Make Your Own Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves) Recipe

Stuffed grape leaves recipe

​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

  • Total: 3 hrs
  • Prep: 60 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 40 dolmas (40 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
66 Calories
2g Fat
10g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 40 dolmas (40 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 66
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 146mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 2g
Calcium 56mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Dolmas (also known as stuffed grape leaves, dawali, and dolmades) are eaten throughout the world, all with different variations. They can be found in Mediterranean restaurants, but instead of eating out for this healthy comfort food, make it at home.

This version of dolmas is most closely inspired by the vegetarian rice-stuffed grape leaves of Turkey that are typically eaten cold or at room temperature as an appetizer (meze).

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-ounce) jar grape leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (long-grain, such as basmati, and uncooked)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup pine nuts (raw)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (divided)
  • 2/3 cups lemon juice (divided, plus more for drizzling)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this stuffed grape leaves dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dolmas

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for dolmas
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 
  2. Gently remove the grape leaves from their jar, then rinse each thoroughly under cold water, taking care not to rip the leaves. Pat the leaves dry and place on a cutting board.

    Gently remove grap leaves
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  3. Using a small, sharp paring knife, remove the stems from the leaves.

    Flat leaf
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  4. Cover with a paper towel and set aside.

    Cover
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  5. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, adding the onion, garlic, parsley, and basil once the oil is hot. Stir continuously until the onion is soft and fragrant, about 6 minutes.

    Onion in pan
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  6. Add the rice and pine nuts and sauté, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes longer.

    Add rice
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  7. Add 4 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, adding water if necessary.

    Add sauce
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  8. Add 1/3 cup of lemon juice, stirring well to combine, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove the pan from heat.

    Add lemon
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Assemble the Dolmas 

  1. Prepare a dry, clean workspace. Place one of the grape leaves, shiny side down, flat on your work surface. Place 1 to 2 tablespoon of filling on the lower-middle portion of the leaf, right above where the stem used to be.

    Assemble dolma
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  2. Fold in the sides of the leaves over the center.

    Fold in leaves
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  3. Then roll the bottom of the leaf over the filling and continue to roll, holding the sides in, until you've rolled the dolma completely and no filling is visible.

    Roll leaf
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  4. Place the dolma seam-side down in a large saucepan or pot big enough to fit all of the dolmas in a single layer.

    Dolma in lid
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  5. Repeat until all of the grape leaves are used, placing one dolma directly next to the other and leaving no space in between.

    Repeat
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  6. Drizzle another 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the dolmas, followed by the remaining lemon juice.

    Dolma
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  7. Pour the remaining 4 cups vegetable broth over the grape leaves to cover.

    Add broth
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  8. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour (do not boil). Add water as necessary to keep them covered.

    Cover pot
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  9. Remove the pan from heat, uncover, and let the dolmas cool in the liquid for 20 to 30 minutes.

    Remove from heat
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  10. Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the dolmas to a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and serve at room temperature or cold.

    Plate dolmas
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  11. Serve and enjoy!

    Dolmas
    ​The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Tips

  • Dolmas can be served on an appetizer platter or as a side to lunch or dinner; they're easy to cook, easy to wrap, and easy to serve, so they're great for big dinners and parties. Don't be intimidated by the steps; once you've made a batch of dolmas once, you'll fly through your next batches.
  • When simmering the dolmas, do not bring the liquid to a boil (this will cause the dolmas to burst while cooking).
  • Take care to keep the dolmas covered in liquid; if you notice that the tops of the leaves are exposed while simmering, simply add additional broth or water to the pot to cover (this will keep the leaves moist and succulent and will keep them from drying out).

Recipe Variations

  • Variations include dolmas with meat or dried fruits, and they can be eaten hot or cold.
  • Feel free to experiment with different herbs and nuts in your filling and shake up your meal as a whole. Rice doesn't have to be boring.
  • You can experiment with a range of herbs and spices; oregano, mint, and thyme are all good options.