Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe

Greek Dolmades

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 Greek Dolmades are far superior to the canned ones.  These can either be a main dish or an appetizer, depending on your appetite.  These small bundles of rice wrapped in grape leaves are a favorite dish in Greece.

If you have never tried fresh Greek Dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!

Check out more Appetizer Recipes for more great appetizer ideas.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe - Greek Dolmades:
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Greek Dolmades Recipe, Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe
Stuffed Grape Leaves:
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar Grape Leaves, drained and rinsed*
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly-squeezed
  • Lemon wedges
Rice Stuffing:
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • Warm water
  • 2 tablespoons raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (granulated)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Juice of 1 freshly-squeezed lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill weed or fresh mint leaves, finely-chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely-chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce:
Stuffed Grape Leaves Instructions:
  1. 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.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare Rice Stuffing (see recipe below).

  3. 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
  4. 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.

    Grape Leaf with stuffing
  5. 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)

    Rolling Grape Leaf
    Folding Grape Leaf
  7. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the rolls.  Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.

  8. 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).

  9. 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: Do not cramp the rolls together as they will nott cook well - also do not leave too much space between them as they will unravel.

    Finished Dolamades ready to cook
  10. 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.

  11. On the stovetop, over medium heat, bring the liquid just to a boil; remove baking dish to the preheated 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.

  12. 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.

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

  2. 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.

  3. Add browned 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.

  4. 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 Instructions:
  1. In a bowl, combine yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, and dill weed.

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

Recipe Notes

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: Do not throw away any torn or damaged leaves, as they can be used to patch holes in other leaves.

Comments and Reviews

6 Responses to “Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe”

  1. vidia

    for the recipes what kind of grape leaves , I have a seedless green grape , could I use these of that grape plant?

    • Linda Stradley

      According to my research, grapes leaves are edible. I used the leaves from our pinot noir and pinot gris grapes in our vineyard. – Linda Stradley

  2. Sandy

    You can use any kind of grape leaves but only the newest light green ones in the spring. They become quite tough as they mature. Simply pick them, wash them, dry on a paper towel and make them into stacks of about 10 divided with pieces of parchment or waxed paper before putting them in the freezer to use all year! You can remove as many as you need and they keep that way for long times!

  3. Ellen XP

    I’ve been using a similar recipe for 50 years and have converted many cooks to my Armenian style dolmas. But we simmer 1 cup olive oil with 1 cup onions until translucent. Then add 1 cup rice, 1 cup currants, and 3 Tablespoons cinnamon. Add 2 cups water, cover and cook till almost done. Stuff leaves (I prepare with brine) and when rolled, pot layered, covered with water or brine and cook very slowly on stove top 45 minutes. Secret to everything is LIME juice squeezed on top when the dolmas are out. Lots of lime.

  4. Brian Mac

    You mention that these are made with meat and rice stuffing, but I see no meat called out in the recipe? Is this optional? If so, what meat would one use?


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