and 10% Provolone.)


  1. 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″.)
  2. 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 to break the meat apart once it’s partly done.)  Remove ground beef to a bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges.
  10. 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.


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.

I use both sweet Hungarian Paprika and sharp Hungarian Paprika to make this dish.  I will leave out the sharp Hungarian Paprika if I am making this for kids.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
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 Uncle Bean’s Converted Rice would also work.) I haven’t tried making this without the rice, but for a lower-carb option you could use Cauliflower Rice to replace the rice, or use less rice and more cabbage.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole Recipe found on KalynsKitchen.com

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114 comments on “Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole”

  1. I love this recipe and want to make it again soon, but am wondering – could leftovers be frozen successfully? We can get three meals from one recipe and I can certainly eat it three nights in a row 🙂 but it would also be nice to have a meal socked away in the freezer for when we don't feel like cooking.- Sherri

    • Sherri, it says in the recipe "This freezes well" and there are some instructions about the best way to thaw and reheat. I try to include that in recipes when appropriate, but I do miss it sometimes!

  2. I know this is an older recipe but I wonder if anyone has tried it with quinoa instead of the brown rice?

  3. You mean this is easier than making gołąbki? 😉

  4. Drea, so glad you like it and if you look under Casserole Recipes in the recipe index, any casserole that says Phase One will be gluten-free so I should have some other options for you.

  5. I made this tonight, and prepped it for the week to take to work. The few nibbles that I had were really good. I am so excited to find a recipe that is gluten free and budget friendly. I have celiac, so the tomato soup versions are usually out for me.

  6. Glad you are enjoying it!

  7. This has become one of my favorite recipes whenever I get some organic ground beef (the only ground meat I buy these days) cheaper, and it never fails. Wish there were more leftovers so I could freeze some – never happens.

  8. Hi Kalyn, it came out great with the extra sauce. Just a little more simmering time, but it made a difference when we reheated it the next day. Great recipe, and it's up there in our rotation for the season.

  9. Missy, so glad you've been enjoying it. I haven't tried with more sauce; you will have to tell me how that works.

  10. Hi Kalyn, I made this once before and my family really enjoyed this. The only adjustment I am going to make to this when I make it tonight is to double the amount of sauce and use only 1 head of cabbage because that's what I have today. My husband brought some to work and when he reheated it, his co-workers commented on how great it looked and smelled. Definitely a step up from the canned tomato soup variation of this recipe my family made growing up! If you have any input on doubling the sauce, let me know, thanks!

  11. Laura, so glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Always looking for something new and interesting and this recipe caught my eye. Made it for dinner tonite and it was wonderful. Thanks for the ideas.

  13. DinnerDiva, thanks, so glad you enjoyed it.

  14. I had a head of cabbage in the fridge and was searching for a stuffed cabbage recipe when I came upon this one. I made it for dinner tonight – pretty much as directed. I did add about 1 tsp. of seasoned salt to the cabbage while cooking it to give it some seasoning. I drained the water from the cabbage before layering it. I did not use the cheese because the cabbage rolls I remember growing up didn't have any cheese in them. This simple casserole was delicious. There are only 2 of us so we have enough left over for at least 1 more meal and probably lunch for 1. I'll be making it again for me and hubby and keeping this recipe. I can't wait to explore your blog – this was my first visit and will bookmark it for future reference.

  15. Nancy, thank you! So glad to hear my blog is useful for you. And my name *is* pronounced KayLynn, although a lot of people get it wrong!

  16. Hi Kalyn!
    First I want to say…my 26 year old daughter's name is Kaelynn…so I am a little partial for this reason alone. Second, I want to THANK YOU for all of your hard work that you put into this blog. You have been my savior for some time now. I love to cook, especially good ol' comfort dishes. I started South Beach a while ago and am loving the life-style. Your posts and recipes make me so excited to cook new things again. Thanks for being one of my personal angels. I didn't want everything you have done to make my life easier go unrecognized! Best Wishes!

  17. Hi Missy,
    I have to be honest, I'm not sure how the look of the casserole will be with red cabbage. I don't think it will impact the taste so much, but I think the red cabbage might not look so great mixed with those other ingredients. I might be wrong though.

  18. Hi Kalyn, my husband accidentally bought a red cabbage for me to make with this recipe. I see that some people used a coleslaw mix with red cabbage, but do you think it could be made with all red cabbage? I don't want to ruin the recipe.

  19. Janice, so glad you're enjoying it, and thanks for the vegetarian suggestion!

  20. I've made this several times and it has become a family fav. We're all vegetarians and I just substtute the ground beef with Yves veggie meat. Making this as I write this comment because my daughter requested it!

  21. Errin, glad you're enjoying it! (And silly teenagers; they'll like more things when they finally grow up.)

  22. I've made this several times since finding your recipe, and it has to be one of my favorite recipes of all time! My teenage sons won't eat it, so I always have LOTS of leftovers to look forward to! It warms up grat in the microwave, and tastes just as good, if not better, than when it's fresh from the oven. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe!

