Our Recipes

Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe 

Stuffed grape leaves, also known as dolmas, are one of the most popular foods in the Mediterranean for good reason. Although recipes vary, most involve a roll of tangy grape leaves filled with a savory combination of rice and herbs. The result: a unique, flavorful treat rich in vitamins and antioxidants and low in calories, salt, and fat.

The history of stuffed grape leaves dates back to the Ottoman Empire, and the dish was celebrated in Greece, Turkey, and Iraq. Given the long and winding historical journey of stuffed grape leaves, there are countless recipes. Call us biased, but we prefer our very own.

At Luna Grill, we believe that Mediterranean food is meant to be enjoyed around a table with loved ones. Our fast-casual restaurants and fresh, healthy food bring family and friends together to create memories that last long after mealtime is over. Those memories inspired our founders, Maria and Sean, to create Luna Grill in the first place.

Luna Grill’s recipe for stuffed grape leaves comes straight from Maria and Sean’s family cookbooks, and that familial love and care is passed down with each dolma that we roll by hand. Loaded with lemony rice, onion, and spices and served cool with garlic feta sauce, our stuffed grape leaves are the perfect nutritional snack to enjoy on a warm, sunny day.

Whether or not you try ours, here’s an easy recipe to make some of your own!

What Are Stuffed Grape Leaves Made Of?

While recipes vary, most dolmas include the following ingredients.

  • Grape vine leaves— If picked when they are young, grape leaves are tender and citrusy. These are used to wrap the filling tightly into an easy-to-eat appetizer or snack.
  • Yellow onion— A variety of dry onion, yellow onion has a strong flavor and a light yellow or white inside. They contain over 10 times more antioxidants than white onions.
  • Rice— We recommend basmati, the type of rice we use in all our dishes. Basmati contains amino acids and folic acid, minimal sodium, and no cholesterol, making it very healthy. It also has a low glycemic index, which helps the body balance energy levels.
  • Lemon juice— Lemons are chock-full of vitamin C and add the best tangy flavor to this classic Mediterranean dish.
  • Salt and Pepper — No good recipe is without these classic spices.
  • Herbs— The most commonly used herbs in dolmas are parsley, dill, and mint.

Possible Substitutions or Variations

Other ingredients that can be added or used to replace the ones mentioned above include beef, chicken broth, and sliced potatoes. Let’s quickly review how they can be used in the recipe.

  • Beef  — Normally vegetarian, these stuffed grape leaves can include ground beef in the rice-based filling.
  • Chicken broth — If you so choose, you can substitute the water in our recipe with chicken broth for some added flavor.
  • Sliced potatoes — If you are inclined to add potatoes to your dish, try layering them underneath the grape leaves as they cook. Including potatoes will also give your dish an extra boost of vitamin C.


  1. If you are using jarred vine leaves, start by rinsing the vine leaves and removing the stems. Leave them in a colander to drain. If you’re using fresh vine leaves, thoroughly wash the stems, blanch them in boiling water, and use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water and transfer them to a colander.
  2. Next, rinse the rice in a colander with water. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add ⅓ of the olive oil and chopped onions. Sauté the onions until translucent; add the rice and continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Add water and half of the lemon juice to the saucepan and let it simmer for around seven minutes. You’ll know when it’s done because the rice will have absorbed the water.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, dill, parsley, and mint, and give everything a good stir.
  5. Remove from the stove and set aside to cool. The filling is done!
  6. Place vine leaves on the bottom of a large pot and start the process of rolling everything up. To do so, add 1 tsp of filling to one vine leaf (shiny side down) at the bottom end near the stem. It’s important not to overfill because the rice will expand while cooking.
  7. Fold the lower section of the grape leaf over the filling towards the center, followed by the two sides. Make sure the leaves are rolled up securely.
  8. Place the stuffed vine leaves on the bottom of the pot. Be sure that the folded side of the leaf is facing down and the leaves are packed in together so that no cracking occurs.

Here’s a special tip for folding and rolling the grape leaves so that everything stays intact. Make sure that they are tight, but not too tight. The rice will expand when you cook them, so you want to leave a little extra room.


