Gołąbki recipe is a delicious and comforting dish that has been enjoyed for generations in Poland. They are a traditional Polish dish consisting of meat and rice filling, wrapped in cooked cabbage leaves and cooked in a tomato-based sauce. The name “gołąbki” comes from the Polish word “gołąbek” which means “little pigeon” due to the shape of the wrapped filling resembling a small bird. But there might be another explanation which you can read later on.

They are often served with bread or boiled potatoes and are popular in many Eastern European countries, as well as in Polish communities around the world. They are typically enjoyed as a hearty and comforting meal, perfect for colder months.


  • 700g of any minced pork
  • 100g rice
  • 2 onions
  • 1 white or Italian cabbage
  • optional: 1 carrot – sliced
  • 1.5 liters of broth or stock
  • 600g tomato passata
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • optional: 4 tablespoons of sour cream


  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme

Preparation method

  1. Cook the rice, and let it cool.
  2. Put the meat in a larger bowl and add rice. Peel and grate the onion, then add it to the meat and rice, seasoning with salt (about half a teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon). Mix everything and knead well with your hands. Form oblong shape meatballs as big as you can hold and fold comfortably in the hand.
  3. Cut out the core from the cabbage, then put it in a large pot with boiling water (cut side down), and cook for about 10 minutes over low heat. Turn the cabbage over to the other side and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the cabbage from the boiling water and after cooling, remove the leaves and gently cut off the thickenings from each leaf, then add the prepared portions of meat.
  4. Wrap like croquettes – first put the leaf on the meat from one side, then fold the sides inward, then roll up the remaining part of the leaf as tightly as possible. Not all of the cabbage has to be used.
  5. A few cabbage leaves should line the bottom of a big, ideally broad, pot – e.g. those that have been torn during the process. On top, arrange the cabbage rolls with the seams facing down. Boil the broth in another pot (you can add sliced carrot at this stage) and pour it over the cabbage rolls. Place on the stove, cover, and cook for about 45 – 60 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Do not stir the cabbage rolls while cooking, possibly shake the pot gently.
  6. Pour the cabbage roll broth into a separate pot. Add the tomato puree and the flour previously mixed with a few tablespoons of cold water. Season with salt, pepper, dried oregano, thyme, and paprika and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes without a lid.
  7. If adding sour cream, gradually mix it with the sauce, adding it spoon by spoon to the sour cream while stirring at the same time. Pour into the pot with the cabbage rolls and cook everything for a few minutes over low heat, shaking the pot from time to time to evenly distribute the sauce.
  8. SERVING SUGGESTION – Bread or boiled potatoes.

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Gołąbki are a mouth-watering and hearty dish that has been a staple of Polish cuisine for centuries. The dish consists of a savory meat and rice filling, wrapped in cooked cabbage leaves and cooked in a rich tomato-based sauce.

The preparation of gołąbki is a labor of love, as the cabbage leaves must be carefully blanched and wrapped around the filling, then cooked slowly in a flavorful broth until they are tender and juicy. The filling itself is a combination of ground pork or beef, mixed with cooked rice, sautéed onions, and a blend of herbs and spices. The result is a rich and savory mixture that is both satisfying and delicious.

The tomato-based sauce that gołąbki are cooked in is the perfect accompaniment to the savory filling. Made with a blend of tomatoes, spices, and a touch of cream, the sauce adds a luxurious richness to the dish that is sure to please even the most discerning palate.

When served, the dish is a sight to behold. The tender, flavorful cabbage leaves envelop the juicy, savory filling, while the rich tomato sauce blankets everything in a luscious coat of flavor. The dish is typically enjoyed with bread or boiled potatoes and is a perfect choice for a cold winter night when a warm, hearty meal is just what the doctor ordered.

In conclusion, they are a true culinary masterpiece, a dish that has stood the test of time and remains a beloved staple of Polish cuisine. With their rich, savory filling, tender cabbage leaves, and luscious tomato sauce, gołąbki are a feast for the senses and a true delight to the taste buds.

A Traditional Dish Across Eastern Europe

Gołąbki have a rich cultural history and have been enjoyed by people in Central and Eastern Europe for centuries. They are especially popular in Poland, where they are considered a national dish, and are often served at festive occasions such as weddings, christenings, and family gatherings.

The word “gołąbki” itself translates to “little pigeons” in Polish, which some belief is a reference to the shape of the dish. However, it’s more likely that the name comes from the fact that the dish was originally made with pigeon meat, which was a popular ingredient in medieval Poland.

Over time, the recipe for gołąbki has evolved to include ground meat, usually pork or beef, mixed with rice or barley, and wrapped in a cabbage leaf. The filling is then simmered in a flavorful tomato-based sauce, often made with a combination of broth, tomato puree, and spices.

Although they are most commonly associated with Poland, they are also enjoyed in neighboring countries such as Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. In fact, there are many variations of the dish throughout the region, with each country adding its own unique twist.

In Ukraine, for example, gołąbki are often made with buckwheat instead of rice, while in Russia, they are sometimes served with a mushroom-based sauce. In Belarus, they are typically made with a filling of ground beef, onions, and grated carrots, and are often served with sour cream.

Despite the variations, one thing remains consistent across all versions of the dish: the heartiness and comfort that come with each bite. Whether enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish, gołąbki are a delicious and satisfying part of Eastern European cuisine.

Traditional Gołąbki with Sauerkraut Filling

The tradition of making gołąbki with sauerkraut in Poland can be traced back to the times when cabbage was an important winter vegetable and was preserved through fermentation. The sour taste of sauerkraut not only adds flavor to the dish but also helps with digestion.

The use of sauerkraut instead of fresh cabbage is not unique to Poland, as this method is also used in other countries such as Germany and Ukraine. In fact, sauerkraut is a common ingredient in many traditional dishes in Central and Eastern Europe, and it is believed to have many health benefits due to its high content of vitamin C and probiotics. Overall, The tradition of using sauerkraut in gołąbki recipe is unique to Poland and gives the dish a distinct sour flavor.

Gołąbki in US – Popular Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Polish-American Communities

In the United States, many Polish immigrants settled in cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, bringing their traditional cuisine with them. Gołąbki, or stuffed cabbage rolls, quickly became a popular dish among Polish-American communities, and can now be found on the menus of many Polish restaurants across the country.

In some areas, particularly in the Midwest, gołąbki are also served at state and county fairs, as well as at Polish heritage festivals. The dish has also gained popularity beyond Polish-American communities, and can now be found on the menus of many non-Polish restaurants as well.

Gołąbki in Pop Culture: From the Big Screen to TV

Gołąbki has also been featured in popular culture, including in the 1995 movie “My Family” and the television series “Fargo.”

In the 1995 movie “My Family,” gołąbki are prominently featured as a traditional dish served at a family gathering, while in the television series “Fargo,” gołąbki are briefly mentioned as a dish served at a church fundraiser. The inclusion of gołąbki in popular culture highlights the cultural significance and widespread popularity of this traditional Polish dish.

In conclusion, gołąbki are a beloved and traditional Polish dish that has spread to other Central and Eastern European countries. This flavorful dish is often served at special occasions and has a rich history and cultural significance. Whether enjoyed with fresh cabbage or sauerkraut, gołąbki continue to be a popular dish among many communities, including Polish-Americans in the United States. With its hearty meat and rice filling wrapped in tender cabbage leaves, gołąbki is a dish that truly represents the heart and soul of Polish cuisine.