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Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves

    Very popular in several Mediterranean countries as well as a family favorite, these Lebanese stuffed grape leaves are filled with meat, rice and lemon juice.

    Meat Grape Leaves on a plate

    If I could design the perfect neighborhood restaurant, it would feature the menu above written by my Aunt Paula. After receiving a late-Summer batch of kousa from her younger sister (my mom), Aunt Paula decided to make an entire feast of our favorite Syrian dishes.

    Kusa Squash at Market - The Lemon Bowl
    Koosa Squash

    It started with stuffed kousa, then she decided to make grape leaves. And while she’s at it, how about some cabbage leaves?  

    Liz Making Baked Kibbee
    Making baked kibbeh

    Baked kibbee might be nice as well. What about stuffed eggplant while we’re at it? Of course, you can’t have dinner without Syrian rice and salad. Who will bring dessert? Last weekend family and friends poured into Aunt Paula and Uncle Randy’s home for an evening full of food laughs and full stomachs.

    menu for a lebanese feast

    Long story short – it was one of the most delicious evenings of my life. Aunt Paula is my Syrian cooking muse and I will always remember these amazing culinary adventures that explore our heritage. In the coming weeks, I plan to feature several of Aunt Paula’s recipes. Of course, these are all my interpretations of her recipes because real cooks do not measure or weigh or write down recipes. We use a pinch of that, a pinch of this.

    How do you make good grape leaves?

    It all starts with sourcing good grape leaves. You can technically use the ones that grow in the wild but we prefer jarred ones. There are a few brands out there that bottle them. One brand is Orlando and the other is Ziyad. These are usually my go-to brands.

    Trimming the stems. Nobody wants to eat the stem when eating grape leaves. My husband considers this the more not-so-fun task but it’s a necessary one.

    Don’t overstuff them. When the rice cooks it will expand. If you overstuff the leaves you run the risk of the grape leaves breaking.

    Trimming the stems on grape leaves

    All this involves is getting a pair of kitchen scissors and cutting back on the long stem at the end of the grape leaves. He usually does it in batches. Note that you don’t want to cut off the entire stem– just most of it. See below.

    trimming the stem on grape leaves
    Trimming the stem on grape leaves

    Once all of the leaves are trimmed we can start filling them with meat. I’ll take a small amount of of the mixture and apply it to the center

    rolling grape leaves on a plate
    adding the meat mixture into a grape leaves

    As you’re rolling grape leaves you’ll want to add them to a pot. I will usually Crisscross them on each row.

    grape leaves being lined up in a pot prior to cooking
    Grape leaves being lined up in a pot prior to being cooked
    Meat Grape Leaves on a plate
    Final product. Grape leaves plated and ready to eat!

    Oddly enough, when I prepare these dishes they never taste as good as Aunt Paula’s and I’m rarely that hungry by the time dinner is ready. I’m hoping that means it came out perfectly.

    Frequently asked questions:

    What are stuffed grape leaves named in Arabic?

    Warak Eneb

    What meat should be used in grape leaves?

    Ground sirloin or lamb are the best meats to use in grape leaves.

    How long will grape leaves keep in the refrigerator?

    Up to 3-4 days

    Do you eat grape leaves hot or cold?

    Once you’ve cooked them they can be served either way. They taste amazing either way!

    Where do you buy grape leaves?

    They can usually be located in a Mediterranean grocery store or select big-box grocery stores in their ethnic section.  Orlando grape leaves are usually our favorite.

    Can grape leaves be frozen?

    They can be frozen up to a few months. They will still taste great!

    Can I avoid the meat in grape leaves?

    Yes! There is a multitude of variations. You could simply exclude the meat and add in other ingredients such as ground garbanzo beans to provide you the additional protein.

    What pairs well with grape leaves?

    Meat Grape Leaves on a plate

    Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves

    4.24 stars average
    Very popular in several Mediterranean countries and a family favorite, these Lebanese stuffed grape leaves are filled with meat, rice and lemon juice.
    PREP: 30 mins
    COOK: 40 mins
    TOTAL: 1 hr 10 mins
    Save
    Servings: 9

    Ingredients
     

    • 1 jar grape leaves (2 pound jar )
    • 1 pound ground sirloin (or lamb)
    • ½ cup long grain enriched white rice (par-boiled such as Uncle Ben’s)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 2 lemons (juiced )
    • 2 stalks celery (cut into 3 – optional)
    • 5 leaves raw cabbage (optional)

    Instructions
     

    • Line a large pot with celery ribs and loose cabbage leaves.
    • Remove the hard stems from grape leaves and place on a plate.
      unrolled grape leaves on a plate
    • In a large bowl, combine ground meat, rice, the juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper.
    • One grape leaf at a time, place the leaf flat on a plate and add 1 tablespoon of meat and rice mixture near stem.
    • Form meat into long cigar shape then roll the grape leave starting at the stem all the way to the top. No need to fold in sides but you can if you wish.
      rolling grape leaves on a plate
    • Line rolls in pot, alternating direction with each layer until the pot is filled ¾ of the way or you’ve used all your leaves.
      lining a pot with grape leaves
    • Cover grapes leaves with a small plate turned upside down to keep them from moving and to weigh it down.
    • Add the juice of the second lemon and then cover with water until grape leaves are covered. 
    • Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes before serving with plain yogurt or cucumber laban if you wish. 

