This hearty cabbage casserole has all the flavors of stuffed cabbage rolls but requires much less work.
The leftovers are excellent too, either reheated or even cold straight out of the fridge!
My grandma Chava (Eve) used to make amazing cabbage rolls. The leaves were lightly steamed, stuffed with a mixture of beef, onions, and rice, and cooked lovingly in well-seasoned tomato sauce. It was a delicate, flavorful, and laborious dish.
Grandma's entire life revolved around cooking for us, her kids and grandkids, and feeding us. She made complex recipes and slaved over the stove the entire day. She didn't seem to mind. That was what she did, her life's work, and our pleasure when eating her food was her reward.
I belong to a different generation. I still expect my food to taste good, but I also expect it to be easy and quick. And I almost never make complicated recipes. That's why I love this casserole so much. It has all the wonderful flavors of stuffed cabbage, but it requires much less work.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty cabbage casserole. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Olive oil: I love cooking with this flavorful oil. But if you'd rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Lean ground beef: I use a mixture of 85% lean and 15% fat.
Onion and garlic: Jarred minced garlic is acceptable, but freshly minced will have the best flavor.
To season: I use kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, thyme, and cayenne pepper.
Diced tomatoes: Make sure to drain them well.
Green cabbage: You want it roughly chopped, so it's best to buy a whole head of cabbage and chop it yourself. Bagged chopped cabbage is usually finely chopped.
Shredded cheddar: I love the flavor of extra-sharp cheddar in this casserole.
One of the best things about this cabbage casserole is how easy it is to make. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by cooking the ground beef, onions, garlic, and spices in olive oil.
Next, add the tomatoes and shredded cabbage and cook until the cabbage is tender.
Turn the heat off and stir in shredded cheddar.
Transfer the mixture to a greased casserole dish. Top with more cheese.
Bake the casserole until the cheese is browned, 20-30 minutes in a 400°F oven.
When the casserole is ready, there is going to be some liquid on the bottom. After the casserole has cooled off a little, you can very carefully tip the baking dish into the sink and drain some of it off. But it's fine to just leave it in the pan.
Frequently asked questions
While cabbage rolls are made with rice, I find that there's no need to use it in this casserole. In fact, none of my casseroles contains a starchy ingredient, and we don't miss it in the least.
You could lightly steam it, but I think it's an unnecessary extra step. It's fine to simply mix it raw into the ground beef and cook it until it's tender.
I don't recommend that. It should be fine in terms of flavor and texture, but the color could be off-putting. I prefer using green cabbage.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can cook the beef mixture in ghee or in avocado oil instead of olive oil.
- Use ground pork instead of ground beef.
- Vary your spices. Ground cumin and dried thyme are excellent in this casserole.
- Instead of cheddar, you can use other melty cheeses such as provolone. Shredded mozzarella works too, althogh its flavor profile is milder.
This tasty casserole is an entire meal, so you don't even need to serve it with a side dish. However, if you'd like, you can add a simple green veggie such as steamed broccoli or roasted asparagus (which you can roast in the same oven).
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
Like many casseroles, this one actually improves after it's been refrigerated for a day or two.
👩🏻🍳 I typically publish a new or an updated recipe once a week. Want these recipes in your inbox? Subscribe! You can unsubscribe at any time.
Hearty Cabbage Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped (6 oz)
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine salt)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 28 oz diced tomatoes well drained
- 1 medium green cabbage roughly chopped (1 lb.)
- 1.5 cup cheddar shredded, divided (6 oz total)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart (7 X 11-inch) baking dish.
- In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, onion, salt and pepper. Cook until the beef is browned, about 5 minutes, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
- Add the garlic, paprika, thyme, and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
- Add the drained tomatoes and the chopped cabbage. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and stir in one cup of the shredded cheese.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is browned, 20-30 minutes.
- Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.