Around Finland, Main dishes, Recipes
Comments 13

“Kaalilaatikko” Finnish Cabbage Casserole – The Laatikko Family

In Finnish cuisine, there is a series of laatikkos, aka casserole dishes: porkkana / carrot, peruna / potato, lanttu / rutabaga… and this one right here, cabbage casserole, with ground meat and rice. I knew about this grand “laatikko family” but I never ate any, until I made the first one today.



I was not at all planning to cook this today but I felt this weird urge to eat cabbage (slightly strange, right? who craves for cabbage really??) and decided to work on my first laatikko.




As someone who normally does not mix meat and vegetables and who in fact does not eat meat much, this might have been a strange choice; not so much the cabbage part but to cook it with meat. However, the dish reminds me a lot of Turkish cabbage dish “Kapuska”. It is cabbage stew cooked in different ways, and sometimes with ground meat. The difference, though, is that this one is baked in the oven after cooking each element slightly and separately.



The recipe is simple. It looks like too much work, but actually it isn’t, since each step is made quite fast. Then after you put the dish in the oven, you sit down and relax… The result? OH-MY… It is absolutely DELICIOUS! It is slightly crusty on top, but soft, juicy and rich at the base.. And of course, as many other things Finnish, you add – if you want – some lingonberries on top, and the result is an ABSOLUTE FEAST inside your mouth.


I had laatikkogasm tonight! I strongly recommend you too.. Next, I will try lanttulaatikko. Yum.




Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
(serves 4-6, in an oven dish with 20x30cm dimensions)(adapted from


Printable PDF-recipe (no photos)


4 dl. water in room temperature
1/2 tsp and 1 tsp salt, divided
1.5 dl. rice porridge
1 kg. cabbage
1 tbsp and a splash of olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
400 gr. ground beef (I used meat, you can use pork-beef combo)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp syrup
4 dl. broth (I used vegetable broth, but you can use meat or chicken broth)


To serve (optional, but I do recommend)



1. Preheat the oven to 200C.


2. In a medium pan, put water and 1/2 tsp salt, stir a little and put on medium high heat. When it starts boiling, put rice and cook on medium heat just until the rice absorbs almost all the water. Take away from the heat and put aside.






3. Cut cabbage in strips and put aside.




4. In a medium pan, put a splash of olive oil and warm it on medium high heat for about a minute. Add onion and sauté for half a minute. Add ground meat and cook stirring. When the meat colour changes to “cooked brown”, add 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp marjoram. Give it a final mix and take away from the heat, put aside.









5. In a medium pot, put 1 tbsp olive oil and warm it on medium heat for half a minute. Add cabbage and stir a little. Close the lid of the pot and cook the cabbage just until it gets soft, for about 5-8 minutes. I added about 1 dl. warm water so that the cabbage does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Stir cabbage frequently to prevent from burning. When it gets soft, add syrup, stir a little more and take away from the heat.






6. Mix onion/meat, rice and cabbage.





7. Transfer the mixture to your oven dish. Pour 4 dl. broth over the mixture. Put in the oven, in medium rack and bake for about 1 hour, until it gets fully cooked and gets crusty on top. If it gets too crusty earlier than 1 hour, you can cover top of the dish with aluminium foil. When it is ready, take out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Serve with lingonberries (optional). Enjoy!





  1. Anonymous says

    Looks delicious! Being a vegetarian, I use a substitute for meat (or mushrooms sometimes) and I serve it with lingonberries and cottage cheese! :)

    • Yes i’m sure it’s tasty like that too! I am not vegetarian officially, but I do not eat meat much, except for a few occasions like this one…. But I’ll try with mushrooms too!

  2. Christine Kosunen says

    Thank you very much for the kaali recipe. I was googling kaalipirakka and found it. When we lived in Finland my mum in law used to make kaali pirakka for parties. So delicious. Will be trying your laatikko recipe over Christmas.

  3. Pingback: “Lanttulaatikko” Finnish Rutabaga Casserole | My Dear Kitchen in Helsinki

  4. Tina says

    Thank you for this recipe! I made it vegetarian and it’s so close to what I grew up with! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes! 😀

  5. Victoria Seaman says

    What is “syrup”? I have seen this used in other recipes.

    • It’s a syrup made of sugar beet and it’s commonly found in shops here in Finland. When I’m visiting my family in Turkey, I tried several syrupy Finnish recipes with molasses and it worked too. So if you can’t find this kind of syrup where you are, you can certainly substitute with molasses.

  6. In neighboring Sweden a very similar dish is called Kålpudding. The only major difference as far as I can tell might be in its construction. The cabbage is cut into what my wife calls “chips” about 5cm square, and these are sautéed for perhaps 20 minutes or more, to really caramelize them. The meat and onion are not browned first. To these cream and bread crumbs are added – and then 1/3rd of the very caramelized cabbage goes into this mix. This mostly raw mixture is pressed flat into a suitable baking dish – and the remaining 2/3rds of the cabbage coverers the top evenly. What emerges from the oven is a uniformly deep green and brown surface – crispy here and there – covering a firm but very moist and delicate meatloaf – served in generous squares with a simple lingonberry/sugar/water sauce. Not sure why i am writing all this today, lol. Your blog always inspires me!

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