Polish Gołąbki: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Delve into my family’s cherished recipe for traditional Polish stuffed cabbage rolls. Brimming with the robust flavours of pork and rice, these cabbage rolls promise a delightful experience. Depending on your preference, opt for Sweetheart, Savoy, or White Cabbage. To enhance the taste, pair them with either mushroom or tomato sauce. Furthermore, this recipe provides guidance for preparation using a stovetop, oven, or slow cooker. Enjoy and Smacznego!

Check out my other recipes for Traditional Polish dishes:

Polish Żurek – Sour Rye Soup, Polish Apple Pancakes (Racuchy z Jablkami), Bigos Królewski – Polish Hunter’s Stew, Lazanki – Polish Pasta

  • Versatility: Gołąbki adapts well to a variety of fillings, sauces, and cooking techniques.
  • Nutrition: Offering a balanced and nutrient-rich meal, it remains low in calories.
  • Gatherings: You can easily prepare Gołąbki in large quantities, and it always delights the crowd.

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Gołąbki (Polish stuffed cabbage rolls) on a plate, topped with vibrant tomato sauce and a sprinkle of black pepper, accompanied by rustic cutlery.

History of Gołąbki (Golumpki – Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

“Gołąbki,” a Polish term, directly translates to “little pigeons.” However, these delightful rolls have nothing to do with birds. They are, in fact, a robust dish crafted by enveloping a savoury filling within cabbage leaves. As a result, they stand out as one of the most treasured dishes in Polish cuisine. Furthermore, depending on the region or community, they might also go by the names Galumpki or Golumpki.

Origins of Polish Gołąbki

Cabbage rolls, prevalent in various cultures, have diverse versions. Specifically in Poland, Gołąbki gained popularity during the Middle Ages, following the rise of cabbage as a staple food. Some historians suggest that the origins of this Gołąbki recipe could stem from the Balkans or perhaps the Byzantine Empire.

Cultural Significance of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Gołąbki stands as a cornerstone of Poland’s culinary heritage, not merely another dish. Often gracing tables during special occasions, holidays, and family gatherings, this dish seamlessly transitions from one celebration to another. The rich flavour, coupled with the dedication required in its preparation, elevates it to the status of a beloved comfort food.

Varieties of Polish Gołąbki (Golumpki)

  • Traditional Pork and Rice Gołąbki – Commonly found in Poland, this authentic Gołąbki recipe features a blend of minced pork and rice. Wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked in a tomato-based sauce, it captures the essence of Polish cuisine.
  • Gołąbki with Turkey Meat — As the trend shifts towards lighter and alternative meat options, turkey has emerged as a popular choice for Gołąbki filling.
  • Beef Gołąbki – Venturing into diverse Gołąbki recipes? Some Polish regions or families choose beef or a combination of beef and pork. While the core essence remains consistent, beef introduces a richer flavour profile.
  • Vegetarian Gołąbki – In response to changing dietary preferences, many Poles have reimagined the classic Gołąbki recipe for vegetarians. Envision a mix of mushrooms, lentils, grains like buckwheat, and a variety of vegetables, ensuring a delightful dish for everyone.

Golabki with Different Sauces

The classic choice for Polish stuffed cabbage rolls is tomato sauce. However, some variations transition to a mushroom or cream-based sauce. Additionally, in certain regions, chefs prepare the rolls in clear broth or soup, providing diverse methods to savour this dish.

Close-up of Gołąbki (Polish stuffed cabbage rolls) served with mushroom sauce on a wooden tray, accompanied by rustic cutlery and fresh thyme in the background.

How to prepare Polish Gołąbki:

Polish Gołąbki: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Traditional Polish Gołąbki recipe: savoury pork & rice stuffed cabbage rolls, served with rich tomato sauce. A family favourite & cultural gem!
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 660kcal
Author: Chef Lukasz

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5 from 4 votes



  • 1.1 lbs Pork shoulder - minced (500g) you can use turkey instead
  • 4 Bacon - slices
  • 2 Sweetheart Cabbage - or 1 Savoy Cabbage
  • 1.5 cups Vegetable broth - (375ml) Poultry broth works as well
  • 3 Medium onions - finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Breadcrumbs
  • 0.44 lbs Long grain rice - (200g) this yields about 1.3 lbs or 600g when cooked; pearl barley is a good substitute as well
  • 2 tsp Salt - (12g)
  • 1 tsp Black pepper


