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

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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 40 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

  • Kristina
    February 16, 2018

    Hi Natasha! How big of a Dutch oven do you use for this recipe? Thank you! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 16, 2018

      Hi Kristina, this is a 5 1/2 QT – the size I use for all of my recipes 🙂 Reply

  • Lana
    February 13, 2018

    hey Natasha, have u tried freezing the cabbage instead of boiling for the leaves to get soft in the beginning of process? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 13, 2018

      Hi Lana, I haven’t tried that but it was mentioned by a couple of readers. Is that your usual method? Reply

      • Lana
        February 14, 2018

        No, actually i never tried doing that so thats why I was wondering if you know if it works.. Also, with ground chicken meat only would be ok? Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          February 14, 2018

          Hi Lana, ground chicken would work also. Reply

          • Lana
            February 14, 2018

            Ok, thanks !

          • Natasha's Kitchen
            February 14, 2018

            You’re welcome Lana!

  • Gail Norton
    January 25, 2018

    Hi Natasha
    Can I leave out the carrots cause I am not a carrot fan.For cabbage rolls.

    thanks

    Gail Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 25, 2018

      Hi Gail, I think that would still work without carrots 🙂 Reply

  • Tanya
    December 26, 2017

    Natasha what is the best way to freeze golubtsi cooked or uncooked? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 26, 2017

      Hi Tanya, I freeze them cooked – they thaw and reheat on a skillet really well, just freeze them with the juices that are in the pot while baking. Reply

  • Patti Karpik
    December 21, 2017

    I love making these for my family. I learned a little trick with the cabbage which makes making them much easier. Freeze the cabbage heads. Take out a couple days before you plan to make and cut out the core. No boiling the cabbage and the vein is soft as can be. Saves lots of time not having to work with hot leaves. Patti Karpik Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 21, 2017

      Thanks for sharing your helpful tips with other readers Patti! Reply

  • December 20, 2017

    I added a little garlic powder once and my husband loved it. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 21, 2017

      Great suggestion Judith! Thanks for sharing! Reply

  • December 20, 2017

    I have made these for yrs,but planning to try your recipe tomorrow. We love cabbage rolls.mmm Thanks for sharing the recipe. Love your dishes.! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 21, 2017

      My pleasure Judith! I hope you enjoy the recipe. Please let me know what you think! Reply

  • Eva
    December 5, 2017

    I just made these for my book club (tie-in to Russians in book), but a friend told me a short cut: put the cored cabbages in the freezer, whole, 24-48 hours. When the filling is cooked and cooled enough to handle, take out the cabbages, and plunk them in a pot of hot water from the tap (or just heated, if you’re concerned about minerals). The leaves peel off, soft and ready to fill. No scalded hands! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 5, 2017

      Great suggestion Eva! Thanks for sharing your tip with other readers! Reply

  • Ruslana
    November 24, 2017

    Hi Natasha i was wondering if i can out them in slow cooker and cook them? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 24, 2017

      Hi Ruslana, 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

  • Natalia
    November 21, 2017

    Hello, and here the onion is not needed ? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 21, 2017

      Hi Natalia, I have made them with and without onion and it tastes great both ways 🙂 Reply

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