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Vegan Dolmas with Cranberries

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  • Author: Gonul
  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings (about 10 Sarmas per serving) 1x


Classic Turkish "yalanci" dolma is perfect for your Christmas table! My variation uses cranberries or tart cherries in place of lemons for acidity. You will love this classic vegan dolmas with cranberries recipe at any time of the year! 



For the Filling:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions. grated
  • 1/2 cup sour cherries or cranberries, pitted, finely chopped
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup hot water

For Wrapping & Cooking:

  • 60 fresh vine leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cherries or cranberries, pitted
  • 1 cup water


  1. Start by preparing the stuffing. Soak the rice in warm water for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan then add the grated onions. Sautee until slightly caramelized.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling, including the hot water, into the saucepan, and cook for another 5 minutes. Let the filling cool.
  4. While the filling is cooling off, prepare the vine leaves. If using fresh leaves, put them in hot water for 5 minutes to soften. If using preserved leaves, wash them multiple times to decrease their salt content before putting in hot water.
  5. When the filling is cool enough to handle, you may start assembling. Place each leaf with veins facing up on a level surface, then put a heaping teaspoon of the filling on the bottom half.
  6. Start by folding from the bottom, then fold each side inwards and roll up tightly into a cigarette shape (not too thick like a cigar). See the rolling guide photos in the recipe for clarification.
  7. In a wide saucepan, place a few vine leaves at the bottom to line the surface to prevent our dolmas from burning.
  8. Place all dolmas in the saucepan, seams facing down, then add the extra tart cherries or cranberries, olive oil, and water. Weigh down with a plate and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, then cook for another 40 minutes.
  9. Rest for 10 minutes before serving. It can be served warm or cold.
  10. You may store dolmas in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. However, they do not freeze very well.


  • Do not cook rice all the way before assembling, this results in a mushy, offputting texture.
  • Depending on the depth of your saucepan, you may need more or less water to cover the surface. You want all the dolmas to be covered with the water/oil mixture.
  • Prep Time: 90 minutes (plus 20 minutes for filling to cool)
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Mains, Sides
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Turkish, Mediterranean


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 175
  • Sugar: 6.7 g
  • Sodium: 406.4 mg
  • Fat: 9.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.8 g
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Protein: 2.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg