How to Make Golabki (Golumpki) – Stuffed Polish Cabbage 

Traditional Golumpki or Gołąbki are Polish cabbage rolls stuffed with beef, pork, rice, and seasoning. They can also have a variety of fillings and can be made vegetarian. 

When it comes to comfort food that warms the soul and satisfies the palate, few dishes can rival the heartiness and flavor of Golabki, a traditional Polish delicacy. Golabki, meaning “little pigeons” in Polish, refers to cabbage leaves stuffed with a delectable mixture of ground meat, rice, and spices. This culinary masterpiece has deep roots in Polish culture and has become a beloved dish around the world. Join me on a delightful journey as we unravel the layers of Golabki and explore the history, preparation, and unique place it holds in Polish cuisine.

I learned this recipe from my grandmother, and it is a version that comes from the region of Poland where I was raised, Wielkoploska. Golabki is one of my favorite Polish dishes; I consider it a comfort food. 

Every time I make it, it brings lovely memories of family cooking time and eating together.

Golabki is stuffed cabbage with a sauce that is cooked or baked that are made with fresh ingredients and fresh flavors; it is a delicious dinner meal to share with the family. You pronounce it by saying guh-WOOMP-key. 

What does Golabki mean?

It is the plural of Golabek, which means “pigeon.” It’s called a pigeon because the cabbage rolls look similar to the shape of a pigeon’s chest. 

You pronounce it by saying guh-WOOMP-key. 

Many Polish families have a favored recipe, and we poles love them!!!!

The recipe features ground pork, beef, and rice filling nestled in a cabbage leaf cooked in the pot until tender and served with mashed or boiled potatoes. 

Many Eastern European countries have a version of the dish. They differ by using different meat and grains but are similar in shape and rolled in cabbage. The sauce is what sets them apart.

Many recipes use tomato sauce, but there are different sauces that you can use, such as white sauce, bechamel, mushroom, or sweet and sour sauce. This recipe is naturally gluten-free, and if you skip the rice in the filling, you’ve got a paleo-keto version that you can enjoy.  You can also use cashew sauce instead of heavy cream, and you will have a dairy-free version.

Can I make them gluten-free and grain-free?

Yes, you can make the filling without rice using just meat. When making the sauce, you can swap all-purpose flour for gluten-free or grain-free flour (arrowroot, cassava, or potato starch works well). This way, this recipe becomes gluten-free and grain-free. 

How to make Golabki:

  1. Make sure that you buy a large cabbage with big leaves.
  2. First, remove and toss the core from the cabbage by cutting around it with a paring knife.
  3. Boil the whole cabbage in a large pot with a lid. 
  4. After 5 minutes, check the cabbage to see if the leaves are softened enough to pull off large whole individual leaves. (You may have to continue to blanch the cabbage repeatedly to easily pull off more whole individual leaves). 
  5. Remove the remaining cabbage from the pot and set it on the cutting board. Let it cool down. Then you can separate more leaves and cut out the hard stem. Set it aside.
  6. Cook rice.
  7. Make the filing.
  8. Make the sauce.
  9. Put a couple of cabbage leaves on the bottom of the pan and stuff and roll the cabbage leaves. Lay them in the pot.
  10. Cover the cabbage rolls with sauce. 
  11. Then, cook them or bake the cabbage rolls for 90 minutes. 
  12. Serve with chopped fresh dill or a dollop of sour cream (optional).

How long can you keep these Golabki in the fridge?

Allow any leftovers to cool. Refrigerate them in glass Tupperware with a lid. Keep it in the fridge for up to 6 days.

CAN I FREEZE GOLABKI? 

Let them cool completely and put them in glass Tupperware, and then freeze. Keep it for up to 3 months. Make sure that they have enough sauce so they will reheat more easily.

How do you reaheat Golabki?

Stove method: (frying pan or a small cooking pot). Place the cabbage rolls in the pot and add some sauce. Reheat on low heat with the lid, periodically checking if they’re not sticking until warm throughout, for around 15 minutes.

Oven method: Place the Golabki with a sauce in an oven-proof dish and cover it with a lid. Bake at 300°F (150°C) for 15 minutes (from chilled) up to 25 minutes (from frozen). 

Variations of Golabki:

While the classic Golabki recipe remains a beloved favorite, regional and personal variations have emerged over time, adding diversity to this traditional Polish dish. Here are a few interesting varieties of Golabki that showcase the culinary creativity and adaptability of this delightful stuffed cabbage dish:

