Back to My Roots: Golabki aka Cabbage Rolls

As some of you may already know, my Father is of Polish decent. Both of his parents grew up in Poland, and when they came to the United states they brought with them all of those authentic flavors. My Dad has always been a great cook, he can just throw things together and it always comes out amazing. When making some of his Polish dishes I would often ask him for the recipe, but he’ll mainly give me a list of ingredients with no real amounts. Instead, he’ll say “just throw a little bit of this in with some of that” – although somewhat helpful, I’ve had to improvise when trying to get the same flavor in my own cooking.

Here is my version of Golabki or Polish cabbage rolls, and I think I hit the target on flavor. They’re exactly how I remembered tasting them for the first time, and I’ve been making them this way ever since. Although, I have tried this same recipe using really good beef stock instead of the tomato sauce, and I like that just as well. You can serve it with sour cream if you do it that way. Comfort food at its best!

Here is the recipe below.

Golabki aka Cabbage Rolls


  • 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef or pork (or a mixture of both)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup of cooked white rice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • One recipe of my homemade tomato sauce, or 2 cans of your favorite tomato sauce or 2 cups of really good beef broth.
  • 1 tsp each of Fresh Herbs: Thyme, Rosemary (If using canned tomato sauce)
  • Optional: Boiled Yukon Gold potatoes with fresh dill, served with butter


First, you will want to work with the cabbage head. Cooking it so the leaves are nice and pliable. You will need to core the cabbage head and place in a pot of salted boiling water. Boil the cabbage until softened, when the leaves come off easily it’s done (about 3-4 minutes). Set aside


Next, melt the butter in a skillet on low heat, add onion and cook on medium heat until onion is translucent. About halfway through cooking time, add garlic and cook until fragrant, season with salt and pepper and let it cool.

Next, cook rice as directed on package. Combine with beef and the cooled onion mixture. Add more seasoning if you feel the need. I always add a little more of everything, so do what you like. DO NOT over mix.

Now, you will start assembling the cabbage leaves. This is a little tricky but quite easy. I wish I had remembered to take a photo of this step, but I forgot (sorry!). I’ll do my best to explain how it’s done. Take a paring knife and cut off some of the thick stems. Just slicing down vertically, making sure not to cut the leaf itself, you’re basically just trimming the stem. Doing this helps the leaf roll easily. Now you can start assembling your rolls. 

Start by laying out each cabbage leaf and fill with about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the meat mixture, depending on the size of the leaf. Then fold each side of the leaf like you would a burrito, and roll up. Then place seam side down into a rectangular baking dish, as shown. If you have a lot of cabbage leftover, you can saute it, or place in the baking dish with the Golabki rolls, or save it for later.

Lastly, pour the tomato sauce over the rolls. If you are using canned tomato sauce simmer the sauce on low heat, and stir in fresh herbs just until heated through, then pour over rolls. If you’re using beef stock just simply pour over rolls.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until juices run clear and meat is cooked all the way through. 

Serve with pan juices and boiled potatoes. 

Here is the print-out!