The moment that I fell in love with Greek food was when I first tasted dolmades at a Greek restaurant in Vancouver. I was 18 years old and had finally grew out of my childhood picky eater phase. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with trying to perfect making Greek Dolmades at home. Dolmades are stuffed grape leaves that are traditionally served with rice and spices. However, I’ve always prefered ones mixed with meat, rice, and spices. These Keto Greek Dolmades are made with cauliflower rice, ground meat, and spices. The cauliflower rice adds a nice substance to the filling but you won’t be able to taste that it’s there. They are cooked in the instant pot for a faster cooking method and to leave your oven & stovetop free to cook other delicious greek food!
How to Roll Dolmades:
Grape leaves can be very fragile (especially the jarred ones) but with some practice, you’ll find that they’re very easy to roll. It’s just like rolling a burrito! If you break or rip any leaves in the process, you can always set them aside and use them for layering the bottom of your pot (this will prevent the dolmades from burning).
Cut off the stem of the grape leaf.
Place 2-3 tsp of filling onto the grape leaf (depending on the size of the leaf). Typically you would add only 1 tsp of filling to the grape leaf to allow the rice to expand.Since we aren’t using rice, we can add more filling, being careful not to break the leaf.
Firmly roll up the bottom of the grape leaf.
Fold in Both Sides of the Leaf.
Tightly Roll up the Dolma.
How to Assemble the Dolmades in the Pot:
Place a few grape leaves with some olive oil at the bottom of the pot or Instant Pot Mesh Steamer Basket. This is the perfect place to use the broken grape leaves.
Tightly place the domades in the pot. This works best if you can place the dolmades in the same direction, switching directions for the next layer. Place sliced lemons on top of each layer.
Put a plate on top of the dolmades. This will secure the dolmades so that they don’t unravel during the cooking process.
For my keto dolmades I typically use a 16 ounce jar of grape leaves. Depending on your area, you may be able to find this at your local grocery store without any issues or you may need to visit a specialty grocery store. You can also find them online here. This recipe generally uses about half the amount of leaves in a 16 ounce jar. You can double the recipe if you want to use all of the leaves or I’ve heard of people freezing the grape leaves, although I haven’t tried it myself.
If you are using fresh grape leaves, blanche them for 2-3 seconds in salted boiling water, and then run cold water over them. This will make the leaves easier to roll.
A Note on the Cooking Method:
Normally when you cook dolmades, you need a lot of water in order to cook the rice stuffed in the grape leaves. I prefer using chicken or vegetable broth because it adds more flavor. For our keto dolmades we use cauliflower rice as a substitute. While the cauliflower doesn’t need so much water to cook, we find that fully covering the stuffed grape leaves with broth adds so much flavor to the dolmades. The broth is also necessary because it softens the grape leaves during the cooking process. The only issue is that none of the water or broth is absorbed during the cooking process.
When the stuffed grape leaves are done cooking, you’ll be left with a lot of water in the pot. The best way to drain the water is with the Instant Pot Mesh Steamer Basket. If you do not have this accessory another method is to hold the plate tightly to the dolmades and tip the pot into a strainer, being careful not to drop any grape leaves. The plate and water will still be very hot, so this is best done with a silicone oven mitt (waterproof and heat resistant).Once you are done straining the liquid, it is very important to let the grape leaves rest for 15-30 minutes. If you pick up the dolmades right away, they are more likely to fall apart. Letting them rest will allow them to set and prevent them from unraveling.
If you do not have an instant pot or pressure cooker, you can cook the dolmades on the stovetop in a large Dutch oven for 30-40 minutes on medium heat. Cover the dolmades with water or broth and place a plate on top to prevent the dolmades from unraveling.
Instant Pot Greek Dolmades
- Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
- Instant Pot Mesh Basket
- Optional: Large dutch oven (stovetop method). See cooking notes above.
- 1 Jar Grape Leaves 400g Drained Weight, Stems Trimmed. Recipe uses approx. 2/3 of jar.
- 750 grams Ground Beef
- 500 Grams Frozen Cauliflower Rice Steamed and Drained.
- 175 grams Diced White Onion
- 175 grams Diced Fennel Bulb Optional.
- 1 tbsp Fresh Chopped Dill Or 1 tsp dried.
- 1 tsp Dried Mint Optional.
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt Or to taste.
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper Or to taste.
- 3-4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth Or water.
- 2 Large Eggs
- 6 Cups Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth or Water
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 2-3 Lemons Sliced.
- To start, steam the cauliflower in the microwave according to the package directions. Allow to cool and squeeze out excess moisture with a kitchen towel.
- Prepare the filling by mixing together all of the filling ingredients - cauliflower rice, ground beef, fennel, onion, eggs and spices.
- Lay the grape leaves flat and cut off the stem.
- Add about 1-2 tbsp of the mixture (depending on the size of the grape leaf) to the grape leave and roll tightly (like a burrito!). Set aside and repeat.
- Method 1 (Without Steam Basket): Layer bottom of the pot with olive oil and a few grape leaves to prevent the dolmades from burning. Method 2 (With Steam Basket) Preferred Method: Place a few grape leaves on the steam basket.
- Arrange the dolmades tightly, filling the bottom of the pot (or steam basket). Top the row with sliced lemons and repeat layering the dolmades in the opposite direction. Repeat until complete.
- Top the dolmades with a plate. This will keep the dolmades from unraveling during the cooking process.
- Fill the pot with the chicken broth until all of the dolmades are covered.
- Set the instant pot to high pressure and cook for 25 minutes. Once the grape leaves are done cooking, allow for a natural release, approx. 15 minutes.
- Removing the Stuffed Grape Leaves:Method 1 (Without Steam Basket): Holding the plate tightly to the dolmades. strain the liquid from the pot, being careful to not drop any dolmades. Method 2 (With Steam Basket) Preferred Method: Carefully lift the basket with the dolmades to strain the liquid. Remove from the instant pot and set aside.Method 3: Use tongs to remove the grape leaves. Be very careful with this method as the stuffed grape leaves are more unlikely to unroll.
- Let the grape leaves sit for 15-20 minutes to set and slightly cool so that they do not unravel when eating.
- Serve as an appetizer or a main dish with tzatziki, enjoy!
- 50 Calories
- 1.5g Carbohydrates
- 0.8g Fiber
- 3.5g Fat
- 3.7g Protein