Wondering what to do with grape leaves? Try this Instant Pot grape leaves recipe! Learn how to make dolma (AKA stuffed grape leaves) in the pressure cooker with my easy step-by-step instructions. You’ll also get information on making keto dolmas, stuffed grape leaves nutrition, how long to cook stuffed grape leaves in a pressure cooker, and more! The whole family will love trying stuffed vine leaves, a Middle Eastern appetizer or main dish.
Dolma (AKA sarma) is a dish of cabbage or grape leaves wrapped around a filling. The filling is some combination of meat, rice, vegetables, fruit, and herbs, with many different flavorful variations. Sometimes you’ll see dolmades referred to as “stuffed vine leaves,” as grape leaves and vine leaves are the same thing.
I’ve never met a grape leaf dolma I did not love. The downside of all of this tasty goodness is that they can be rather labor-intensive to make. I’m always starving after spending a few hours rolling grape leaves and then tending the cooking pot.
Luckily, this Instant Pot dolma recipe allows us to eat delicious homemade dolma much faster than traditional cooking methods. Instead of an hour or two on the stovetop, we can pressure cook grape leaves in a mere 8 minutes! Plus, they cook perfectly every time, with no worries of burning.
The Instant Pot is the best way to cook grape leaves. I am serious when I say that I will never cook dolmades in any other way again. Huge time saver!
It’s worth getting an InstantPot just to make these Instant Pot grape leaf rolls. I know you’re going to love them!
Note: I’m using “dolmas” and “dolmades” interchangeably in this article to refer to any stuffed grape leaves. Technically though, dolmades usually means the Greek version.
- 🥬 Variations
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Instant Pot Grape Leaves
- ️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🔥 Stovetop Directions
- ️🌡️ Leftovers
- 🥛 Dipping Sauces
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 More Instant Pot Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
My grape leaves with rice and meat recipe contains my favorite cabbage roll stuffing. Internationally, you can find a wide variety of grape leaf fillings.
Stuffed grape leaves are often thought of as Mediterranean. However, they’re also popular in the cuisine of the Middle East and other parts of the world. Each region adds its own special touch to this dish:
- Greek Dolmadakia: Vegetarian grape leaves stuffed with rice, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs are common in Greece.
- Lebanese Warak Enab: Grape leaves rolled around spiced rice and beef, and simmered in a lemon-infused broth.
- Iraqi Dolma: The filling is typically composed of rice, lamb or beef, veggies, tomato paste, and spices. I sometimes see pomegranate molasses included as well.
- Syrian Yalanji and Yabraq: Yabraq is grape leaves wrapped around rice and meat and cooked in lemon juice. Yalanji is the vegetarian version of the dish.
- Moroccan Dolma: The filling may be seasoned with spices including allspice, cinnamon, and cumin.
- Armenian Tolma: Traditionally these were grape leaves filled with spiced lamb, rice, and herbs. Now you can find Armenian Dolma (AKA tolma) filled with a variety of ground meats.
- Turkish Yaprak Sarma: These Turkish dolmas are filled with rice, meat, and herbs. Currants and pine nuts are often added, and the grape leaf cigars are cooked in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice.
- Egyptian Mahshi: Egyptian stuffed grape leaves are often vegan (or vegetarian). The rice filling usually includes a variety of fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, and dill.
- Palestinian Warak Dawali: Can be vegetarian or can include meat. The recipes I see typically include a variety of spices and fresh herbs. As with all of the types of dolma above, exact recipes vary from family to family.
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
How many calories in grape leaves stuffed with rice? One stuffed grape leaf has 63 calories, 3.5 grams net carbs, and 2.3 grams protein. The exact nutrition information for your dolmas will depend on the recipe you use.
This nutrition information does not include a dolma dip, nor the potatoes at the bottom of the Instant Pot. Also, it includes only half of the liquid poured over the grape leaves (since a lot is not absorbed).
What are the benefits of making grape leaves in the Instant Pot? Here are some reasons you’ll love this grape leaves Instant Pot recipe:
- Easy dolma recipe: This recipe is truly a one-pot dish. You don’t need to precook the filling before stuffing the grape leaves.
- Portable: Stuffed grape leaf rolls are small and portable, perfect as an appetizer, or as a potluck dish. You don’t even have to reheat them before serving!
- Main Dish: Unlike dolmas that are stuffed with a rice and herb mixture only, these protein-packed grape leaves are entrée-worthy. You’re getting high-quality protein from the beef, pork, and yogurt dip. They’re so versatile!
