Very popular in several Mediterranean countries and a family favorite, these Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves are filled with beef, rice, and lemon juice.
Known as both warak arish or warak enab, Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves are a delicious Mediterranean dish that also happens to be loved family recipe! I grew up eating stuffed grape leaves alongside many other Syrian dishes. Delicious day of, but also super tasty as leftovers, they make for a fun dinner or snack the next day.
- Grape leaves: Jarred grape leaves can be found at most grocery stores, and taste somewhat tangy. They are great at soaking up the flavors of the ingredients around them!
- Ground beef: I use ground sirloin usually, but you could also use a ground chuck or even ground turkey or lamb.
- White rice: With the meat it creates a filling and chewy stuffing for the grape leaves.
- Lemon juice: The bright, acidic tang tastes great with the grape leaves.
How to Make Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves
Start your Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves by making the meat filling. Take your ground sirloin and add the white rice.
Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and add some fresh lemon juice.
Use your hands to mix and mash together until evenly combined.
Then take your grape leaves one at a time and trim the stem off (that part isn’t fun to eat). Take the meat filling and form it in a log shape at the base of the leaf. Slowly roll it up, folding in the sides if you prefer.
While you can cook them without it, traditionally grape leaves are cooked in a pot lined with cabbage leaves and with some stalks of celery, just for some added flavor.
Once the rolled up grape leaves are all neatly filling the pot, add the rest of the lemon juice.
Then fill with water until it’s all covered.
Use a small, glass plate that fits within the pot to hold the grape leaves down and in place. Put the lid on the pot, and put on the stove over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Serve either hot or cold alongside some cucumber laban, and enjoy your Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What ethnicity are stuffed grape leaves?
Many different Mediterranean countries have a dish made of stuffed grape leaves. In Greece it’s called dolmathes, and in Turkey they call it dolma.
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 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.
More Lebanese Dishes
- Spelt Tabbouleh with Jalapeño Vinaigrette
- Lebanese Hushwee
- Lazy Day Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage
- Hummus with Ground Beef
- Shish Tawook Chicken
Did you try this Lebanese recipe? The next time you make it, snap a picture and share it to your socials! Tag @thelemonbowl and #thelemonbowl so we can admire and share your dish.
If you haven’t tried grape leaves before, I encourage you to branch out and try this delicious Mediterranean dish!
No fork required.
Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves
- 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)
- Line a large pot with celery ribs and loose cabbage leaves.
- Remove the hard stems from grape leaves and place 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Hi! I am wanting to make stuffed grape leaves myself but they don’t sell the grape leaves in stores around here. I know where there are wild grape vines growing but I’m not sure if they will be good quality this te of year. Is there ant good rule of thumb to determine if they’re usable?
Reason of Smile 🙂 Thanks for sharing
hi can u make it without meat
We don’t have a vegetarian version but I bet could find some! I can try and come up with one!
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.
They last about 2 years I would say!
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?
It doesn’t. :) Enjoy!
I am from Lebanon and you left out one main ingredient allspice this is what makes grape leaves is your allspice allspice
Oh interesting! We are from Syria and we don’t add that but that sounds incredible!
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.
Oh yes lots of yogurt!!! My aunt makes her own too – I bet its delicious homemade!
I’m from Syria too and from Kfarbo but left because of the war :(
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.
Oh my goodness I LOVE THE idea of adding mint!!!!!!
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!
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!
Awww that makes me so happy!!! I love cooking with multiple generations of my family too! Love that you do that. Thanks for writing!
What type of grape leaf is used, I want to grow myself, please help
Hi Chris, My grandma use to use regular grape leaves picked off the vine but I always buy store bought. Sorry I can’t be more of a help!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Oh I’m so happy to hear that!!! I’m not familiar with Batata Harrah? What is it?
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!
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!!!!!
My grandmother (my Ema Ljuba) has the BEST baklava recipe ever. It is actually included in my Jewish cookbook which you can purchase for just $3.99 https://gumroad.com/l/Ngjqj
Loved your comments and recipe’s. Lebanese food is such delicious food and healthy too! Thank you for sharing! Merrr Christmas to all ????
I’m so glad you enjoy it Sophia! I think I’m going to make these grape leaves soon!
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.
Yes my family does this often!!! Great tips!
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.
Ahhh my mother always had fresh grape leaves also!! I’m envious!
Yummy! I’ll have to try your version.
I do mine with lamb and have the leaves lay on a bed of rhubarb and lemon slices.
Yes we do lamb too – that sounds amazing with the rhubarb!! Happy Holidays!
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.
Love fresh picked grape leaves!!