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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! I also have 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 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

Preparing Ingredients for Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole:

(Scroll down for complete printable recipe.)

  1. 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).
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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

Assembling and Cooking Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole:

  1. 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.
  2. Spray a large glass or crockery casserole dish with nonstick spray and start layering, starting with a layer of the cooked cabbage.
  3. Top that with half the meat-tomato-rice mixture.  Repeat with another layer of cabbage topped with the meat-tomato-rice mixture.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.)
  6. 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

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Yield 10 servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  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 (affiliate link) 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges.
  11. 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.

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 8g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 65mg Sodium: 508mg Carbohydrates: 27g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 10g Protein: 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.

I'd love to see your pictures if you make this recipe. Share on social media with the hashtag #kalynskitchen so I can see how it turned out for you!

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.

Pinterest image of Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

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    114 Comments on “Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Casserole”

  1. Mimi, so glad you like it!

  2. 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!

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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

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

  8. 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!

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

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

  11. So glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Made this last night, with a few minor tweaks—used ground venison instead of beef; didn't have sweet paprika, so used smoked plus a little brown sugar. Husband declared the dish an "epic win" and asked that it be added to our regular rotation. Thanks, Kalyn!

  13. Great way to enjoy stuffed cabbage rolls without all of the work!

  14. Gina, that is exactly why I loved this idea so much too! And I was very happy with how it turned out.

  15. This looks great Kalyn, I love my moms stuffed cabbage but I'm too lazy to make them. I'm going to try yours!

  16. Swimchick, I am liking the sound of cumin in this! Hope you enjoy.

  17. Hi Kalyn, Happy Birthday from Florida.
    I just popped the dish into the oven – I used already shredded cabbage for coleslaw (mixed w. carrots and red cabbage), because thats, what I had in my fridge. I only sauteed it for a few minutes but, oh my, forgot to season it. Hope, it still tastes great. I'll let you know.
    I just added cumin seeds, because, that is always in my ingredients w. cabbage. Usually, you eat it with potatoes in Germany, never in combination with rice. And the cheese is very good on top – makes it appealing to my kids.

  18. Most definitely you could make this in the morning, or even the night before, keep in the fridge, and then cook after work the next day. I would wrap tightly in foil when you refrigerate it.

    I was very curious about making it in a slow cooker when I tried the recipe. I think it would work, but I doubt this would be okay to cook all day, even on low. I do think you could layer it in a slow cooker and cook 4-5 hours on low, or maybe even a little longer.

    If you try one of these options, please let us know how it turns out!

  19. Do you think this could be made ahead and popped in the oven after work? What about using the slow cooker?

  20. Moongirl, didn't think of making it with coleslaw mix; good idea! Glad you liked it.