  23. Ashleigh and Christin, so glad you both enjoyed it so much. And I love hearing how other people adapt the recipes.

  24. This is a brilliant idea! I really wanted something that tasted like stuffed cabbage but didn't take as long to make. Rolling meat into a cabbage leaf is not a fun thing to do after an 8 hour day of work. I took a ton of short cuts on this, and used Italian sausage rather than hamburger. I had no cheese other than Parmesan. This is yummy yummy yummy! It is totally gluten free as well.

    Kalyn, you rock my socks off!

  25. I followed this recipe farily closely, but changed a few things. I didn't have any paprika, so I left that out. I also added a bit of brown sugar to the sauce, as that is how my mother makes her cabbage rolls. Maybe a couple tablespoons worth. It gives it a nice savory taste! I will definitely be making this recipe again

  26. Kathy, so glad you enjoyed it!

  27. Well, I printed the recipe months ago and finally got around to making it tonight. It was wonderful and my husband thought so too. Will definitely be making again. Thanks for the recipe.

  28. well I made the "Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole" and it was a huge hit… my PICKY eater wanted MORE and my guys (boyfriend and son) were telling me how good it was and that it needs to be places on the rotation schedule. I just started eating cabbage again, I had forgotten how good it really is…and my family loves it… tonight I am fixing a sort of soup with cabbage. I will let you know how it turns out. Its in the slow cooker right now its been on all night. (on warm) but had it on high for 2 hours. now its on low. and smells so yummy.

  29. Hope everyone enjoys it!

  30. Kayln I am so new to your blog and this is only the first one I have come across but I have read through the recipe and all of the comments and I can hardly wait for friday to get here, that is when my boyfriend will be back home and I plan on fixing this for my family then. I am looking forward to this. I will happily post about how everyone responds to it. I have one 7yr old PICKY eater so this will be something worth trying. I love cabbage but not everyone else shares my love of it.

    Thank You for sharing this recipe with all of us.

  31. This was a hit for my family. This made a lot so i thought we would have leftovers but was surprised how quickly my husband and kids devoured it. I was skeptical about adding the cheese but i did and it was delicious.

  32. So glad you enjoyed it. (I tried to leave a comment on your blog, but it kept trying to make me log in to WP and I don't have an account.)

  33. I was excited to try this recipe! Here is my adaptation of this yummy recipe. Thanks for posting!!


  34. Thomas I think it would work fine to freeze and bake this in a foil container. I would undercook the caggage if you're going to freeze it.

  35. Kalyn,
    I'm working on my once-a-month cooking and wonder if this could be cooked in an alluminum pan instead of glass. I'll be splitting it into smaller portions for the freezer and would like to skip baking until the day we eat it. Thanks! – Thomas

  36. This recipe sounds and looks soo good, I can't wait to try this one out.

  37. Kay, love the idea of making this in the slow cooker; thanks for sharing that!

  38. I made this without the rice tonight — & in my slow cooker. I can use my slow cooker liner on the stove, so I browned ground round, and then added green onions and garlic and the spices. I took it off the stove and added the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Then I just stirred the cabbage in without pre-cooking. I added some sugar-free ketchup just because I had some extra and thought I might need more liquid since I hadn't cooked the cabbage. I had planned to add the cheese at the end, but forgot all about it. Loved it! I'm looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

  39. Mimi, so glad you like it!

  40. I just wrote out a long post and then lost it. ugh. Anyway, the post was about how I was pleasantly surprised tonight when I opened the lid from the container which I took from the freezer. Thinking I had thawed (in the fridge, overnight) beef enchiladas, I was prepared to make guacamole to go with them. Thankfully, I opened the container before I cut into the beautiful avocado! And, fortunately, I had left over Caesar salad which went beautifully with this recipe!!! We love, love, LOVE this Deconstucted Cabbage Rolls recipe! Thank you Kalyn!

  41. Carey this sounds good with lentils. Unfortunately no Trader Joe's in Utah, sigh.

  42. Hi Kalyn! This is my first post, but I've made so so so many of your recipes… thank you!! I just wanted to share that I subbed lentils for the rice & it was super delish! And easy as you can get pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joes.

  43. This was awesome! I used only 1 head of cabbage but added chopped mini sweet peppers (plus a couple of chopped jalapenos since we love heat) when cooking the onions, so it was kinda like a deconstructed stuffed pepper recipe too. Fun to make and delicious to eat!

  44. Made this tonight. I was soooo good! A new favorite way to do cabbage.

  45. This was so, so delicious and satisfying! Great recipe.

  46. This was great! I did make a couple minor changes but overall it was delicious and healthy. Instead of water I used a really concentrated chicken broth and added in about a tablespoon of ketchup just to give a little more thickness and a touch of sweet. I also left the cheese off. Yum!

  47. Gina, can't wait to see your post. So glad you liked it!

  48. Loved it Kalyn, I'm blogging about it today!

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