Stuffed Grape Leaves

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley,
these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home!

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home!Ever since I’ve known her, my wife has loved all sorts of international foods.  Chinese, Korean, Indian…you name it, she loves it.  Thinking back, it’s kinda ironic that we ended up together as I grew up on a strict diet of American classics.  I’m talking meat and potatoes here.  Ok, maybe there was an occasional veggie thrown in there, too.  Don’t get me wrong–I love American food!  But pork chops and barbecued chicken is a far cry from various curries and stir-fried dishes.  Over the past 9 years, I’ve definitely expanded my food horizons.  I can’t say that I’ve loved everything that I’ve tried, but I’ve certainly added some new dishes to my repertoire.  Actually, I dare say that I now crave some of those dishes, too!

A couple of weekends ago, we set out to try a Greek restaurant around the corner from our house.  We’ve driven by this place a million times, but we’ve never stopped.  One of our friends had given it two thumbs up, so we decided to check it out ourselves.  From the wall murals of classic Greek countryside to the tasty gyros, this was a legit Greek restaurant.  Oh, and it helps that their tzatziki sauce was among the best I’ve ever tasted!  Our favorite dish of the night, though?  The stuffed grape leaves.  I think I could have made an entire meal out of those!

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home! #EveryDayCareAs a former Latin teacher, I’m pretty tuned in to ancient Greek history and culture.  Sure, they didn’t speak Latin in the city-states of ancient Greece, but the Romans borrowed many of their customs from the Greeks.  I mean, I spent a semester in college translating Homer’s Iliad.  Why did it take meeting my wife to finally develop an affinity addiction for Greek food?

As my wife will quickly confirm, I’ve always got something up my sleeve.  I’m always planning some sort of surprise to liven things up a bit around here.  Heck, with the winter we had this year, we needed something to keep us going!  Since my wife loves stuffed grape leaves so much, I decided I needed to learn how to make them myself.  I consulted a friend whose family is Greek.  I consulted various cookbooks and the interwebs to learn as much as I could about making stuffed grape leaves.  Then I hit the kitchen.  It took several attempts, but I can confidently say that these stuffed grape leaves are pretty darned delicious!

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home! #EveryDayCareWe get up most mornings around 5:00am to hit the gym.  (Yes, that is early.  But it works for us.  I like to get the workout done so I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.)  As we were leaving the gym one morning recently, I told my wife that I was making a special treat for her that night.  She had a curling game after work, so she ate dinner at the curling club.  But she didn’t forget about that treat!  As soon as she walked in the door, she commented, “It smells delicious in here.  But it doesn’t smell like baked goods.”  Ah, she knows me so well.  Usually, a special treat means a cake…or cookies…or brownies…or some other variety of tasty dessert.  Not tonight.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

I pulled the tray of Stuffed Grape Leaves out of the fridge, and her eyes lit up immediately.  She was impressed that I made stuffed grape leaves for her.  (Don’t tell her, but I kinda made them for me, too…)  Seriously, though, these Stuffed Grape Leaves (dolmades in Greek) are legit good.  If you’ve never rolled grape leaves, then it might take a bit of practice.  But truthfully, it’s not that bad.  Just select the largest leaves and roll ’em up like a burrito.  Next thing you know, you’ll have a whole tray of Stuffed Grape Leaves ready to go.

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home! #EveryDayCare

So our neighbors actually have grape vines growing up and over their back porch.  I’m talking big grape vines.  As in you can stand under them during a light summer shower and not get wet.  Had it been a couple of months later, I could have walked over and picked some fresh grape leaves for this recipe.  Wouldn’t that have been a fun twist?  Perhaps I’ll just have to make these again once spring gets fully underway here in upstate New York!

Did you make these Stuffed Grape Leaves at home?  Leave a comment.  Or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog)!

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home!

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home!
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Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 315kcal

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup short-grain white rice see note
  • cups chicken stock divided
  • ¾ cup green onions thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh dill minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 8-oz jar grape leaves
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Instructions

