Last week I made Golubtsi, also known as stuffed cabbage rolls. Golubtsi – is a delicious comfort food popular in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, Ukraine. Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, the Balkans, Central Asia, Egypt, North Africa, China, and Korea. Polish – Golabki, Ukrainian – Holubtsi, Romanian – Sarmale, Georgia – Tolma, Balkans – Sarma, Hungary – Töltött Káposzta, Sweden – Kåldolma, Jewish – Holishkes, Russian – Golubtsi.

They are cabbage leaves (you can use grapes leaves as well) that are stuffed with ground meat or vegetables, mixed with onions, rice and/or buckwheat, carrots, and spices, then cooked in a tomato sauce.

You can make a whole batch and then freeze it in portions.

I found a couple good tips for making them easier and tastier. Usually you need to boil a whole cabbage, so the leaves will be soften and it will be easier to roll the filling. But I found an easier way, just put the cabbage (or the leaves) in the freezer. After defrosting, the leaves will be soft, easier to separate from the core, and to wrap the stuffing in them.

A second good tip was to fry the rolls before cooking them in a big pot with the sauce. The caramelized cabbage is really tasty! After you fry them, put the Golubtsi in a large pot, layered and covered in sauce, then cooked on the stove on low heat. You can also use a Dutch Oven as well, since it retains heat and cooks evenly. Or you can put the rolls on a tray and bake them in the oven. I also added some bacon to the filling, because why not? 😊 It gives a good smoky flavor to the meat. Or you can add some fried bacon to the sauce. In Ukraine, it’s common to add pork cracklings/rind.

Many people use water with tomato paste for the sauce, I prefer to add some grated tomatoes and stock/bouillon along with the tomato paste. You can also use a tomato sauce, since it has lots of flavors too. And definitely serve them with sour cream.

Golubtsi Recipe

By Olya Sandstrom Published: October 3, 2022

  • Yield: 6-8 Servings

Last week I made Golubtsi, also known as stuffed cabbage rolls. Golubtsi - is a delicious comfort food popular in Northern, Central …



  1. For the filling: mix the meat, rice, onions, salt, pepper, bacon, paprika, and garlic powder. On each cabbage leaf, put the meat-rice filling (to the thickest side of the cabbage leaf), around 2 tbsp. Roll up the cabbage, tucking the insides as you go, wrapping as you would a burrito or like an envelope and roll it to the end.
  2. Fry the rolls on a pan with oil on both sides, then move them to a large pot (seam down) with a couple of unrolled cabbage leaves on the bottom. Lay the cabbage rolls side by side until the first layer is filled.
  3. Make the sauce: fry garlic, onions, carrot until soft, then add grated tomatoes. After 3-5 min, add tomato paste, sour cream, stock/bouillon, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and mix well. Pour the sauce on the rolls until fully covered. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for around 40-45 minutes. Serve with sour cream and garnish with dill or parsley.

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