Stuffed Grape Leaves

Have you tried stuffed grape leaves (aka dolmas)? There are all kinds of variations — some with only veggies and rice, some with meat and rice, some with tomato sauce and some with pine nuts. I have had some bad stuffed grape leaves. And I tell you this just so, even if you’ve had a bad dolma, you still might give these a try!

My husband’s family is Lebanese and this is their recipe. I still remember the first time I tried them — we were visiting his family in Dallas for Christmas and his grandmother and aunts made them for Christmas Eve dinner. I was a little wary (did I mention I’ve had some bad dolmas?), but was so wonderfully surprised when I bit into one! They are warm and tender, bursting with the most delicious flavors!

And who knew they were so easy to make? The rolling technique takes a little practice, and it’s definitely easier to demonstrate in person than explain in writing, so be sure to check out the video below.

For a full Mediterranean spread, serve the dolmas with Greek yogurt or labne, homemade hummus, baba ganoush, easy lentil soup, a fresh loaf of bread, and a big Greek salad.

Stuffed Grape Leaves


1 jar (1 lb.) grape leaves in brine

1 lb. ground beef or lamb

1 cup Royal basmati rice

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt

Juice of ½ lemon


  1. Set out a cutting board with two layers of paper towels on top. This will be your workspace for rolling the grape leaves. Remove grape leaves from jar, squeezing gently to remove any excess brine, and lay flat on the paper towels. Separate one grape leave from the stack at a time.
  2. In a medium bowl, add ground beef, rice, allspice, salt and lemon juice. Mix together with your hands until well-combined.
  3. Using your hands, pinch off a portion of the meat mixture (about the size and shape of a lipstick tube) and place it in the bottom third of a grape leave. To roll the grape leaf, fold the bottom edge up over the meat and roll it once, tightly. Then fold the sides of the grape leaf into the center and roll again. Continue rolling forward, and tucking in the sides if needed, until the grape leaf is rolled up into a small, tight cylinder. Place the grape leave in the bottom of a pan (I use an All-Clad 3-qt. stainless sauté pan.)
  4. Repeat process until the meat mixture is used up and the bottom of the pan is filled with the stuffed grape leaves. Now pour about 3 cups water over the grape leaves, just to cover. Using a lid that is smaller your pan, place the lid on top of the grape leaves – you’ll leave it there while cooking to prevent the leaves from unrolling.
  5. Place pan on stove over medium high heat. Bring to boil and then reduce to low heat. Simmer for 45 to 55 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let grape leaves rest for 10-15 minutes (this will allow some of the water to be absorbed into the grape leaves). Drain any remaining water to prevent leaves from getting soggy. Serve immediately.


MAKE-AHEAD TIP: Stuffed grape leaves keep well, covered, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat on a plate in the microwave, or in a covered dish in the oven until just heated through.

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Hi! I’m Marie. Mama, wife, homebody. I’m a self-taught chef and cookbook author. 

I love sharing fast, fresh, family-friendly recipes that will, hopefully, make your life a little easier.

Above all, I love spending time in the kitchen with family and friends. Come join us!


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Marie Saba

From My Kitchen To Yours