  • Using a large sauté pan, add just ¼ cup of olive oil and place pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and lemon zest. Stir and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until onion turns translucent in color.
  • Add rice, stir and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add 1 cup of chicken stock, green onions, parsley, dill, salt and pepper. Stir and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring often, until stock is fully absorbed and rice is almost fully cooked.
  • Transfer mixture into a bowl; let cool.
  • Meanwhile, place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.
  • Rinse the grape leaves in a large colander and then blanch leaves by placing them in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer grape leaves back into colander and immediately rinse with cold water. Pat leaves dry with a paper towel.
  • To assemble, place a grape leaf in your hand (shiny side down). Place about 1½ Tbsp of the rice filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, and then fold both sides towards the middle. Continue rolling leaf up until fully rolled, taking care not to rip the leaf. (Tip: Roll the leaf so that it is secure, but do not roll too tightly as the rice will expand when cooked later.)
  • Squeeze the entire roll gently to secure. Place rolled grape leaf seam-side down into the bottom of a 9”x13” glass baking dish. Repeat until all rice filling has been used.
  • Pour remaining ½ cup of olive oil, remaining ¼ cup chicken stock and lemon juice over the grape leaves. Fill the pan with water until the liquid almost covers the grape leaves.
  • Place a second baking dish on top of the grape leaves. Fill dish half full with water to weigh it down.
  • Bake grape leaves in 325°F oven for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.
  • Transfer grape leaves out of any remaining liquid onto a clean plate. Place in the refrigerator until chilled.
  • Garnish with sliced lemons before serving.

Notes

Stuffed grape leaves traditionally use long-grain rice, but I found that using short-grain rice creates a "stickier" rice that makes rolling the rice into the grape leaf much easier.

Filled with the flavors of lemon, dill and parsley, these Stuffed Grape Leaves are a fun way to enjoy classic Greek food at home!

 

Looking for some other fun Greek-inspired recipes?  Check out these favorites, too:

Traditional Greek Baklava | Spicedblog.comClassic Greek Baklava

Loaded with feta, tomatoes and olives, these Baked Greek Fries make for one delicious appetizer!Baked Greek Fries

Spanakopita is a classic Greek recipe featuring layers of flaky dough stuffed with spinach and feta cheese...and it's delicious!Greek Spanakopita

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62 Comments

  1. David, I love that you and your wife are adventurous with international foods!!! and see, that’s so awesome that stopping into that Greek restaurant inspired these stuffed grape leaves and now you now how to make them! I love that!!! will check out the Every day, care™ Project . . simple acts of kindness are so needed!!!

    1. Yes! You are totally right, Alice. It doesn’t take much to really make someone’s day. I had a blogger friend send me a $5 e-giftcard for coffee the other day…and it totally put me in the best mood. So easy, but it really had such an impact! But yes…my wife has always loved international foods. Although I’ve grown to love a lot of ’em, I’d say that I’m still not quite as adventurous as she is. Either way, it’s good to mix it up from time to time, right? 🙂

    1. Why thank you, Becca…you are too kind! It was fun to make a special treat for Laura, but I also enjoyed the opportunity to mix it up and try a new type of recipe. That’s what cooking is all about, right?

  2. That’s it, I am asking to be adopted by you and your wife. Even though I’m sure I’m older than you both. LOL! I am a huge fan of grape leaves! This may sound weird, but one of the local grocery stores here has a Mediterranean bar with olives, mushrooms, grape leaves, etc. and I ALWAYS get the grape leaves because I love them so much! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. Who cares about age?? I’m totally willing to adopt you, Tamara! We always need another taste tester in the house. 🙂 That Mediterranean bar is not weird at all…we have a local store that does the same, and we often swing by and get a couple olives or grape leaves for a little treat. (In fact, I’ve found that the bar is a great place to pick up olives, roasted garlic, marinated peppers, etc when you just need a couple of them for a recipe.)

  3. Awww – kindness at home is so underrated! So sweet of you to have a treat ready for Mrs. Spiced, David!
    Your wife and I could have been good friends as I adore International foods too (heck, I kinda am International myself eh?) but I’ve never ever had Stuffed Grape Leaves! I had no idea that rice, lemon and spices went into them either! Dang – your post has been quite a learning experience for me today!

    1. It absolutely is underrated, Shashi! I get kindness outside of the home (which is still awesome, btw), but it is so easy to also be kind in the home. Wait…you’ve never had stuffed grape leaves?? There’s a lot of different varieties out there (some call for meat…mainly lamb), but I prefer them vegetarian. I’ve also seen them served hot, but I much prefer them served cold. You know what? Why don’t you just come up and I’ll make you some? Bring lil Shashi, too…I’ll make her some as well. We’ll have a stuffed grape leaf party!

  4. “We get up most mornings around 5:00am to hit the gym” -> fist bump
    “Love all sorts of international foods” -> fist bump
    “these Stuffed Grape Leaves (dolmades in Greek) are legit good.” -> fist bump
    #WolkpackFistBump

    1. Yeah, they were so much fun to make, Dannii! I had to hit three stores to find the grape leaves, but there they were…in a little bottle in the “international food” section. It took a few attempts at rolling before I started to get the knack, but it’s not that hard. (And heck, even if they fall apart, they’re still delicious!) It’s a lot like rolling a burrito…just a Greek version of one. 🙂

    1. Same here, Christina! My wife loves ’em, but I’ve only eaten them a few times whenever we go out to eat. I was inspired by our latest trip to the Greek restaurant around the corner…and these totally worked out well. It took me a couple of attempts to get it right, but that’s what the kitchen is for, right? Playing around and having fun with new types of recipes. 🙂

  5. I ate these all the time growing up but probably did a disservice by removing the actual grape leaves! These look so good mate, and you’d better make use of your neighbours leaves- also- I am shocked you grew up eating the ‘standard’ American fare- You’d never tell from your recipes!

