Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes

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

Dipping Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves in cucumber laban.

Known as both warak arish or warak enab, Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves are a delicious Mediterranean dish that also happens to be a loved family recipe! In Greek they are known as dolmades, and many countries have their own rendition of the dish. 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.

Ingredients

  • Grape leaves: While you probably could use fresh grape leaves if you could find some, jarred grape leaves can be found at most grocery stores, and taste somewhat tangy due to the brine they are stored in. 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

Adding rice to meat in bowl

Start your Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves by making the meat filling. Take your ground sirloin and add the white rice.

Squeezing lemon juice into bowl

Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and add some fresh lemon juice.

Mixing meat and rice

Use your hands to mix and mash together until evenly combined.

Rolling grape leaf stuffed with meat

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.

adding celery to pot

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, for some added flavor. The cabbage leaves also ensure your grape leaves never touch the bottom of the pot, making sure you don’t burn or singe any.

Squeezing lemon juice into pot

Once the rolled up grape leaves are all neatly filling the pot, add the rest of the lemon juice.

Filling pot with water

Then fill with water until it’s all covered.

Weighing down grape leaves with plate

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.

Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves 2

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, including some that are vegetarian. You could simply exclude the meat and add in other ingredients such as ground garbanzo beans to provide you the additional protein.

Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves.

More Lebanese Dishes

Eat It, Like It, Share It!

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.

Liz enjoying Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves.

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 2

Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves

4.27 stars average
Very popular in several Mediterranean countries and a family favorite, these Lebanese meat stuffed grape leaves are filled with beef, rice, and lemon juice.
PREP: 30 minutes
COOK: 40 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings9

Recipe Video

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.
  • 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. 

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

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44 responses to “Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves”

  1. Jessica Avatar
    Jessica

    How long do these keep in the fridge? Or can I freeze them? I love dolmas, so I’m really looking forward to trying these, but I’m basically the only person in the house that will eat them. Even if I only make a half batch, I’m afraid they will go bad before I can finish them.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      They’ll keep for up to a week in the fridge, but they also freeze very well! You can freeze them either cooked or uncooked for up to 3 months.

  2. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    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?

  3. Kate Avatar
    Kate

    Reason of Smile 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  4. Kelly Avatar
    Kelly

    hi can u make it without meat

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      We don’t have a vegetarian version but I bet could find some! I can try and come up with one!

  5. Theresa Avatar
    Theresa

    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.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      They last about 2 years I would say!

  6. Linda Avatar
    Linda

    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?

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      It doesn’t. :) Enjoy!

  7. Bernadette Carwford Avatar
    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. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Oh interesting! We are from Syria and we don’t add that but that sounds incredible!

      1. Heather Avatar
        Heather

        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.

        1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          Oh yes lots of yogurt!!! My aunt makes her own too – I bet its delicious homemade!

      2. tawfik Avatar
        tawfik

        I’m from Syria too and from Kfarbo but left because of the war :(

  8. patricia hauff Avatar
    patricia hauff

    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 DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Oh my goodness I LOVE THE idea of adding mint!!!!!!

      1. Lisa Avatar
        Lisa

        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!

  9. Mary Avatar
    Mary

    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. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Awww that makes me so happy!!! I love cooking with multiple generations of my family too! Love that you do that. Thanks for writing!

  10. Chris Avatar
    Chris

    What type of grape leaf is used, I want to grow myself, please help

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      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!

    2. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      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.

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        Great tip!

      2. Sue G. Avatar
        Sue G.

        I remember as a child in NJ we would go in the woods somewhere in northern NJ and pick the grapeleaves. We had these large crocks that we would layer the grapeleaves and pack them in salt put the lid on and store them in the cellar. My grandmother would make both the meat grapeleaves that we ate for dinner that was cooked in chicken broth OMG to die for and she made the ones with just the rice and served as appetizers for holidays. Such wonderful memories just wish i was old enough to have learned how to make them myself. So thank you for sharing your recipes!

  11. Bert Avatar
    Bert

    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. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      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!

  12. Angie Avatar
    Angie

    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. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Oh I’m so happy to hear that!!! I’m not familiar with Batata Harrah? What is it?

      1. Angie Avatar
        Angie

        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. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
          Liz DellaCroce

          Yay!! Enjoy!

        2. Barb Matern Avatar
          Barb Matern

          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!!!!!

          1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
            Liz DellaCroce

            Hi Barb,

            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

  13. Sophia Avatar
    Sophia

    Loved your comments and recipe’s. Lebanese food is such delicious food and healthy too! Thank you for sharing! Merrr Christmas to all ????

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      I’m so glad you enjoy it Sophia! I think I’m going to make these grape leaves soon!

  14. Bruce R Haskin Sr Avatar
    Bruce R Haskin Sr

    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. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Yes my family does this often!!! Great tips!

    2. Nancy Z. Avatar
      Nancy Z.

      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.

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        Ahhh my mother always had fresh grape leaves also!! I’m envious!

  15. Louise Avatar
    Louise

    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.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Yes we do lamb too – that sounds amazing with the rhubarb!! Happy Holidays!

  16. christine davis Avatar
    christine davis

    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.

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Love fresh picked grape leaves!!

  17. Rachael {Simply Fresh Cooking} Avatar
    Rachael {Simply Fresh Cooking}

    Yep.

Liz Della Croce eating black bean dip

Hi I’m Liz!

Hey there, I’m Liz Della Croce and I’m thrilled to have you here! My aim is to motivate and ignite your passion for cooking amazing meals for your loved ones.