The recipe prices will vary based on fluctuating grocery costs. Please use what is posted as a guide.
Golumpki or Gołąbki are Polish cabbage rolls stuffed with a mixture of beef, pork, rice, and seasoning.
This recipe serves 12 and costs about $11.32 to make or $0.95 per serving!
Do you ever feel like handwritten family recipes are a lost art? With technology these days, there is no need to write out your recipes when you can print one off quickly.
However, I have a few framed handwritten recipes from my grandmother hanging in my kitchen that I adore. The recipe cards have a few stains on them, which give me warm thoughts of seeing them cooking these recipes with all their love.
I am so grateful they took the time to write some of their recipes to benefit from them and carry on their traditional cooking.
Grandma’s Golumpki – Cabbage Rolls Recipe
This brings me to this recipe I am sharing with you today. I am passing on the tradition of Golumpki from my paternal Grandmother, who was 100% Polish. My dad says, “These are the best thing on the planet Earth!”
Thanks to my Aunt Nancie, who wrote this recipe down one day while watching my Grandma make it, future generations will enjoy my Grandma’s Golumpki recipe!
He remembers going nuts when his mom would make them. He and his brother would say, “Mmmmm Golumpki night,” when she would tell them what was for dinner.
She always served Mashed Potatoes with them. But he was even more excited to eat them the next night as they are always better the second day.
Throughout the world, some might call this stuffed cabbage. But in Poland, this dish is known as Golumpki. This recipe is packed full of fresh flavors and even more special with it being a family recipe.
I would love to hear what your favorite family recipe is in the comments below!
What does Golumpki mean?
It is the plural of Golabek, which derives from Golab, which means “pigeon.” It’s called pigeon because the cabbage rolls resemble the shape of a pigeon’s chest.
How do you pronounce Golumpki?
You pronounce it by saying guh-WOOMP-key.
Can you freeze Golumpki?
Yes, you can freeze them! After baking them, let them cool completely before putting them in an airtight Ziploc bag. Add a little tomato sauce to each bag and then freeze.
When you are ready to use them, place the frozen rolls and sauce in a saucepan and simmer until you have heated them all the way through.
How to make Golumpki:
This recipe has a lot of moving parts, but it’s broken down in simple steps by:
- First, boil the cabbage, let it cool, separate the leaves, and cut out the hard stem.
- Stir together the filling and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
- Then, make the Sauce and spread some on the bottom of the baking dishes.
- Next, stuff and roll the cabbage leaves.
- Cover the cabbage rolls with the remaining sauce. (At this point, you can cover them and place them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours or bake them).
- Then, bake the cabbage rolls for 50-60 minutes.
- Finally, let the Golumpki cool for 10 minutes and then serve with chopped fresh dill (optional).
See the recipe card below for complete instructions and step-by-step photos!
What to serve with Cabbage Rolls:
More Polish Recipes that are Family-Favorites:
- The sauce recipe for this dish is my own. My grandma did something a little different, which is an excellent option if you’re short on time.
- Mix one 10.75-ounce can of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup and one 15-ounce can of Hunt’s tomato sauce. And that’s it, no cooking needed. Use this sauce in place of the sauce in the recipe below.
- You can prepare these ahead of time by making the recipe right until baking the cabbage rolls. Cover the rolls and place them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Then, cook as directed in the recipe below.
- The Golumpki taste even better the second day!
- This recipe makes a ton! You can freeze cooked leftovers. Just place them in air-tight freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3-4 months.
- TO REHEAT: Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Then transfer the cabbage rolls to a baking dish, cover with foil, and heat in a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven until warmed through, about 20-30 minutes.
- Cutting board
- Paring knife
- Large pot
- Medium bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Medium pot
- Wire cooling racks
Ingredients and Cost
RECIPE COST: $11.32
PER SERVING COST: $0.95
NOTE: The recipe prices are used calculating name brand products from grocery store websites.
