Paleo Cabbage Rolls (Golumbki)

Paleo Cabbage Rolls (Golumbki) |

Say it with me…”go-wump-key”…it’s a fun one.

These satisfying little rolls of meat and cabbage take me back to my childhood, and having a Polish grandmother meant that golumbki were often on the menu when we went to visit. When I made this recipe, I instantly reminisced about her standing in the kitchen cooking for all of us. Traditionally, golumbki are made with rice so I substituted cauliflower to give a similar look and texture. Grandma always used a can of Campbell’s tomato soup (contains corn syrup and gluten!) to pour over the golumbki while they cook, but I used plain crushed tomatoes to give the same flavor without any weird ingredients. This one takes a little bit of time to prepare so to make up for it, I threw it all in the crock pot on low for 5 hours – you could bake them in the oven at 350°F for about 90 minutes. Or to make the process super easy, layer the ingredients in a dish, lazy-style.

Ingredients for Paleo Cabbage Rolls:

Directions for Paleo Cabbage Rolls:

1. Rice / grate the cauliflower. I use the grating attachment on my food processor or you could grate by hand – but it’s a pain in the ass. Save 1-1/2 cups for this recipe and the rest for something else…it’s tasty fried up in this side dish.

2. Dice the onion finely.

3. In a large bowl, mix the beef, pork, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

4. Put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. To prepare the cabbage for rolling, you’ll lightly boil it whole and peel the leaves off a few at a time. Cut the core out of the cabbage and place in the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. As the leaves soften, you can peel them off with a spoon. Take care not to rip them in half. The whole process usually takes about 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can throw the whole cabbage in and let it simmer for about 15 minutes – the outermost leaves will become very soft but still usable. In either case, peel as many of the leaves off as you can and let cool a bit.

5. In a large skillet over medium-high heat put a spoonful of coconut oil or your fat of choice. Add the onion and grated cauliflower  and and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onion is translucent and the cauliflower is softened. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

6. Combine the onion / cauliflower with the meat and mix by hand to incorporate all the ingredients.

7. Roll the golumbki by taking a cabbage leaf – concave side up with the stem toward you – and placing a large spoonful of the meat mixture at the stem end. Then roll forward, fold the sides in and end with the seam down.

8. Mix the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce (not pasta sauce) in a bowl. Put ~1 cup in the bottom of the crockpot (or casserole dish). Lay the golumbki in with the seam side down. Cover with the remaining tomato mixture once the crock is full.

9. For a crockpot, cook on low for 5 hours. If using the oven, cover the top of the dish with foil and bake for 1.5 hours at 350°F (175°C).

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55 thoughts on “Paleo Cabbage Rolls (Golumbki)

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  2. Dinah Cox-Moore

    Just made this for lunch for my coworkers today and it was a major hit!! My only changes were, I used petite diced tomatoes since I didn’t have crushed, and used a whole 15 ounce can of sauce. I added a tablespoon of fresh minced basil to the tomato part. Served it with some green can parm cheese. it was awesomeness on a plate!

  3. Mandy

    Have you ever tried freezing these? Would love to do that since it would be just my boyfriend and I. Thanks!

    1. Steph Post author

      Hi Mandy! Great question. I’m always a little leery of freezing veggies because they have a tendency to get mushy. That being said, I think if you pulled some out of the crockpot a bit earlier than the rest (making certain the meat was cooked of course) that it might work. It’s just me cooking for myself right now and one batch made a lot but I ate it all within about 3 days.

    2. andrea

      I am polish and at all of our relatives weddings this was the main dish. My grandma and aunts and mom would make enough to feed 300-400 people. They did use rice though and topped with canned crushed tomatoes and sauce. They made them the month of the wedding and froze them after baking and heated them up starting the morning of wedding and they tasted great! Funny also, My one cousin had her wedding catered with beef and chicken and everyone asked where were the stuffed cabbage!!!

      1. Steph Post author

        Thanks so much for the great memory, Andrea! Reminds me of my grandma’s church friends making hundreds of pierogi at a time! Good to know that they will freeze well. Thanks very much for checking it :)

  4. liz

    To save your fingers/ hands/ sanity – cut the core out of a whole head of cabbage when it is fresh and stick the whole thing in the freezer before you make your cabbage rolls. Then pull it out in the morning, stick it in the sink to defrost during the day.. you’ll have softened/ soured leaves and you won’t need to burn your fingers over a boiling pot of water!

