Stuffed Cabbage Rolls is a Polish dish; Galumpkis, where cabbage is stuffed with a mixture of meat, rice and seasonings and baked in a tomato sauce.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are simple comfort food dish that comes with a variety of different names and spellings. Golabki is what I grew up calling them, but there are similar versions, Galumpki and Golumpki.
Then there is Halupki/Halupky, which is exactly the same thing. Regardless of what you call them, they’re delicious and not very difficult to make.
Despite the fact that my mom’s side of the family is Polish and we now have a tradition of getting together and making Polish sausage (Kielbasa), I rarely ate Polish food when I was a kid, even though it’s foods my mother ate. She’s never been a big fan of cabbage so this is never something she wanted to make.
What is a stuffed cabbage roll?
The ingredients (and the name) vary by the country where they are served. There is no exact recipe origin for cabbage rolls as they appear to have popped up throughout Europe, Western Asian and Northern China all around the same time. The differences come in the stuffing and in the sauce.
The Polish version is stuffed with pork or beef, rice or barley and the rolls are baked or simmered in a tomato sauce. Golabki translates to “little pigeon” and the dish is called this because the cabbage rolls kind of look like pigeon breasts.
Ingredients for this recipe
- Lean Ground Beef – 90% lean is my preference for this recipe as fattier ground beef will make the tomato sauce greasy
- Cooked Rice – any short grain white or brown rice will do
- Onion – white or red is fine
- Egg – large, this will serve as a binder for the meat mixture
- Parsley – fresh or dried
- Garlic – jarred minced or fresh minced
- Butter – unsalted is what I keep around but salted is fine too
- Red Wine Vinegar – can be replaced with white white vinegar, distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar – whatever you have on hand
- Crushed Tomatoes – is used in the sauce creation
- Brown Sugar – helps to cut the tartness of the crushed tomatoes
- Cabbage – green cabbage is the cabbage of choice for this recipe
- Salt and Pepper – the most basic seasoning for every dish
How to make this recipe
This recipe has a lot of steps, but everything comes together pretty easily if you work in steps.
- Start with sauce: Combine crushed tomatoes with brown sugar and red wine vinegar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- Then create the filling: Add butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion until just translucent, about 5 minutes and then add in the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a large bowl, and add in ground beef, cooked rice, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix until combined and then form into logs, similar to a meatloaf, about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.
- Prepare the cabbage: Slice off the end of the cabbage and place into a large pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or until the leaves soften and you’ll easily be able to remove them. Remove from the water and let cool until you can touch it. Peel back the leaves and then slice a “V” shape out of each leaf where the hard stem is.
- Assemble the cabbage rolls: Place a log of meat into each of the cabbage rolls and wrap it over, tucking in the ends.
- Bake the cabbage rolls: Pour half of the tomato mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Layer the cabbage rolls on top and cover them with the remaining tomato mixture. Bake for 1 hour.
Can cabbage rolls be frozen?
Yes! Cooked and fully cooled rolls can be stores in a ziplock bag or freezer-safe container with some sauce. To reheat, place the frozen rolls and sauce in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat until they’ve heated back through.
You can also make this recipe in advance. The cabbage rolls, meat mixture and sauce can all be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Let the cooked cabbage rolls come to room temperature before rolling the meat mixture into them.
What to serve with cabbage rolls?
Substitutions for this recipe
Feel free to make this recipe your own. Punch up the tomato sauce by adding in fresh or dried herbs and/or garlic. Replace the parsley in the rolls with Italian seasoning or marjoram, whatever you have on hand. Tomato sauce/canned tomato soup can replace the crushed tomatoes for a smoother sauce. Add in Worcestershire sauce or A1 for a richer flavored sauce.
A non-traditional option would be to add shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the rolls in the last 15 minutes of baking.
September 2020: Polish Baking
- Baba Kartoflana – Polish Potato Pie from Food Lust People Love
- Babki Śmietankowe (Cream Tarts) from Sid’s Sea Palm Cooking
- Kapusta Casserole – Polish Cabbage, Potato, and Bacon Bake from Making Miracles
- Karpatka (Polish Carpathian Cream Cake) from Tara’s Multicultural Table
- Kolaczki – Jam-Filled Polish Cookies from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Kotlety Ziemniaczane from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Mom Klik’s Breaded Pork Chops from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Oven Braised Pork with Sour Cream (Karkówka w śmietanie) from Palatable Pastime
- Piernik – Polish Gingerbread Cake from Caroline’s Cooking
- Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Cookaholic Wife
- Veg Pierogi Casserole from Sneha’s Recipe
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Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 8 leaves green cabbage
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup onion diced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 cup white rice cooked
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Fill a large pot with water. Cut the stem out of the cabbage and add the cabbage to the pot. Bring to a boil, and boil 3-5 minutes. Remove the cabbage from the water and let rest until it's cool enough to touch.
- Carefully peel 8 leaves off of the cabbage head and use a knife to cut a "V" where the thicker stem is. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, add the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and red wine vinegar. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Add ground beef, cooked rice, egg, parsley, salt and pepper to the bowl with the onion and garlic. Mix until combined.
- Form small logs with the beef mixture, approximately 4 inches long by 2 inches wide.
- Place a log of meat into the cabbage leaves and roll up, tucking in the ends. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves.
- Pour half of the tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange the cabbage rolls into the dish and pour the remainder of the tomato sauce on top.
- Bake for 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipes on Cookaholic Wife are for information purposes only. Nutritional Data provided has not been evaluated by a nutritionist.