Gołąbki – Polish cabbage rolls

Polish holishkes, sarmi, sarmale, holubcy, holubky, balandeliai, sarma, kaalikaaryle

I think that Gołąbki – Polish cabbage rolls are one of most popular and most liked Polish dish. Exactly as is in my family home. When my mum asks my children what to cook for our visit, they say: Gołąbki:)

There are many ways to prepare gołąbki, my Mum boils, while many people bake them. Many people cook them in tomato sauce, I prefer to cook gołąbki in a light broth and make a tomato sauce for serving.

Gołąbki Polish cabbage rolls served on the plate


  • cabbage head
  • 1 and half lb / 600 g ground meat, pork or pork-beef mixture
  • 1 cup rice
  • small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • half teaspoon pepper
  • half teaspoon red paprika powder
  • 2 cups tomato juice/ tomato puree
  • 3 cups broth
Cabbage preparation

Core the cabbage head and place it in a large pot and turn on the heating. As it boils the leaves loosen up to remove. You can boil or steam cabbage, you need to get it fork tender. Lay leaves on a clean dish towel to absorb the water.

Many people use another trick: they freeze the whole head of cabbage the week before then thaw out the night before and the leaves come right off.

Rice cooking

In the meantime cook rice according to the box instructions or do it as follows: Place rice in a saucepan, rinse few times until the water is clean. Add 2 cups of water and half tablespoon of salt, place on the stove top. Bring to boil, stir, cover and put off the fire. After 10 minutes rice will absorb the whole water from the saucepan and will be ready. This is actually also a budget way to cook rice- you cut on electricity:) all you need to remember is that the cover needs to close the dish tightly, so that the heat stayed inside.

Meat preparation

Place meat in a bowl, add seasoning: salt, pepper and red paprika. Add chopped onion, garlic and parsley. Mix with cooled rice. I like to have 1 part of meat and one part of rice, but you can manipulate the ratio according to your likes.

Gołąbki – Polish cabbage rolls assembling

Take one leaf of cabbage, cut excess stingy tough seam of cabbage if necessary. Place a generous portion of meat in the center, fold in the sides and roll up the cabbage. Place in a pot/baking dish with a seam side down. Continue till you run out off cabbage leaves or/and meat:)

Gołąbki cooking


Place gołąbki in the pot, top up with a mixture of 2 cups of broth and 2 cups of water, bring to boil and simmer 45-50 minutes.


Place gołąbki in a casserole dish, top up with a mixture of 2 cups of broth and one cup of water. Bake in 180C /360 F for 45 minutes.

Gołabki – Polish cabbage rolls are best for me served with tomato sauce: place tomato puree in a sauce pan, add a cup of broth, season with salt, pepper, dried garlic, onion and paprika, simmer till it gets thick.

For more Autumn recipes check this section on my blog: Autumn food.

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Gołabki polish stuffed cabbage rolls served on a plate

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48 thoughts on “Gołąbki – Polish cabbage rolls”

  1. Please stop using stuffed cabbage when referring to gołąbki/cabbage rolls. You cannot stuff a leaf.

    1. Silly comment and critical. Cookbooks refer to this recipe the same…they call it stuffed cabbage. English language has many ways of communicating things that are not exactly correct but it became the way of language.

      1. Thank you Janie <3 Don't worry, I appreciate correction, I am aware that I am not a native speaker, please comment again when you find something:)

        1. Stuffed, rolled or placed makes no difference it’s how it tastes that matters. Ignore such petty comments.

          1. It does make a difference. Proper names should be used, not Polonia’s abominations. For non-speakers of Polish.

      2. Tina Malenczak

        Stuffing a cabbage leaf is, in my opinion, exactly what we are doing. Don’t be so pedantic! I am grateful for the recipes.

    2. It does make a difference. Proper names should be used, not Polonia’s abominations. For non-speakers of Polish.

  2. Chris Borasinski

    After combining the ingredients & forming the golabki, Mama baked them in the oven as per the above recipe. They were then left to cool & we’re refrigerated until the next day. In a hot fry pan with a good chunk of butter, melted in 1-2 tbsp oil, place the gołąbki to fill the pan and fry until cabbage picks up golden brown patches all over, turning as necessary. Serve with the pan juices. My favourite.