  5. Jane

    OMG! Made tonight and it is, BY FAR, my new fav paleo recipe. Next time I will mix a bit more sauce. I got 15 rolls out of my recipe (small ones towards the center leaves) and could have used a bit more sause on those last three. Yummmmm. It is a bit time intensive, but save it for the weekend. WELL WORTH THE TIME!

    1. Steph Post author

      Jane, this is so great to hear, especially since this recipe means a lot to me personally (as it reminds me of my grandmother). I’m very glad you took the time to let me know.

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  7. katie

    I was bummed with the results. The meat was tasty, but the sauce was like water. Is that how it typically turns out for you? Hubby did not like, which stinks because they did take all day to prepare and make. :(

    1. steph123

      My mom takes the liquid (typically out of a pressure cooker) after the cabbage and meat is cooked and mixes it with another mixture of bacon grease and flour that she’s heated in a small saucepan. This adds amazing flavor and thickness the gravy. It’s to die for!

      1. Steph Post author

        Wow!! I wonder if it would work with another flour (I’m sensitive to gluten) but I like what she’s done there by making a roux with the bacon fat! Genius!

  8. Kelley

    LOVED this. The addition of riced cauliflower in the meat was perfect. I added a few of my fave spices: cumin, curry, etc., and the final result was perfection. Made in crock pot like you suggested. Will be making in future.

  9. loretta

    Hi, I tried making these tonight. They just came out of the oven and look and smell delicious, but I’m afraid the meat is not cooked through. Should I have browned the meat mixture first or should it look a little pink still?

    1. Steph Post author

      They should be cooked all the way through if you’re uncomfortable eating slightly underdone ground meat.

  10. Cheryl

    I make these wonderful bundles in very – very large batches. What I do is roll a very large amount of them and lay them on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet not touching. Freeze them. once frozen I put them in large freezer zip lock bags. ON busy days in the morning I layer some frozen into my crock pot with the tomato sauce and cook till I get home after work. They freeze and cook like a dream. Thank you for a great recipie.

  11. Weronika

    it tastes amazing even without any sauce ! I’m eating it very often since i was a little girl and it allways tastes amazing! My mother does it best! And in many , many ways… love it :)

  12. Corina

    Made these tonight and they are amazing! Even my husband who does not like to eat healthy couldn’t quit eating them.

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  14. Mel Pelchat

    Can’t wait to try this receipe. My Polish grandma would make this for me too. Using Campbell’s tomato and a can of French onion soup. Will try your modified version. Thanks for the receipe.

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  16. kate

    Looking forward to making these. By the way, they sound lovely as is, but if you want to make something that tastes eerily similar to canned tomato soup (without all the crap ingredients) blend half a roasted acorn squash (roasted cut side down til soft and lightly caramelized) with one can of tomatoes- it’s uncanny!

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  19. Madeleine

    Very close to the recipe my mother and grandmother passed down to me. We always add an egg to the meat mixture and parsley, plus the secret ingredient in the sauce. Bury a cinnamon stick (must be a stick; ground cinnamon will not work) in the sauce. Delicious!

  20. Jill

    Great recipe! I love that you can’t even tell it’s cauliflower and not rice! It rivals my moms recipe! One thing she always added was sliced kielbasa to the top before baking, try it, it’s awesome!

  21. Jazmin Rdz

    I made this recupe last week and it was awsome! I doubled the recipe to freeze half, so next week I’m planning to eat cabbage rolls again ;-) I just hace a question, what do you serve this with?? I’m having trouble with the side dishes… Thanks in advance!!!

  22. MParentWetmore

    Dear Steph,
    I have made this twice, both times it came out wonderful! My husband and sons love it. Terrific blog and recipes, thank you.

  23. Lori

    My mom use to make these all the time. At some point she decided to slice/shred the cabbage, brown the meat and cook the rice first, mix it all together and bake it like a casserole!!! It’s equally as delicious :)

  24. Victoria

    Mine is in the oven, so excited!! used rice and fresh basil sauteed with the onions and some fresh seasonings, but it looks awesome!! family is eagerly awaiting :)


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