Cabbage rolls stuffed with minced meat and rice / Golabki – Polish food

I don’t know how it happens. Time just flies. It just feels like New Year Day was and it is the middle of the month! I wish days were longer.
We spent New Year’s Day walking on a beach. It was beautiful, sunny day. How is your New Year going so far?
sandymount dublin beach
And later we cooked gołąbki.
I must admit I don’t like to write about Polish cuisine. I feel that every statement I write can be denied. I know that somebody else can say at his/her home they do it differently. Even my parents don’t agree when it comes to food, till this day there are things they eat differently or cook differently.
Gołąbki (golabki), literally means “little pigeons”, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have anything in common with pigeons meat, don’t worry. Apparently, in Slav culture, it was popular to name food (especially the ritual food) after animals.
Gołąbki are simple cabbage rolls stuffed with minced meat and rice or buckwheat (exactly buckwheat kasha/groats). I always thought it’s quite difficult to make them, but actually, it’s very easy, the only tricky part is to lightly boil the cabbage and take off the leaves when they are pretty hot, but that’s it. The stuffing is pretty easy and the rest is done by boiling. They are perfect to freeze or to conserve in jars. My mum always makes a huge amount of them.
You can also buy a pre-prepared one in Polish shops if you just want to try.
The sauce is important, without it, you can find them a little bit bland. I love the gołąbki with tomato sauce, but the mushroom sauce is also an option. You can serve it with potato purée, bread or enjoy them by themselves.
It isn’t the most photogenic food and it was too dark to make you step by step tutorial, but I hope you will enjoy them anyway.

Cabbage rolls stuffed with minced meat and rice / Gołąbki


  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cabbage
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 500 g minced meat (any meat will work pork, beef, lamb)
  • water


Cook rice following the instructions on the package.

Sauté the onion in the butter for a short time. Mix onion, rice, and minced meat. Season it well with salt and pepper.

Wash a cabbage. Cut out its heart (leaves will be easier to remove). Place the cabbage in a pot of boiling water (water shouldn’t cover whole cabbage). Let it boil for a few minutes, just enough to make the leaves’ stems soft enough to fold. Roll the cabbage and remove the outer leaves. Look out, they are hot.  Keep boiling and removing leaves until there are some.

If the stems seem quite thick, just trim them.

Layer a big pot of leftover cabbage leaves (i.e.. the one that was too small to stuff them). The cabbage layer will prevent rolls from burning.

Place a portion of the stuffing into the center of each cabbage leaf.

First, fold in right and left sides of the leaf and then roll it. Place in the pot. Season every player of the cabbage rolls with salt. Cover the rolls with a water. Simmer for about 1 hour.

Prepare your favorite tomato or mushroom sauce. You may use a liquid from the cabbage rolls.

28 thoughts on “Cabbage rolls stuffed with minced meat and rice / Golabki – Polish food

  1. Czesc Magda! 😉 I found your golabki on Foodgawker and they reminded me to make them again very soon! PS My tex dzien 1 stycznia spedzilismy na plazy tylko u nas bylo troszeczke cieplej…tu w Sydney. Pozdrawiam!


    • Witaj Martyno 🙂 Zazdroszcze cieplej plazy 🙂 Moze kiedys uda mi sie dotrzec do Australii. Chociaz w tym roku w calej Europie zima calkiem przyjemna, wiec nie ma co narzekac 🙂 Pozdrawiam


  2. Lovely Mgda. We make cabbage rolls too and I am not sure where our original recipe came from but it is somewhat similar to yours. They are not great subjects to shoot at all but I am sure they tasted great!


    • Thank you Mona. Cabbage rolls are popular not only in Eastern European cuisine. They are so simple, but I was thinking that Polish are quite conservative when it comes to food, I’ve never eaten them with more fancy stuffing, but it is so easy to come up with something. I just saw rolls with bean.


  3. We call them pigeons, now I know why. I am originally from a small town in Pennsylvania. I now live in Philadelphia. I haven’t had good golabki’s in such a long time. I am going to make these during the week. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll have to look at the rest of your recipes. I grew up eating Polish, Lithuanian,Slovak, Irish, Italian and American food.


    • Hello Anonymous, I’m glad you found this recipe helpful. Nice mix of cuisines. I love trying new recipes. I’ve just eaten my first Pad Thai, it was delicious 🙂 Good luck with cooking pigeons.


  4. I grew up eating stuffed cabbage but only figured out recently that it must have stemmed from my mother’s Slovenian heritage. Just made them, using a vintage Slovenian American cookbook from the 1950s. You’ve answered a question I’d started to wonder about: Can you use buckwheat groats? I guess so 🙂 Thanks!


    • Hello Blair, Cabbage rolls can be stuffed with nearly everything. I saw recipe for ones stuffed with beans and rice (not Polish recipe, but I like the idea). I think any kind of kasha or cereals will work, also lentils will work. I love vintage books, must look for some old Polish cookbooks when I will be in Poland.


  5. I came across your recipe on Foodgawker. I have a Polish father and an Irish mother, we live in Montreal, Canada. A lot of my father’s family is here and none of my mom’s so each holiday we had Polish food at all our family gatherings. Traditional Gołąbki like yours are my favorite- thanks for sharing your recipe.


  6. I think the best recipes are those that are argued over, because it means that they are classic and continually tweaked and perfected 🙂 I first had these in Chicago from the mother of a Polish friend, whose recipe was nearly identical to yours, although she used Campbell’s tomato soup in place of a true tomato sauce. I’ve tried to tweak her recipe but I have to say, nothing beats that original tomato soup!


    • I think you are right. And everybody deserve to have their won preferred tweak :)Oh it’s good we don’t have a Campbell’s soup around here, I don’t know what I’m missing 😉


    • When I was small, I never eat the cabbage from the rolls, my mom was always taking it off and mixing stuffing with potatoes. But maybe your kids will be more into cabbage 😉


  7. Hi Magda! I have been looking for a good Polish food blog. I LOVE the polish food we have during the year (store-bought, most of my relatives that once made everything have passed) but do find it dark and hard to photograph! I have been looking for a way to make and have stuffed cabbage when I am not at my mother’s house. This is perfect and I cannot wait to try! THANK YOU! Beautiful blog, by the way.


  8. Pingback: Quick Meals with Mince | Wholesome Cook

  9. I can’t wait to try them…I miss my Mom’s Golumbki (she’s from Konin province) and she never shared the recipe before she passed away.

    BTW I know one Polish joke (from Poland) and it relates to this topic…
    During a food shortage in Communist Poland, I saw a friend walking home from the market with Brussels sprouts and asked her,
    “Is that your side dish for tonight?”
    “No, I’m using them to make Golumbki.”


  10. Pingback: Ranking the Cultural Foods I Grew Up With – A Broad Abroad

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