Cabbage Rolls Casserole

Healthy Cabbage Rolls Casserole that doesn’t require pre-cooking rice, boiling cabbage and wrapping the leaves. Lazy man cabbage rolls.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 115 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed & divided
  • 1.5 lbs extra lean ground turkey
  • 2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked*
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar, divided
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 medium cabbage (3 lbs), thinly shredded
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
  • Greek yoghurt (for garnish)
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and half of garlic. Saute until golden brown stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet brown ground turkey, breaking into pieces with a spatula. Add onion and garlic from step 1, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, rice (see Notes), water, 1 tsp brown sugar, bay leaves, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. In the meanwhile, remove the outer leaves from cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half and using a sharp knife or mandoline thinly slice/shred it. Place in a mixing bowl along with 1/8 tsp salt. Massage cabbage using your hands until the volume of cabbage decreases. This helps to soften the cabbage.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. In a 2.5″ deep 9 x 13 casserole dish, spread evenly half of the shredded cabbage topping with half of the meat-rice sauce. Then another layer of remaining cabbage and another layer of meat-rice sauce, until all used up.
  5. To remaining can of crushed tomatoes, add remaining garlic, 1 tsp of brown sugar, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper and mix together. Pour over the layered casserole, spreading evenly with spatula. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 90 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 10 minutes and cut with a knife into 8 pieces. Serve warm (I like hot) with a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt and a slice of rye bread. The casserole tastes even better the next day and makes great leftovers and work lunch.

Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 3 days. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To defrost, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in a microwave.


*A few readers reported that rice was still uncooked after an hour. I didn’t have this problem when creating the recipe, neither I had a chance to re-test this casserole again. Alternatively, you could pre-cook the rice with half amount of water and time as specified on the package.

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