golabki4This is my favorite comfort food. You can find hundreds of recipes for stuffed cabbage over the internet and some of them, I must admit, have nothing to do with Polish stuffed cabbage that I grew up eating. I like some ideas of replacing rice with barley or stuff the cabbage with just meat but I like to make them for my family in a rather traditional way. They also freeze well if for some reason you think it’s too many of them for one dinner. By the way, the correct pronunciation is “guh-WHUMP-kee.”

Serving: 20-25 golabki
Preparation: 30-45 minutes
Cooking : 1 hour
Calories for one stuffed cabbage: approximately 160 for one piece

1 large head white cabbage
1 medium size onion, finally chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 lb/450g ground beef
1 lb/450g ground pork
3 cups cooked white rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon of red pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 gallon/4l of beef or chicken stock
14oz/300ml can of tomato paste (2 small cans)
4 tablespoons of sour cream

Start with preparing the cabbage. Heat a large pot that will fit the whole cabbage head. With a sharp knife remove the core and then put the head in the pot and boil it for 15-20 minutes. Discard the water and let the cabbage cool down a little bit. Gently pull off the individual leaves. It should give you around 20-25 leaves to work with.
Do not throw away any leaves since you will need them as a cushion for the layers of golabki you will put in the Dutch oven and cook altogether.
leaves and meat
Prepare the stuffing. Mix the cooked rice with the ground beef and pork.
Melt some butter on a non stick pan. Dice the onion and add it to the butter. Sauté it for 2-3 minutes on medium heat until soft and golden. Add it to the meat and rice mixture. Add salt, black pepper, red pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic, and mix all the ingredients with your hands.
Apart from the Dutch oven you will need another large pot to prepare the tomato sauce.

cutting of ending
When the leaves cool down, cut off the hard end of each leaf and cut out the stem from each of them.
kolaz rolling step1
Put a handful/approximately ½ cup of stuffing into each leaf of cabbage and start rolling them. Some leaves will be smaller so you have to adjust the amount of stuffing so that it doesn’t overflow the leaf. Rolling golabki is similar to rolling a burrito. First put the two sides of the leaf towards the middle, over the stuffing and start rolling them away from you.
You will be forming a little envelope.

rolling toothpick
I like to use a toothpick to pinch the ending part to the whole leaf package just to make sure they don’t fall apart while cooking.
In the second pot, start heating up the stock and add 1 whole can of tomato paste. Blend it all together and bring to boil.
At the bottom of the Dutch oven place a couple of remaining cabbage leaves and start layering the golabki in the pot on top of the leaves.
in pot

with sauce

Pour the stock with tomato paste over the golabki and cover with a lid. Cook on medium heat for 1 hour.
When ready transfer golabki on a serving plate, discard the loose leaves of cabbage from the pot. Add the other can of the tomato paste with a tablespoon and taste after every addition. You don’t want the sauce to taste bitter but you also don’t want the sauce taste like cabbage soup.

Put 4 tablespoons of sour cream into a small bowl and add a pinch of salt. Mix it and with a soup ladle add one large ladle of tomato sauce into that bowl with sour cream. Mix it with a whisk and add the mixture back into the Dutch oven. Bring the sauce to boil and pour it over the serving plate with golabki.
Serve them with bread or mashed potatoes, or just like they are.



  1. Well you haven’t let me down yet! This may be on my list for next week. This week I intend to try the cauliflower, kale, green pea soup. My husband loves golabki, reminds him of his Czech heritage (cousins of the Poles, lol)

  2. My favorite!!!! We are Polish & Czech and this is one of those dishes that brings you back to childhood. Also, the one dish my Mom cooks really well! She doesn’t use the sour cream but we are going to try it. Thanks!

    • Well I hope you will like the tomato sauce with sour cream. It definitelly add some more texture and thickens a little bit as well.

  3. Nareszcie golabki!

    • Instad of tomato paste I cook golabki in spagetti sauce and this way You have more sesoning, mushrooms, green pepers etc.

  4. Sounds great! You can play with the sauce however you like. Nothing can go wrong with that. Some people make a mushroom sauce for golabki. I like a very classic Polish version with a simple tomato sauce.

  5. Thanks for this recipe, Magda. I’d spent considerate time trying to find a recipe that came close to the taste I remember from my mother’s cooking these in my childhood (which isn’t easy considering all the variations in spelling alone!) and this looks like it might fit the bill. I have sources in Baltimore to buy homemade Polish sausage and pierogi but hadn’t had much success making golabki from scratch!

  6. If I decide to freeze some, at what point do you thing that would be best? When it’s all done? Maybe freeze some sauce in a separate container? Or somewhere in the middle of the process?

    • Freeze them when they are all done. It’s always great to use food saver so that they don’t crystalize but small zipplock bag will be fine. And put 2 per each bag so that you don’t have to defrost a whole batch at one time if you need a quick dinner or lunch for one. And yes freeze the sauce in a seperate container.

  7. Well I just put this together for my Czech hubby and threw it in the crock pot and will fire it up in the morning for tomorrow’s dinner. Can’t wait to see how it turns out. These wacky Czechs pronounce it “Hu-lup-kee” though.

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