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Golubtsi Recipe (Easy Russian Stuffed Cabbage)

Whether you call these golubtsi, golabki, golumpki, or simply Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, you're going to love this classic Eastern European dinner. This recipe is the perfect combination of beef, rice, cabbage baked in a tasty tomato sauce. Hearty, delicious, and full of healthy ingredients! 

Golubtsi stuffed with ground beef and rice on a plate.

Not to get all food-blogger-life-story on you, but homemade cabbage rolls was something my grandma made when we were growing up. It is such a hearty, satisfying meal that I absolutely missed from childhood, so I had to recreate it and share the recipe with you.

Even if you're not typically a fan of cabbage, this golubtsi recipe is worth trying. It is absolutely different than the plain, mushy boiled cabbage we all eat once a year for St. Patrick's day.

This recipe is full of flavor, thanks for a special seasonings added to the beef and rice filling. The way that the cabbage holds in the beef and rice and other ingredients is perfect and has such a great flavor and texture. 

Related recipe: Cabbage and Kielbasa Stir Fry

Golubtsi topped with tomato sauce on a plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cabbage (approximately 15-18 leaves)
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ¾ cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 10-oz cans of tomato soup (I used Campbell’s)
  • 1 large egg

You'll also need:

Ingredients to make Polish / Russian ground beef stuffed cabbage stuffing.

Related recipe: Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon

How to make homemade cabbage rolls:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Carefully remove approximately 15-18 leaves from the cabbage.

Step 3: Fill a large stockpot with water and bring it to a boil. Place the cabbage leaves in the boiling water and simmer until softened, about 30 seconds to a minute. You might need to do this in a few batches. Set the cooked cabbage leaves aside.

Slightly boiled cabbage leaves for making stuffed cabbage.

Step 4: While the cabbage is simmering, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, seasonings, and egg, mixing well. It is OK to overmix this mixture, it should be like a thick paste.

Ground beef mixture for cabbage rolls.

Step 5: Open one can of tomato soup and pour it into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, then use a large spoon to spread it around.

Step 6: Once the cabbage leaves have cooled, fill each cabbage leaf with about ½ cup of the meat and rice mixture. Roll the cabbage leaf end over the meat mixture, fold the sides of the cabbage leaf in, and then roll completely closed.

Ground beef and rice mixture in a cabbage leaf.

Step 7: Place the rolled cabbage rolls seam side down in the prepared baking pan and repeat with all the leaves and meat mixture.

Step 8: Pour the second can of tomato soup over the prepared cabbage rolls.

Pan of golubtsi with tomato sauce on top, ready to bake.

Step 9: Cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes.

Related recipe: Cabbage Fritters

Tips for making cabbage rolls

  • Make certain to let the cabbage rolls cool before filling them.
  • If you prefer a suuuper soft rice inside your cabbage rolls, you can pre-cook the rice for about 10 minutes before mixing it with the ground beef. 
  • If you can't get the cabbage leaves to stay closed once they are rolled up, you might have too much filling inside. Take a little bit out and try again. 
  • Make certain to put the seams down on the cabbage rolls so that they bake and stay closed. Otherwise, all the goodness will spill out into the pan.... but even if the goodness spills out, it is absolutely delicious all mixed in with the tomato sauce!

Russian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls on a plate with tomato sauce.

Related recipe: Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Ground beef substitutions for stuffed cabbage

I love subbing out half of the ground beef for ground pork or ground turkey. These cabbage rolls can be made with just ground turkey, ground pork, or ground lamb instead of beef. 

What side dishes go well with homemade cabbage rolls

We love sopping up the sauce with some bread - try making a homemade baguette or toasting whole wheat bread. If you want to add a traditional Eastern European salad to your meal, try making this Russian Beet Salad as a starter. 

However you decide to serve this homemade cabbage roll recipe, please take a picture and tag me on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK. You can find me at @babaganoshblog on both. I love seeing your creations!