    1. I like to use the extra leftover cabbage chopped and put over cabbage before pouring in the tomato soup or puree

  3. Thank you for your recipe. I just made it. Can’t wait to serve it for dinner. It is a surprise for my hubby. His grandmother made this dish. No one seems to know her recipe. What a shame.

  4. I saw on Travel Channel a restaurant in Krakow where they use groats and spices, the golumpki are somewhat flat, and baked. They are sauteed in butter before serving. Do you know the restaurant or the recipe?

    1. There is lots of restaurants in Krakow, rather impossible to find out which was it was. Was gołąbki with groats and meat?

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  9. My mother’s ingredients list included ketchup and she sauteed the chopped onion in butter, before adding to the meat mixture. She cooked hers in her pressure cooker, after lightly browning in shortening. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law baked theirs in a roasting pan lined with leftover cabbage leaves and used canned tomato soup mixed with some water then covered with foil before baking. I cannot choose a favorite and neither could my husband. I also liked to eat the cooked cabbage leaves that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law used to line their roasting pans.

    1. We, also, always ate the left over leaves. It is all delicious and so good for your stomach. The probiotic in the cabbage is what helps.

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  11. Is it possible to use ground veal and pork? My Gramma passed away and no one knew her recipe.. I highly doubt she had ground beef in hers because they were so tender… Any thoughts?

  12. My grandmother browned the meat a little bit before she mixed it with the rice
    But I’ve never seen a recipe that said to do that! I still do that today and everyone loves it!

  13. Alleksandra, these look lovely. I’m planning on making these this week. A little secret – I hated these these as a kid and wouldn’t touch them, but I love them now! By the way,”stuffed cabbage” is the commonly used and perfectly correct term, just as Greek dolmades are referred to as “stuffed grape leaves.”

  14. Jacquelyn Lechwar

    My husband’s family is Polish and mine is Romanian. My mom and gramma made Sarmale which is the same dish, made almost the same as your wonderful recipe. My mom added small pieces of ham to the meat mixture. It adds a little umph to the taste. I don’t know if ground beef doesn’t have as much flavor as it used to or, at our advanced age, we are losing our ability to taste, but the ham pieces added some flavor, plus heavy on the garlic. Our children, grown up now, love this dish and our granddaughter makes this now too.

  15. You didn’t mention the type of rice, medium or long grain, that’s a personal preference. I prefer the River Rice brand which is a medium grain. There is a noticeable difference in the final golumbek! We also use a can or cans of tomato soup with water, and mix a raw egg with the stuffing because that’s what Babcia did! Between layers of golumbki and on top, we would place strips of salt pork and cover with ketchup. I have an aunt that would place spare ribs at the bottom of the pan to raise the golumkis out of any liquid, plus provide an added treat for the reveal! Yum!

  16. I’ve always made my Golabki (CABBAGE ROLLS) with beef and pork mixture with a tomato sauce mixture and put them on the stove to simmer…. Is there a big difference in taste of I baked them???

  17. I love stuffed cabbage! I cook mine in that tomato sauce/juice, no broth. Served over mashed potatoes is soooo good 🙂

    1. That is how I cook mine…. IN the tomato sauce with no broth. I might try to add the broth next time I make them, to see if it enhances flavor.

  18. I’ve been making cabbage rolls , much like my Polish mother did (and probably like her Polish mother had) for 40 years. I was surprised to see that your recipe doesn’t mention cooking the stuffed rolls IN the tomato sauce (or puree) for the total cooking time. I never combined beef broth with tomato puree or sauce, but will try it. I feel cooking in the sauce just softens and flavors the stuffed cabbage rolls that much more .

  19. Everyone has their little things that are different in making Golabki *cabbage rolls). There is only one thing that I will never do and that is freeze the cabbage! And please don’t bother to jump down my throat if this is the way you do them. I find that the cabbage takes on a very unpleasant taste and smell. But this is only my opinion!

  20. In my house growing up there tomato sauce was never used. To serve cut bacon into small pieces and fry until bits are crisp, for serving pour both the bacon and a little of the bacon grease on it.

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