Traditional Polish Style Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (no canned soup)

3 stuffed cabbage rolls piled on white plate topped with tomato based sauceStuffed cabbage, or Golabki, is a cabbage roll common in Polish cuisine made from lightly soft-boiled cabbage leaves wrapped around minced pork or beef, chopped onions, and rice, which can be baked in a casserole dish, made on the stove top or even in a slow cooker. They are usually topped and served with a tomato based sauce.

Goląbki are often served during the Christmas season and on festive occasions such as weddings and are very popular amongst the Polish American community.  My first exposure to stuffed cabbage was right after I got married.

They are fairly easy to make and can be made ahead of time or as I like, leftovers.

Be sure to check out the tips I’ve shared at the end of the post.

cabbage rolls stuffed with beef, pork and rice with tomato soup

To get started, I prepared a batch of my Perfectly Baked Rice the night before and let cool.  It’s super easy to make rice this way and I’ll never make it on the stove again.  I could never get it right.  This way comes out perfect every time I do it.

The next thing to think about is the cabbage.  I have tips at the end of the post on how to soften it but you also want to remove the white hard part of the core with a sharp a knife.  This will leave the leaf with a V shape cut out.  But that’s ok.  You just want to remove it because it’s a little tough.

Tender cabbage rolls, stuffer with tender beef pork, and farro, braised in a savory tomato broth.

When it comes to the beef par of this recipe, I suggest you use 90% lean ground beef.  Keep in mind the beef is rolled uncooked so there isn’t a way to drain the grease.  I did mix it with a little pork, again, a very lean meat.

The ratio of beef to pork is a personal preference so feel free to tweak this to your liking.  Once you get the mixture the way you like it you want to roll it into a little log.

cabbage leaf stuffed with ground beef, pork and rice

Rolling it like this keeps it compact and helps the cabbage keep it’s shape as it’s cooking as well as when they are eaten.   Put the beef mixture towards the core and then fold it up once, grab both side and tuck them in and continue rolling.

There are a few different options when it comes to actually cooking the stuffed cabbage.  I recently broke my slow cooker (deep sigh) so I opted for baking.  I placed all the rolled leaves in a 9 x 13 baking dish

Now here comes the best part for me!  The majority of stuffed cabbage recipes called for Campbell’s condensed tomato soup which left me very frustrated since I didn’t want to ruin these great little cabbages with preservatives, MSG, BPH etc. so I played around until I made my own.

You can click here for that recipe.

There is something about this sauce that gives my stuffed cabbage recipe an amazingly different and uniquely addictive flavor.   I hope you try these cabbage rolls and love them as much as we do!  🙂 stuffed cabbage leaves with ground beef and rice topped with tomato based sauce on a plate




  1. Try removing as much of the core as you can before putting the cabbage in water.  Also using a pair of tongs can help remove the leaves as they soften.
  2. Make sure there is a good ratio of meat to rice.  You want more meat, so I found a 3:1 ratio a perfect balance.
  3. Grab a spoonful of the beef and rice and roll it into a little logs before placing it in the leaf.  This will give a nice firmer center.
  4. Layer some extra cabbage leaves on the bottom of the pan and in between the rolled cabbage.  This extra layer will help prevent them from unrolling and staying moist.
  5. Once the rolls are fully cooked and taken out of the oven, let them stand at least 30 minutes.  This gives the flavors a chance to combine and it gives them a chance to cool a little.
  6. Be sure to use a lean beef otherwise a fattier meat can make the cabbage rolls greasy.
  7. One of my favorite ways to eat stuffed cabbage it is topped with sauerkraut !
  8. A great side dish would be something bland such as steamed potatoes.



Traditional Polish Style Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (no canned soup)

stuffed cabbage leaves with ground beef and rice topped with tomato based sauce on a plate

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  • 1 lb Organic Ground Beef (use a lean cut)
  • 1/2 lb Ground Pork
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Onion, diced
  • 1 Organic Garlic Clove, minced


  • 3 Tablespoons Organic Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons White Whole Wheat Flour (I use Bob Mills)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Organic Tomato Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic Ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Organic Cane Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder

12-14 Cabbage Leaves softened in boiling water, core removed


  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by putting a few cabbage leaves (broken or whole) on the bottom and layer with a little sauce.  Set aside.


  1. Begin by making the roux for the tomato sauce by melting the butter in small saucepan over low/medium heat.  Once melted, add the flour and continue cooking another minute or two while whisking to prevent burning.
  2. Add the tomato juice and the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for 15 minutes.


  1. In a large pot of boiling water, place the cabbage and let it boil for 5-7 minutes, turning over occasionally.  Remove outer leaves as they soften with a pair of tongs or remove the entire head of cabbage and once cool enough to handle, remove 12-14 leaves.
  2. Using a sharp knife, remove the hard white core in a V shape


  1. Combine the ingredients for the filling in a large bowl and using your hands, gently mix until it is combined.
  2. Using a large spoon shape the meat mixture into a log shape and continue until all meat is used.
  3. Place the filling in the cabbage leaf close to the core.  Fold once, then grab both sides and fold in, continue rolling and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 50 min – 1 hour.
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  1. Donna Curwin says:

    This is so good! I used ground turkey and brown rice for the filling to and followed the sauce recipe. Amazing!

  2. I loved the title (no canned soup). Why? My Polish dad used canned tomato soup. Your tomato sauce looks good. My personal tweak was to use a good marinara sauce which is probably equivalent to the sauce you came up with here using ketchup, juice, garlic powder, etc.

    The local meat market here has a 50/50 ground beef and bacon I use sometimes which is good. I usually mix it down so that it is 75% beef and 25% bacon. I will try your tomato sauce – looks very rich in the pics

  3. Yummmmmmm!!!!

    Luna Crone

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