Instant Pot Grape Leaves are stuffed with an allspice seasoned ground lamb and white rice mix, then pressure cooked in a garlic and lemon broth for only 10 minutes! This delicious traditional Middle Eastern recipe known as Yab-ra' is a one-pot meal that's great for family and holiday dinners.
This Instant Pot grape leaves recipe is a generations-old family recipe that originated in Syria. It's been passed down for decades and is a traditional holiday recipe. No Easter or Christmas dinner was complete without grape leaves!
I've taken my grandmother's tried and true stove top grape leaves recipe and converted it to the pressure cooker version. This recipe uses just a few simple and pantry staple ingredients but has intense flavor.
Grape leaves are stuffed with a lamb, rice, and allspice mixture, then pressure cooked with whole garlic cloves in a lemony broth. The smell and the flavor are amazing!
This Instant Pot grape leaves recipe is low in calories and carbohydrates but high in protein, vitamins and minerals. It's healthy and delicious, which is always a winner!
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Yield: 35-40 stuffed grape leaves.
Time: 45 minutes including preparing ingredients, pressure-building and pressure-releasing.
Servings: should feed a family of 4-6 people. Stuffed grape leaves can easily be made to feed more by doubling or tripling the recipe. For holiday dinners with a family of 16, I use 3 pounds of lamb meat and make approximately 130 grape leaves.
Ingredients and Equipment
- Ground lamb: substitute with ground beef.
- White rice: use uncooked white rice.
- Grape leaves: also referred to as "vine leaves". My favorite are Orlando California Grape Leaves. They can be found at many international food stores and on Amazon.
- Lemon juice: I only ever make this with ReaLemon brand lemon juice. I think it provides the best flavor.
- Garlic: we're using whole garlic cloves
- Allspice: ground
- A dash of salt
- Pressure cooker: any size Instant Pot works with this recipe, but if you're increasing the servings, then you'll need a 6, 8, or 10 quart pressure cooker.
- 3 plates: you'll need a workstation with 3 plates to roll the grape leaves. One is for the leaves, one is for rolling them, and the last is for keeping the rolled yab'ra until putting it into the Instant Pot.
- Tongs: to remove the grape leaves from the Instant Pot.
You don't need a trivet or a sling. The grape leaves go directly into the inner pot so they are submerged in the water and lemon juice (don't worry, they won't burn!).
How To Roll Grape Leaves
Rolling grape leaves may sound labor intensive or difficult if this is your first time, but I promise it's not! In this Syrian version, they are rolled on the thinner side, like cigars.
Lay the leaf flat with the glossy side down. Cut off the stem on bottom. Lay 1 to 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on the bottom of the leaf. Roll the bottom edges of the leaf up and tuck them under the meat. Then turn in the sides and roll the leaf up, tucking in the sides as you go as in the picture above.
The picture below comes from my grandmother's cookbook and is another demonstration of how to easily roll them up.
This recipe is pretty quick, with the most time consuming part being the stuffing of the leaves. So grab some helping hands!
Once rolled, the pressure cook time is only 10 minutes. Any meat-based recipes should be given a natural release so we are doing a 10 minute natural release followed by a quick release. All in all, it will take about 45 minutes for these Instant Pot grape leaves to be ready to serve.
STEP 1: Rinse the uncooked white rice until the water runs clear. Peel the garlic cloves and leave them whole. In a large bowl, mix the ground lamb, rice, allspice, and salt. Set aside while preparing the grape leaves and your work space.
STEP 2: Prepare a work space with 3 plates. Remove the grape leaves from the jar and gently squeeze them dry. Lay the grape leaves flat on one plate. The second plate will be for rolling the leaves and the third for keeping the rolled grape leaves until putting into the Instant Pot.
STEP 3: *See above for step-by-step pictures of how to correctly roll the leaves. Lay one leaf flat, with the glossy side down. Cut off the stem and place 1 to 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on the bottom of the leaf, depending on its size. Roll the bottom edges of the leaf up and tuck them under the meat. Then turn in the sides and roll up, tucking the edges of the leaf in as you go. The rolled leaves will look like cigars. Set on a plate until all leaves have been rolled.
STEP 4: Add the water and lemon juice to the inner pot. Stack the rolled grape leaves in the pot and add the garlic around them. They should be tightly arranged next to one another with the seam side down so they don't loosen while pressure cooking.
STEP 5: Close and seal the pressure cooker lid. Set to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. When done, complete a 10 minute natural release, then quickly release any remaining pressure.
STEP 6: Allow to cool for a few minutes. Arrange on a serving platter, carefully removing the cooked grape leaves using tongs. This version of stuffed grape leaves is served hot, with lots of extra lemony broth and garlic!
Yes! Ground beef can be used in place of the lamb in a 1:1 substitution. Preparation and pressure cooking time remains the same, although the outcome will taste slightly different.
