How to Stuff and Roll Grape Leaves

  • 01 of 13

    The Art of Perfectly Rolled Grape Leaves

    Greek stuffed grape leaves
    Lesya Dolyk/Flickr

    Dolmades — stuffed grape leaves — are a classic Greek dish. Apart from making the stuffing just right, you're faced with the challenge of rolling the leaves properly for a visually appealing finished product. Follow along with these step-by-step directions and you'll be stuffing and rolling with the pros in no time.


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  • 02 of 13

    Parboil the Grape Leaves

    pot of boiling water on stove
    Scott Akerman/Flickr

    Parboil the grape leaves for three to five minutes before beginning. Some cooks skip this step but parboiling makes the leaves softer, more pliable and easier to roll. 


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  • 03 of 13

    Lay the Grape Leaf on a Flat Surface

    A Grape Leaf Ready for Stuffing and Folding. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Place a parboiled leaf on a flat surface with the underside facing up and the stem facing toward you. The leaf is on the correct side if you can see raised veins. The shiny side should be down. 


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  • 04 of 13

    Trim the Stem With a Sharp Paring Knife

    Trimming the Stem Off of a Leaf with a Sharp Paring Knife. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    If the stem is still on the leaf, trim it away using a sharp knife and discard it. Some commercial grape leaves already have the stems trimmed and removed. 


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  • 05 of 13

    You Can Overlap the Bottom Two Sections

    The Bottom Two Sections of a Grape Leaf Are Overlapped. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Overlapping the bottom two sections makes the rolling process easier. This adds a step, but you'll probably be glad you took the time. After you place the filling, you can fold the bottom up as one layer. Otherwise, you can fold each piece individually. 


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  • 06 of 13

    Place a Spoonful of Filling on the Leaf

    Placing a Large Spoonful of Filling at the Base of the Leaf. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Place up to two tablespoons of filling on the bottom center section of the leaf close to where the stem was. Exactly how much you'll use will depend on the size of the leaf. The rice will expand during cooking, so take care not to overfill the packets.


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  • 07 of 13

    Fold the Lower Right Section Over the Filling

    Folding the Bottom Right Section of the Leaf Up and Over the Filling. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Carefully fold the lower right section of the leaf over the filling toward the center.


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  • 08 of 13

    Repeat with the Lower Left Side

    Folding the Bottom Left Section Up and Over the Filling. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Fold the lower left section of the leaf up over the filling toward the center.


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  • 09 of 13

    Fold the Left Section in Toward the Center

    Folding the Left Section of the Leaf in Towards the Center. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan
    Carefully fold the left section of the leaf in toward the center.
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  • 10 of 13

    Overlap the Right Side of the Leaf Toward Center

    Overlapping the Right Section of the Leaf in Toward the Center. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan
    Fold the right side of the leaf in toward the center overlapping the left side.
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  • 11 of 13

    Begin to Carefully Roll Toward the Top

    Beginning to Roll the Folded Leaf Towards the Top Point. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Begin to roll the leaf up toward the center top point, keeping the filling pressed in a tight log. This is the trickiest part because you can tear the leaf if you press too hard, but after you get past this step you're pretty much home free.


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  • 12 of 13

    Continue Rolling Firmly Toward the Top

    Continuing to Roll the Grape Leaf in a Tight Log. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Keep rolling up toward the top until you've used up the remaining leaf. The end result should be secure but not too tight, again because the rice will expand while cooking. Make sure it has a little room to grow. When you're finished, tuck the rolled and stuffed leaf in the palm of your hand and give it a gentle squeeze. 


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  • 13 of 13

    A Completed Grape Leaf Roll - Congratulations!

    A Stuffed and Rolled Grape Leaf - Voila!. Photo © Lynn Livanos Athan

    Place the rolled grape leaves in the pan with the seam side down so they don't unravel during cooking.