    Recipe Video

    Notes

    Makes 45 Grape Leaves

    Nutrition

    Serving: 6grape leavesCalories: 115kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 292mgPotassium: 181mgVitamin A: 30IUVitamin C: 12.7mgCalcium: 14mgIron: 1.2mg
    SHOW AND TELL ON INSTAGRAM!Show me your creation and rate it below! Mention @thelemonbowl or tag #thelemonbowl! I would LOVE to see!

    Check out more Lebanese recipes on my Pinterest board!

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    Liz DellaCroce

    Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

    40 Comments

    1. How long do jarred grape leaves last after the jar has been purchased? I have a jar that does not have a date on it and I know I have had it for a few years. They still look good but I don’t know what they will taste like.

    2. Your recipe says to line the bottom of the pan with cabbage and celery but your video shows that you put it on the top. Does it make any difference how you do it?

    3. Bernadette Carwford

      I am from Lebanon and you left out one main ingredient allspice this is what makes grape leaves is your allspice allspice

        1. You have to eat these with lots of yoghurt, my grandfather used to make his own yoghurt and that’s 70 years ago you couldn’t buy yoghurt in the shops in our country town . And he was from Syria and yes he added the spice as well.

        2. I have been making these my whole adult life, my grandfather came here from Syria. I add onions that have been rendered in butter and fresh mint. The mint was my addtion and now I can’t eat them without it.

            1. Liz I love following you and your recipes have been a hit in my large Jordanian family. I have to fully support the Allspice comment. We also line the bottom of the Dutch oven with the flat Grape leaves and lamb shoulder. I like to add sliced tomato as well. Midway through cooking a 3/4 cup of lemon juice. Finally I rinse the leaves prior to cooking they can be very salty. Give it a go you will love it!

          1. I just found your recipes! They all look delicious and so similar to the ones we make and that Grandma always made. I was happy to find your Lebanese spice recipe. I plan on making it in bulk to use!

            The ladies in my family (3 generations) get together to cook, laugh and make wonderful memories together.

            Thank you for your yummy recipes and prep tips!

            1. If you’re wanting to pick your own grape leaves it has to be from a wild grape vine. And picked before July. This is what I’ve been told from all the older Lebanese and Syrian women that I have the pleasure of working with and others ones that are family friends and relatives.

            2. How much vinegar/salt ratio is used for grape leaves? I have my own leaves.
              It isn’t nasty like greens or slimy like cabbage is it?
              Stuffed peppers (chili rellenoes) is good. I’m an oven , uh, I’ll pass. But fried or a breaded baked version is good.
              A little vinegar on boiled or bake potatoe and it’s a new dish, yummy. Maybe 1/2 a capful for a big tater to introduce you to it. NOw tell me what I’m supposed to expect of taste and texture of grape leaves, please.

              1. Grape leaves have a nice crunch to them, not as hard as cabbage but not soft like spinach. They’re not slimy at all. They’re so good I urge you to try! For salt just follow the recipe and no vinegar just lemon juice. Enjoy!

            3. I’m so happy our local grocery store featured your blog on fb. I can’t stop making hushwee, it’s so good! Do you have a recipe for batata harrah? I’ve searched for years but can’t find a really good one like the one my favorite restaurant makes.

                1. Spicy potatoes. I didn’t realize I commented on the wrong recipe, sorry. I’m making your grape leaves right now. I can’t wait!

                  1. I am looking for the recipe, for Baklava, My Mom made it every year for Christmas, I watched her make it, but never wrote it down, now that She has passed away, I wish I could get a recipe. She never had recipe s everything was made. By heart, so no one really knows how to make it, it is the ground nuts, in filo dough
                    Anything you know about it, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your wonderful blog!!!!!

                  2. You can always search the web…but better yet pick your own wild grape leaves. Just after my birthday in mid July, is harvest time. You want to get while they are still tender. Check the roadsides where you will see climbing vines. A large garbage bag and a pair of scissors are useful. Snip the stems close to leaf. When you have collected as many as able,return home. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the grape leaves to blanch for one minute. Remove leaves with tongs and plunge into cold water. They will stink like cat pee. I pack them in a large jar of brine and vinegar and store in spare refrigerator for as long as two years. I lay out 30-40 leaves and roll them like a cigar and place vertically in jar, making sure brine covers them. To use, remove & unroll and rinse off brine.

                    1. I pick wild grape leaves, stack 50 (50 for every 1 lb. ground meat) and place in a quart size freezer zipper bag, then freeze. When I’m ready to use them I cut the bag off because the edges may be brittle when frozen, place them in a 9×13 baking pan and pour boiling water over them. They immediately revive to their fresh color and quality and I don’t have that jarred briney taste.

                    2. We make a version of this every year. I remember when I was a little girl, driving in the car with my grandparents and all of a sudden, we would be pulled over on the side of the road. There go my grandparents, picking grape leaves off of a tree in someone’s yard! How embarrassing then…what a sweet memory now.

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