Once the stuffed grape leaves are folded and rolled, follow these steps.

  1. Place an upside-down plate on top of them to prevent them from moving while they cook.
  2. Then, pour in the boiling water so that the leaves are covered.
  3. Place the lid on and simmer the leaves on low heat for about half an hour. Ensure the water is absorbed and stuffed grape leaves are left with a bit of oil.
  4. Finally, remove the pot from the heat, take the lid and plate off, and let the stuffed leaves cool for another half hour.
  5. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Then, serve cold or at room temperature, and enjoy!

Serving and Garnishing

Now that you’re done with the bulk of the prep work, be sure to pick a tasty garnish that will complement the dish when you serve it up. Here at Luna Grill, we suggest serving your stuffed grape leaves with a chilled tzatziki sauce or lemon wedges — or if you’re feeling extra, try both!

The bold flavors of tzatziki, such as yogurt, cream, ripe cucumbers, fresh mint, dill, and garlic, will soak into your crunchy grape leaves and wow your tastebuds.

As far as garnishes go, we recommend pairing your stuffed grape leaves with parsley or feta cheese, which go well with the citrusy flavor of the grape leaves and their savory fillings.

At Luna Grill, we serve our stuffed grape leaves with a side of creamy garlic feta sauce, which contains fresh garlic, crumbly feta cheese, yogurt, and a squeeze of tangy lemon juice. Since stuffed grape leaves are finger food, our sauce makes for a great dip. Try it for yourself!

Are Stuffed Grape Leaves Healthy?

On their own, grape leaves carry a range of health benefits. Plants like grape leaves that are high in chlorophyll are starting to receive more and more recognition from the scientific community for their bioactive properties, which help support the body’s natural inflammatory response.

The leaves also contain vitamins C, E, A, K, and B, as well as various minerals, including fiber, magnesium, calcium, and more. When filled with additional nutrition-rich ingredients, grape leaves are extra healthy. The fresh herbs and spices typically used to flavor the filling are rich in antioxidants, which help the body naturally fight against illness.

The exact content of calories and protein in stuffed grape leaves varies from recipe to recipe. However, most recipes average around 40-60 calories per serving, making them good for weight management.

A standard amount of protein in one serving is around two to four grams. Doctors recommend consuming 15-30 grams of protein per meal, so help yourself to a few of these healthy snacks!

Our Recipe

Here’s a quick recap of the recipe and what makes it so good for you.

60 Grape vine leaves Drained and rinsed. They are usually sold in jars.
2 Large yellow onions Finely chopped.
250g (1 cup) Rice Optional: Use nutrient-rich basmati rice.
1 cup Olive oil
2 cups Warm water
2 lemons Lemon juice 2 lemons will typically yield about 6 tbsps of juice. Be sure to extract the seeds.
To taste Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Dill Chopped.
2 tablespoons Mint Chopped.
½ cup Parsley Chopped.


Summarized instructions:

  1. Prepare the leaves by cleaning them, removing the stems, and setting them in a colander.
  2. Rinse the rice in a colander.
  3. Sauté the onions over medium heat using ⅓ of the olive oil. Then add the rice and sauté for one more minute.
  4. Add water and lemon juice and let simmer.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and herbs. Then, remove from the stove and allow to cool.
  6. Place one teaspoon of filling into the vine leaves, fold, and roll.
  7. Layer leaves fold-side-down on the bottom of the pot and place an inverted plate on top of them.
  8. Add boiling water to the pot and simmer with the lid on for a half hour.
  9. Remove the pot from the heat, take the leaves out, and allow the leaves to cool.
  10. Serve with your choice of toppings and garnishes.

You should feel proud — the dish you just made is low in calories, salt, and fat and full of vitamins and minerals. It’s perfect to serve yourself and your loved ones to show them that you care.

Preparing the dish might sound tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s all muscle memory. Not to mention, it’s rare to come across a meal that’s so tasty and healthy all at once!


Translating Arab Cuisine into English: 101 Recipes | University of Massachusetts

More than Just Wine: The Nutritional Benefits of Grapevine Leaves | National Institutes of Health

Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health