Stuffed grape leaves are a delicious dish made with ground meat, fresh herbs, and rice. They are savory and bite-sized which makes them an excellent main dish or appetizer. If you plan to serve some stuffed grape leaves at your next dinner party, here are 23 sides to add to the menu!
If you’ve never tried stuffed grape leaves before, you are in for a treat. They may not look appetizing from the outside, but the combination of slightly bitter leaves with savory herbs, rice, and meat is absolutely mouth-watering.
If you have fallen in love with stuffed grape leaves already, the next natural question is what to serve them with. Stuffed grape leaves, or dolmas, are incredibly versatile.
In Azerbaijan, there are dozens of different types of dolmas. They are enjoyed on a weekly basis and are usually served as the main dish with crusty bread and another side. In many other parts of the world, they are served as an appetizer, with yogurt dipping sauce.
How you will choose to eat them is completely up to you, but if you’re looking for dishes that will complement them well, you have come to the right place.
The word dolma means “stuffed” or “filled”, and it is basically another title for stuffed grape leaves. There are different variations of dolmas in several Mediterranean countries around the world from Turkey and Lebanon to Greece and Azerbaijan, and they may go by slightly different names.
Dolma is most often referring to stuffed grape leaves, but some variations are also stuffed zucchini, stuffed eggplant or stuffed cabbage.
Traditional dolmas are stuffed with lamb meat, rice, and herbs, but you can use just about any ground meat. If you want to make them with beef, be sure to use lean ground beef.
Healthy is a very broad term and will really depend on what you stuff into your grape leaves, but in general stuffed grape leaves could be considered a healthy dish. Grape leaves are very low in calories and contain high amounts of vitamin c, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin E. They also have a good amount of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
The way this dish is served depends on what it is filled with. Many vegetarian dolmas are served cold or room temperature while those with meat are usually served warm. You can enjoy them either way.
In Azerbaijan where dolma is very popular, they are usually eaten for lunch or dinner as the main course. At one time they were a very popular dish for weddings.
In many other parts of the world stuffed grape leaves are served as a delicious appetizer.
Fresh grape leaves have a taste that is similar to collard greens but they also have the ability to soak up the flavors they are cooked with like the meat and herbs. Jarred or canned grape leaves will be slightly salty which works well with the rice and meat.
Yes. Store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days. You can also freeze them for up to two months.
It’s a great idea to make these ahead of time. Assembling these little rolls can be time-consuming. Store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook and serve.
You can usually find jarred or canned grape leaves near jarred olives or jarred roasted red peppers. Some specialty stores may also sell fresh leaves but these are more difficult to come by.
Rolling your leaves can be tricky. Make sure you have a flat surface to work on and that your leaves are soft. If you are using fresh leaves be sure and remove the stem end of the leaf and you may want to put them in boiling water to soften them slightly. Add the filling to the non shiny side.
Rolling the rolls nice and tight may take a little practice but it is easier than you may think.
- When I made Dolma myself I was shocked at how amazing they are. This Dolma Recipe is one of my favorites!
- This Vegan Dolma from Polka Dot Passport is a great option for anyone wanting a meat-free recipe.
- If you are not a fan of grape leaves, try making dolmades with cabbage leaves with this recipe from Hilda’s Kitchen Blog.
- Stuffed grape leaves get a lot of their flavor from fresh dill and other herbs, so choose high-quality herbs and the freshest you can find.
- Stuffing grape leaves can take time. This is a great dish to prepare when you have someone to help!
- Be careful not to overfill your leaves. The rice expands during the cooking process and your leaves may burst, so only put a little bit of filling in each one.
- Be sure to rinse your uncooked white rice before using it to remove any excess starch. Too much starch will make your rice sticky and soggy.
Cooking your Grape Leaves
Here are some of my best tips for having success while cooking your grape leaves.
- Cook your grape leaves in a pan with the seam side down to help them stay together.
- Be careful to simmer your grape leaves at a low temperature while cooking. If you try to cook your grape leaves at a rolling boil, your rolls will quickly unwrap.
- Allow your stuffed grape leaves to rest for a few minutes between cooking and serving. This allows all the juices to settle and makes them easier to pick up.
- If you find that your dolmas are getting burnt during the cooking process, you could try to line the bottom of the pan with grape leaves before adding your rolls to the dish for cooking. This extra layer will help protect them. Also be sure you have plenty of hot water at the bottom of the pot.
- You can place an inverted plate on top of your dolmas as they cook to help keep in the steam and prevent them from unwrapping.
