Delicious Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves



Every time I reach for jar of pickled grape leaves, I can not help but think of my Great-Great-Grandmother spending her afternoons picking grape leaves in the garden and then later stuffing them in the kitchen.  I am always wondering what inspire her to think of stuffing the leaves and make dinner out of them.


I remember coming home from school to find my mother, my aunt and a few neighbors sitting at the kitchen table, each with a stack of grape leaves and a pile of rice stuffing in the middle of the table.  They would have their coffee next to them, the radio playing Arabic music, telling eachother the latest gossip all while stuffing the grape leaves.

My mom would have sandwiches ready for us to snack on to satisfy us while we finish our homework and await the beloved stuffed grape leaves. After a couple hours, each lady would go home with a pot full of stuffed grape leaves ready to be cooked.

Usually the leaves are stuffed with rice, ground beef and spices and are served for dinner.  However, sometimes, the leaves are stuffed with a mixture of rice and vegetables, which we would usually serve as an appetizer.

My daughter is vegetarian recently discovered the deliciousness and amazing-ness that is the vegetarian stuffed grapeleave. So, I started to stuff jar after jar for her, trying to keep up with her demand.

I have to say, I make very good vegan stuffed grape leaves. Enjoy.

Some people rinse the rice and mixed with the vegetable but I like my rise little sticky so, I half cook the rice and then mix it with the vegetables.


Start by squeezing the extra water from the pickled leaves. Using sharp knife, cut the stem just to the edge of the leave.  Place the leave shiny side down and with the wide side closer to you.  Place 1 tablespoon of rice stuffing in the center of the leave and fold and roll until you have firm bundle.


Line the bottom of heavy pot with 1/2 inch thick potato slices.  These potato slices will protect the leaves and prevent them  from sticking to the pot.

Line the leaves tightly next to each other until you cover one layer.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle little salt  and place few cloves of garlic between the leaves.


Place a plate over the stuffed leaves, pour water until you have about 1 1/2 inches of water over the plate.  Place light weight over the plate in order to keep the leaves firm.  I use coffee kettle filled with water as my weight.


Bring to boil, adjust the seasoning and then cook over low heat for 40 minutes.  Remove the weight and gently remove the plate, drizzle lemon juice over the leaves and place the plate back.  Cook for extra ten minutes.  Turn off the heat and allow the stuffed leaves to rest covered for 30 minutes.  I prefer to eat these leaves cold but you can enjoy them room temperature.



You can remove the stuffed leaves and place them on a serving platter or if you like to have great presentation, place flat round serving platter on top of the pot, hold firmly and turn the pot upside down.  Wait about 5 minutes and then gently remove the pot. You should have cake like mold of stuffed grape leaves.

Delicious Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Making these grape leaves is time consuming but they are worth time and the effort. They are delicious.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 10 serving
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch thick circles
  • 1 pound jar pickled grape leaves
  • ½ olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound short grain rice
  • 2 cups finely chopped parsley
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Line the bottom of heavy pot with the potato slices.
  2. In another pan, heat half of the oil and saute the onions until transparent. Add the rice, stir and cook for one minute. Add 2 cups of water, stir and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, the tomatoes, and the seasoning. Mix well.
  3. Remove the leaves gently from the jar, wash with cold water and squeeze gently.
  4. Place one grape leave sunny side down and rough side up. Put one tablespoon of the stuffing the the center of the leaf. Fold the top horizontally over the stuffing, then fold the two vertical sides over the first fold; roll tightly until it reaches the leaf point, forming a cylinder 3 inch long and 1 inch thick. What is important is that you fold the ends in before rolling so the stuffing does not come out.
  5. Place rolls, over the potato layer, side by side until you cover all the potatoes. Repeat on top until you placed all the rolls tightly in the pot. Insert the garlic cloves between the rolls. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle little salt on top of the rolls.
  6. On top of the final layer place a round, flat plate, and press lightly to prevent the rolls from loosening while cooking. Add water until you have about 2 inch of water over the plate. Place light weight on top of the plate to keep from moving.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil, turn down the heat and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Remove the weight and the plate and pour the lemon juice over the stuffed grape rolls. Place the plate back on top of the leaves and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and allow the leaves to rest, covered for 15-30 minutes.
  9. To un-mold, remove the plate and then lace a large flat serving platter on top of the pot. Gently but firmly turn the pot upside down onto the platter. Keep the pot over the platter for 5 minutes and then gently remove the pot. Serve cold or room temperature.



  1. Kathy says

    I made stuffed grape leaves today for the first time ever. Followed a recipe that had lamb in it and it seemed so rich it kind of grossed me out. I don’t think they were bad if you like rich thick meat you would probably love them. But I have so many leftover leaves I thought of making what’s left with just vegetables. I’m going to try this recipe. And this may seem insignificant, but do you eat the potatoes too? This is the first recipe I’ve seen with potatoes lining the bottom.

  2. sanaacooks says

    Hello Kathy, I do like the vegetarian grape leaves more than the meat one. The potato protect the leaves from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Yes, you can eat them and they tastes good because they take in the flavor from the leaves, the lemon and the garlic. Let me know if you have any question and how they turn out. Sanaa

  3. Monica Hawkins says

    I have been trying many different stuffed grape leaf recipes and this is the best by far!! A few questions:
    1. The ingredients say 1/2 olive oil – I’ve decided this is 1/2 cup but please confirm.
    2. After cooking for 40 minutes, I still have a lot of water in the pot. Should it be drained?

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe. By the way, the potatoes are absolutely delicious also!!
    I look forward to trying other recipes on your page!

    5 stars!

  4. sanaacooks says

    Hello Monica, I am so glad that you tried and liked my recipe. Yes, you are right it is 1/2 cup olive oil. I use extra water just to make sure that my grape leaves are cooked well. You can, turn off the heat, gently remove the plate and check the grape leaves, if they are done, place the plate back and gently tilt the pot to drain some of the water. Only then drizzle the lemon juice and let the grape leaves sit. I keep the liquid and drain only before I serve. I do agree about the potatoes. I toast 2 thin pita bread, place the potatoes between them, and enjoy for lunch. Let me know if you have any other question.

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