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Dolmades Stuffed Vine Leaves Recipe

  • COOKING TIME: 1.5 hours


1 jar grape leaves (60-70 leaves fresh or jarred)

1 ½ cup rice 

2 onions

2 cups warm water

juice of 2 lemons

½ a cup dill

½ a cup parsley

salt and pepper



Dolmades, also known as Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves, are delightful morsels crafted from supple grape leaves filled with rice and aromatic fresh herbs. These can be prepared with or without ground beef (or lamb), offering options for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. In this recipe, we will make the vegetarian option, but you can add meat to it if preferred.

  1. Prepare the Vine Leaves:
    1. If using jarred vine leaves, rinse them, remove the stems, and leave them in a colander to drain.
    2. For fresh vine leaves, wash thoroughly, remove stems, and blanch in boiling water. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and place in a colander to cool down completely.
  2. Prepare the Filling:
    1. Rinse rice in a colander under running water.
    2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add 1/3 of the olive oil and chopped onions. Sauté until the onions are translucent.
    3. Add the rice, sauté for one more minute.
    4. Pour in 2 cups of warm water and half of the lemon juice. Simmer for about 7 minutes until the rice absorbs all the water and is parboiled.
    5. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs, remove from the stove, and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Layer the Pot:
    • Use slightly torn vine leaves to layer the bottom of a large pot.
  4. Roll the Dolmadakia:
    1. Place a vine leaf (shiny side down) on a flat surface. Add 1 tsp of filling at the bottom end (stem).
    2. Fold the lower section over the filling towards the center; bring the sides towards the center and roll up tightly.
    3. Place the rolled vine leaves (fold side down) in the pot in snug layers, leaving no gaps.
  5. Cooking the Dolmades:
    1. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice over the dolmades. Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Place an inverted plate on top to keep them in place.
    3. Pour in enough water to just cover the dolmades, then cover with a lid.
    4. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the water is absorbed and only the oil remains.
  6. Cool the Dolmades:
    • Remove the pot from the heat. Take off the lid and plate, and let the dolmades cool for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Serve:
    • Enjoy this delicious Greek appetizer cold or at room temperature, with a squeeze of lemon.


Meat Version of Dolmades: Adding Ground Beef or Lamb

If you prefer to make a meat version of the Dolmades, start by reducing the rice quantity to just one cup and include 400g of either ground beef or lamb. Add your choice of meat to the pan once the onions have begun to turn translucent. Once the meat has browned, mix in the fresh herbs, rice, and lemon juice, letting it all simmer together for about 10-15 minutes. The remainder of the process remains the same as the original recipe.

Where to Find Grape Leaves

You can typically find grape leaves at Middle Eastern or Mediterranean speciality stores in your area, as they often stock them. If local shops don’t carry grape leaves, consider purchasing them online.

For those residing near vineyards or in wine-producing regions, fresh grape leaves can be harvested directly from the vines. The optimal time for picking grape leaves to preserve them is in the late spring.

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