- Healthy: Stuffed grape leaves are packed with good nutrition. Aside from the protein mentioned above, you’re getting heart-healthy fats from olive oil, and lots of veggies. Dolmades are representative of healthful Mediterranean diet food options.
- Special diets: Dolmades are gluten-free (typically) and (aside from the dip) dairy-free. You also can make your Instant Pot dolmas vegetarian, vegan, and even keto! Don’t miss the FAQs section for tips on making grape leaves that fit your special diet.
- Delicious: It’s telling that so many regions of the world include stuffed grape leaves as part of their cuisine. They’re comforting, nutritious, and (perhaps most importantly) quite tasty!
What do you need to make stuffed grape leaves? Here is your shopping list:
- Jar of brined grape leaves
- Yukon gold potatoes
- Lean ground beef
- Ground pork
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh mint
- Scallions (thin ones)
- Dry basmati rice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh tomato
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Chicken broth
I also like to have some non-fat plain Greek yogurt on hand for dipping. Sometimes I make a yogurt-based dip for grape leaves with garlic, dill, and lemon. I’ll give more details on that in the “Dipping Sauces” section.
In my area, it is easy to find jars of grape leaves in conventional grocery stores. The leaves have already had their stems removed and are ready to use in recipes as-is. They’re a great alternative for those of us that don’t have access to fresh grape leaves.
Depending on the grape leaves you purchase, you may need to do the extra work of removing the stems. Your leaves may also benefit from blanching for a few minutes in hot water to tenderize them.
Uncooked white rice is commonly used in recipes for stuffed grape leaves. Brown rice takes much longer to cook. If you use brown rice, I recommend cooking it until halfway done (20-25 minutes) and draining it before you start this recipe.
To make pressure cooker dolma, you need a good knife, meat thermometer, tongs, and an Instant Pot. The meat thermometer is critical if you want to be certain the meats were cooked to a safe temperature.
You’re welcome to use whatever multipurpose cooker you own for this recipe, such as the Ninja Foodi or another cooker. I use a Crock-Pot Express 6-Quart Easy Release Pressure Cooker. Cooking times may vary if you use a different multi-cooker.
🔪 How to Make Instant Pot Grape Leaves
How to prepare stuffed grape leaves? Though this dolmades recipe is easy, it takes time to roll the grape leaves. Save this recipe for the weekend or when you have some downtime.
If you aren’t using tender jarred grape leaves, you may need to remove the stems and blanch them. Next, slice the potatoes and prepare the filling ingredients. Finely chop the parsley and mint, slice the scallions, and chop the tomato and onion to ¼-inch dice (0.6 cm).
In a medium mixing bowl, mix the dry rice, raw ground meat, parsley, mint, scallions, tomato, onion, and ¼-cup of olive oil. (Use clean hands for mixing.)
Place a grape leaf shiny side down with the stem end facing you. We’re going to be wrapping 1 tablespoon-sized cylinders (logs) of filling. I was able to make a total of 50 neat little grape leaf packages.
Watch the video in the recipe card for visuals on how to wrap grape leaves. I prefer to lay the filling vertically and then fold the bottom and top portions of the leaf over the filling. The grape leaf rolls are secured when I finish by wrapping the left and right sides around the filling.
A different (and more common) way to wrap dolma is to lay the filling horizontally on the lower part of the leaf. The left and right sides are folded over the filling, and then the leaf is rolled from bottom to top.
However you choose to roll dolmades, I recommend not rolling them too tightly. The rice needs a little space to expand in its leafy packet. If dolmas are wrapped too tightly, they can split while cooking.
️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to cook stuffed grape leaves in pressure cooker? What setting to cook dolma in an Instant Pot? Pressure cook grape leaves for 8 minutes on high pressure (“beans chili” setting). Quick release the pressure when the time is up.
Don’t just throw the rolled grape leaves in the pot however! Start by covering the bottom of the Instant Pot with the raw sliced potatoes. The potato layer helps to ensure your grape leaves don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Next, you can make a layer of dolma in the Instant Pot. After making a one layer, you can make a second layer on top of the first. I was able to fit all my grape leaves in two layers.
After getting all the wrapped grape leaves into the pot, you should add liquid. Pour the fresh lemon juice, chicken broth, and ¾ cup olive oil over the grape leaves. Now you can put the lid on the pot, close the vent, and pressure cook as described above.
