Authentic Polish Golumpki (Stuffed Cabbage)

My companion has Polish roots from his father side.

Somehow, this made me take an interest in Polish cooking. He was not served many Polish dishes when young, but it makes it feel extra special to pay tribute to his family, who are all absolutely lovely people.

The first Polish staple I learnt to cook is Golumpki ! I had it a couple of time at the restaurant and loved it. The homey flavours of a handmade, humble meal just hit the spot for me. I like the fact the meat here does not prevail ; I’m no vegetarian, but I try to make my cooking more sustainable by mostly seeing meat as a flavour booster rather than a meal in itself. With equal parts rice and meat, you will not get an overly meaty filling.

The flavours here are delicate and simple : veal, pork, rice, onion, and rosemary, that’s basically it ! The texture play though is lovely ; this moist filling is wrapped in tender yet still slightly crunchy cabbage, and the tomato sauce coats it all, making it cozy while adding a needed acidity to the recipe.

Golumpki are a labour of love : this is not a weeknight recipe, but bear with me, you will get a 6-servings delicious, original and cheap meal out of it !

Authentic Polish Golumpki – Recipe

Ingredients – Advice & key points

  • Cabbage : Use white or green cabbage to make it authentic. You can also use savoy cabbage, which I did once, and it turned out great.
  • Meat options : I use a 50/50 mix of veal and pork. You could use beef and pork, which is more traditional, but I like the tenderness of veal in meat fillings. You can also use any kind of meat or mixed meats you want (chicken, lamb…). If you choose lean meats such as chicken, be sure to add 1 to 2 tbsp of oil to your mixture to make it moist enough.
  • Rice : Use any kind of rice you like ! I usually use basmati rice.
  • Optional egg addition : If you want your filling to hold itself together well, you can add one egg to it.
  • Tomato sauce : In some recipes, you will see the addition of heavy cream. Feel free to add some if you like ; I prefer mine without to preserve the acidity and full taste of tomatoes.
  • Broth : I use store-bought here, since the meat already brings in lots of flavour. Feel free to use homemade if you can !

Cooking Advice & key points

  • To see how to parboil cabbage leaves and roll golabkis, check out my recipe video.

Now let’s roll !

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 40 min Cook Time 75 min Total Time 1 hr 55 mins
Servings: 6
Best Season: Winter


Fun to eat, cute cabbage rolls filled with a moist meat and rice filling, topped with lots of tomato sauce.



For the tomato sauce


  1. Prep ahead

    Cook your rice, but halve the cooking time. 

    While it cooks, mince your onion and your rosemary. 

    Add your onion to a hot pan, then 1/2 tsp of salt. Let it sweat for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Add your rosemary. After 3 minutes, remove from heat.  

    Core your cabbage (see video), so that when you cook it, the leaves will fall off. 

    Be careful to cut deep enough when removing the core ; if you don't, the leaves won't detach easily or at all.
  2. Cabbage time !

    Put your cabbage core down into a large pot. Cover it with water, then bring to a boil. Salt your water heavily (~2 tbsp).

    When the first leave starts to detach itself from the cabbage, remove it delicately using thongs.

    Wait for the second leave to detach itself, then remove it. 

    Repeat this step until all the leaves have fallen off ! 

    This is the trickiest step. It should last from 20 to 30 minutes. You want your cabbage leaves to be just blanched and therefore pliable, but not overcooked, which risks creating holes easily. Be careful not to make holes as you delicately remove the leaves.
  3. They see me rollin', they hatin'

    To a mixing bowl, add your ground meat, your cooked rice, your cooked onion, your remaining salt and your pepper. Hand-mix until combined.

    Preheat your oven to 180°C.

    Place some of your holed or too small leaves on the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish. 

    Choose a leave without holes and large enough. Slice off a part of the thick central vein ; it will make it easier to roll. 

    Insert some filling (from 1 and 1/2 tbsp to 2 and 1/2 depending on the size of the leave) towards the bottom part of the leave, then roll : start by folding the bottom, then the sides (see video).

    Repeat the process until you run out of filling ! 

    I usually fit 12 cabbage rolls in my baking dish.
  4. Turn on that stove

    Add your broth over your stuffed cabbages.

    Cover your filled baking dish with the remaining holed leaves, so that the rolls don't burn. 

    Put your dish into the oven and let it cook for 45 minutes. 

  5. Make the sauce !

    While the stuffed cabbages cook, make you sauce !

    Add your butter to a medium saucepan, and allow it to melt on medium heat. Add your garlic, your tomato paste : let it sizzle for 1 to 2 minutes, careful not to let the garlic burn.  

    Add the passata, the allspice berries, the peppercorns, the bay leaves and some salt. Let it simmer on low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

  6. Plate it up !

    After 45 minutes, remove your cabbages from the oven. Using thongs, place 3 small rolls, or 2 big, per plate. 

    Add a generous amount of tomato sauce on top of the cabbages. 

    Et voilà !! You're done ! 

    If you like your cabbage on the softer side, let it cook for 15 more minutes.


  • This dish freezes well. I definitely advise you to make a large amount, since the cooking time is quite long, then freeze it in separate batches, divided between the sauce and the golumpki (if you put them together, the sauce will cling to the golumpki when reheating and won't be liquidy and saucy anymore). 
  • This recipe tastes even better the next day ! 
Keywords: home made, cabbage, pork, veal, golabki, golumpki, comforting, simmering, sunday meal

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