    1. Oh man, how in the heck did you eat stuffed grape leaves by removing the leaves? That’s kindof an essential part of the recipe, Arman. Haha! Oh yeah, I totally plan on trying to figure out how to use fresh grape leaves in a couple of months once they come in. (And yes, I grew up on a strict diet of meat and potatoes. Veggies appeared on occasion.)

  6. Great recipe and very well rolled ”dolmades”! Actually we call them ”dolmadakia” which means little stuffed grape leaves. 🙂 They are great combined with tzatziki as I am sure you already know 🙂 and they are called ”orphans” because they are meatless. In Turkey they call them ” yalantzi dolma” meaning fake dolmas. If you add ground beef in the mix you have an entirely different dish. Have you tried them this way?

    1. Thanks for the tips, Stella! I used to teach Latin, so I love learning about the language nuances. Dolmades vs. dolmadakia. Good stuff! And yes, I might have learned that these are delicious with tzatziki. So I think I’ve had them with ground beef, but I can’t be sure…my wife typically goes for the vegetarian version so that’s what I stuck with this time. I have some grape leaves left over, so I might need to try my hand at the beef version. My neighbor has a huge grape vine in his yard, and I’d love to learn how to make these with fresh grape leaves. Do you have any tips for that? Thanks so much for your comments, too! 🙂

  7. Dolmades are the bomb! And I’ve made them many times in restaurant kitchens and my own so I know how labor intensive they are… fantastic! I like to add ground lamb to mine and call it a meal! 🙂
    Latin eh? “spent a semester in college translating Homer’s Iliad” now that’s some work, too! Well done here. #WolfpackEats!

    1. I had no idea you had a background working in restaurants, Kevin! How awesome is that? It also explains why your recipes always look so delicious! Hehe…I loved those days taking (and then later teaching) Latin. But I love being a food blogger, too. 🙂

  8. I absolutely love Greek food and dolmades! 😀 My neighbours are Greek so we always get to taste these delights if they have a family gathering or party! Definitely need to have a go at making my own soon! Thanks for sharing, David! They look perfectly authentic and delicious!

    1. Oh, I am so jealous that your neighbors are Greek, Jess! You can get authentic Greek food whenever you want. 🙂 But yes, dolmades are actually pretty fun to make. They’re a bit of a process, but it’s one of those things that you step back and say “Woah…look at what I just made!”

  9. David you are so lucky that your wife enjoys different cuisines!! I grew up eating grape leaves as I spent some years in Western Asia but then I totally forgot about it. So glad to be able to find a recipe for these! Thanks 🙂

    1. I’m jealous that you spent some time in Western Asia, Ami! I love traveling abroad. My wife has certainly introduced me to a lot of new types of food over the years…and then that typically translates to me trying to figure out how to reproduce said food in our kitchen. Grape leaves are a totally fun recipe to make at home…and it’s impressive to say you made your own, too!

  10. as they opposite attracts 🙂 I too love to try world cuisine and not just stick to indian food.
    I never thought grape leaves can be eaten in this way 🙂 Beautiful it looks 🙂

    1. Oh man, these stuffed grape leaves are a classic Greek food, Shweta! I only (somewhat) recently discovered them thanks to my wife…but they are amazingly delicious. I like to eat them cold, but I’ve seen them served hot in some restaurants before. Thanks so much!!

  11. I need this recipe. My partner (of Greek/Turkish background) loves dolmas and is always buying a hideous canned version. Hopefully I’ll master this version and surprise him. GREG

    1. Oooo…yes! Definitely try and make these to surprise him, Greg! The recipe isn’t all that hard, but it does take some time. Still…it’s fun time! The hardest part is rolling the filling in the grape leaves, but it’s not that bad once you catch the hang of it. Good luck!! 🙂

  12. I make the stuffed grape leaves this way: i mix together diced onion,garlic,tomatoe,chopped parsley & mint leaves,lemon juice,olive oil,salt & pepper. i rinse the rice and pour hot water on it and leave it like that for 30 mins, then rinse it again and add it to the mixture above. then i prepare & stuff the leaves just like you did. after you are done rolling bring a pot and cut some potatoe circles and tomatoes then place them in the bottom of the pot. then stack the grape leaves. pour lemon juice+olive oil+ boiling water in the pot until you reachthe edge of the stacked leaves then cook at first for 15 mins on high heat (until the water boils) then for 1:30 – 2 hours on low heat & Enjoy!:)

