Greek Dolmades Recipe
Stuffed Grape Leaves

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Stuffed Grape Leaves (Greek Dolmades) are often served as part of a meze (appetizer) plate. Too often they come from a can and are not fresh. Homemade are far superior to the canned. If you have never tried fresh dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Greek Dolmades)

Check out Linda's Stuffed Grape Leaves with Gorgonzola and Olives and also more Appetizer Recipes for more great appetizer ideas.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe -Greek Dolmades Recipe:

Recipe Type: Rice, Appetizer, Grape Leaves
Cuisine: Greece
Yields: serves many
Prep time: 1 hr
Dolmades cook time: 60 min
Rice Stuffing cook time: 20 min


1 (16-ounce) jar Grape Leaves, drained and rinsed*
Rice Stuffing (see recipe below)
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon Wedges
Yogurt Cucumber Sauce (see recipe below)

* To use fresh grape leaves: Grape leaves are best picked from grape vines in the Spring, while they are still tender. Select young whole, medium leaves. NOTE: Be sure and pick them before the first spray as some sprays are toxic. Most of the spays used today are non-toxic and water soluble, but sulfur taste is not what you want on your grapes. Pick approximately 1 1/2 pounds of fresh leaves which are the same as one jar of preserved leaves. Using scissors, cut off the stems and either soak in very hot water for 15 minutes to soften or blanch grape leaves until they are soft (the time will depend on the leaves - fresh ones will only take a minute) They can be washed and frozen between layers of waxed paper or plastic wrap and will keep for a year. Check out my article on Using Fresh Grape Leaves.

* Using bottled Grape Leaves: To prepare bottled grape leaves, rinse well under cold water to remove the brine. Place them in a colander (back side up) to drain and hold until ready to use. NOTE: Don't throw away any torn or damaged leaves, as they can be used to patch holes in other leaves.


Using a slotted spoon, remove the leaves from the water and lay them on paper towels to drain. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut out the protruding stems and any hard veins from the leaves. Set the grape leaves aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare Rice Stuffing.

open grape leaf
To stuff the leaves, start with your largest leaves. Take a leaf and carefully spread it on a flat plate or pan with the veins facing upward to you (leaf shiny side down). If the leaf is torn or has a hole in it, take a reserved damaged leaf and use it as a patch, place the leaf over the hole.




grape leaf with stuffing
Place approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons of the Rice Stuffing near the stem end of the leaf (the amount of stuffing will depend on the size of the leaves).

Press the stuffing into a small sausage-like shape.



folding grape leaves

folding grape leaves

folded grape leaves

Fold the stem end of the leaf over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and then roll up into a cigar shape (it should be snug but not overly tight because the rice will swell once it is fully cooked and could burst). The rolls should be cylindrical (about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick)

stuffed grape leavesSqueeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the rolls.

Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.

Line the bottom of a large heavy oven-proof dish or pan with half of the remaining grape leaves (this prevent sticking and is also a good way to use any torn or small leaves). Arrange the stuffed grape rolls on top of the leaves, seam-side down, packing them close together. Make a new layer as you fill the baking pan. Two or three layers is fine (it is very difficult to cook evenly if you make more than four layers of rolls). NOTE: Don't cramp the rolls together as they won't cook well - also don't leave too much space between them as they will unravel.

When the bottom is completely covered, place the remaining grape leaves over the top. Pour the 2 cups hot water, olive oil, and lemon juice over them. Weigh the stuffed grapes rolls down with an ovenproof plate turned upside down (one smaller than the circumference of the pan). Cover the baking dish with a lid. On the stovetop, over medium heat, bring the liquid just to a boil; remove baking dish to the oven and cook approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until the grape rolls are tender and the water has been absorbed (there should be little or no trace of water, and only a bit of oil in the pot - some of the leaves may have tiny black specks, or maybe completely black - this is ok). Remove from oven.

Transfer the stuffed grape rolls to a serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with lemon wedges. Serve with Yogurt Cucumber Sauce.

NOTE:  They keep about a week in the refrigerator. If you drain and chill them, you may want to pour a little olive oil and lemon juice over all to keep from drying out. For longer storage, the stuffed grape leaves rolls may also be frozen before cooking.


Rice Stuffing Recipe:

3 tablespoons currants
Warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons raw pine nuts
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups hot water
Juice of 1 freshly-squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh dill weed or fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Soak currants in warm water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes; drain and set aside.

To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add pine nuts; stir and cook the pine nuts for about 2 minutes or until they are golden brown. Add pine nuts, onion, white rice, sugar, cinnamon, and hot water; stir the mixture, cover the pot, and cook gently for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, dill weed, and parsley.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the stuffing cool for 30 to 40 minutes before stuffing the prepared grape leaves.

Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce Recipe:

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup diced cucumber
3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed

In a bowl, combine yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, and dill weed.

Allow flavors to blend in the refrigerator 2 to 3 hours before serving.


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