Gołąbki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)

Gołąbki means “little pigeons” and as with many Polish recipes, there are as many variations to the ingredients and cooking methods as there are Polish families!

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The filling is usually made with meat and rice, but you could replace the rice with buckwheat; or for a vegetarian version use mushrooms and onions instead of meat. Cooking methods can also vary.  They could be cooked in the oven, in a saucepan on the hob or, alternatively fried.  They are often eaten with a sauce, usually tomato or mushroom. Gołąbki are excellent from frozen, either raw or cooked.

This recipe details gołąbki in a tomato sauce and cooked in the oven and serves about 6.


1 cabbage (I prefer green cabbage, but savoy or white is just as good)
Large jar of tomato passata
Unsalted Butter


150g / 6oz long grain rice
20g / 3/4oz dried wild mushrooms soaked in hot water for 30 mins (Optional–I prefer the earthy taste of porcini mushrooms)
1 large onion, finely chopped
500g / 1lb minced pork
250g / 8oz minced beef
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 beaten egg
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Make the stuffing:

  • Lightly cook the rice, drain and reserve.
  • Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the finely chopped onion and fry until golden brown.
  • Mix together the rice, minced pork, minced beef, onions, egg, mushrooms (if you are using them), garlic and parsley.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil.

Slice through the base of the cabbage and cook the whole cabbage until tender but the leaves aren’t too soft.

Alternatively, place the cabbage in a sieve, let it boil for a few minutes.

Remove it and peel off the first few layers of leaves before returning to the boiling water.  Continue until you have all the leaves that you need.

Preheat the oven to 190oC / Gas 5.

Use the tough outer leaves to line an oven proof dish. 

Take the large leaves.  You may need to trim off some of the thick central stems which will prevent the limp leaf from bending. 

Place a spoonful of the filling in the centre of the cabbage leaf, fold over the edges and roll to form a tight package.

Arrange the rolls in a layer on the cabbage leaves in an ovenproof dish.  Pour over the tomatoes and a little stock or boiling water (4 – 5 tablespoons).  Dot some butter over the top and cover with a lid or foil. 

Cook in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes.

Remove the lid or foil and replace the ovenproof dish in the over for a further 10 – 15 minutes to lightly brown the gołąbki.

Serve immediately with spoonfuls of the tomato sauce. Smacznego!

Grażynka Kowalewska

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