Why are my cabbage rolls tough?

If the texture of your cabbage rolls are tough, it just means that you need to cook them for a little bit longer. They shouldn't have a chew to them at all once they're cooked all the way through.

Related recipe: Draniki (Russian Potato Fritters)

Can I freeze cabbage rolls?

You sure can freeze cabbage rolls! The key is to freeze them before you cook them in the oven. Just cover and add to your freezer. When you're ready to cook, let them thaw overnight in the fridge, then cook according to the recipe. 

How long can cabbage rolls stay in the fridge?

Leftover stuffed cabbage rolls need to be eaten within 3 days to make sure that they're still fresh and delicious. But they never really last that long anyway! 🙂

Don’t miss these other recipes using cabbage:

Other traditional Russian and Ukrainian recipes:

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Golubtsi stuffed with ground beef and rice on a plate.
Print Recipe
4.94 from 15 votes

Homemade Cabbage Rolls

This is my absolute favorite golubtsi recipe (stuffed cabbage). Just a few minutes of prep and hands-on time, then the cabbage rolls are baked in a delicious tomato sauce until perfection!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Eastern European, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian
Servings: 4
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 large cabbage (you'll need approximately 15-18 leaves) 
  • lb ground beef
  • ¾ cup uncooked white rice 
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 10-oz cans of tomato soup (I used Campbell’s) 

Special equipment

  • 9x13 baking dish
  • Large pot

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Carefully remove approximately 15-18 leaves from the cabbage. 
  • Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Place the cabbage leaves in the boiling water and simmer until softened, about 30 seconds to a minute. Set the cooked cabbage leaves aside. 
  • While the cabbage is simmering, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, seasonings, and egg, mixing well.
  • Open one can of tomato soup and pour it into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish, then use a large spoon to spread it around. 
  • Once the cabbage leaves have cooled, fill each cabbage leaf with about ½ cup of the meat and rice mixture. Roll the cabbage leaf end over the meat mixture, fold the sides of the cabbage leaf in, and then roll completely closed. 
  • Place the rolled cabbage rolls seam side down in the prepared baking pan and repeat with all the leaves and meat mixture. 
  • Pour the second can of tomato soup over the prepared cabbage rolls. 
  • Cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes. 

Notes

  • Try these with a mixture of ground beef and ground pork or ground turkey!
  • If your cabbage rolls are not staying rolled, try stuffing them with a little less meat mixture to make sure stay closed.
  • Turn this into a freezer meal: prepare the cabbage rolls in an aluminum foil tray and freeze. When ready to serve, simply thaw in the fridge overnight and bake according to the recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 616kcal (31%) | Carbohydrates: 37g (12%) | Protein: 35g (70%) | Fat: 35g (54%) | Saturated Fat: 14g (70%) | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 162mg (54%) | Sodium: 529mg (22%) | Potassium: 806mg (23%) | Fiber: 4g (16%) | Sugar: 5g (6%) | Vitamin A: 188IU (4%) | Vitamin C: 43mg (52%) | Calcium: 110mg (11%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)

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Julie Ellenwood

Thursday 10th of March 2022

I made this almost, as the recipe says. I had a smaller cabbage, so the leaves were a challenge and made smaller cabbage rolls. But we go solely on taste and they will be a family FAV from now on. BUT.... I only used about 3/4 of the tomato soup in the bottom of the baking dish and substituted for a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and spooned them on top and added diced garlic.

Sylvia Klassen

Thursday 16th of December 2021

This is very close to my mother's recipe. Thanks for sharing. One thing my mother did was make the rolls in a roaster with a lid. She would use all the small pieces of cabbage to cover the cabbage rolls instead of tinfoil. Just wondering if you dilute the tomato soup with some water? Thanks.

Kate

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

I don't add water to the tomato soup, but you definitely can if you want a thinner (less tomato-ey) sauce. Covering with cabbage leaves is such a great idea!! I've never heard that, will definitely try it!

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