Zeytinyağli Yaprak Sarmasi (Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves)

From the Turkish region of Mugla, these tangy, tender vegetarian rice-and-herb-stuffed grape leaves (Zeytinyağli Yaprak Sarmasi) can be made a day ahead, making them a great appetizer for easy entertaining. The brightness of the brined grape leaves is balanced by the rice filling, which is seasoned with fresh parsley and dill and slightly sweet cooked onions. If making the stuffed grape leaves the day before, refrigerate them overnight and bring them to room temperature before serving.

Zeytinyagil Yaprak Sarmasi
Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 2 cups warm water

  • 1 cup uncooked medium-grain white rice

  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 4 large onions (about 2 lb. 10 oz.), finely chopped (about 8 1/2 cups)

  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 1 large bunch fresh dill, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 2 teaspoons dried mint (such as Burlap & Barrel)

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • .50 teaspoon black pepper

  • 45 jarred brined grape leaves, rinsed

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Stir together 2 cups warm water, rice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; let soak 20 minutes. Rinse and drain rice.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 20 minutes. Add drained rice, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add parsley, dill, dried mint, sugar, black pepper, and remaining 4 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Remove from heat. Spread 1 grape leaf out on a work surface, veins facing up. Place 1 heaping tablespoon rice mixture in center of leaf. Fold stem end up around filling, and fold in the sides. Roll grape leaf up until filling is completely encased. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling.

  3. Tightly pack stuffed grape leaves in a single layer in bottom of a 12-inch saucepan. Place any remaining stuffed leaves on top. Pour in 2 cups water, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the top. Cover pan with a heatproof plate (do not use pan lid); cook over medium 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cover plate with pan lid, and cook 40 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove lid and plate; let stand 10 minutes.


Find grape leaves at Middle Eastern markets or online at kalustyans.com.

Make Ahead

Stuffed grape leaves can be refrigerated overnight in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Related Articles