Dolmathakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves With Rice and Herbs)

Stuffed grape leaves recipe

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 64 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Cool Time: 10 mins
Total: 2 hrs 14 mins
Servings: 50 to 60 servings
Yield: 50 to 60 appetizers
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
62 Calories
5g Fat
5g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 50 to 60
Amount per serving
Calories 62
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 270mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 11mg 56%
Calcium 31mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 66mg 1%
*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.)

This classic Greek appetizer (or meze) called dolmathakia (dol-mah-THAH-kya) are grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, and fresh herbs. They may take a little bit of time to prepare, but they are worth the effort. Serve dolmathakia cold or at room temperature.

The use of grape leaves to wrap food dates back to the days of Alexander the Great. Dolma is the name of a whole group of stuffed vegetable dishes, but dolmadaki are specifically dishes made by wrapping either grape or cabbage leaves around a filling. Dolmadaki can be made in many different ways, using minced meat, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and spices.

While Americans tend to think of stuffed grape leaves as a Greek delicacy, dolmadaki may have originated in Turkey or Armenia. Certainly, there are many variations on the dish from the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. 

There are many variations on the ingredients listed below. For example, if pine nuts are not easily available, consider using grains, raisins, or even lentils.


Click Play to See These Stuffed Grape Leaves Come Together

"This was really good, and it was fairly easy. It takes a little time to roll them, but it wasn't difficult. I had some leftover stuffing, so I think 3 pounds of onions would be more than enough. I used brined grape leaves from a jar." —Diana Rattray

Stuffed Grape Leaves With Rice and Herbs Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 16 ounces jarred grape leaves

  • 1 cup olive oil, divided

  • 6 large onions, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

  • 2 tablespoons dried mint

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Stuffed grape leave recipe
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  2. Rinse the leaves well to remove brine.

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  3. Place the leaves in boiling water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes to soften them and make them more pliable. Remove from water and set aside.

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  4. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 1/2 cup olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.

    Large skillet
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  5. Stir in the rice, parsley, dill, pine nuts, mint, salt, and pepper. Taste test and adjust the seasoning as desired.

    Stir in rice, barley
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow the filling to cool about 10 minutes.​

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  7. Line the bottom of a heavy saucepan with 2 or 3 grape leaves (use the broken or torn ones for this).

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  8. Roll the dolmathakia by placing a leaf with the stem toward you on a flat surface. The underside of the leaf should be face up. (The veins of the leaf are raised on the underside.) Using the point of a sharp paring knife, cut out the stem of the leaf. Overlap the bottom two sections of the leaf toward the center.

    Roll leaves
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  9. Place a tablespoon of filling in the bottom center of the leaf, just above the stem.

    Place filling in leaves
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  10. Fold the bottom section up to cover the filling.

    Fold bottom section up
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  11. Fold the sides in toward the center.

    Fold sides in
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  12. Continue rolling the packet up toward the top point of the leaf.

    Rolled leaves
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  13. Place the rolls in layers, seam-side down, in the saucepan. 

    Rolled leaves in pot
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  14. Pour remaining 1/2 cup olive oil over the dolmathakia and enough water to cover them by about 1 inch.

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii
  15. Place an inverted heatproof plate on top of the rolls to keep them submerged in the water.

    Plate over pot
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  16. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the leaves are tender and the rice filling is cooked through.

    Cover saucepan
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  17. Serve and enjoy!

    Stuffed grape leaves
    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii 

How to Store Dolmathakia

  • Stuffed grape leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days.
  • To freeze: First, make sure they are cooled down. Then place them in an airtight freezer-safe container. They can be frozen for up to two months.

Can You Mince the Onions In a Food Processor?

The food processor is an excellent choice when you have a large amount of onions to mince—it saves lots of time, not to mention the tears. To mince the large amount of onions quickly, use a food processor. Cut the peeled onions into uniform chunks, put them in the food processor fitted with the blade, and pulse about 7 to 10 times, or until they are finely minced.

What is the Difference Between Dolmathakia and Dolmades?

Dolmathakia/dolamadakia are small dolmades that are traditionally served as appetizers. Singular is Dolmathaki or dolmadaki—the "aki" ending means small.

What Other Appetizers Do You Serve With Dolmathakia?

Serve the dolmathakia with with lemon wedges along with other appetizers and dips. Here are some ideas for a delicious meze platter:

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