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This easy Polish cabbage rolls recipe has ground beef, onions, and uncooked white rice wrapped in cabbage leaves. It is then topped with tomato sauce and cooked in the oven for 2 hours.

(Last Updated On: October 27, 2022)

Polish cabbage rolls are very easy to make. They are made with lean ground beef, uncooked white rice, and diced onions, then wrapped in cabbage leaves and topped with tomato sauce. Baking time is about 2 hours. The little bit of rice in the ground beef gets cooked during the baking time.

🍴 Pigs in a Blanket?

I have had this cabbage rolls recipe for more than 50 years. It is one of our favorite family recipes. My mother-in-law, who is from Poland, made them all of the time. She called them “pigs in a blanket” but I changed the name years ago to cabbage rolls because I didn’t understand where the “pigs” part of the name came into play. Soon to find out, this recipe can also be made with ground pork or a mixture of ground pork and ground beef. With ground pork rolled in the cabbage, it now makes sense why this recipe can also be called Pigs in a Blanket.

Polish cabbage rolls on a dinner plate

🛒 Key Ingredients for Cabbage Rolls

  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/8 cup of uncooked white rice
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 whole head of cabbage
  • A can of tomato sauce (29 ounces)

Optional

  • 2 cans of green beans
  • 2 can of carrots
Ingredients for cabbage rolls.
Ingredients for cabbage rolls.

👩‍🍳 How to Make Polish Cabbage Rolls (Step-by-Step Instructions with Detailed Photos)

Step 1. Preheat the Oven

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2. Prepare the Cabbage

Using a cutting board and paring knife, cut the core out of the middle of a medium-sized head of cabbage to make it easier to separate all of the outer leaves. The core is on the bottom side of the cabbage. It is easier to cut the cabbage in half and then cut out the core.

Separate the leaves and put them in a large pot of boiling water on high heat. Cook them on the stovetop until they start to become limp. It doesn’t take a long time for the cabbage leaves to become tender in the hot water. They probably need only a couple of minutes so be sure to watch them the entire time. Then, drain the cabbage leaves in a colander. Set aside. The cooking time in the oven will cook the cabbage leaves enough, but doing this step is the easiest way to wrap the ground beef meat mixture in them.

Cabbage in a pot.
Cabbage leaves are cooking in a pot of water.

Step 3. Prepare the Ground Beef Meat Filling

In a large bowl, put about 2 pounds of lean ground beef together with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/8 cup of uncooked white rice. I use 93% lean ground beef. Mix it all up. It is easier to use your hands to mix it up.

Beef, rice, and salt and pepper.
Salt, pepper, and uncooked rice are added to the ground beef.

Step 4. Dice and Add an Onion

Dice one medium onion. Add the diced onion together with the ground beef mixture. If you don’t like onions at all, you can omit them. I have not made cabbage rolls without onions, but I would think they would taste okay without them.

Add onions.
One diced onion was added to the ground beef mixture.

Step 5. Mix Onions with Meat Mixture

Mix the diced onions with the ground meat mixture. You can add the diced onions when you add the salt, pepper, and uncooked rice and mix everything up at the same time.

Mix everything up.
Mix the onions with the ground beef mixture.

Step 6. Roll the Meat Mixture into Oblong Shapes

Roll the ground beef mixture into little oblong shapes. None of them have to be the same size, just sorta close in size so they will all cook evenly at the same time. This is not the bowl that will be going into the oven. I have a bigger roasting pan that will be used.

Roll the meat mixture up.
Ground beef mixture rolled into oblong shapes.

Step 7. Form the Stuffed Cabbage Roll

Take one cooked cabbage leaf and center one ground beef roll on it. We are now going to roll it up. You can see that after cooking the cabbage, the leaf is still intact and still has its shape. It’s just going to be easier now to roll it up.

Roll cabbage leaf around the meat.
One ground beef roll is placed in the middle of a cabbage leaf.

Fold the left side of the leaf halfway over towards the right side, then fold the right side over the top of the left side. Then roll the whole thing up. I’d say that’s a cute-looking little cabbage roll. 😉

Final cabbage roll.
A cabbage leaf wrapped around a ground beef roll.

Repeat this step for all of the tender cabbage leaves and the meat mixture.