  1. Vegetarian Golabki: For those looking to embrace a plant-based diet, vegetarian Golabki provides a satisfying alternative. Instead of meat, the filling might include a combination of mushrooms, rice, lentils, and various vegetables. The result is a flavorful and hearty dish that caters to vegetarian preferences without compromising on taste.
  2. Seafood Golabki: In coastal regions, a seafood twist on Golabki has gained popularity. The traditional meat filling is replaced with a mixture of seafood delights such as shrimp, crab, or fish. The seafood Golabki offers a lighter and fresher take on the classic, with a distinctive maritime flavor.
  3. Cabbage Rolls with Sauerkraut: To add a tangy kick to the dish, some variations of Golabki incorporate sauerkraut into the stuffing mixture. The fermented cabbage provides a unique sour note, balancing the richness of the meat and rice. This variation is particularly popular in regions where sauerkraut is a staple.
  4. Cabbage and Buckwheat Golabki: Buckwheat, a nutritious grain with a nutty flavor, can be used as a substitute or addition to rice in the filling. This variation not only introduces a distinctive taste but also enhances the nutritional profile of Golabki, making it a wholesome and hearty option.
  5. Golabki Casserole: For a convenient twist, some cooks opt for a Golabki casserole. Instead of individually rolling each cabbage leaf, the ingredients are layered in a baking dish, creating a lasagna-style presentation. This variation is a time-saving alternative while maintaining the essence of the traditional dish.
  6. Sweet Golabki: While Golabki is traditionally a savory dish, some creative variations involve a sweet twist. Cabbage leaves can be filled with a mixture of sweet ingredients like apples, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar. This sweet Golabki offers a unique dessert option, blurring the lines between savory and sweet.
  7. Grain-Free Golabki: For those following a gluten-free or low-carb diet, Golabki can be adapted to exclude grains entirely. Cauliflower rice or a combination of ground meat and vegetables can replace the traditional rice filling, offering a lighter and carb-conscious option.

What to serve with Cabbage Rolls:

More Polish Recipes that are Family-Favorites:

Cook’s Tools:

  • Cutting board
  • Medium bowl
  • Paring knife
  • Medium pot
  • Large pot 
  • Wooden spatula
  • Baking dish

Ingredients

  • large green cabbage 
  • lean ground beef 
  • ground pork 
  • arrowroot flour
  • yellow onion 
  • garlic 
  • chicken stock
  • egg 
  • crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • cooked rice 
  • extra virgin olive oil 
  • salt 
  • black pepper 
  • dried basil
  • dried marjoram
  • dried dill
  • heavy cream
  • Chopped fresh dill – for garnish

Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thetastesoflifeholisticblog

Golabki- Polish Stuffed Cabbage

Traditional Golumpki or Gołąbki are Polishcabbage rolls stuffed with beef, pork, rice, and seasoning. They can also havea variety of fillings and can be made vegetarian. 
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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: European, Polish
Keyword: golabki stuffed cabbage, polish stuffed cabbage
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 378kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 green cabbage large

For the Filling

  • 1 lbs beef ground
  • 1 lbs pork ground
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup rice cooked
  • 2 tbsp basil dried
  • 2 tbsp majoram dried
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

For Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cans crushed tomatos 28 oz cans
  • 1 cup chcken stock
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot
  • 1 tbsp marjoram dried
  • 1 tbsp basil dried
  • 1 cup heavey cream Optional or you can use cashew sauce for thickening if you are diary-free. If you are using cashews sauce you will only need 1/2 cup.
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh dill optional
  • sour cream optional for serving

Instructions

  • Remove the core from the bottom of the cabbage head with a pairing knife.
  • Fill the large pot with water and boil it. Put the cabbage in the pot. Cover and boil it on medium heat. 
  • After 10 minutes, check the cabbage to see if the leaves are softened enough to pull off large intact individual leaves. (You may need to continue to blanch the cabbage repeatedly to easily pull off more whole individual leaves). 
  • Remove the remaining cabbage from the pot and set it on the cutting board. Let it cool down. Then you can separate more leaves and cut out the hard stem. Set it aside.

Make the Filling

  • Cook rice and let it cool.
  • Combine ground pork, beef, onion, garlic, spices and rice in a medium bowl. Set it aside.

Make Tomato Sauce

  • Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, frequently stirring, for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, salt, remaining spices, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes. 
  • Make a slurry from arrowroot flour and add it to a sauce to make it thicker (slury 1 tbsp arrowroot and 1 tbsp water).
  • If you are adding heave creamy or cashews sauce (recipieon my wbeite) now is the time to do it.

Prepare Cabbage Leaves

  • Make sure not to overlook the cabbage. The leaves should still be a little firm.
  • Remove all the leaves from the cabbage.
  • Cut the thick stem from the back of each leaf with a paring knife. Make sure not to cut through the leaf.

Stuff and Roll Cabbage Leaves

  • Place a scoop of filling on the middle of a cabbage leaf.
  • Fold up the leftover part of the cabbage leaf and fold in the sides.
  • Then roll forward until the cabbage leaf completely covers the filling, and repeat. 
  • Prepare the pot. Pout some leftover cabbage leaves on the bottom then Put the stuffed cabbage into a pot in rows. Pour the sauce (if you are planning on freezing the rolls, save some sauce) evenly over the cabbage rolls. Cook for 90 minutes.

Bake

  • Bake in the Dutch oven at 350 F for 90 minutes.

Serve

  • Sreve hot with a dolop of sourcream and dill

Nutrition

Serving: 10g | Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 91mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 262IU | Vitamin C: 70mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 3mg
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