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Best Toppings & Side Dishes For Cabbage Rolls (Gołąbki)

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Stuffed cabbage rolls served with flavorful toppings, placed on a rustic wooden table.

Gołąbki is probably one of the most iconic dishes in Poland. These cabbage wrapped delicacies appear frequently in every household and are well loved, healthy and moderately easy to make once you master the wrapping technique. 

Despite the fact that Poles consider gołąbki a very integral part of their cuisine, gołąbki actually originated in Eastern Europe. In the 19th century, the dish made its way to Poland from Ukraine. Back then it consisted of doves stuffed with filling and wrapped with cabbage leaves.

The dish evolved over time. Today, the traditional gołąbki recipe involves using rice and meat to make a stuffing which is then wrapped in cabbage leaves. There are many variations to the recipe though. These are a couple of gołąbki recipes that I have documented here over time.

Best Toppings & Side Dish For Cabbage Rolls (Gołąbki)

Generally speaking, gołąbki are eaten either plain or with sauce. Typically the sauce used is either mushroom sauce or tomato sauce. There are however other great toppings and side dishes that work well with cabbage rolls. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Tomato Sauce

Generally speaking most people in Poland favor a rich tomato sauce with their gołąbki. This sauce is often seasoned with salt and pepper. It complements the rich taste of the meat and rice inside the cabbage rolls well. It also freezes well so if you want to store it for some time in the fridge and reheat your gołąbki, then tomato sauce is perfect!

Polish golabki stuffed cabbage rolls with sauce on top.
Polish golabki stuffed cabbage rolls with sauce on top.

Mushroom Sauce

Mushroom sauce can be made from both fresh or dried mushrooms. This sauce is thick and rich. This is largely due to the fresh cream that is added to the sauce. The thick creamy texture pairs well with the cabbage rolls too. It is best served hot and is perfect for one of the cold winter days in Poland.

Skillet filled with Polish sos grzybowy.

Bread, Bread And Butter

While gołąbki is a meal in itself, you will find that it can be served with some side dishes as well. One fail-safe side dish is bread.

Bread is a great way to soak up the sauce while eating and it also makes the meal more filling. Some people prefer to eat their gołąbki with plain bread. Others prefer it with bread and butter.


Potatoes are used a lot in Polish cooking so it should not surprise you that they are also used as a side dish for gołąbki. Most people prefer mashed potatoes as their side dish because it is rather nice to mix the tomato or mushroom sauce with the mashed potatoes. Sometimes, you will also find that the potatoes are boiled and served as cubes.

Gołąbki Served The American Way

There are a couple of American side dishes that pair well with gołąbki. These side dishes are becoming increasingly popular, especially with Poles who stay in the USA. Generally speaking, they are easily accessible and quick to prepare.

Green Beans And Potatoes

Green beans and potatoes are usually very easy to make and serve. All that you have to do is clean and chop the beans, peel the potatoes, and dice them. The potatoes and beans can then be fried or boiled. Some people even toss different kinds of seasoning in them.

Corn And Potatoes

Corn and potatoes are served up pretty similar to the way you make green beans and potatoes. The sweetness of the corn makes an interesting contrast to the gołąbki. 

Sour Cream

Sour cream adds a dash of tanginess to the gołąbki. This is especially true if you have served it up with tomato sauce. It also adds a bit of creamy texture to the dish. Think of the flavor sour cream adds into a soup and you will understand what I mean.


In Poland, you will never find pierogi and gołąbki served on the same plate. In the USA however, these two dishes are often paired together.


Creamed Cucumbers (Mizeria)

Mizeria is another popular Polish side dish that is served alongside gołąbki in the USA. Mizeria is made out of cucumbers and sour cream.

It is a great way to cool down on a hot summer’s day. The best part is that the Mizeria recipe takes just 5 minutes to make!

A Polish cucumber salad on a cutting board.

As you can see, gołąbki is a very versatile dish. It can be served in a variety of different ways and has even been incorporated into the American way of life with people pairing it with corn, beans and potatoes.

In general, the dish is wholesome, rich and packed with flavors. For Poles all across the world, gołąbki is more than just a meal. It is a taste of home.

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