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Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves with Avgolemono Sauce

Yes, we are back in Greece again! We love all foods Greek and today we bring you Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves with Avgolemono Sauce. The delicious tangy avgolemono sauce is the perfect partner for these rich, flavorful dolmas.

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce
Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce

Serve these tender lamb and rice filled Dolmas, swimming in a tangy avgolemono sauce as the main entrée for a Greek-theme dinner.

What is Avgolemono Sauce?

Avgolemono sauce a rich, creamy sauce made with eggs and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  It has a very pronounced lemon flavor and is perfect with these lamb stuffed grape leaves.  This sauce is a very simple sauce but can quickly turn into a disaster and curdle if cooked at too hot a temperature.

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce
Tangy lemon-egg Avgolemono Sauce

How Do You Make Avgolemono Sauce?

Eggs, freshly squeezed lemon juice and the broth from the dish that you are cooking is all there is to it!   The eggs should be at room temperature and the broth warm, not hot.   Blend the warm broth with the lemon-egg mixture and cook over low heat in a saucepan to thicken as it cooks.

Avgolemono sauce must be cooked over low heat while continually whisked. If it becomes too hot it will curdle, then you have lemony scrambled eggs. 

One little trick to a successful avgolemono sauce is first to whisk the lemon juice with a teaspoon of cornstarch.  Then whisk the mixture into the eggs and slowly heat to thicken.    

What Can Avgolemono Sauce Be Used For?

The Greeks use this sauce for many savory dishes such as:

How to Make Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves with Avgolemono Sauce:

Like any stuffed grape leaves, this is a recipe that takes some time.  But….you will be well rewarded with the delicious results. Plan a Greek themed dinner party with these tender lamb stuffed grape leaves with avgolemono sauce as the main entree.This recipe will make at least sixty plump dolmas and enough tangy sauce to envelop them.

Prepare the Grape Leaves:

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce
Make the filling and roll the dolmas.

The grape leaves are preserved in a salty brine. Drain the brine off and remove the rolls of grape leaves, then drop them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. This blanching will loosen up the leaves and remove the brine.

Next, pour the pot into a colander to drain the leaves, then plunge them into a basin of ice water. 

The grape leaves will be much easier to separate while in the cool water. Remove the leaves and lay them on paper towels to drain.

Sort the leaves reserving  50-60 of the largest ones for the dolmas. Set aside the torn or smallish leaves to line the cooking pot. 

Prepare the Cooking Pot:

You will need a large, deep pot or skillet with a tight-fitting lid to cook the lamb stuffed grape leaves.  A Dutch oven or braiser works beautifully. We used our braiser.  Arrange the reserved torn and small grape leaves to create a layer on the bottom of the cooking pot. This will keep the stuffed grape leaves directly off the bottom and prevent scorching.

To make the filling for the Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves with Avgolemono Sauce:

Sauté the chopped onions in a little olive oil until they are lightly golden, then add the rice and some broth. Cook just until the rice absorbs the broth then remove from the heat and cool.

In a large bowl add the ground lamb, mint, dill, lemon juice and oregano. Add the cooled rice mixture and mix it all together. It’s ok to use your hands, they are great tools!Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce

Rolling the Dolmas:

Spread the grape leaf flat, dull side up with the stem end toward you. Place a portion of the filling on the center of the leaf. Turn up the stem end of the leaf, covering the filling and fold over each end to enclose the filling. Start rolling at the stem end, roll the grape leaf gently but firmly into a compact bundle. The surface of the leaf will cling together to hold the grape leaf in shape.

Place the stuffed grape leaf, seam side down, in the prepared pot. Continue with the rolling process, filling all the leaves or until the filling is gone. Make sure the stuffed grape leaves snug, side-by-side but not squeezed tight as they will expand as they cook. There should be enough stuffed grape leaves for about two layers.

Pour a mixture of chicken broth, lemon juice and olive oil over the dolmas to barely cover them. To keep the dolmas from unrolling as they expand during cooking, place an inverted dinner plate over the top and add the pot lid.

After bringing the pot to a boil reduce the heat to low and then simmer the dolmas for thirty minutes.  Transfer the lamb stuffed grape leaves to a platter, cover them to stay warm while you prepare the avgolemono sauce. 

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce
Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce

Good things happen when you pour this lemony egg sauce over the warm dolmades. 