The first time you make these, I recommend checking the internal temp of one of the dolma after cooking. Ground beef and pork should reach a minimum safe internal temp of 160F (71C). I would check one or two of the dolmas in the top layer (since they probably weren’t under the liquid).
After they’ve cooked, you can carefully remove the grape leaves from the Instant Pot (and the liquid). Let them cool before eating- they're very hot!
BTW, the lemony, olive oil-y potatoes are perfectly good and edible too! To crisp them up, air fry them at 400F (200C) for 8 minutes per side (top rack of air fryer oven). You could also quickly broil them on a metal baking sheet in the oven.
🔥 Stovetop Directions
You can make your Instant Pot stuffed grape leaves on the stovetop, but it will take longer. Also, this method requires a bit more tending to get it cooked just right.
There is one advantage to making dolmas in a cast iron Dutch oven, however. On the stovetop, the potatoes at the bottom of the pot get very crispy. If you’re familiar with Persian cooking, it becomes sort of a potato tahdig. So yummy!
To make dolmades on the stove, layer the ingredients in a cast iron Dutch oven just as we did above. First the sliced potato, then two layers of stuffed vine leaves, finishing with the liquids.
Cover the rolled grape leaves with a large dinner plate to help weigh them down in the pot. Put the lid on the pot and cook on the stovetop over medium-low heat. It typically takes 1-2 hours for the meat to cook and the rice to soften.
Start checking them after 1 hour. Add broth and turn the heat down a little more if things are getting dry. Use a meat thermometer to ensure they’ve been properly cooked inside (same as when you cook them in an Instant Pot).
Something great about this Instant Pot stuffed vine leaves recipe is that it makes a lot of food. And I mean A. LOT. OF. FOOD. Unless you have a huge family or are taking these to a party, you will have leftovers.
I made these as an entrée one evening and appreciated having the leftovers for lunches over the next few days. You can keep them in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Cover them with the liquid from the Instant Pot if they look like they're drying out.
They’re great chilled or at room temperature. (Don't leave them out at room temperature for more than 1-2 hours.)
Can you freeze stuffed grape leaves? There’s a risk that the texture of dolmas can change after freezing, and the rice can become mushy. However, some report having great success freezing dolmas.
One reader reports that you can freeze the dolmades (separated by wax paper to prevent sticking) in a freezer bag. After partially thawing, they can be reheated in a bamboo steamer. (Such a great idea!)
What can I do with leftover grape leaves? My favorite thing to do with leftover unstuffed grape leaves is to make more dolmas! A large jar of grape leaves can often provide enough for 2-3 batches of this recipe.
Unused grape leaves can be left in their jar in the fridge for 1-2 months. Make sure they are completely covered by the brine. Add water to the jar if necessary to cover.
🥛 Dipping Sauces
What is a good dipping sauce for dolmades? I really think plain Greek yogurt is one of the best answers to what goes well with dolmades. It makes a simple and good dip.
When I want something a little more flavorful, I make dolma dip with these ingredients:
- Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Fresh dill (chopped)
- Lemon zest
- Fresh garlic (minced)
Simply stir everything together and thin with milk if desired (I usually don’t). The lemony garlicky flavor really takes things to another level.
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). One dolma (without any dip) is only 63 calories. Trust me though, it’s really hard to eat just one (or even just a few). It can be particularly challenging with this recipe because it makes so much food!
Grape leaves are a low-calorie leafy green. However, olive oil is 120 calories per tablespoon. All of the oil used in dolmas brings the calories way up.
Yes, olive oil is considered heart-healthy, but the serving size is very small. One of the mistakes I made when I was having trouble losing weight was drowning everything in olive oil.
If you aren’t feeding a crowd, I recommend plating your portion and packing the rest in the fridge right away. The leftovers will keep for several days, as mentioned above.
How to serve grape leaves? I typically serve dolmas as a main dish instead of a snack or appetizer. I’ll have 6-8 stuffed grape leaves, some yogurt dip, and a light Greek salad or garden salad on the side. This combination provides adequate protein plus high-volume, low-cal veggies for a filling meal.
Grape leaves are tasty served warm, chilled, or at room temperature. The one way I do not recommend serving stuffed grape leaves is hot. Dolmas are at their best when their flavors get a chance to meld a bit.
You can cook grape leaves like greens such as collards. However, they can be a bit tough and stringy. Some young, fresh grape leaves are tender enough to be used in salads.