  • Cook the rice and mix with the minced meat. In a pan, sauté the onions in oil until they turn golden. Add to the meat and rice mixture. Incorporate salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs. Combine thoroughly.
    Seasoned pork mixed with rice and diced onions, prepped and ready for stuffing into Gołąbki, showcasing traditional Polish cuisine ingredients.
  • Prepare large pot, pour water up to 1/3 of its height and boil it.
    For Sweetheart or Savoy Cabbage: Simply blanch the leaves in boiling water for 2 minutes. Trim the thick nerve in the middle of each leaf.
    For White Cabbage: Removing the hardest part of the stem with a knife. Place the cabbage in boiling water, after two minutes, turn the leaves upside down and wait for another 2-3 minutes before removing. You can start rolling while waiting for the cabbage.
    Reserve the smallest leaves and core part for laying the baking dish
    Seasoned pork mixed with rice and diced onions on a fresh cabbage leaf, prepped and ready for rolling into a traditional Gołąbki.
  • Make a ball of meat & rice stuffing in your hands and transfer it to a leaf. Place it at the bottom part of the leaf. Fold the leaf sides toward the centre. Roll the cabbage roll tightly. Roll all cabbage rolls until you run out of stuffing.
    Close-up of a freshly rolled Gołąbki, showcasing the intricate wrapping of cabbage around the savory filling, indicative of traditional Polish cuisine.
  • For the stovetop method: Using the pot previously employed for blanching the cabbage, layer the bottom with bacon slices followed by smaller cabbage leaves. Position the rolls on top, add the broth, cover the pot, and allow it to simmer gently for approximately 1.5 hours.
    Oven-baked method: In a Dutch oven or another oven-safe dish, arrange bacon slices and small leftover cabbage leaves at the base. Position the rolls snugly next to each other. After covering, bake in an oven that's been preheated to 180°C (356°F) for 50 minutes. Then, uncover the dish, drizzle your preferred sauce (either tomato or mushroom) over the rolls, and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes.
    Slow-cooker method: In your slow cooker, begin by layering bacon slices and smaller cabbage leaves. Add a thin coating of tomato sauce to avoid the Gołąbki sticking, then systematically layer the Gołąbki, covering them with the remaining sauce and topping with additional cabbage leaves. Set to cook on low for 6 hours or, if short on time, on high for 3 hours. When finished, exercise caution when removing the tender Gołąbki.
    Fresh Gołąbki rolls neatly arranged in a baking dish atop cabbage leaves, prepped and ready for the oven.
  • Serve the cabbage rolls immediately after cooking. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill, parsley or ton of black pepper, serve with you favourite sauce. Smacznego!
    Freshly cooked Gołąbki in a baking dish, nestled on cabbage leaves and generously covered in rich tomato sauce.


  • Can I freeze Gołąbki? Yes, Gołąbki freeze well. Make sure they’re cooled first, then place them in a freezer-safe container, separating layers with parchment paper. You can reheat them directly from frozen in the oven.
  • How long do Gołąbki keep in the refrigerator? They’ll stay good for about 3-4 days. Ensure they’re in an airtight container to maintain freshness.
  • I’m vegan. Any suggestions for a vegan filling? Certainly! A mixture of mushrooms, lentils, rice, and sautéed veggies makes a hearty vegan filling. Use vegetable broth for cooking and ensure any additional ingredients or sauces are vegan.


Serving: 724g | Calories: 660kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 20g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g
Gołąbki (Polish stuffed cabbage rolls) on a plate, topped with vibrant tomato sauce and a sprinkle of black pepper, accompanied by rustic cutlery.

From the Chef

My home cuisine has always enchanted me, offering a distinctive heart-warming touch. Among them, Polish Gołąbki stands out as my top favourite. As you delve into this recipe, I’d love to know how it turned out for you. Did you make any personal tweaks? And which side dishes paired with your Gołąbki? Please share your thoughts in the comments. And before you go, remember to hit the star button! Enjoy your cooking journey!

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