An enjoyable blend of flavors this old-fashioned Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole with sausage makes an easy family meal.
Whether we’re trying to eat more green vegetables or working to get dinner on the table fast, this cabbage hot dish with sauerkraut is always a winner!
This post is sponsored by Ohio Pork, but all opinions are my own!
Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe
Just the right blend of flavors come together in this Cabbage Roll Casserole recipe so you can enjoy each ingredient as it compliments the others. This healthy comfort food casserole is so easy to make.
Savory sausage pairs with cabbage and onion which adds a light crunch and fiber. Sauerkraut brings a hint of bitter to balance the sweet tomato sauce, while rice absorbs a lot of the other flavors and helps fill you up.
Cabbage on its own is bland, so it’s best enjoyed with a meaty flavor. Pork sausage has a different, often preferable flavor profile to hamburger and is typically the same price or cheaper. Whether it’s this recipe or our Sauerkraut Casserole we find that sausage is the best meat to use!
If you enjoy this casserole check out our warm Smoked Sausage & Cheesy Potato Casserole and Baked Pork Chop Casserole.
Why This Recipe Works
- Cabbage is plentiful and affordable, so it’s great to use in a casserole along with rice to help fill you up. The meat, tomato sauce and sauerkraut add flavor!
- Prep ahead by browning the meat and chopping the cabbage, then making the layers is super easy when you’re ready to bake.
- Since there’s a generous layer of sauce of top your cabbage roll inspired dish, it will be moist and tender as opposed to becoming tough or dried out.
- There’s so little effort required this recipe is also known as Lazy Man Cabbage Rolls
- The leftovers reheat well.
Cabbage & Sausage Casserole
Satisfying all of your tastebuds this cabbage and sausage casserole features vegetables, a starch and a protein. This is a balanced dish that can be served solo or alongside some mashed potatoes or garlic toast.
When we serve pork recipes we are not only supporting our farming family, but more than 3,500 family farms in Ohio that raise enough food to feed about 25 million people. So when you buy pork at the grocery store you are supporting lots of Ohio farmers!
Every 3 ounces of pork is packed full of 22 – 24 grams of protein which helps me accomplish my goals of smarter eating. Whether it’s our Ham, Egg & Cheese Casserole or Pierogies & Kielbasa I know eating protein is important!
Best Type of Meat to Go with Cabbage
We have tested this recipe with a variety of ground meats and regular pork sausage is the best! Ground beef is fine, but sausage just makes the meal more memorable.
My husband predicted the Italian and Zesty sausage would be too spicy and he’s right. All of our taste testers agree that when using any meat with more spices the only thing you taste is the spices. The hot flavors over power every other ingredient.
A more mild protein with a better balance of meaty flavor and a hint of fat is the best compliment to all of the other ingredients.
- Pork sausage – a mild loose, ground meat with mild seasonings without any extra spice works best.
- Cabbage – we typically use a small head of cabbage and chop into 1 to 2 inch squares, but Napa cabbage can be used as well.
- Onion – adds a little crunch and depth of flavor when softened in the browned meat.
- Instant Rice – makes the casserole more filling and absorbs extra liquid from the tomato juice and cooks as everything else bakes. Be sure to use a fast cooking white rice, avoid traditional brown rice that may need a lot more time and moisture.
- Sauerkraut – some recipes call for vinegar, but sauerkraut is alkaline and brings just a little zing and provides subtle balance. My husband might use a whole jar for a lot of zing if the choice was left up to him.
- Tomato sauce – adds a beautiful layer of color, hint of natural sweetness and brings the liquid needed to help the rice cook.
How to Make Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole
Begin by coarsely chopping a small head of cabbage or half of a large head. Discard the solid white portions near the stem and heart of the head.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and add bite size pieces of raw cabbage evenly across the bottom.
In a large skillet over medium high heat brown meat and drain. Add onions to the meat to soften.
Add meat and onions on top of the cabbage.
Sprinkle uncooked minute rice on top of the meat. Then cover with one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.
Spread out sauerkraut next. I use a fork to get the sauerkraut out the jar.
So the sauerkraut is lightly drained before adding. Some moisture is good to help the rice cook, but too much will make the casserole soupy.
Then finish with a layer of the other can of tomato sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and finish baking for the last 15 minutes so the casserole can finish baking and begin to brown on top while staying moist.
Difference in an Unstuffed Cabbage Roll & Cabbage Roll Casserole
A cabbage roll casserole layers all of the ingredients individually in a casserole dish before baking.
Where Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls cooks all the ingredients together in a skillet or cooks and mixes everything in a skillet and then pours over top of the cabbage in a casserole dish.
The ingredients are the same, how they are mixed together is slightly different, so the flavors will be very similar.
Mix all the filling together and pour on top of the cabbage.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Ham makes a good substitute for sausage as it is also salted to compliment the predominantly earthy cabbage, rice and tomato flavors.
- Stick with a salt and peppered very lightly seasoned breakfast sausage for this recipe, avoid spicy meats as they will dominate every other flavor.
- We look forward to trying this recipe with browned coins of Kielbasa in place of the ground sausage.
More Easy Casserole Recipes:
Everything Bagel & Sausage Casserole has such a rich combination of ingredients that are super memorable.
Pork Chop & Stuffing Casserole is an old-fashioned classic that features homestyle cooking at its finest.
Bacon Breakfast Casserole is a classic egg and cheese dish that creates thick, generous portions.
Layered Cabbage Roll Casserole
- 8 cups cabbage, coarsely chopped 1 small head of cabbage
- 1 pound sausage cooked and drained
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 cup minute rice uncooked
- 1 cup sauerkraut
- 2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
- Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook sausage and onion in a skillet until no pink remains in the sausage and onions are tender.
- Layer cabbage in bottom of the dish.
- Then layer meat and onions evenly over cabbage.
- Sprinkle uncooked minute rice next then add one can of tomato sauce.
- Add layer of sauerkraut on top and then smooth remaining can of tomato sauce out evenly on top.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Then uncover and cook the remaining 15 minutes.
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