Layered Cabbage Rolls

Looking for a comforting yet simple dinner idea? Look no further than these Layered Cabbage Rolls! This recipe puts a delightful twist on the traditional cabbage roll, offering the same rich flavors but in a much easier, layered format. With tender cabbage, savory ground beef, and a tangy tomato sauce, this dish is sure to become a favorite in your household. Plus, it’s perfect for feeding a crowd or meal prepping for the week ahead.


  • 1 medium head of cabbage, sliced into 1/2″ strips
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ⅔ cup uncooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar


  1. Prepare the Cabbage Base: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the cabbage strips evenly across the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish or divide between two smaller pans. This creates a base for your delicious layered rolls.
  2. Cook the Beef Mixture: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and chopped onion until the beef is browned and the onion is translucent. Drain any excess grease from the skillet. To the skillet, add the uncooked rice, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  3. Layer the Ingredients: Once the beef mixture is seasoned to perfection, pour in the crushed tomatoes and mix until everything is well incorporated. Spread this flavorful meat mixture evenly over the cabbage in your baking dish.
  4. Create the Tomato Sauce: In a separate bowl, combine the tomato sauce, white wine vinegar, and light brown sugar. This tangy-sweet sauce adds an extra dimension of flavor to your cabbage rolls. Pour the sauce over the meat and cabbage in the baking dish, ensuring everything is evenly coated.
  5. Bake to Perfection: Cover the baking dish with foil and place it in the preheated oven. Let it bake for 90 minutes, allowing all the flavors to meld together beautifully. After baking, remove the foil and let the dish rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. This ensures that the layers set and the flavors intensify.
  6. Serve and Enjoy: Once rested, dish out generous portions of these delicious layered cabbage rolls onto plates. Each bite offers a satisfying blend of tender cabbage, seasoned beef, and tangy tomato sauce. Whether enjoyed as a weeknight dinner or served at a family gathering, this comforting meal is sure to please everyone at the table.

Serving and Storage Tips

Serving Tips:

  1. Garnish with fresh herbs: Sprinkle chopped parsley or dill over the top of the cabbage rolls before serving for a burst of freshness and color.
  2. Pair with sides: Serve the layered cabbage rolls alongside mashed potatoes, crusty bread, or a crisp green salad for a well-rounded meal.
  3. Add a dollop of sour cream: A dollop of sour cream on top of each serving adds a creamy contrast to the savory flavors of the dish.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges: Offer lemon wedges on the side for a hint of acidity to brighten up the flavors of the cabbage rolls.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigerate leftovers: Store any leftover cabbage rolls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  2. Freeze for later: To freeze, place individual portions of the cabbage rolls in freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
  3. Reheat properly: When ready to enjoy leftovers, reheat the cabbage rolls in the microwave or oven until heated through. Add a splash of water or broth to prevent them from drying out during reheating.
  4. Consider portioning: If meal prepping, consider portioning the cabbage rolls into individual servings before storing. This makes it easier to grab a quick meal when needed without having to thaw the entire batch.
  5. Label and date: Remember to label your containers with the contents and date before storing in the fridge or freezer to keep track of freshness.


  1. Vegetarian Option: For a meat-free version, substitute the ground beef with cooked lentils or your favorite plant-based ground meat alternative. Add extra veggies like diced bell peppers or shredded carrots for added texture and flavor.
  2. Mediterranean Twist: Incorporate Mediterranean flavors by seasoning the beef mixture with oregano, basil, and a hint of cinnamon. Add chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese between the layers for a tangy and salty kick.
  3. Asian-Inspired Flavors: Infuse the dish with Asian flair by using ground pork seasoned with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Replace the tomato sauce with a mixture of hoisin sauce and a splash of rice vinegar. Add sliced water chestnuts or bamboo shoots for a crunchy element.
  4. Spicy Variation: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, add diced jalapeños or red pepper flakes to the beef mixture. Drizzle sriracha sauce over the finished dish before serving for an extra kick.
  5. Cheesy Layer: Sprinkle shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese between the layers of cabbage and beef for a gooey, cheesy twist. Broil the dish for a few minutes at the end of baking to melt the cheese until bubbly and golden.
  6. Mediterranean Stuffed Cabbage Rolls: Instead of layering the ingredients, use the cabbage leaves to wrap individual rolls. Fill each cabbage leaf with the seasoned beef mixture and roll it up tightly. Place the rolls seam side down in a baking dish, pour the tomato sauce mixture over the top, and bake as directed.
  7. Tex-Mex Fusion: Give the dish a Tex-Mex twist by seasoning the beef with taco seasoning mix. Layer the cabbage with the beef mixture, corn kernels, black beans, and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Top with shredded Mexican cheese blend and bake until bubbly and golden.


  1. Can I use a different type of cabbage for this recipe? Yes, you can use other varieties of cabbage such as Savoy cabbage or Napa cabbage. However, keep in mind that different types may require slight adjustments in cooking time and texture.
  2. Can I make this recipe ahead of time? Absolutely! You can assemble the cabbage rolls ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to bake. Alternatively, you can fully cook the dish, let it cool, and then refrigerate or freeze for later enjoyment.
  3. Can I substitute the rice with another grain? Yes, you can substitute the rice with quinoa, barley, or even cauliflower rice for a low-carb option. Adjust cooking times accordingly based on the grain you choose.
  4. Is it possible to make this recipe vegan? Yes, you can easily make this recipe vegan by replacing the ground beef with cooked lentils, crumbled tofu, or a meat alternative. Use vegetable broth instead of beef broth and ensure that all other ingredients are plant-based.
  5. Can I omit the sugar from the tomato sauce? While the sugar adds a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, you can omit it if desired. You may want to taste the sauce before baking and adjust the seasoning accordingly.


With its ease of preparation and irresistible flavors, these Layered Cabbage Rolls are a must-try recipe for any home cook. Whether you’re a cabbage enthusiast or simply looking for a new way to enjoy a classic dish, this recipe delivers on taste, convenience, and comfort. Add it to your meal rotation and watch as it becomes a family favorite for years to come.