Golubtsy is a popular dish among Eastern Europeans, particularly in Russian and Ukraine. Traditional filling includes ground meat – usually beef, lamb, or pork – mixed with fresh garlic, onions and spices. Grains like rice or barley usually accompany the meat stuffing for fuller flavor. Some recipes call for mushrooms or other vegetables, but authentic recipes usually contain just meat and grains.

Fresh or pickled cabbage leaves are used for wrapping the ingredients before baking, boiling, or steaming them in a covered pot. Sauces accompanying golubtsy vary by cuisine and by region, but generally have either a savory or sweet-and-sour flavors. In Russia and Ukraine, the most common sauces were tomato based – particularly in the late autumn when tomatoes were in season. Golubtsy are traditionally served warm with a dollop of fresh sour cream.

See our simple and delicious recipe for this authentic Eastern European dish below.


Makes about 3-4 servings.

  • 1 big head of white cabbage
  • 500 gr minced meat (beef, lamb or pork)
  • 300 gr rice or barley
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 liter water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Fresh sour cream


  • Boil the whole head of cabbage in a salt water for 20 minutes.
  • Boil rice (or barley) in a salt water until it is almost ready (best when al dente).
  • Grate carrots and finely chop tomatoes.
  • Mix rice with minced meat and carrots and tomatoes, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Peel the cabbage leaves and place inner side up for cool for a few minutes. Scoop one tablespoon of prepared meat stuffing into the centre of each leaf, and roll to make an envelope around the stuffing.
  • Place stuffed cabbage leaves into a deep pot or pan. Add tomato sauce and water to the pan, cover and let steam for about 30-40 minutes. You can also bake them in the over at 250F for about 45-50 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let stand to infuse with the sauce. Serve warm with a dollop of fresh sour cream.