Dolmades (Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves)

This traditional Greek Dolmades recipe makes the most delicious, tender grape leaves stuffed with rice and fresh herbs. They can be made vegetarian or with ground meat for a delicious appetizer.

If you a lover of Greek cuisine, than you have surely tried dolmades. Dolmades or Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves are delicious little bites made from tender grape leaves that have been stuffed with rice and fresh herbs. They can be made with or without ground beef (or lamb), depending on whether you want a vegetarian recipe or not. I personally prefer them with ground beef, the way my mom has always made them.

Dolmades make the perfect appetizer and are a great addition to a mezze spread! We love them so much in our family that we often make a whole meal out of them, cause really, who would say no to a plate full of dolmades?

These juicy, flavourful dolmades can be made with jarred grape leaves or fresh. If you are using fresh, be sure to pick the leaves in the spring time when they are tender.

Dolmades on a plate with one sliced in half to show the rice and meat filling.

Fresh herbs like mint, basil, parsley and/or dill make these so fresh and delicious, as does a little lemon juice to add some brightness.

These dolmades are surprisingly easy to make and worth the effort to make them homemade. You really can’t beat the flavour!

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get cooking! Read on for my step by step instructions and tips.

Dolmades on a white plate with lemon wedges.

Ingredients in Dolmades

For ingredient quantities and full instructions, go to the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic minced
  • Ground beef or lamb (Can omit for vegetarian dolmades)
  • Rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mint
  • Parsley and basil (can also use dill)
  • Lemon juice
  • Grape leaves (fresh or jarred)

How to make Dolmades

Prepare the filling

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Add the ground beef and brown it, breaking up any large pieces as it cooks.

Once the meat is browned, add the fresh herbs, rice, and lemon juice and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Photo collage showing the steps for making dolmades filling.

Preparing the grape leaves

Prepare fresh grape leaves by bringing a pot of water to a simmer and gently blanching them for a few seconds.

Two photos showing grape leaves before and after blanching them.

Stuffing the dolmades

Working with one grape leaf at a time, lay it out on a cutting board with the veins facing up (this will become the inside of the dolmades). Scoop about a tablespoon of the rice mixture into the center of the grape leaf. Fold in the sides of the grape leaf first and then, starting at the bottom of the leaf, begin to roll it up to form the stuffed grape leaf. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves.

Photo collage showing the steps for making dolmades.

Cooking the dolmades

Arrange the dolmades into the bottom of a large pot. You can do this in multiple layers if you like. Fill with enough water to cover them and then place an inverted plate on top (the plate will hold the dolmades together so that they do not open up while they cook).

Simmer for 30 minutes or until they are cooked through.

A photo collage showing the steps for cooking dolmades in a large pot.

Sauces to serve with dolmades

Dolmades can be served as is or with a sauce.

  • Lemon and corn starch: Mix thejuice of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of corn starch in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the juice from the dolmades (the water) and mix it together. Then pour it over the dolmades.

  • Avgolemono: Crack 2 eggs, separating the egg yolks and whites into 2 separete bowls. Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until they are fluffy and hold their shape. Beat the egg yolks for a couple of minutes and then mix the egg whites and yolks together. Add the juice of 1 lemon and continue to beat. Continue to beat as you add some hot broth from the dolmades pot to the egg mixture to prevent cooking the eggs (you are tempering the eggs). Add the egg-lemon mixture to the dolmades pot. Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

  • Tomato sauce

I like to serve these stuffed grape leaves with lemon wedges but you can also serve them with a yogurt sauce like tzatziki.

A plate of dolmades set on a wooden circular cutting board.

Storing leftovers

Dolmades can be stored for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can enjoy them cold or reheat them before serving.

Can you freeze dolmades

Yes, you can freeze dolmades. Once cooked and cooled, place the dolmades in a single layer in a freezer safe bag or container. When you are ready to enjoy them again, you can let them thaw overnight in the fridge or heat them up in the microwave or simmer them in a skillet with a bit of water, being careful to prevent them from unravelling.

How to serve

Dolmades can be served as an appetizer, on their own or as part of a mezze platter. Some of my personal favourites to include in a mezze platter are Tirokafteri- Spicy Greek Feta Dip, Spanakopitakia (Spinach and Feta Filo Triangles), Zucchini Fritters and Keftedakia – Greek Meatballs. For a full list of ideas, be sure to check out my Vegetarian Mezze Platter post that is packed with plenty of options!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

-Cathy

Closeup of dolmades on a plate.

You may also like:

Papoutsakia (Greek Stuffed Eggplant)
Prasopita (Greek Leek Pie)
Spanakopita

Dolmades on a plate with one sliced in half to show the rice and meat filling.

Dolmades (Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Herbs and Flour
This traditional Greek Dolmades recipe makes the most delicious, tender grape leaves stuffed with rice and fresh herbs. They can be made vegetarian or with ground meat for a delicious appetizer.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Appetizer, Mezze
Cuisine Greek
Servings 70 dolmades
Calories 38 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb (Can omit for vegetarian dolmades)
  • 1 cup rice uncooked and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup mint
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley and basil (can also use dill)
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 70 grape leaves fresh or jarred

Sauce (optional)

  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions
 

  • In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.
  • Add the ground beef and brown it, breaking up any large pieces as it cooks.
  • Once the meat is browned, add the fresh herbs, rice, and lemon juice and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Prepare fresh grape leaves by bringing a pot of water to a simmer and gently blanching them for a few seconds.
  • Working with one grape leaf at a time, lay it out on a cutting board with the veins facing up (this will become the inside of the dolmades). Scoop about a tablespoon of the rice mixture into the center of the grape leaf. Fold in the sides of the grape leaf first and then, starting at the bottom of the leaf, begin to roll it up to form the dolmades. Repeat with the remaining dolmades.
  • Arrange the dolmades into the bottom of a large pot. You can do this in multiple layers if you like. Fill with enough water to cover the dolmades and then place an inverted (upside down) plate on top (the plate will hold the dolmades together so that they do not open up while they cook).
  • Simmer for 30 minutes or until they are cooked through.
  • To make the optional sauce, mix the lemon juice and corn starch in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the juice from the dolmades (the water) and mix it together. Then pour it over the dolmades. Serve with slices of lemon. [Note: dolmades can also be served with avgolemono sauce or tomato sauce. For notes on how to do this, read the blog post above.]

Nutrition

Calories: 38kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 5mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 835IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword greek food, ground beef, rice
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