The lamb-stuffed grape leaves with avgolemono sauce were made for each other! Enjoy! Why not stay in Greece with a Greek salad and a crusty bread to go with the Greek lamb stuffed grape leaves. 

We have other dolma recipes you might like.

These Greek stuffed grape leaves are filled with rice, pine nuts, currants and fresh dill.

Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolma)
Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves

And these Greek dolmades are stuffed with lamb and cooked on a bed of cannelloni beans.

Greek Dolmades with Cannelloni Beans
Delicious Greek Dolmades with Cannelloni Beans

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Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves with Avgolemono Sauce

Yield: 60 to 64 dolmas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Lamb stuffed grape leaves with avgolemono sauce. These Greek dolmas are filled with ground lamb,rice, and fresh herbs. They are swimming in a tangy egg-lemon avgolemono sauce.

Ingredients

For the Stuffed Grape Leaves:

  • 1 jar (16 oz.) preserved grape leaves
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 cups medium-grain white rice, uncooked, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 egg, whisked lightly with a fork
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Greek oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 fresh lemon

For the Avgolemono Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup warm cooking broth of dolmas or chicken broth

Instructions

For the Grape Leaves:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Drain the liquid from the jar of preserved grape leaves and remove them from the jar. Unroll the leaves and drop them into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium and let them cook for 5-8 minutes, then drain them in a colander and plunge them into a pan of cold water to cool them.
  3. Gently separate the leaves and spread them on paper towels to drain. If the leaves have stems, clip them off with kitchen scissors. You will need about 50 or 60 leaves for the stuffing. 
  4. Reserve any torn or small unusable leaves for lining the cooking pot.

Prepare the cooking pot:

  1. Using a Dutch oven, braiser or heavy-bottomed pan, arrange the reserved torn grape leaves plus enough additional leaves to create a layer on the bottom of the pan. This is to keep the stuffed grape leaves from burning during the cooking process. Set the prepared pot aside while you make the filling. (See Notes)

For the filling:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until they are soft and golden. Add the rice, salt and pepper and stir to coat with oil. Pour in the 3/4 cup of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5-8 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, add the ground lamb, egg, mint, dill, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the cooled rice mixture and combine well.  

To Fill and Roll the Grape Leaves:

  1. Spread the grape leaf flat, dull side up and place a portion (See Notes) of the filling on the center of the leaf. Turn up the stem end of the leaf, covering the filling.
  2. Fold over each end to enclose the filling. Beginning again at the stem end, roll the grape leaf gently but firmly into a compact cylinder. The surface of the leaf will cling together to hold the grape leaf in shape.
  3. Place the stuffed grape leaf, seam side down, in the prepared pot. Continue with the rolling process until all the leaves are filled or the filling is gone. Keep the stuffed grape leaves snug, side-by-side but not squeezed tight as they will expand as they cook. You can add another layer if needed.

To Cook the Stuffed Grape Leaves:

  1. Pour some broth or water into the pot. The water should almost cover the stuffed grape leaves, add more liquid if necessary. Drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the stuffed grape leaves and squeeze the juice from the 1/2 lemon over the stuffed grape leaves. Place an inverted dinner plate over the stuffed grape leaves. The plate will prevent the grape leaf bundles from unrolling as they cook. 
  2. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with its lid and immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  
  3. Transfer the pot from the heat and remove the lid. Allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer the dolmas to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm. Drain any remaining liquid from the pot and reserve 1 cup for the Avgolemono sauce.  

For the Avgolemono Sauce:

  1. Into a food processor or bowl add the lemon juice and 1 tbsp of water, add the cornstarch and pulse or whisk well until dissolved.
  2. Add the eggs and process or whisk well. Slowly add some of the warm broth and process or whisk quickly, add more broth and whisk again so that the eggs warm up. Then slowly pour and whisk the egg mixture into a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Continue whisking and cook the sauce until it thickens slightly. Keep the heat adjusted to low and do not let the sauce boil.
  3. Pour the sauce over the dish of lamb stuffed grape leaves and serve. 