What to Serve With Stuffed Grape Leaves
There are so many ways to enjoy grape leaves! Here are some of my favorites
Toppings: Lemon zest, pine nuts, plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, garlic yogurt sauce, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, fresh lemon juice
Sides: Polenta, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, pita bread, salad, baba ganoush, marinated olives
Recipe to Serve with Stuffed Grape Leaves
Instant Pot Polenta
Mashed Potatoes in the Instant Pot
Easy Greek Chicken Lemon Rice Soup
This creamy chicken lemon rice soup (from Sweet Tea & Thyme) tastes like it came straight from your favorite Greek restaurant. It’s a staple recipe for my family when soup season rolls around and is a hearty, creamy soup with lots of lemon flavor. If you have leftover rice or leftover chicken, consider this your fast and easy 30 minute dinner tonight!
Greek Pasta Salad
Greek pasta salad (from Rich and Delish) is the perfect side dish for any occasion, made with cooked pasta, fresh veggies, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and homemade Greek salad dressing. We love to serve this pasta salad at a picnic or barbecue.
Greek Salad with Sardines
This easy, traditional Greek Salad (or Horiatiki) (from Champagne Tastes) is made with fresh summer produce and an easy vinaigrette, and topped with delicious and healthy sardines!
Greek Brown Rice Bowls
These Greek brown rice bowls (from Running to the Kitchen) are filled with everything you love about a gyro and a Greek salad combined, flavorful lamb, pickled red onions, cucumbers and of course, feta!
Easy Tzatziki Sauce
Greek Lamb Meatballs
These Greek lamb meatballs (from Aleka’s Get-Together) are one of my favorite party appetizers! Using ground lamb makes these meatballs super moist and juicy. I added feta cheese too as well as Greek seasoning like oregano for the most flavorful Greek bite. Serve them with mini toothpicks and a creamy tzatziki sauce, and your guests will be raving!
This Mediterranean Gnocchi recipe (from Smartypants Kitchen) is loaded with flavor from marinated chickpeas, lemon, dill and Feta! This can be served as an appetizer or entree and the best thing is, it’s ready in less than 15-minutes!
Cacik (Turkish Yogurt Sauce)
Turkish Cacik (from Give Recipe) is such a tasty side dish that pairs well with any dish. It is made with plain yogurt, cucumber, garlic and mint. So easy to make and ready in less than 10 minutes.
Mediterranean Cucumber Tomato Salad
This Mediterranean Cucumber Tomato Salad (from Vanilla Bean Cuisine) combines tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese in a summery salad tossed with a red wine vinaigrette. Toasted pita chips take this over the top!
Homemade Pita Pocket
Did you know that pita is probably the easiest bread recipe to master? Well, maybe next to lavash bread. Yes, even the most novice of cooks shouldn’t be intimidated by this homemade pita pocket recipe (from Hilda’s Kitchen Blog)! Serve freshly baked pita bread with hummus, roasted eggplant dip, or with your falafel bowl.
Lebanese Hummus Recipe
Whip up a batch of homemade Lebanese Hummus Recipe (from A Cedar Spoon) and keep it for snacking throughout the week. It is healthy and packed with protein, pairing perfectly with pita bread or vegetables. I also like to use it on sandwiches and wraps!
Lebanese Fattoush Salad
Fattoush salad (from The Butter Half) combines fresh, zesty, and beautiful with the perfect crunch. I love making this fattoush salad recipe for lunch or as a side salad for dinner. It’s also nutritious, offering lots of greens and vegetables!
Best Tabouli Salad
This is the best tabouli salad recipe (from The Butter Half) because it’s quick, easy, delicious, and nutritious. The fresh mint leaves are the star of the show in this salad – it creates such a fresh taste and really bring out all of the other flavors. Tabouli salad is great to prepare and keep in the fridge to pair with any dinner or to snack on all week long.
5 Layer Greek Dip
Our 5 Layer Greek Dip (from Homemade Interest) features a delicious blend of classic Mediterranean flavors that you’ll love dunking veggies and pita wedges into.
These easy Greek Sliders (from Homemade Interest) make an awesome easy appetizer recipe for a cookout or game day.
Gyro Meat Recipe
Fried Feta Cheese
Greek Lemon Rice Recipe
If you’ve loved the lemon rice in a Greek restaurant, use this Greek Lemon Rice Recipe (from Kaylyn’s Kitchen) to make this traditional Greek dish at home. And since I used converted rice that’s lower in carbs than traditional white rice, this tasty rice dish is not as much of a splurge on carbs as you might be thinking!
Grilled Shish Taouk: Lebanese Chicken Kabob
These Middle Eastern Grilled chicken skewers (from Carne Diem) have become a favorite dish to get when eating at one of our local Middle Eastern restaurants. Thankfully we have also discovered how easy Shish Taouk is to make at home. Tender cubed chicken is marinated in a yogurt-based marinade with warming spices like allspice, ginger, and sumac, before hitting the grill.