Step 8. Put Cabbage Rolls in a Big Baking Dish

After rolling up all of the rest of the ground beef in the cabbage leaves, place them in a big roasting pan. Throw any extra left-over cabbage directly into the pan. I love cooked cabbage, so the more cabbage the better.

Cabbage rolls in a big pot.
Cabbage rolls are arranged in the roasting pot.

Pour a little bit of water into the bottom of the roasting pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. The size of this roasting pan took 1 cup of water. This roasting pan is about 16 inches long by 12 inches wide by 4 inches deep.

Step 9. Add Tomato Sauce

Then pour one 29-ounce can of tomato sauce over all of the cabbage rolls.

Add tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce poured over the top of the cabbage rolls.

Step 10. Add Optional Carrots and Green Beans

Pour two cans of green beans and two cans of whole or diced carrots over the top of the cabbage rolls before putting the roasting pan in the oven. This makes a meal in itself.

Step 11. Bake Cabbage Rolls in the Oven

Put the roasting pan in the oven at 325 degrees for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how hot your oven gets. I left my cabbage rolls in the oven the other night for 2 hours because the kids were late getting here for dinner, and they turned out just right.

Polish cabbage rolls dinner on the plate.

🙋 FAQs

How Do You Store Leftover Cabbage Rolls?

Leftover cabbage rolls can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly with aluminum foil for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze leftover cabbage rolls but be sure to eat them within a year. To freeze them, put the cabbage rolls into a freezer bag and seal the bag while removing the excess air.

What is Polish Golabki?

Polish Golabki is another name for Polish cabbage rolls. Golabki is a term that means “little pigeons.” It is a popular classic Polish dish in Central and Eastern European countries. This savory dish is made with leaves of cabbage that are stuffed with a mixture of beef, pork, and rice that are then covered with tomato sauce and baked in the oven.

Polish cabbage rolls pin

📝 Final Thoughts for Polish Cabbage Rolls

This Polish cabbage roll recipe, or Golabki, has been a staple in our family for many years. My husband’s Polish grandmother used to make this meal who then passed it down to his mother who then passed down the recipe to him and me. The easy steps outlined in this recipe make it the perfect meal to make for special occasions.

Buttered biscuits and/or veggies are a great side dish. We also put ketchup over the top of the cabbage rolls before eating. Still hungry, try some peach cobbler for dessert.

❤️ More Polish Food Recipes You Will Love

  • Polish Potato Dumplings – This Polish potato dumplings recipe is made with pureed potatoes mixed with flour to form a dumpling. It’s then covered with fried onions and bacon to create a delicious taste!
  • Pierogies Recipe – Made with large curd cheese then added to dumplings and butter. 

📋 Recipe Card

Polish Cabbage Rolls

Polish Cabbage Rolls Recipe (Golabki)

Flo
This easy Polish cabbage rolls recipe has ground beef, onions, and uncooked white rice wrapped in cabbage leaves. It is then topped with tomato sauce and cooked in the oven for 2 hours.
5 from 3 votes
Cost $15
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Polish
Servings 6

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs ground beef (approx.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 cup white rice (uncooked)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 head of cabbage (medium size)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (29 ounces)

Optional

  • 2 cans green beans (optional)
  • 2 cans carrots (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Cut the core out of the cabbage. Separate the leaves. Boil in water until tender, less than 5 minutes. Drain leaves in a colander. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, salt, pepper, and uncooked white rice.
  • Add 1 medium diced onion. Mix together.
  • Shape the ground beef mixture into individual oblong rolls. Put each individual ground beef roll in the center of a cabbage leaf and roll it up.
  • Arrange the cabbage rolls and any extra pieces of cabbage into a roasting pan.
  • Pour just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour the can of tomato sauce over all of the cabbage rolls.
  • Bake for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how hot your oven gets.

Optional Carrots and Green Beans

  • Pour 2 cans of carrots and 2 cans of green beans over the top of the cabbage rolls before baking.

Recipe Notes

  • Onions are optional. I couldn’t imagine these cabbage rolls without them though.
  • When I have fresh raw carrots, the big long carrots, or baby carrots, I will use them instead of canned carrots. The 2 hour cooking time cooks them up as tender as can be.
  • If you have a garden in the summertime and plant green beans, they are great to use for this recipe too.
Keyword beef, cabbage, cabbage rolls, ground beef, hamburger
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