Ntolmadakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Stuffed grape leaves are common throughout the Middle East. The stuffing varies, as does how they're served, but in this typical Greek preparation they're vegetarian and served cold with yogurt on the side. The quality of jarred grape leaves varies. We found that Yergat and Sadaf brands were the most tender and had fewer damaged leaves per jar.

Ntolmadakia (Stuffed Grape Leaves)
Photo: Leigh Beisch
Active Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time:
7 hrs 30 mins


  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 2 large white onions, finely chopped

  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice, rinsed

  • ½ cup warm water

  • ¾ cup lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons), divided

  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill leaves, stems reserved

  • ¼ teaspoon dried mint

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided

  • 1 large jar grape leaves in brine (30-35 ounces)

  • Plain yogurt for serving


  1. Heat 3/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until translucent and soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and mix to coat the rice in oil. Reduce heat to low. Add 1/2 cup warm water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, dill leaves, mint, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix gently. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, remove grape leaves from the jar and unroll. Separate into two piles, one with whole leaves and the other with any torn leaves or pieces of leaves. You should have about 50 whole leaves; they will be used for rolling. Set aside the less-than-perfect leaves for lining the pot. Place the whole leaves in a bowl of water, then drain in a colander.

  3. Cover the bottom of a large pot with 3 layers of the less-than-perfect grape leaves. Top with dill stems. Place the whole grape leaves on the work surface, bottom-side up (so you can see the vein) with the stem end toward you. Place 2 to 3 teaspoons filling (depending on the size of the grape leaf) in the center and roll the stem end over the filling, folding the sides inward. Roll up tightly.

  4. Arrange the rolls snugly in the pot in 2 layers. Place a plate, upside down, over the top layer. Place a small weight, such as a mug filled with water or a can of tomatoes, on top. Pour just enough hot water into the pot to cover the rolls (3 to 5 cups). Add the remaining 10 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by three-quarters, about 2 hours. Remove from heat and let cool completely in the pot, about 2 hours. Refrigerate until cold and the remaining liquid is absorbed, at least 2 hours or up to 5 days. Serve with yogurt, if desired.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

116 Calories
9g Fat
9g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 25
Serving Size about 2 ntolmadakia
Calories 116
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g 2%
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Vitamin A 429IU 9%
Vitamin C 4mg 4%
Vitamin E 1mg 9%
Folate 10mcg 3%
Vitamin K 8mcg 7%
Sodium 310mg 13%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Magnesium 3mg 1%
Potassium 44mg 1%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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