- 1 large green cabbage – $2.34
- 1 pound lean ground beef – $3.60
- ½ pound ground pork – $1.53
- 1 small yellow onion – $0.48
- 7 large garlic cloves – $0.35
- 1 lemon – $0.48
- 1 large egg – $0.10
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes – $1.64
- 2 cups cooked rice – $0.39
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil – $0.14
- ½ cup water – $0
- 1 teaspoon salt – $0.01
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper – $0.01
- Chopped fresh dill – $0.25
Golumpki - Stuffed Polish Cabbage (Gołąbki)
- 1 large green cabbage
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ small yellow onion grated
- 4 large garlic cloves grated
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
- 1 large egg beaten
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ small yellow onion grated
- 3 large garlic cloves grated
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Chopped fresh dill optional
- Remove the stalk from the bottom of the cabbage head.
- Place the cabbage in a large pot filled with 12 cups of water. Cover and place over high heat.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the cabbage leaves become bright green and pliable, about 3-5 minutes. The leaves should not be limp, they should hold their shape.
- Remove cabbage from water and place on a cutting board until it’s cool enough to handle.
- In a large bowl combine ground beef, pork, onion, garlic, grated lemon peel, egg, and rice. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
MAKE TOMATO SAUCE:
- In a medium pot over medium heat add oil. Once simmering, stir in grated onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Then, add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Pour in crushed tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper and increase heat to high. Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer tomatoes for 15 minutes.
PREPARE CABBAGE LEAVES:
- Once the cabbage has cooled, remove the leaves from the cabbage head.
- Using a paring knife, cut the thick stem or membrane from the back of each leaf. Be careful not to cut through the leaf.
PREP OVEN AND BAKING DISHES:
- Move oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- You will need a 9x13-inch baking dish and a smaller, 2-quart baking dish for this recipe. Spread ¾ cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish and ½ cup sauce in the bottom of the 2-quart baking dish.
STUFF & ROLL CABBAGE LEAVES:
- Place 2 tablespoons of filling on the bottom half of a cabbage leaf.
- Fold up the bottom part of the cabbage leaf.
- Then, fold in the sides.
- Next, roll forward until the cabbage leaf completely covers the filling. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
- Place the stuffed cabbage leaves into prepared pans in neat rows. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the cabbage rolls.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
- Place pans on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh dill (optional) and serve.
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Ron Chmiel says
This is a delicious recipe. I freeze mine after they are cooked, then vacuum seal them in individual trays. 2 gołąbki per tray.
I learned to make this from my polish Great grandma Ann.I make this recipe adding carrots and tomato paste to the meat .I cook on top of the stove filling large pan covering rolls with water and adding at least a cup of vinegar and a can of tomato sauce.
The addition of carrots sounds delicious, I’m going to try that next time!
When do you put the lemon in?
In the “Make Filling” section, #1.
I also add tomato paste to meat mixture and Worcestershire and some bown sugar to tone down the tomatoes
Chris London says
My grandma was 100% polish and a lot of my cousins also. They don’t use any tomato soup or sauce. They save some of the water from the boiled cabbage and added some butter and salt and pepper. Cover the golumpki with the water from the cabbage and make on stove top. We always had boiled potatoes with our or sometimes just some polish rye with butter. I’m making them right now.
The best! Just like the ones I remembered making long ago!
Never made it with lemon though, it was fantastic.
Vanessa, so glad you enjoyed it with the lemon. It was my grandma’s secret ingredient! 🙂
natalie smith says
I’m usually not one to leave reviews but I just had to. I’ve used my own recipe for golumkpi for years but thought I’d give this a try. So glad I did! Absolutely delish! The lemon zest is the game changer. And the brown sugar/ vinegar combo in the sauce is genius. This will now be my new and improved recipe. Thank you for sharing.
My grandmother was Labenese and she made these often. Biggest difference is that she used a little dried mint leaf. Hers were also cooked on the stove top. The lemon really makes them sooo delicious. Thanks for sharing your recipe!
Susan Wachowiak says
I have been making these cabbage rolls for years and although I do a couple of things a little differently, they are very similar. However, right before serving the cabbage rolls, I take some of the sauce that they have been cooking in and add some sour cream. It really finishes this off royally! So smooth and rich. Might want to give this a try.
Dottie Szczesny says
Susan, my husband jokingly asked if we could maybe add some sour cream to our recipe, and I said it sounded good to me! so I will do as you suggest. I always add some worcestershire and a touch of brown sugar to the sauce. thankyou to all who have wonderful authentic suggestions!
