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A close up of a plate of food, with Dolmades
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5 from 4 votes

Stuffed grape leaves (dolmades)

Dolma recipe or stuffed grape leaves recipe is so popular in the Mediterranean. Tangy, tender grape leaves wrapped around aromatic rice and cooked to perfection. This old-fashioned recipe is an all-time family and friends favorite. Follow my tips for a foolproof, delicious stuffed grape leaves each time.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Diet: Halal, Vegetarian
Servings: 60 ones
Calories: 42.3kcal
Author: Amira


  • 2 cups short grain rice. note1
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil divided.
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste.
  • 1 can 15 oz tomato sauce.
  • 1 cup parsley chopped.(note2)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped.(note2)
  • 1/3 cup dill chopped.(note2)
  • 1 Tablespoon dry mint.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste.
  • 1/2 pound half a jar preserved grape leaves.

Cooking liquid:

  • 2 1/2 cup warm stock or water. See note 3.
  • 1 bouillon note2
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice.
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste.
  • 2 Tablespoons ghee/butter or olive oil.


  • In a pot over medium-high add about 2 liter of water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil and bring to a boil.
  • Divide grape leaves into 4 equal parts, add each part to the boiling water let it boil for 3-4 minutes then take it off the water in a colander then add the next part.(note 4)
  • Let the grape leaves cool before handling.
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat add the rest of olive oil .
  • Saute onions until translucent, add tomato sauce and paste stirring them together.
  • Add rice, spices and herbs cook for just two minutes. Turn heat off and set aside to cool down. (note 5)
  • Now the leaves should have cooled. Cut off the stems keeping them aside.

Stuff the leaves:

  • Place one leaf smooth side down on a cutting board.
  • Take about 1.5 teaspoon of the rice mixture and place at the broad end of the leaf.
  • Fold both sides over the rice and roll tucking it nicely. Repeat with all leaves until they are done.
  • Place the herb stems, if you have them, tomato slice or onion slices and the grape leaves stems at the bottom of a 4 quart pot. (Note 6).
  • Arrange stuffed grape leaves in rows leaving no space in between.
  • In a measuring cup add stock and warm up in the microwave for just 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, lemon juice and dissolve bouillon in the mixture.
  • Pour the cooking liquids over, and place pot on medium-high.
  • When it starts to bubble around the sides, reduce heat and place a flat plate over the grape leaves. ( note7)
  • Cover and let it simmer until fully cooked about 75 to 90 minutes on low flame.
  • Check for doneness after an hour.
  • When it is done, heat 2 Tablespoons of ghee, butter or olive oil until very hot then pour over the grape leaves, cover and let it seep through the whole pot for 10 minutes. ( note 8)



1) I was raised to grape leaves stuffed with short grain rice, some people use Basmati.
2) If you can keep the stems of the fresh herbs, as we will use them as a shield in the bottom of the pot and for more flavors.
3) Use vegetable stock and vegetable bouillon for vegetarian recipe otherwise you can use chicken stock and chicken bouillon, if desired.
4) I am using grapes leaves from the jar which is widely available here in the USA rather than the fresh. This kind of grape leaves is usually tougher than the fresh so we kind of soften it first in boiling water to decrease cooking time
5) Do not cook the rice, it will cook in the pot stuffed into the leaves.
6) Fresh herb stems add more flavors to the cooking liquids while the grape leaves stems add a very desirable tartness. Place tomato or onion rings to prevent scorching.
7) This is an all time tip from the grannies to keep the leaves firm and in place.
8) Use whatever you like, this step is done for more flavor and to further soften the leaves.
Nutrition Facts
Stuffed grape leaves (dolmades)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 42.3 Calories from Fat 10
% Daily Value*
Fat 1.1g2%
Cholesterol 0.3mg0%
Sodium 77.4mg3%
Potassium 60.5mg2%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Protein 0.9g2%
Vitamin A 135IU3%
Vitamin C 3.7mg4%
Iron 0.6mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Calories: 42.3kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 0.9g | Fat: 1.1g | Cholesterol: 0.3mg | Sodium: 77.4mg | Potassium: 60.5mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 135IU | Vitamin C: 3.7mg | Iron: 0.6mg