Golubtsi Recipe; A classic Ukrainian food

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

Its pronounced “golubtsy”or “goloobsti.” It’s also known as stuffed cabbage, but not like any stuffed cabbage you’ve ever had. This is something every Russian and Ukrainian family makes. This is my Mama-in-law’s recipe. It tastes just like my moms; PERFECT!!

Golubtsi take a lot of time if you are making the full recipe (2 hours to prep and stuff the cabbage, then 1 to 2 hours to cook). By “family size,” I mean; Mom, Dad and 12 kids (That many kids is not uncommon in the land of Ukraine – in fact, I can name off several families that have 10 or more kids). My point is, it makes a full pot.

I will say this: Golubtsi are worth the trouble! You can make the whole batch and then freeze it in portions using freezer safe tupperware. That’s what I did and you honestly can’t tell the difference in taste whether you saute up the fresh or thawed golubtsi.

Ingredients for Golubtsi:

6 cups medium grain cooked white rice (from 2 cups uncooked rice – instructions below)
2 Medium Cabbages
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground turkey
2 large eggs
6 medium carrots, grated (4 for meat mix, 2 for “Podliva” sauce)
2 cups of your favorite mushroom marinara sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
Olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp Mrs. Dash, or your favorite salt-free seasoning
Salt

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

Watch How to make Golubtsy:

Cooking Rice and Cabbage

1. Rinse 2 cups white rice and cook in 3 1/2 cups water with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Or do the same thing in a rice maker.

2. Fill 2/3 of  large soup pot with water. Bring to a boil. Add 1/2 Tbsp salt and 4 Tbsp vinegar.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

3. Peal and discard the top two leaves from each cabbage. Use a knife to cut out the core of each cabbage (see picture). Put first cabbage in water, cork down, for about 5 minutes, then rotate and continue cooking another 5-6 min. You will pull off leaves as they begin to soften.

The leaves will cook faster if they are pulled apart. Remove the leaves to a platter to cool when they are done. You know they are done when they are soft and yellowish and larger leaves will turn a dull green. Repeat with the second cabbage, adding more water if needed.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)Reserve about 3-4 cups of water from the pot!

Stuffing/ Meat Mixture Prep

1. Mix ground meats and rice together in a large bowl.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

2. Grate and saute 4 carrots in approximately 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp butter over med/high heat. Once they are soft, add 1 cup of mushroom marinara sauce and saute another minute.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

3. Add carrot mixture to rice and meat. Add 2 eggs and 1 Tbsp salt. Mix well (it’s easy to mix with a KitchenAid with a paddle attachment.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

Cutting & Stuffing Cooked Leaves:

1. Small Leaves: slice off the raised surface of the tough center stem just to flatten the leaf and make it easier to roll. Fill each cabbage leaf with about 2 Tbsp meat mixture. Place the filling over the stem/ bottom portion. Roll like a burrito and stuff both ends in with fingers.

2. Large leaves: cut the leaves in half down the center removing the tough stem portion- you will end up with 2 leaves. Place 2 Tbsp meat mixture at the top of each leaf (or as much as you can fit – leaf sizes vary). Roll the leaf into a cone shape with the thicker part of the leaf at the base and stuff the wide part into the top. As you stuff your cabbage, arrange them either in the same pot you used to cook the cabbage or in a cast iron dutch oven.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

How to make Podliva (Sauce)

1. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Saute remaining 2 grated carrots with 1 tsp of Mrs. Dash. Stir until soft. Add 1 Tbsp sour cream and 1 cup of mushroom marinara sauce. Saute another minute and remove from heat.

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

2. Pour Podliva over the Golubtsy and add enough reserved water to almost cover goloobtsi (2 1/2 to 3 cups).

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

There are 2 ways to Cook these:

1. If using the pot, bring to a light boil, then cover and simmer 40 minutes over medium heat.

2. If using a dutch oven (recommended method), pre-heat the oven to 450˚ F, cover and bake for 20-25 minutes on the bottom third (one step below the center rack). When it bubbles, reduce heat to 350°F and bake 1 hour.

(Click Here to watch our video tutorial)

Golubtsi Recipe; A classic Ukrainian food - Голубцы

5.0 from 33 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
These stuffed cabbage rolls are the best I've tried! Cabbage rolls (golubtsi) are made with simple, inexpensive ingredients but are super delicious (and a freezer friendly meal!) My family loves these with sour cream and soft French bread.
Author:
Skill Level: Medium
Cost To Make: $16-$20
Serving: 12-16

Ingredients

  • 6 cups medium grain cooked white rice (from 2 cups uncooked rice - instructions below)
  • 2 Medium Cabbages
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 medium carrots, grated (4 for meat mix, 2 for "Podliva" sauce)
  • 2 cups of your favorite mushroom marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp Mrs. Dash, or your favorite salt-free seasoning
  • Salt

Instructions

How to prep the Rice and Cabbage

  1. Rinse 2 cups white rice and cook in 3½ cups water with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Or do the same thing in a rice maker.
  2. Fill ⅔ of large soup pot with water. Bring to a boil. Add ½ Tbsp salt and 4 Tbsp vinegar.
  3. Peal and discard the top two leaves from each cabbage. Use a knife to cut out the core of each cabbage (see picture). Put first cabbage in water, cork down, for about 5 minutes, then rotate and continue cooking another 5-6 min. You will pull off leaves as they begin to soften. The leaves will cook faster if they are pulled apart. Remove the leaves to a platter to cool when they are done. You know they are done when they are soft and yellowish and larger leaves will turn a dull green. Repeat with the second cabbage, adding more water if needed. Reserve about 3-4 cups of water from the pot!

