How to Make Dolmades

How to Make Dolmades

Dolmades, also known as dolmas, are a traditional dish from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. They are essentially stuffed grape leaves, typically filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and sometimes meat.

To make dolmades, grape leaves are first blanched or soaked in hot water to soften them. The stems are usually trimmed off, and the leaves are then filled with a savory filling. The filling can vary, but a common version includes a mixture of cooked rice, onions, herbs (such as parsley and dill), lemon juice, olive oil, and spices like salt, pepper, and sometimes cinnamon.

The grape leaves are rolled tightly around the filling, forming small cylindrical-shaped parcels. The rolls are then cooked by steaming, simmering, or baking until the rice is fully cooked and the flavors meld together. The cooking liquid often includes a combination of water, lemon juice, and olive oil to infuse the dolmades with additional flavors.

Dolmades can be served warm or cold as an appetizer, side dish, or even as a main course. They are commonly enjoyed with a dollop of yogurt or tzatziki sauce on top. Some variations may include meat, such as ground lamb or beef, added to the filling for extra richness and protein.

Dolmades are a popular dish in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and have variations in different countries. They are known for their unique combination of flavors and textures, with the tender grape leaves and the flavorful filling.

A recipe for traditional Greek dolmades:


For the dolmades:

  • 1 jar grape leaves (about 40-50 leaves), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Water, for cooking

For the cooking liquid:

  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the grape leaves for about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. In a separate saucepan, cook the rice according to the package instructions. Once cooked, transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and let it cool slightly.
  3. To the bowl of cooked rice, add the chopped onion, dill, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano, and cinnamon (if using). Mix well to combine.
  4. Take a grape leaf and place it flat on a clean surface, shiny side down. Trim the stem if necessary. Add about a tablespoon of the rice mixture near the stem end of the leaf.
  5. Roll the leaf tightly around the filling, folding in the sides as you go. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.
  6. Place the dolmades in a large pot, seam side down, in a single layer. Pack them tightly to prevent them from unraveling during cooking.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable or chicken broth, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pour the mixture over the dolmades in the pot.
  8. Place a heatproof plate on top of the dolmades to keep them from unravelling while cooking. Add enough water to the pot to cover the dolmades.
  9. Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the rice is fully cooked and the flavors have melded together.
  10. Once cooked, remove the dolmades from the pot and let them cool to room temperature before serving.

Dolmades are typically served at room temperature as an appetizer or part of a meze platter. They can be enjoyed as is or drizzled with a little extra olive oil and lemon juice. They also pair well with tzatziki sauce or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Enjoy your homemade dolmades!

*Recipe on video and text may differ from each other!

How to cook How to Make Dolmades:

Original Recipes