Grape vine leaves can be found in most international food stores and in some big box grocers with international food sections. As with many other items, grape leaves are easy to find online at places such as Amazon.
Syrian grape leaves are delicious served with simple and vegetable- based sides, such as garden salad, roasted carrots, and green beans. They are also great along with marinated olives, pita chips or bread and hummus.
They keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. These grape levels can be frozen in plastic freezer bags for up to 2 months for optimal freshness.
If you don't use all the leaves in the jar, they can be stored in the fridge r the freezer. In the fridge, keep them in their original jar and use them within 10 days, or otherwise if the jar gives a recommended use by date. To freeze, drain the water from the leaves and pat them mostly dry (they do not have to be completely dry, just not dripping wet). Put into a plastic freezer bag and lay flat. They keep for up to 1 year when frozen.
- Use cauliflower rice to make it keto-friendly!
- Greek dolmas: are served cold, room temperature, or warm and are made with rice, ground beef, fresh herbs, and spices.
- Cypriot koupepia: are dolmades stuffed with ground pork or veal, rice, fresh herbs and seasoning, and cooked with tomatoes and lemon juice.
- Armenian meat dolma: this version is stuffed with a mixture of lamb, beef, rice, and spices and is also served hot.
Instant Pot Grape Leaves
- pressure cooker any size
- 1 lb ground lamb
- ¾ cup white rice uncooked
- 2 teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 40 grape leaves
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 1 bulb garlic
- Rinse the uncooked white rice until the water runs clear. Peel the garlic cloves and leave them whole. In a large bowl, mix the ground lamb, rice, allspice, and salt. Set aside while preparing the grape leaves and your work space.
- Prepare a work space with 3 plates. Remove the grape leaves from the jar and gently squeeze them dry. Lay the grape leaves flat on one plate. The second plate will be for rolling the leaves and the third for keeping the rolled grape leaves until putting into the Instant Pot.
- Lay one leaf flat, with the glossy side down. Cut off the stem and place 1 to 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on the bottom of the leaf, depending on its size. Roll the bottom edges of the leaf up and tuck them under the meat. Then turn in the sides and roll up, tucking the edges of the leaf in as you go. The rolled leaves will look like cigars.
- Add the water and lemon juice to the inner pot. Stack the rolled grape leaves in the pot and add the garlic around them. The grape leaves should be tightly arranged next to one another with the seam side down so they don't loosen while cooking.
- Close and seal the pressure cooker lid. Set to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. When done, let complete a 10 minute natural release, then quickly release remaining pressure.
- Let cool for a few minutes, then arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle cooked garlic over the grape leaves and pour over some of the extra broth. Serve hot.
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when cooking in the instant pot, does the water/broth have to cover all the rolls? in other words, does the top layer of the rolls need to be submerged under water?
Thanks in advance!!
The water does not need to cover the grape leaves entirely. Enjoy!
My Lebanese Grandmother used to make these… also added dried currants, Pignolias, and green onions. I am substituting pomegranates for the currents, it is so fun to play around with these, as every culture seems to think they have invented them and has their twist! Thanks so much for also helping adapt to the instant pot! These are probably one of the lovely comfort foods I could eat every day!😘🦋
I have a grape arbor at my home. I rarely get any grapes because of the marine cool climate. Can I pick my own grape leaves for making this dish? Should I cook the leaves before rolling them up?
Yes you can use freshly picked grape leaves. There is no need to cook them first, just soak them in very hot water for 15 minutes to soften them. Enjoy!
If I wanted to make these with fresh grape leaves from my garden, do you have a recipe to prepare the grape leaves?
Hi Karen- All you need to do is soak fresh picked grape leaves in very hot water for 15 minutes to soften before rolling. Enjoy!
Do you cook the ground lamb before adding it to the grape leave?
The lamb is not cooked beforehand.
Can they be frozen after cooking? If not, what is the shelf life?
Yes you can freeze them after cooking. In the fridge they will be good for about 1 week. Enjoy!
I use ground Turkey instead of the lamb. Make them often and family loves them. Now I want to try and eliminate meat and add chick peas so the could be served as vegetarian meal. Any ideas out there ??
I have made cabbage rolls. Now I need to give these a try. Time for some kitchen fun.
I can't believe I've never had grape leaves before. What a delicious dish, spiced perfectly and so quick and easy to make too.
I've always ordered these grape leaves in restaurants so I wanted to try this recipe. They turned out so good and it's easier than I thought. Going to make them again this weekend. Thank you.
This was absolutely delicious! Had a little grazing afternoon with friends the other day and made these. Was such a hit and I couldn't believe how easy it was! Definitely on the list to make again.
Can you prepare ahead of time (before cooking)?
Yes, you can prepare them ahead of time. When making a lot for a holiday meal, I prepare them the night before then store them in the fridge. Enjoy!