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 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.
- 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
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, 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.
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, 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.
More Lebanese Dishes
- Spelt Tabbouleh with Jalapeño Vinaigrette
- Lebanese Hushwee
- Lazy Day Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage
- Hummus with Ground Beef
- Shish Tawook Chicken
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.
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.