Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Dolmas can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. dinosmichail/Shutterstock

Dolmas Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup minced cooked roast beef or lamb or cooked chicken giblets, or 10 ounces ground lamb or beef
  • 1 chicken liver and heart
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley, cilantro, or a blend
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 3 cups cooked rice, cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 jar (8 ounces) grape leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Time Estimates

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 1 hr

Total time: 1 hr 15 min


  1. If using raw meat, cook it in a skillet with the chicken liver and heart until the ground meat is crumbly and lightly browned and the giblets are no longer pink inside. If using cooked meat, start the liver and heart cooking first, and add the minced meat only if you need to cook out some fat. Transfer the browned meats to a sieve set over a heatproof container to drain. Pull out the liver and heart and chop finely by hand.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and chopped herbs and cook until fragrant. Add the chopped meats and spices and cook for another minute or so. Scrape the contents of the skillet over the rice in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Check the meat drippings; if there is enough liquid underneath the fat to bother with, draw it out with a bulb baster and add it to the rice mixture. Add salt to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F. Carefully work the roll of grape leaves out of the jar, working over a bowl to catch the brine if you expect to have any leaves left over. Rinse the leaves in a large bowl of water and drain.
  4. Lay a leaf out on a work surface with the stem nearest you, facing up. Cut off the stem with scissors or a paring knife. Place a level tablespoon of the filling near the stem end. Fold the two nearest points of the leaf over the filling, then fold in the sides, and roll into a firm cylinder about 2 inches long.
  5. Place seam down in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling, packing the rolls snugly in the dish. Store any leftover leaves in the original brine, and plan to use them within a week or so.
  6. Add water to the pan to halfway cover the dolmas. Drizzle with the lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake until the liquid is nearly gone and the leaves are quite tender, 35 to 40 minutes.


Makes 3 dozen

Good to know

Dolmas can be made several days in advance and refrigerated; remove them from the refrigerator a couple of hours ahead of time to serve cool, or reheat them gently with a little more water if you like them warm.

Which beer should I drink with this?

Full Sail Amber Ale


1. This is only one possible filling for dolmas; raisins or currants, nuts, and other vegetables are all popular additions. If you have some leftover cooked lamb or beef, they work fine in a dolmas stuffing. So do uncooked trimmings, minced by hand or chopped in a food processor or meat grinder. Since this is part of a menu that uses a lot of chicken stock, making your own stock from reserved bones and giblets should provide plenty of material (gizzards, hearts, and meat gleaned from neck and backs) to include in the dolmas. I would also include the liver and heart from the Pomegranate Chicken.


A Levantine Dinner for Eight

  • Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
  • Baba Ghanoush (Roasted Eggplant dip)
  • Hummus
  • Pea Soup Avgolemono
  • Pomegranate Chicken
  • Rice Pilaf with Almonds
This menu combines some of the favorite dishes of the lands of the eastern end of the Mediterranean. While religion prevents many residents of the region from drinking beer, their cuisines still provide us with lots of beer-friendly foods; not surprising, since this is where humans first cultivated grains thousands of years ago, and first converted them into something we would recognize as beer. Also from "The Microbrew Lover's Cookbook":

• From the Beer Belt

• Pizza and Beyond

• From the Spice Bazaar

• Malt and Hops, Meet Ginger and Soy

• From the Home of the Chile Pepper

• Beer in the Melting Pot

Go back to The Microbrew Lover's Cookbookindex page.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook

From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.