I have not made these in awhile. My polish grandmother made hers similar but did not use lemon or brown sugar. She did use tomato soup adding a little water to it. She also would use the left over cabbage leaves to cover the top of the galumpki so the rolls would not burn. Sbe also put some slices of bacon over the rolls before putting on the left over leaves. It gave it some extra flavor.
I grew up in a Polish family. We made stuffed cabbage and called it “Gawoombkey.”
Seems all the “genuine” recipes that I have found over my nearly 7 decades, feature both RICE and TOMATO sauce…
Ours did not have rice nor tomato sauce. To the best of my knowledge, there are no rice paddies in Poland and tomatoes are native to South America, not northern/eastern Europe. How is it, that in the USA, everybody is convinced this combination is “Genuine Polish” tradition?
I think it all depends, my grandpa and grandma came here from poland and they always used rice and tomato sauce for this.
My grandmother was Russian. No rice paddies there either but her traditional recipe from her mom was made with rice, lemon and brown sugar on the stove top. She also cut up the remaining cabbage and threw it in on top. I think this recipe is so much easier to make in the oven. Hubby prefers it without the sugar so it works for us.
I haven’t even tasted it yet and I gave it 5 stars because it is the closest recipe I have ever seen to the “by mouth” recipe from my Polish mother-in-law, and babci. The only difference I noted was the lemon peel which I did not add, but after reading the reviews, may try it next time – love “secret ingredients.”
Just like mom used to make!! Love this recipe
I tried Golumpki before. It was delicious and my friend made it and gave me some. I’m going to try to make it.
I’m liking the addition of lemon! I’m going to be making my next batch soon, there will be lemon zest! I add a little sauerkraut to the meat mixture. I also typically add some kraut to any tomato-based sauce I do.
I make these a few times a year. I’m the only person in my house that will eat them. Last time I steamed mine in my pressure cooker and cooked my sauce on the side. After I ate what I was going to eat (with mashed potatoes and corn!) I vacuum sealed 1-2 depending on size plus a little sauce. When I am looking for a quick dinner (or lunch, now that I am working from home 100%) I heat them up in a saucepan of water stovetop. Delicious.
Michale, I’m so glad you like the addition of the lemon. I’m going to try sauerkraut in my meat mixture next time!
My grandmother’s were pure polish and Russian. The pole made golumki and the Russian made helupki. I’ve had your recipe and it was great. But they did something a little different. Instead of tomato sauce or soup, they would cook the whole thing in sourqrout. Then they’d throw in kielbasa, any leftover meat, potatoes, (pork ribs) and sometimes carrots. God, I can taste it now! My favorite meal. And you must serve it with perogis.
This was nasty. I always follow the recipe as written the first time and if the food was good but needs some changes I’ll alter it the next time. This recipe is terrible and not worth trying to salvage. The filling is bland and needs a lot of seasoning not just garlic and the addition of lemon zest is disgusting. I can’t emphasize enough how much lemon has no place in this dish.
The sauce isn’t bad but definitely needs some more seasoning.
I’ve had golumpki’s made by my polish ex-step mother and they were amazing. These are joyless tubes of cabbage and every ingredient is wasted by making this recipe.
My Babcia fried the cabbage rolls first and Mum used Campbell’s Mushroom Soup instead of Tomato Soup… delish!
I absolutely love this recipe. I actually grew up off one very similar, but IDENTICAL sauce as your Grandma . So that’s actually how I’m making it. I’m used to many different variations, but simple is tasty
I have been searching for the recipe that calls for a pinch of cinnamon in the tomato sauce. It really gives it that certain something that sets it aside from the rest.
I was skeptical about the lemon, but it really added a delicious flavor to the cabbage rolls. Absolutely delicious!
I’m 100% polish and my mom did not use lemon or brown sugar or egg
In fact she would cook the onions in salt pork and once they were translucent she would just mix that in with the raw meat, salt and pepper and mix all that with just cooked fluffy rice. She also used the left over leaves to cover the golumbki in the roaster for the oven
She used diced canned tomatoes.
t o pour over th