Dinner

Egyptian Stuffed Grape Leaves (Warak Enab)

Stuffed grape leaves recipe is so popular in the Mediterranean. Tangy, tender grape leaves wrapped around aromatic rice and cooked to perfection. This old-fashioned recipe is an all-time family and friends favorite. Follow my tips for a foolproof, delicious stuffed grape leaves each time.

Total time 2 hours 20 minutes

Warak enab, dolma or simply stuffed grape leaves recipe is so popular in the Mediterranean. Tangy, tender grape leaves wrapped around aromatic rice and cooked to perfection. This old-fashioned recipe is an all-time family and friends favorite. Follow my tips for a foolproof, delicious vegetarian stuffed grape leaves each time.

Next time try this Mahshi recipe too.

Stuffed grape leaves are commonly served as a delicious appetizer and considered one of the must have in a Mediterranean mezze platter. Almost every nation in the region has its own version. I’ve tried so many myself, the Greek, Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish and of course the Egyptian.

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❤️ Why You’ll Love It

  • One of the best vegetarian recipes in the Middle East.
  • A crowd pleaser so it is very popular in holiday parties and gatherings.
  • Way better than store bought, there is no comparison here!

I love warak enab, my mom used to make these at least twice a month. It is also there on every occasion and every celebration, you name it. Ramadan, Christmas, wedding parties… etc. One of the most requested recipes by my kids and frankly everyone.

📝 Recipe Ingredients

Note: This is an overview of the ingredients. The full list is in the recipe card below.

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  • Grape leaves, I always use jarred. My mom and grandma used fresh leaves but these are not easily found here.
  • Short grain rice, some people use Basmati or other varieties too.
  • Olive oil.
  • Spice like salt, black pepper and dry mint.
  • Fresh herbs, parsley, cilantro and dill.
  • Tomato paste and tomato sauce.

🥄 Recipe Instructions

Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The full instructions are in the recipe card below.

A collage of two images showing how to prepare grape leaves for stuffing.
  1. Rinse your grape leaves quickly with cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil then blanch a handful of leaves at a time.
  2. Take them out and let them cool in a colander until able to handle.Cut off the stems and setting them aside, do not throw away.
A collage of three images showing how to prepare rice mix for warak enab.
  1. In large pot over medium heat, saute onions until translucent add tomato sauce, paste and stir to combine.
  2. Add herbs, spices and rice.
  3. Mix well and cook for just two minutes. Turn heat off and set aside.
A collage of 6 images showing how to roll warak enab.
  1. Now lay one leaf smooth side down on a flat surface or a cutting board. Take about 1.5 teaspoon of the rice mixture and place at the broad end of the leaf.
  2. Fold both sides over the rice and roll tucking it nicely as shown above.
  3. Repeat until you finish the whole amount.
A collage of 3 images showing how to cook stuffed grape leaves.
  1. Lay the stems of the fresh herbs, onions rings or tomato and the stem you cut from the grape leaves at the bottom of your pot.
  2. Arrange the stuffed grape leaves tightly in layer on the pot. Mix your cooking liquid as directed and pour over the grape leaves.
  3. Cover with a small plate and bring to a boil over medium-high flame. Reduce heat to minimum and simmer until thoroughly cooked.

