Gołąbki (Polish Stuffed Cabbage)

Polish stuffed cabbage

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 72 mins
Total: 102 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 11 to 12 rolls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
564 Calories
33g Fat
32g Carbs
37g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 564
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 14g 71%
Cholesterol 136mg 45%
Sodium 3063mg 133%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 115mg 576%
Calcium 229mg 18%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 1193mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Polish stuffed cabbage rolls are a classic comfort dish that has been passed from one generation to the next. Called gołąbki (gaw-WOHMP-kee), the term for "little pigeons," the rolls are also known as golumpki and gwumpki. Under any name, they are considered a national dish and are a cherished staple in every home. Many Polish families have a favorite recipe.

The recipe features a filling of ground pork, beef, and rice, nestled in a cabbage leaf. Cooked in the oven until tender, the rolls are fantastic served with mashed potatoes, rye bread with butter, and sweet applesauce—a contrast to the savory filling. Since this dish can be eaten hot or at room temperature, mini cabbage rolls speared with a toothpick are amazing appetizers.

Many Central and Eastern European countries have a version of the dish. Czechs and Slovaks call them holubky, while Serbs and Croatians refer to them as sarma. Some use different grains, some opt for other meats, but all are alike in how they're shaped, and most of these versions use cabbage leaves as a wrapper. Most often, it's the sauce that sets them apart.

Many recipes use tomato sauce to cover the rolls, but this one garnishes them with tangy sour cream instead. This recipe is naturally gluten free—simply check the beef stock's label (unless it's homemade) to be sure there's no added wheat. (Also, if you skip the rice in the filling you've got a keto- and paleo-friendly dish.)


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“I grew up in a Polish household and Gołąbki made regular appearances on our table. My mom cooked Gołąbki in a tomato sauce, which is traditional, but this version, cooked with beef stock and served with sour cream, gives the dish a lighter, more modern feel.” —Joan Velush

Gołąbki (Polish stuffed cabbage)/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • Salt (for salting boiling water)

  • 1 whole head cabbage (about 4 pounds)

For the Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoon salt, more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more as needed

  • 1 cup beef stock

  • 1 cup sour cream, for garnish

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Cabbage

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Polish stuffed cabbage

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

    A large pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Remove and discard the core from the cabbage by cutting around it with a paring knife.

    A head of cabbage on a cutting board with the core removed

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Carefully place the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water.

    A head of cabbage in a pot of boiling water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Cover the pot and cook the head of cabbage for 3 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off large whole individual leaves. You may need to continue to blanch the cabbage repeatedly to easily pull off more whole individual leaves. You'll need 11 to 12 leaves in total.

    A baking sheet with large cabbage leaves

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to trim away enough of the thick center stem from each leaf, being careful not to cut through the leaf.

    Removing the stem from a whole leaf of cabbage

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. After retrieving 18 leaves, chop the remaining cabbage and place it in the bottom of a large casserole dish with a lid or a large Dutch oven.

    A large pot of chopped cabbage

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Make the Filling

  1. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the onion. Cook until tender. Remove from the heat to cool.

    Chopped onion cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Mix the cooled onion with the beef, pork, cooked rice, garlic, salt, and black pepper until well combined. Don't overmix or the meat will become tough.

    A large bowl of cooked onion, pork, cooked rice, garlic, salt, and black pepper

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Assemble the Rolls

  1. Flatten a cabbage leaf on a cutting board or work surface and place about 1/2 cup of the meat filling in the center.

    A small portion of meat mixture in the center of a cabbage leaf

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side to cover the meat.

    The left and right side of the cabbage leaf folded over the meat

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Flip the bottom of the leaf up to obtain an envelope-shape. The unstuffed part of the leaf will be triangular in shape.

    Hands holding up the bottom of the cabbage leaf

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Roll the leaf away from you to encase the meat completely. Repeat the process with all the leaves.

    A rolled up cabbage leaf filled with meat mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Cook and Serve the Rolls

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Place the cabbage rolls, seam down, on top of the chopped cabbage in the casserole dish or Dutch oven. Season each layer with salt and pepper.

    Stuffed cabbage rolls stacked in a large dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Pour the beef stock over the rolls, cover, and place in the oven.

    A hand pouring beef stock over the cabbage rolls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Bake for 1 hour or until cabbage is tender and meat is cooked. Serve with a drizzle of sour cream, or alternatively, mix the pan juices with the sour cream and ladle it over the cabbage rolls. Enjoy.

    Cooked cabbage rolls in a dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat the Rolls

Here are some tips to store leftovers or freeze prepared but uncooked rolls:

  • Cooked cabbage rolls can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days. Drain any liquid before storing to avoid the rolls turning mushy, and add additional beef broth when reheating.
  • If you are prepping ahead of time, uncooked cabbage rolls can be stored in the fridge for one day. Then cook according to instructions.
  • You can make bigger batches of rolls and freeze them, but you must freeze them uncooked without the beef broth. When frozen, the rolls will last for up to four months. When it is time to cook them, thaw overnight in the fridge, discard any liquid that might have built up, add the beef stock, and then cook them in the oven according to instructions. Never heat up unthawed frozen rolls, as they might disintegrate and become a soup.

What's the Difference Between Gołąbkis and Halupkis?

Most cabbage rolls are similar in principle, and most have beef, rice, and pork as the main components of their fillings. Gołąbkis are Polish, whereas halupkis are Slovakian. Some Polish rolls, like ours, don't have tomato sauce, but most halupkis do.

Holubtsis, from Ukraine, are a similar preparation, but the stuffing has potatoes and can be prepared with or without meat.