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3 of 5: Our Holubtsi Recipe

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Learn this simple yet amazingly tasty Holubtsi Recipe to help you create your own Sviaty Vechir at home! This recipe will certainly impress your family and friends!


Holubtsi, which translates as 'little pigeons', are a staple dish of Ukraine - both in everyday cuisine and for special occasions. The fillings differ throughout the country, often including mincemeat and a variety of different herbs and spices. This recipe, however, is our take on the traditional holubtsi - perfect for your Sviaty Vechir!


Our Holubtsi Recipe:


  • 1 head of a white cabbage.

  • 400g white rice and 900ml boiling water.

  • 2-3 medium sized onions.

  • 110g butter.

  • 5500g tinned tomatoes.

  • 1 bouillon cube.

  • Mushroom mix (if desired).

  • Salt.

  • Black pepper.

  • Tomato juice or water as needed.



Preparing the ingredients:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine rice and water. Bring to a boil, stir gently, reduce the heat to a low setting, and cook for around 20 minutes. Allow to cool in a large bowl.

  2. Core the cabbage and place it in a large saucepan half filled with water. Bring it to the boil and cook for around 2 minutes – or until the outer leaves become translucent.

  3. As the leaves become soft, loosen them with a wooden spoon before prying them off with tongs. Place the leaf on a tea towel to cool off. Continue this process until leaves are too small to roll into shape.

  4. In a pan, sauté the chopped onions in melted butter until they are browned.

  5. Add the onions and mushroom mix to the rice and gently combine – be careful not to mash. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Rolling the holubtsi:

  1. Place a large spoonful of filling at the base of each cabbage leaf. Fold over each side of the leaf into the centre, before rolling from bottom to top. Be careful not to over stuff the rolls, or they will burst when cooking.

  2. Arrange the rolls in neat layers in the baking dishes. Do not overcrowd the trays.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, coarsely mash the tinned tomatoes and combine with the bouillon mixture. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

  4. Pour the mixture over the rolls, ensuring that there is 2 to 3 inches of liquid at the bottom of each baking tray. If needed, add extra water or tomato juice.

  5. Bake in a 165-degree oven for around two hours. Remember to ensure that enough liquid remains at the base of each tray to avoid the dish drying out.

  6. If desired, serve with a mushroom gravy.


Top Tips:

  • Once the cabbage has become too small to give off adequately sized leaves, it can be used as an extra ingredient in your borscht to avoid waste.

  • If your cabbage leaves are not flexible enough to fold, use a paring knife to slice half way through the thicker part of the rib. This should make the leaf more malleable.

  • Just like our borscht recipe, holubtsi can be altered easily to suit your taste. For added extra flavour in the rice mixture, grated carrot and garlic are a great addition.

  • For an extra Ukrainian feel, serve your holubtsi with a generous dollop of soured cream.


Written by Leah Dorotiak for Huddersfield Ukrainian Club.

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