💡 Expert Tips

  • Jarred varieties tend to be tougher, so it is always recommended to boil them in water with 1 Tablespoon of oil for about 3-4 minutes. Blanch them in batches not all at once though
  • Cut off the stems, but do not throw these ways. They have lots of flavor and desirable tartness.
  • If the leaf is too big, cut it in half and in some rare cases, thirds.
  • For the herbs, I used them all, parsley, dill and cilantro. My dad was one of those people who distastes cilantro, hence my mom barely used them. Some people only use cilantro and parsley, others use only dill. If you have no problems with any of the fresh herbs mentioned above, I highly recommend using them all. The rice should be flavorful and aromatic.
  • Unlike me always pushing you to use fresh herbs, I use dried mint. Many people use fresh but I find fresh mint to be overwhelming in this recipe. If you like to go fresh test it for yourself.
  • Cut off stems from parsley and other herbs are used in the bottom of the pot to add more flavor and prevent scorching.
  • Place a small dessert dish over the stuffed leaves when cooking, this is an ancient tip from the grannies to keep the stuffed grapes firm and in place.
  • I grew up to a tart grape leaves, not super tart but tart🤷. So I add lemon juice to the cooking liquid. One of my friends ( a grape leaves expert) adds pomegranate molasses and sometimes tamarind paste instead of lemon juice.
  • After it is cooked, turn off the heat. Pour 2 very hot tablespoons of ghee, butter or olive oil, cover the pot and let it sink. This step adds shine, flavor and tenderize the leaves even more.
A stack of stuffed grape leaves with a lemon slice.

🧺 Storage

Leftover can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days even a week. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot over medium low heat with a splash of water.

⌛ Make Ahead

You can prepare the rice filling for up to 3 days ahead and then proceed with the recipe. You can also roll and prepare the grape leaves two days in advance then cook as directed. Some people freeze rolled grape leaves but the rice tend to break so I do not recommend this.

🍽️ Serve With

It is very popular to serve warak enab with yogurt sause (tzatzikia) or with tabouleh as well.

👩‍🍳 Variations

  • Some people do not like to go full with the fresh herbs so although I like this trio of herbs ( parsley, cilantro and dill) if you do not like any feel free to leave it out.
  • In some parts of the region ground lamb or ground beef might be added to the rice mixture.

💬 Recipe FAQs

Where to buy grape leaves?

Well, if you can grab some fresh from the produce department at your store then this is awesome. Unfortunately for us here in the USA or should I say specifically for Colorado, these are super hard to find. It is much easier to get the jarred ones. I always get mine from the International Middle Eastern store .. BUT, recently and to my surprise, I’ve found it at Kroger’s stores as well.
If you do not have any of the above options we always have AMAZON. I will link it at the end of the post.

What is the name for stuffed grape leaves?

Nobody really knows for sure the exact origin of this recipe and I do not want to go into a fight over whether it is Greek, Turkish or from anywhere else. It is delicious and this is what I only care about 🙂. Now let me tell you its name over the region. In Greece it is called dolmathes, dolma in Turkey and in Iraq, dolmeh in Iran and Waraq Einab in most of the Middle Eastern region. Source.

Do you eat stuffed grape leaves hot or cold?

For the most part, and what I grew up doing, is eating it as a part of a bigger meal and it is hot or at least room temperature. Some people serve it cold as ahors d’oeuvres or mezes.

Are stuffed grape leaves bad for you?

Grape leaves are both low in calories and high in fiber. They also have high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin K. They have a very high antioxidant content. In fact, research suggests that grape leaves have ten times the antioxidant activity of grape juice or pulp.
What really matter is what you stuff in there, for the herbs and spices they are full of nutrients and vitamins.Rice is… you know rice, gluten free but not carb free 😇. Add meat for more protein or scroll to the end of the post as I will list some resources for a carb free dolmas.

A hand holding one stuffed grape leaves showing the inside.
  • I usually like to make kofta kebab when we have warak enab, this is a very kid friendly dinner idea.
  • Musaka, is another favorite recipes on any holiday.
  • If you are serving an Egyptian themed dinner, end it with this basbousa, it is a must.

I hope you’ll like this recipe and please if you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #amiraspantry — I love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter!
Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Amira’s Pantry newsletter delivered to your inbox with lots of tips and surprises! And stay in touch with me on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

If you like this recipe do not forget to give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ star rating and attach a photo of your finished dish. It is always a pleasure of mine to see your photos and check your own take of the recipe. Thank you.

Warak enab arranged in a white plate.

