« The Pantry Quiz #70 | Main | Recipe for sweet and sour beef cabbage soup »

Recipe for Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki)

Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (make ahead and freeze), from The Perfect Pantry.

Being of Polish heritage, I have golabki in my soul. Pronounced gaw-WUMP-key, the name means little pigeons, though what that has to do with stuffed cabbage is a mystery to me, especially since the cabbage rolls are so substantial they'd sooner sink than fly. I'm trying to eat more cooked cabbage dishes this year, because cabbage is full of the fiber that helps lower cholesterol and has other health benefits. Stuffed cabbage rolls -- filled with meat (beef or turkey) and rice (or barley) -- are a healthy main dish to make ahead and freeze. You can tweak the filling with herbs and spices, and change up the braising liquid; I like to use V-8 juice, which adds a bit of extra zing to the sauce.

Stuffed cabbage rolls (The Perfect Pantry).

Polish stuffed cabbage rolls (golabki)

From the pantry, you'll need: onion, olive oil, long-grain white rice, tomato paste, canned chopped tomato, ground beef.

Adapted from many recipes online, especially this one from Smitten Kitchen, and in restaurants, and in my memory. Serves 8-10.


1 head Savoy cabbage (3-4 lbs)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 small carrot, shredded (on a box grater)
1 stalk celery, minced
1-1/4 lb lean ground beef or turkey
2/3 cup cooked long-grain white rice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1/2 cup canned chopped tomato
44 oz (approximately) V-8 or tomato juice


Cut the core out of the cabbage, and leave it whole. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the cabbage, core side up, in the boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. (Hint: if the cabbage floats to the top, set a small ceramic plate on top to keep the ribs of the cabbage leaves under water.)

While the cabbage is in the pot, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or deep pan (the one you'll use for cooking the cabbage rolls -- I use a 12-inch straight-sided pot, with a lid). Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until the vegetables are soft, 2-3 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl and set it aside to cool.

Remove the cabbage from the hot water, and carefully peel off the outer leaves (you'll need 18 leaves, or fewer if some of the leaves are large enough to be cut in half). Work with one leaf at a time. Dry each leaf with paper towels. Place the leaf cupped side down on the counter. With a very sharp paring knife, slice off the hardest part of the center rib (or, you can cut it out, and overlap the two flaps of the cabbage leaf to fill the gap). Pile up the whole, trimmed leaves; chop the remaining cabbage into 1-inch pieces, and layer them in the bottom of your cooking pan.

Add to the mixing bowl with the sautéed vegetables the ground beef, cooked rice, tomato paste, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well (with your hands).

Set one of the cabbage leaves on the counter, cupped side facing up. (If you've cut the rib away, overlap the two flaps of the leaf.) Make a small log out of 2-3 tablespoons of the meat filling, and set it at the end of the leaf closest to you. If you've ever made eggrolls, you know what to do next. Fold up the bottom of the leaf over the mixture. Then fold in both sides, and roll the leaf to cover all of the filling. Place the rolled, filled cabbage leaf in the pot, on top of the chopped cabbage.

Continue with the remaining leaves and remaining meat mixture. Pack the leaves into the pot tightly; you'll need to make two layers.

Sprinkle the chopped tomato over the cabbage rolls, and pour in the V-8 or tomato juice to cover. If the juice doesn't cover, add some beef broth or water so that the rolls are almost covered, but not totally submerged.

Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Then, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 45 minutes (check midway through; if the liquid in the pot is boiling, reduce heat to simmer).

Let the cabbage rolls cool for 5-10 minutes before serving, or let cool completely and refrigerate or freeze. Save any extra braising liquid and the chopped cabbage from the base of the pot -- it's the perfect start to a wonderful soup.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More fun ways to use cabbage:
Teriyaki turkey meatballs with cabbage and ramen noodles
Turkey and cabbage empanadas with spicy dipping sauce
Vegan Asian red cabbage slaw with peanuts, scallions and mint
Chicken and cabbage salad with buttermilk blue cheese dressing
Red cabbage salad with walnuts, raisins, feta, and warm mustard dressing

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Peasant cabbage-tomato soup, from A Veggie Venture
Paleo meatloaf, from Everyday Maven
Slow cooker spicy ground beef and bean soup with cabbage and spinach, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lamb and rice stuffed cabbage leaves with almonds and currants, from Food Wishes
Bento sized mini cabbage rolls, from Just Bento

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Can you believe I have never had cabbage rolls. And I am such a cabbage lover, I know I would love them. I think when you come and visit, this is something we must cook together!

I can't say that I grew up on perogies and cabbage rolls, but I have certainly made up for it in recent years.

Lydia, I am so excited to see this recipe! It was one of my favorites out of all the dishes my grandmother made . It was also "the one that got away" -- by the time I wanted the recipe, her hands were too arthritic to show me how to make the dish anymore.

Recently I decided that I want to reconstruct her dish, and your recipe looks like a great starting point. Thank you, thank you! Her version was sweet and sour, and she added raisins. I can't wait to try this!

You know, I'm with Kalyn - I have yet to make cabbage rolls. They're actually like a meal in one, so I really do have to try making these.

I go to a polish church fair each fall and if you don't get there early the golabki sells out by 11am!

If I couldn't go down to Culp's Cafe each Thursday and enjoy their cabbage rolls w/ a side of mashed potato I would make this recipe. It looks delicious (but a lot of work, and Culp's is just down the hill . . . .)

I've been eating golabki since I was old enough to eat solid food. Your post reminded me that I haven't made it in too long. My aunt always used V8 juice and it was delicious. Your recipe is basically the same that we use. My mother used to make it with Napa cabbage because it was easier to separate the cabbage leaves.


Kalyn, I absolutely cannot believe it. And you can make these SBD friendly without too many changes, I think.

Bellini, isn't Polish food wonderful?

Judy, I hope by now you've seen my next recipe, which is a sweet and sour soup using the same ingredients. So you can see it's easy to take those flavors and add them into the golabki. Enjoy!

Jeanette, the other great thing about the cabbage rolls is that you can freeze them, for those hectic weeknight dinners.

Kirsten, well, you do have a good excuse for not making your own -- but really they are easy to make.

Sharon, almost any type of cabbage will work if the leaves are cooked enough to soften them. I hope this recipe gets close to your own.

Carol, I think it's the same at every church fair. The good food goes fast!

Answer to quiz - Yeast eats (metabolises) sugar and turn it to gas. Baking soda chemically reacts with sugar and turn it to gas

I had the cabbage rolls at a retirement park near where I live,and they were wonderful.They wouldn't share the reciepe ,and I haven't seen one yet that looked like these. Everything was the same except they had this "gravy"that you poured over it and the mashed potatoes.The gravy was brown like ,any ideas?
Cheryl Hunt

The comments to this entry are closed.