To make vegetarian grape leaves, try replacing the meat in this recipe with cooked lentils for protein, and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth. This would also make your stuffed grape leaves vegan, as long as you skip the yogurt dip. You could also try an authentic Syrian yalanji recipe.
You can make very low carb dolmas by swapping out the rice filling for riced cauliflower. You’ll also want to skip eating the potatoes at the bottom of the pot. These changes would also give you Paleo stuffed grape leaves.
👩🏻🍳 More Instant Pot Recipes
Want more recipes for the Instant Pot? Try these next:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Instant Pot Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
- 50-60 grape leaves (from a jar)
- 8 ounces lean ground beef (227 grams; 90/10 ground beef)
- 8 ounces ground pork (227 grams)
- ¾ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
- 8 small scallions, sliced
- 1 cup dry basmati rice (white rice; tips for brown rice in post)
- 1 medium tomato, chopped (about 6 ounces/170 grams)
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 cup olive oil (divided)
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced (about 1 lb/454 grams)
For Grape Leaves Dipping Sauce:
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, plain
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1 teaspoon zahtar seasoning blend
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- milk, 2% (for thinning sauce, if desired)
- Prepare your grape leaves as needed. Remove the stems and blanch them briefly if you need to tenderize them. I did not need to do these things with the jarred grape leaves I purchased.
- Slice the potatoes ¼-inch (0.6 cm) thick. (Don't peel them.) Finely chop the parsley and mint, slice the scallions into ¼-inch (0.6 cm) pieces, and chop the tomato and onion to ¼-inch dice (0.6 cm).
- With clean hands (in a medium mixing bowl), combine the raw pork, raw beef, parsley, mint, scallions, rice, tomato, onion, and ¼-cup of the olive oil.
- Lay a grape leaf shiny side down with the stem end nearest to you. Place a 1 tablespoon cylinder of filling vertically in the middle of the leaf. Fold the bottom and top portions of the leaf over the filling. The grape leaf rolls are secured by wrapping the left and right sides around the filling. Don't roll them too tightly- the rice needs a little room to expand with cooking. (Tip: Watch the recipe video below to see how it's done!)
- Fill and wrap grape leaves until the filling is gone. I was able to make 50 dolmas.
- Line the bottom of the Instant Pot with the sliced potatoes. I was able to make two layers. The potatoes will keep your grape leaves from sticking to the pot while they cook.
- Next, you can make a layer of dolmas in the Instant Pot. After making a one layer, you can make a second layer on top of the first. I was able to fit all my grape leaves in two layers.
- Pour the remaining ¾-cup olive oil, the lemon juice, and the broth on top of the grape leaves. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and close the vent.
- Pressure cook grape leaves for 8 minutes on high pressure (“beans chili” setting). Quick release the pressure when the time is up.
- Check the internal temperature of the dolmas after cooking with a meat thermometer. Ground beef and pork should reach a minimum safe internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
- After they’ve cooked, you can carefully remove the grape leaves from the Instant Pot liquid with tongs. Let them cool before serving with dip- they're very hot!
To Make Grape Leaves Dipping Sauce:
- Finely chop the dill and mince the garlic.
- Stir the yogurt, dill, zahtar, garlic, and lemon zest together. Add milk (if needed) to thin the sauce.
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). One dolma (without any dip) is only 63 calories. Trust me though, it’s really hard to eat just one (or even just a few). It can be particularly challenging with this recipe because it makes so much food! Grape leaves are a low-calorie leafy green. However, olive oil is 120 calories per tablespoon. All of the oil used in dolmas brings the calories way up. Yes, olive oil is considered heart-healthy, but the serving size is very small. One of the mistakes I made when I was having trouble losing weight was drowning everything in olive oil. If you aren’t feeding a crowd, I recommend plating your portion and packing the rest in the fridge right away. The leftovers will keep for several days, as mentioned above. How to serve grape leaves? I typically serve dolmas as a main dish instead of a snack or appetizer. I’ll have 6-8 stuffed grape leaves, some yogurt dip, and a light Greek salad or garden salad on the side. This combination provides adequate protein plus high-volume, low-cal veggies for a filling meal. Note: See the article above if you’d like stovetop directions for grape leaves. Nutrition information is for one dolma. This nutrition information does not include the dolma dip, nor the potatoes at the bottom of the Instant Pot. Also, it includes only half of the liquid poured over the grape leaves (since a lot is NOT absorbed).