Stuffed grape leaves (Warak Enab)

Stuffed grape leaves recipe is so popular in the Mediterranean. Tangy, tender grape leaves wrapped around aromatic rice and cooked to perfection. This old-fashioned recipe is an all-time family and friends favorite. Follow my tips for a foolproof, delicious stuffed grape leaves each time.

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Course: Appetizer, Side Dish

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle East

Diet: Halal, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Servings: 60 ones

Calories: 42kcal

Instructions

  • Rinse your grape leaves quickly with cold water.In a pot over medium-high add about 1 ½ liter of water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil and bring to a boil.

  • Divide grape leaves into 4 equal parts, add each part to the boiling water let it boil for 3-4 minutes then take it off the water in a colander then add the next batch.

  • Let the grape leaves cool before handling.

  • In a large pot over medium-high heat add the rest of olive oil .

  • Saute onions until translucent, add tomato sauce and paste stirring them together.

  • Add rice, spices and herbs cook for just two minutes. Turn heat off and set aside to cool down.

  • Now the leaves should have cooled. Cut off the stems keeping them aside.

Stuff the leaves:

  • Place one leaf smooth side down on a cutting board.

  • Take about 1.5 teaspoon of the rice mixture and place at the broad end of the leaf.

  • Fold both sides over the rice and roll tucking it nicely. Repeat with all leaves until they are done.

  • Place the herb stems, if you have them, tomato slice or onion slices and the grape leaves stems at the bottom of a 4 quart deep pot.

  • Arrange stuffed grape leaves in rows leaving no space in between.

  • In a measuring cup add stock and warm up in the microwave for just 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, lemon juice and dissolve bouillon in the mixture.

  • Pour the cooking liquids over, and place pot on medium-high.

  • When it starts to bubble around the sides, reduce heat and place a flat plate over the grape leaves.

  • Cover and let it simmer until fully cooked about 75 to 90 minutes on low flame.

  • Check for doneness after an hour.

  • When it is done, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until very hot then pour over the grape leaves, cover and let it seep through the whole pot for 10 minutes.

Notes

  • I was raised to grape leaves stuffed with short grain rice, some people use Basmati while others add ground meat the the mixture as well.
  • If you can keep the stems of the fresh herbs, as we will use them as a shield in the bottom of the pot and for more flavors.
  • Use vegetable stock and vegetable bouillon for vegetarian recipe otherwise you can use chicken stock and chicken bouillon, if desired.
  • I am using grapes leaves from the jar which is widely available here in the USA rather than fresh grape leaves. This kind of grape leaves is usually tougher than the fresh so we kind of soften it first in boiling water to decrease cooking time
  • Do not cook the rice, it will cook in the pot stuffed into the leaves.
  • Fresh herb stems add more flavors to the cooking liquids while the grape leaves stems add a very desirable tartness. Place tomato or onion rings to prevent scorching.
  • Some people add up to ¼ cup of lemon juice to the cooking liquid this is a matter of personal taste.
  • Placing a small dessert dish over the stuffed leaves when cooking, this is an ancient tip from the grannies to keep the stuffed grapes firm and in place.
  • After it is cooked, turn off the heat. Pour 2 very hot tablespoons of ghee, butter or olive oil, cover the pot and let it sink. This step adds shine, flavor and tenderize the leaves even more.
  • Some people like using fresh mint in this recipe but I prefer the dry.
  • To Store:
    • Leftover can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days even a week. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot over medium low heat with a splash of water.
  • Make ahead:
    • You can prepare the rice filling for up to 3 days ahead and then proceed with the recipe. You can also roll and prepare the grape leaves two days in advance then cook as directed. Some people freeze rolled grape leaves but the rice tend to break so I do not recommend this.
  • Serve with:
  • Please check the nutrition disclaimer policy.

Nutrition

Calories: 42kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 28mg | Potassium: 37mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1173IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg

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First published Nov 16, 2018. Last updated November 29, 2022 with important tips, clear step by step instructions and readability.

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