Stuffing/ Meat Mixture Prep

  1. Mix ground meats and rice together in a large bowl.
  2. Grate and saute 4 carrots in approximately 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp butter over med/high heat. Once they are soft, add 1 cup of mushroom marinara sauce and saute another minute.
  3. Add carrot mixture to rice and meat. Add 2 eggs and 1 Tbsp salt. Mix well.

Cutting & Stuffing Cooked Leaves:

  1. Large leaves: cut the leaves in half down the center removing the tough stem portion- you will end up with 2 leaves. Place 2 Tbsp meat mixture at the top of each leaf (or as much as you can fit - leaf sizes vary). Roll the leaf into a cone shape with the thicker part of the leaf at the base and stuff the wide part into the top. As you stuff your cabbage, arrange them either in the same pot you used to cook the cabbage or in a cast iron dutch oven.
  2. Small Leaves: slice off the raised surface of the tough center stem just to flatten the leaf and make it easier to roll. Fill each cabbage leaf with about 2 Tbsp meat mixture. Place the filling over the stem/ bottom portion. Roll like a burrito and stuff both ends in with fingers.

How to make Podliva (Sauce)

  1. Heat approx. 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Saute remanding 2 grated carrots with 1 tsp of Mrs. Dash. Stir until soft. Add 1 Tbsp sour cream and 1 cup of mushroom marinara sauce. Saute another minute and remove from heat.
  2. Pour Podliva over the Golubtsy and add enough reserved water to almost cover goloobtsi (2½ to 3 cups).

There are 2 ways to Cook these:

  1. If using the pot, bring to a light boil, then cover and simmer 40 minutes over medium heat.
  2. If using a dutch oven (recommended method), cover and bake at 450 ° F for 20-25 minutes on the bottom third (one step below the center rack). When it bubbles, reduce heat to 350°F and bake 1 hour.

 

Our family loves these stuffed cabbage rolls. This step-by-step recipe makes it so easy! Absolutely delicious recipe for these cabbage rolls (golubtsi)

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Ari
    July 18, 2017

    I’ve been dying to try to making these and researching recipes. I’m a Puerto rican American and my husband is from Lviv, Ukraine. Obviously I have like zero experience with making Ukrainian or Russian foods. You made my biggest fear of separating the leaves and the “fancy” folding part so simple! GREAT VIDEO! I did make some small changes to the filling [ I added fresh parsley and sautéed onions]. But it’s a tasty recipe either way, my husband devoured them, and I froze a bunch for later. Sorry this is so long …I just wanted to say …really appreciate your Ukrainian and Russian recipes [ as does my husband 🙂 ]. THANKS!! [dia-koo-you!!!] Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 18, 2017

      You’re welcome Ari! I’m happy to hear you both are enjoying the recipes! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review! 🙂 Reply

  • Marina
    July 16, 2017

    Hi Natash,
    Just made these and they turned out delicious, just like grandma and mom make. Love the flavor and simplicity of this récipe and how it captures the authentic flavor! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 17, 2017

      Hello Marina! I’m so glad to hear you love the recipe! Thanks for sharing your excellent review! Reply

  • Maria
    June 28, 2017

    Have you ever made this in a crockpot? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 29, 2017

      Hi Maria, I have not tried that myself but one reader wrote this review: “I did it in the slow cooker followed the recipe and cooked on low for 6 hours. It was really good.” Let me know how you like it in the slow cooker! Reply

  • Natasha
    June 21, 2017

    Hi Natasha!
    Just to let you know, your site is awesome! Just finished rolling up the golubtsi and thinking of the side dishes that might go well with them for the meal. Can you suggest any side dishes? Reply

  • Lidiya
    June 13, 2017

    Did you ever try making them in a pressure cooker ? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 13, 2017

      Hi Lidiya, I haven’t tried that personally but one of my readers, Rebecca, writes: “instead of using a dutch oven, I use a pressure cooker. They cook so quickly and are amazing! Even my Russian speaking friends love them! Just an idea for those that are pressed for time.” Reply

  • Katie
    June 5, 2017

    Hi Natasha, I have a quick question for you. I plan to make this as a meal this weekend. When I was at the store looking for the mushroom marinara sauce I wasn’t having any luck.. Or I just have bad eyes and didn’t see any. I instead bought a mushroom spaghetti sauce. Do you think this would still work or will it make the taste noticeably different? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      June 5, 2017

      Hi Katie, that should work great. Mushroom marinara and mushroom spaghetti sauce are interchangeable in this recipe. Almost any kind of spaghetti sauce will work here 🙂 Reply

  • Marimar
    May 10, 2017

    So delicious hmm. I just made it, I made my own tomato sauce Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 10, 2017

      I’m glad you enjoy the recipe! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Reply

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