Meat & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Golubtsi are traditional Eastern European meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls prepared in a tomato sauce. Every country has a slightly different version of the recipe and this one is from my Ukrainian mother. These delicate and savory stuffed cabbage rolls are filled with rice, onion and pork and are worth every moment spent on making them! Serve them fresh with sour cream for amazing, mouth-watering cuisine.

pork stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce

Ingredients for Cabbage Rolls

Here are the main ingredients you’ll need to make these meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls!

  • Ground Meat: this recipe can be made with a variety of ground meats including pork, beef and chicken. I used pork for my video recipe.
  • Rice: the rice needs to be cooked before it’s added to the filling! Use a long grain rice such as basmati. Brown rice will also work for these rolls.
  • Cabbage: both regular cabbage and Savoy or Napa cabbage will work well for this recipe.
  • Onion, Carrots, Garlic: for making the filling.
  • Tomato Sauce: for making the simmering sauce. My mom would sometimes use ketchup in place of the tomato sauce, too!
  • Cream: use either heavy cream, regular cream or even sour cream for making the sauce.
  • Fresh Dill: the quintessential herb of Eastern Europe, for garnishing.

My Cabbage Rolls Video Tutorial

Watch my YouTube video tutorial for step-by-step instructions for making these meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls! Want to stay up to date on new recipes? Make sure to subscribe to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!

Preparing the Cabbage

Before you can stuffed the cabbage, it needs to be steamed or cooked until it’s soft and pliable. If the cabbage isn’t soft enough, it’s going to be very difficult to make the cabbage rolls! There are two different methods you can use:

  • Method 1 – Microwave: wrap the cabbage tightly with a few layers of food plastic wrap and place it into the microwave. Cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how large your cabbage is. Use oven mitts to remove the cabbage; it will be very hot! Remove the plastic and let the cabbage stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently peel away the leaves.
  • Method 2 – Stove Top: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut out the cabbage core. This will make it easier to peel the leaves off. Drop the entire cabbage into the water and cook for about 5 minutes, then start to peel away the leaves as they soften. This process will take about 20 minutes total. Use rubber tipped kitchen tongs to remove the leaves.

How to Make Meat & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Once you have the softened cabbage leaves ready to go, it’s time to make the stuffed cabbage rolls! Here’s how to put these together:

  1. In a small saucepan, cook the rice according to package instructions. Once it’s done, remove it from the heat and allow the rice to cool, until it’s at room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the filling. Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat and a drizzle of oil. Sauté the diced onion over medium heat until golden brown then add garlic, grated carrots, salt, black pepper. Cook for another 5-6 minutes until the mixture is golden and the carrots have softened. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  3. Once both the rice and the onion and carrot mixture have cooled, bring them together in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground meat, mayonnaise, and seasonings and stir everything together with a spatula, or use your hands. The mixture needs to be uniform.
  4. Time to make the rolls! Cut larger cabbage leaves in half, then place approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling per roll. Start at one end and roll the cabbage into a tight triangular cone. Tuck the rest of the cabbage leaf into the top.
  5. When you’re done making rolls, preheat a large skillet to medium heat and add cooking oil just to cover bottom. Fry the stuffed rolls in batches, rotating them until they are golden brown, couple minutes on each side. Place the fried rolls into deep, glass baking dish, casserole pan or cast iron pan.
  6. Next, make the topping: sauté the onion in small skillet until it’s golden brown. Next, add the tomato sauce, salt and water. Remove the sauce from heat and in whisk in cream. Pour the sauce over rolls arranged. Sprinkle fresh dill and additional fresh ground black pepper over the top.
  7. Bake the stuffed cabbage rolls in the oven preheated, to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for 30 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.
stuffed cabbage rolls on plate

Serving Golubtsi

Try serving golubtsi, or stuffed cabbage rolls, the traditional way! My favorite way to enjoy these are with a side of sour cream, dill pickles and pickled tomatoes. And a side of toasted bread. Add a dollop of sour cream on the side, then add a little bit to every bite.

More Recipes!

Looking for more Russian and Ukrainian recipes? Make sure to get my cookbook, Beyond Borscht! It has over 75 Eastern European recipes! And, check out some of the recipes I have on my website, too!

Print
pork stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce
5 from 2 votes

Meat & Rice Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 hour prep + 45 minutes cook
6 servings
Learn how to make Eastern European meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls, cooked in a creamy tomato sauce!

Ingredients 

  • 1 extra large cabbage
  • 1 pound ground lean pork, or beef, chicken, turkey
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 small garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 small carrots, grated
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

For Topping:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce, or ketchup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, or sour cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • sour cream for serving

Instructions

Preparing the Cabbage:

  • Method 1 – Microwave: wrap the cabbage tightly with a few layers of food plastic wrap and place it into the microwave. Cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how large your cabbage is. Use oven mitts to remove the cabbage; it will be very hot! Remove the plastic and let the cabbage stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently peel away the leaves.
  • Method 2 – Stove Top: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut out the cabbage core. This will make it easier to peel the leaves off. Drop the entire cabbage into the water and cook for about 5 minutes, then start to peel away the leaves as they soften. This process will take about 20 minutes total. Use rubber tipped kitchen tongs to remove the leaves.

Making the Filling:

  • In a small saucepan, cook the rice according to package instructions. Once it's done, remove it from the heat and allow the rice to cool, until it's at room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the filling. Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat and a drizzle of oil. Sauté the diced onion over medium heat until golden brown then add garlic, grated carrots, salt, black pepper. Cook for another 5-6 minutes until the mixture is golden and the carrots have softened. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  • Once both the rice and the onion and carrot mixture have cooled, bring them together in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground meat, mayonnaise, and seasonings and stir everything together with a spatula, or use your hands. The mixture needs to be uniform.

Assembling the Rolls:

  • Time to make the rolls! Cut larger cabbage leaves in half, then place approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling per roll. Start at one end and roll the cabbage into a tight triangular cone. Tuck the rest of the cabbage leaf into the top.
  • When you're done making rolls, preheat a large skillet to medium heat and add cooking oil just to cover bottom. Fry the stuffed rolls in batches, rotating them until they are golden brown, couple minutes on each side. Place the fried rolls into deep, glass baking dish, casserole pan or cast iron pan.

Making the Sauce:

  • Next, make the topping: sauté the onion in small skillet until it's golden brown. Next, add the tomato sauce, salt and water. Remove the sauce from heat and in whisk in cream. Pour the sauce over rolls arranged. Sprinkle fresh dill and additional fresh ground black pepper over the top.

Baking & Serving:

  • Bake the stuffed cabbage rolls in the oven preheated, to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for 30 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.
  • Try serving golubtsi, or stuffed cabbage rolls, the traditional way! My favorite way to enjoy these are with a side of sour cream, dill pickles and pickled tomatoes. And a side of toasted bread. Add a dollop of sour cream on the side, then add a little bit to every bite.

Nutrition

Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 979mg | Potassium: 790mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 4598IU | Vitamin C: 82mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 2mg