stuffed grape leaves or Dolmas

This expert tutorial is all you need to make the best stuffed grape leaves or dolmas! These flavor-packed grape leaves are stuffed with a tantalizing mixture of rice; meat; and loads of fresh herbs and warm spices, then cooked in a bright lemony broth.

What are Dolmas: Stuffed Grape Leaves?

The word Dolma, from the Turkish verb Dolmak,  basically means “to be filled,” referring to all sorts of stuffed foods from grape leaves to stuffed tomatoes zucchini, or even bell peppers .

Now, you’ll find many variations of stuffed grape leaves recipes, from Turkey and Greece to Lebanon, and Egypt where it’s called Warak Enab (Grape Vine Paper.) Some recipes containing meat, others vegetarian. Some containing tomato sauce, others cooked in a lemony broth. I have yet to meet a stuffed grape leave, dolma, or Greek dolmades that I didn’t love, but this recipe is my absolute favorite.

How do you store stuffed grape leaves leftovers?

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can you use brown rice instead?

This is not recommended, as it has a very different cook time requirement and the texture is very different.

Where to Find Grape Leaves?

Many grocery stores now carry jarred grape leaves in brine; check the international food section. I typically use the Orlando Brand grape leaves).

Can I use Fresh Grape Leaves to make Dolmas?

If you’re lucky enough to find fresh grape vine leaves, by all means, you should use them to make these dolmas. To use them in this recipe, first be sure to wash them well, then blanch them in boiling hot water. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to fully cool and drain. From there, you can use them as indicated in the recip

Can you make these vegetarian?

For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the meat.


  • 1 16-oz jar grape leaves in brine (about 60 to 70 leaves)
  • 1 ½ cup short grain rice, soaked in plenty of water for 15 minutes, then drained
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO)
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 12 oz lean ground beef
  • Kosher salt

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