Notes

  1. If there are not enough leaves to create a thick layer you can first add a substitute.  Stove-top heat diffuser, Inverted plate or a folded pad of parchment paper
  2. The idea is to keep the rolls of stuffed grape leaves directly off the bottom of the pot.  We used a stove-top heat diffuser in our recipe. We placed the diffuser inside the braiser and covered it with a thin layer of leaves. In the past, we have folded several layers of parchment paper as a cushion.
  3. The leaves will vary in size so the amount of filling will need to be adjusted accordingly. Do not overfill the grape leaves as it will cause them to break as they expand. Refer to the photos in the post to see how much filling was used in the grape leaves. 

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 8 dolmas
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 344Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1.6gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 622mgCarbohydrates: 24.4gFiber: 1.8gSugar: 2gProtein: 22g

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Have you made these lamb stuffed grape leaves with avgolemono sauce? Or maybe you have made a different dolma recipe?  We would love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below.

Lamb Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Avgolemono Sauce
Tender lamb and rice filled Dolmas, swimming in a tangy egg-lemon sauce.

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Lin

Sunday 17th of April 2022

Thank you! Today I made the avgolemono sauce for lamb meatballs, was looking for one that I could hold for a few hours in a thermos without breaking and this was perfect with the right consistency and flavor. A keeper for sure, thanks again.

Pat Nyswonger

Sunday 17th of April 2022

Hello, Lin....I am so pleased that this avgolemono sauce worked for you! Thank you for your report and comments, we really appreciate hearing from our readers.

Julie

Monday 8th of February 2021

This looks wonderful and I have had this dish many many times however have not tried to make it. I am going to use your rec., keep your fingers crossed for me. :) Quick question. Can I freeze these for a later date and also freeze the sauce? Thank you Pat!

Dahn Boquist

Monday 8th of February 2021

Yes, you can freeze these. The sauce will also freeze but the consistency tends to change when it thaws. If the sauce looks broken when you thaw it out, you can zap it in a blender. Thanks for your comment and question

Gabrielle

Monday 16th of November 2020

Made these tonight. Delicious but the rice was not fully cooked. Any suggestions?

Pat Nyswonger

Monday 16th of November 2020

Hi, Gabrielle....Thanks for giving this recipe a try, I love stuffed grape leaves. I'm sorry to hear that the rice was not fully cooked. It is possible that the rice mixture was not cooked quite enough in step #1 in making the filling. The rice should be only partially cooked as it will finish cooking after the grape leaves are rolled and placed in the pan. Another possibility is that there was not enough liquid in the pan. The liquid should almost cover the grape leaves and the bundles will finish cooking. I have made an adjustment in the recipe of increasing the water in the rice from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. The rice should be just partially cooked. I do hope you give this recipe another try. Thanks for your comments.

Joanne Palumbo

Friday 22nd of May 2020

My Greek YiaYia taught me how to make dolmathes but we only ever used fresh, young leaves. I am about to make them with a jar of leaves I have since no longer have any access to grapevines. Also, we make the avgolemeno sauce and pour it directly over the food in the dutch oven. Let it sit for a few (15-30) minutes until the sauce sort of sets up. YUM!!

Pat Nyswonger

Friday 22nd of May 2020

Hi, Joanne....Thank you for your response to our stuffed grape leaves/avgolemono sauce. I can only imagine how delicious your YiaYia's recipe was with the fresh grape leaves! I have noticed that jarred grape leaves are different in texture from one brand to another. Some brands are really tough with the veins chewy. I wish I had some grapes growing in my backyard! I love stuffed grape leaves! Thanks for the tip on pouring the avgolemono sauce over the dolmas. Have a great weekend!

jumpgroup

Thursday 15th of August 2019

Just made theses this evening and the flavors were spot on. Just like I remember when my great-grandmother made them.

I did have one issue that maybe you could help. The grape leaves were mostly tough and chewy, even after boiling them for about 7 minutes. I don't make dolmas very often, but this has been a recurring theme with jarred brined leaves. The smaller ones were fine. But there weren't that many of them. Does this depend on the brand? Should I order fresh leaves? Boil them longer?

Pat Nyswonger

Thursday 15th of August 2019

Thanks for your comments....Yes, I have experience the same issue...it is the brand, some are tougher than others. I have made the 3 times and each time the leaves were different. The first batch (the ones in the post) was the best grape leaves. I will get back to you when I locate the brand of them. I have never tried fresh grape leaves and would really like to try them myself. We would love to hear of your experience if you use them. As far as boiling the preserved leaves longer, you could do that and taste-test one after the longer boil. Thanks for the feedback, hope to hear from you if you decide to use fresh leaves. :)

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