    1. Interesting! I love that little tip about stacking potatoes and tomatoes at the bottom of the pot. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll definitely keep this in mind next time I make these! 🙂

      1. You are welcome! 🙂 And one more thing we do here is we eat them with yogurt and a nice tabbouleh salad if you know what it is 🙂

        1. Ooo….good call on the tabbouleh salad! My wife was just saying that we need to make one of those soon. Maybe I’ll have to make up another batch of stuffed grape leaves to go along with it. Have a great weekend! 🙂

  13. how sweet to try something new your wife loves!

    I had a hard time with the recipe though. The first time I made them, the rice was not almost done before I stuffed them. I thought the ratio of liquid to rice was too little and this was the issue, but I stuck to the recipe and instructions. After 35 min at 325, I tried one and rice was no where near done and leaves were not tender enough. I ended up baking them over an hour, after bumping up the temp to 350. By the time they finished, too much liquid evaporated and my leaves had crisped and toughened some on the edges. The flavor wasn’t as bold as I’d like or have tasted in restaurants.

    I attempted a second time by cooking rice with more liquid and added more lemon zest and juice to the rice (I like lotsa flava). It was mostly done. However, even after 35
    Minutes, they were falling apart in the oven and rice was still not completely done and leaves were still tougher than they should be. (I used ones from a jar and blanched them a second time when I retried these).

    Def need to experiment more to get them just right!

    Thanks for giving us a starting point!

    1. Hey Meredith! I’m sorry you had trouble with this recipe. The very first time I made these, I also had some issues with the rice taking too long to cook. But then I switched to the short-grain rice, and I haven’t had any issues since then. I’m surprised it took so much longer to get the rice to cook once it went into the oven. But it sounds like you are on the right track…just get the rice a little closer to done before stuffing the leaves. Rolling the leaves definitely took me a bit of practice to get it down. I hope you do continue experimenting with this recipe, though…we’ve made it a number of times and it’s one of our favorites! (Especially b/c it makes a lot of grape leaves!) Thanks so much for leaving this feedback, too. Cheers!

    1. Sour cream? Interesting! I’ve never heard of sarmale, but I just Googled it and they look very similar. I like the idea of a sweeter version wrapped around chopped nuts, too. Thanks for sharing, Werona! 🙂

  14. Hi. This is the first time in my life that I know Greeks make this dish.
    I am Lebanese and I always thought this dish is ours :)… perhaps we should have claimed this :).
    We never made grape leaves with Chicken stock as this is supposed to be vegetarian dish. You just add olive oil, lemon, salt and that’s it.
    If anyone is familiar with our famous Tabbouleh than it will be very easy to make these>> the stuffing is nearly the tabbouleh itself.
    This brings lot of memories. Thank you!!!!

    1. Hey there, Hala! These Stuffed Grape Leaves are one of our favorites around here…I’ll have to go look up the Lebanese version now. You could indeed use water instead of chicken stock, but the chicken stock adds so much flavor. (Of course, you’re right that you couldn’t use chicken stock when making a vegetarian version!) And now I’m craving stuffed grape leaves AND tabbouleh…and it’s only 9am over here. 🙂 Thank you for commenting!

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  16. As I’m sure you know, Ada, there are lots of different varieties of classic dishes out there. This one turned out amazing, but I might be tempted to try your version sometime, too.

  17. It’s more like our tradition recipe but the ingredients are different
    1 cup of short grain white rice soaked for 20 minutes
    1/3 cup of parsely ,chopped
    3 tablespoons of fresh mint,chopped
    1 cup of tomatoes ,diced
    ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large onion, diced
    2 cups chicken or meat stock
    1 tsp salt
    ½ tsp black pepper
    1 (8-oz) jar grape leaves
    ¼ Tsp arabic mixed spices
    ¼ tsp cinnamon
    ¼ cup tomato paste
    3 Tsp pomearanate molasses or lemon juice
    * thickness of the leaves when process it has to be as thickness as youe finger
    * some recipes used potato then rips or steak in the bottom of the pot before butting grape leaves for mor richy flavour
    * a plate that could bear to the heat and fit to pot must be above leaves on top of it to reduce any mess from leaves and left in a very low heat for 2 hours

    1. Hey Manal! Thanks so much for sharing this version. It’s similar for sure, but I always like to try different variations on classic dishes. I’ll have to put this one on my list to try soon…it’s been a while since I’ve made Stuffed Grape Leaves, and I could go for a batch soon! Thanks! 🙂

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