Chilly nights demand comfort food
Now that fall is officially here, I'm craving rich and hearty comfort foods. Dishes that take just a little love and care to prep, but are left to cook slowly, unaided by stirring, flipping, or prodding. Meals that are perfect to eat on nights when house windows get cold enough to form condensation and throw blankets start making a regular appearance when snuggled up on the couch. My Golubtsi (or Cabbage Rolls) are the perfect "Welcome to fall!" food, but they only get better as the nights get colder. This dish is a favorite cold weather comfort food that carries all the way through the chilly winter months.
What is Golubtsi?
Golubtsi, or Cabbage Rolls, is a hearty dish comprised of savory filling (usually beef and/or pork mixed with rice or potato as well as onions and carrots) rolled in cabbage leaves and baked in a creamy tomato sauce. I've come across several different variations at both German and Russian restaurants locally, but they also have a huge presence in many other Central and Eastern European cuisines.
How to tenderize and prep the cabbage leaves
There are several ways to tenderize the cabbage leaves so they are pliable for stuffing and rolling, but my preferred way to tenderize them is by simmering them in a big pot of hot water.
Add cored cabbage to a large pot of water over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the leaves are tender and pliable, then remove from heat. Remove cabbage from the water, drain, and allow to cool until it has reached a temperature that you can comfortably work with the cabbage by hand. Carefully separate the outer leaves of the cabbage one at a time, working inward. Reserve separated leaves to the side to be filled.
Baking low and slow is best
This dish bakes low and slow for 2 hours in a dutch oven, which I think is the best way to produce tender, fall apart Golubtsi. If you would like to shave the bake time down by half an hour, the meat should be cooked through to a safe temperature (165 degrees F) after 90 minutes and you technically can remove them from the oven at that point. However, the cabbage will continue to tenderize as it cooks in its sauce, so I highly recommend cooking for the full two hours, especially if you are cooking your Golubtsi in multiple layers.
If you do not have a large dutch oven, this recipe can also be made in a casserole dish topped with an oven-safe lid or tin foil.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- cutting board
- a good chefs knife
- a stockpot or large soup pot
- a medium saucepot
- a large dutch oven. Alternatively, you may use a casserole dish topped with an oven-safe lid or tin foil.
- 2 large prep bowls to reserve the cooked cabbage leaves and mix the filling
- measuring cups and spoons
- 2 wooden spoons to mix the filling and the sauce
- a can opener
Storage and Freezing
Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to three months in airtight freezer-safe containers. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight then bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, or from frozen for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F. Thawed Golubtsi can alternatively be reheated in the microwave for 2-4 minutes per serving.Print
Golubtsi (Cabbage Rolls)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Mains
- Method: Stovetop + Oven
- Cuisine: Russian
- Diet: Gluten Free
My Golubtsi (or Cabbage Rolls) are the perfect "Welcome to fall!" food, but they only get better as the nights get colder. This dish is a favorite cold-weather comfort food that carries all the way through the chilly winter months.
For the cabbage rolls:
- 1 large head of cabbage, cored
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 2 cups riced cauliflower or cooked rice
- ¾ cup green onions, chopped
- ⅓ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
For the sauce:
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic oil (may substitute olive oil + 3 minced garlic cloves)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Add cored cabbage to a large pot of water over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the leaves are tender and pliable, then remove from heat. Remove cabbage from the water, drain, and allow to cool until it has reached a temperature that you can comfortably work with the cabbage by hand. Carefully separate the outer leaves of the cabbage one at a time, working inward. Reserve separated leaves to the side to be filled.
- While the cabbage cools, start prepping the filling. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, Italian sausage, shredded cauliflower, green onions, parsley, and black pepper. Mix until well incorporated. Reserve to the side.
- In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat add the crushed tomatoes, sour cream, dill, garlic oil, and sea salt. Stir until combined and allow to come to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat.
- Now if a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (177 C).
- In a large dutch oven or deep oven-safe baking dish, add ⅓ of the tomato sauce mixture to the bottom. Then assemble your cabbage rolls. Start by peeling an outer leaf off of the cooled cabbage head, then fill with your meat mixture. Roll like a burrito, tucking the sides in as you roll until it is a closed parcel. Stack each roll with the edge of the roll facing downward so they do not unroll and repeat, side by side until you have one well-packed layer.
- Depending on the size of your dutch oven or baking dish, you may end up with 1-3 layers. My baking dish allows 2 layers of 8-9 cabbage rolls, for a total of 16-18 rolls. After I complete each layer, I pour an additional portion of the tomato sauce over the top, finishing with the last of the sauce on the top layer.
- Bake, covered, for 90 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes. I like to serve this with an additional dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh dill.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 361
- Sugar: 8 g
- Sodium: 1034 mg
- Fat: 23 g
- Saturated Fat: 10 g
- Carbohydrates: 14 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 25 g
- Cholesterol: 93 mg
Keywords: golubtsi, cabbage rolls, dill
These were SO good! I did make a small change and use Polish sausage instead of Italian since my family is Polish, but they were loved by all who ate them, especially my Polish grandparents who are in their 90s! I will for sure use this recipe again.
these are so cozy and comforting on a cold night, and filling too for my big boys!
Heather H says
So delish I can't even stand it!
Is it weird that I love that shot of all the plump little rolls cuddling in the pan? I don't care. They're adorable and I want to eat them. 🙂
I made this recipe for weekend and it turned out so good. My family loved it. I never tried cabbage rolls before but I must make this again. So sooo delicious.
Whip & Wander says
I'm so happy to hear that your family loved this recipe, Natalie! Thanks for the review!
Nicole Washington says
This is a perfect low carb meal for me. Thank you for sharing!
Rebecca Blackwell says
I remember my immigrant grandparents making cabbage rolls for dinner when I was a child, but had never tried making them myself. Seeing this recipe inspired me to give it a try and I'm so happy I did! They are delicious and brought back a flood of memories of meals shared around my grandparent's table. Thank you so much!
Whip & Wander says
I LOVE hearing this, Rebecca! Food makes for the best memories to keep and pass down.
Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer says
I love homemade cabbage rolls! Growing up Mom made thousands every summer for family and friends! It’s such a comfort food! Thank you for sharing!
Megan Ellam says
I just love this recipe. Easy and delicious. Plus the hubster loves it too.
I grew up eating cabbage rolls and they were always a favorite. These cabbage rolls really bring it with the flavor! Wow! Such a great recipe... will be making these again!
Veena Azmanov says
This is an awesome recipe for cabbage. These Rolls look so good and the filling is awesome. I love the sauce option too, which makes the dish creamy, cheesy and yum.
Bernice Hill says
Whoa. Cabbage rolls are my absolute fave and I don't eat them as much as I should! Your version looks delicious and the photos just make me want to dig right in.
I love this comfort food classic! I have never made them, and after seeing this - I really must!
Jaida ~ Sweet Beginnings says
My husband is a big fan of cabbage rolls - I think he would really enjoy this version, and that sauce looks amazing!
This was a favorite meal in my family when i was a kid, it certainly brings back memories! I can't wait to make it again.
Stacey Crawford says
I love a good hearty cabbage roll recipe. These look super delicious and simple to make 🙂
This is such a great recipe for cabbage rolls. I love how the flavors all come together. It made a delicious meal!
I love cabbage rolls! These look so tasty!
looks really good
I have been wanting to try to make cabbage rolls for a hearty meal and yours look delicious! Do you have a recommendation for a non-dairy sour cream substitute that would work well in the sauce?
Whip & Wander says
I would be tempted to try it with a full-fat coconut milk or a cashew cream. I hope you love the results!