Dolmas are delicious, but a little time-consuming! So, I decided to solve the problem and create a tangy, delicious, and easy lemon rice! It’s all the goodness of dolmas without the work! It’s so lemony that it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! Use this dish like a Greek Lemon Rice Pilaf and pair it with any Mediterranean inspired dish, add a protein to make it a full meal, or simply eat it on its own. The lemon and herb mixture makes this rice totally addictive and a perfect addition to any meal!
You will LOVE this lemon rice recipe because it’s…
- Easy to make in 1 pot in less than 30 minutes!
- Bursting with flavor! Filled with fresh lemons and herbs!
- Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free so everyone can enjoy it!
- Perfect for potlucks and parties!
- Great for meal prep and lunches!
- A flavorful side for any meal.
How this lemon rice was born…
My whole family loves vegan dolmas, even my kids. They make a great packed lunch food, especially if you’re gluten-free! However, the pre-made ones are expensive and to roll your own is time-consuming and a little tricky.
I knew I could probably make my own, but I didn’t want to go through all the work of stuffing and rolling up each grape leaf. So, I thought unstuffed grape leaves sounded perfect! All of the lemon and herbs that we loved without all of the work! It took a few tries to perfect it, adding more onions, herbs, and lemon each time that I made it. The result is lemon rice bursting with flavor, and it’s one of my new favorite dishes!
What you need to make this lemon rice recipe…
- A Pot – A medium-sized pot to cook it all in.
- Onions – I like sweet onions, but you could use any type. (I know that this sounds like a lot, but the onion is key to the right taste and texture. The first time I made it, I only put in 1 onion and my husband and I were fighting over the tiny pieces of onion at the bottom of the pan. So, trust me, you won’t regret using 3)!
- Dill – For flavor. You could leave it out if you don’t like dill, but it gives it that meditation flavor of dolmas.
- Mint – Optional, but recommended – it gives it a fresh burst of flavor
- Olive Oil – Use light olive oil, dark virgin olive oil has too strong of a flavor in this dish.
- Lemon – Freshly squeezed lemon juice is best! You don’t want to skimp on the lemon or it just won’t be lemon rice.
- Salt – For flavor.
- Grape Leaves – (Optional) for extra texture and flavor of dolmas. You can find these in jars in the Mediterranian section of the supermarket.
How do I make lemon rice?
- Sauté the onion in olive oil over low heat to bring out its sweetness.
- Toss in the herbs and add the fresh squeed lemon juice.
- Add water and bring to a boil.
- Wash rice in a wire mesh strainer until the water runs clean.
- Add rice to the pot.
- Let the rice slowly boil until the liquid is slightly below the rice line.
- Cover, and turn it to low heat and cook for 5 more minutes
- Turn off the heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. (Leave the cover on, I know it’s hard not to peek).
- Fluff with a fork.
To make it extra lemony, drizzle with lemon herb dressing…
We already added lots of lemon juice, dill, and mint to the cooking water, however, the flavors mellow a lot in the cooking process. So if you want truly lemony rice, add more flavor with the lemon dressing.
- Add olive oil, lemon, mint, and dill to a small bowl.
- Stir well.
- Drizzle it over your cooked rice before serving.
- Toss in some chopped grape leaves if desired. (optional)
If you want your lemon rice to be more like dolmas, add some grape leaves!
You can use this rice to roll up inside of grape leaves to make your own dolmas if you would like, or you can simply chop up grape leaves into small pieces and toss in with the rice along with the lemon dressing. I find grape leaves in a jar at my local grocery store. They will be in the aisle with the Middle Eastern foods.
This lemony dolma rice is delicious both warm and cold. It works great as a side or a main course. It’s delicious with some fried tofu or a vegan “chicken” product like Chick’n Scallopini.
Lemon rice is perfect for lunches, picnics, potlucks too!
Love fresh herbs? Try this Creamy Focaccia Soup!
Did you make this lemon rice? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
A lemony rice pilaf made with fresh lemon juice, dill, mint, and grape leaves. An inside out dolma!
- 3 tbsp olive oil (light version)
- 2-3 medium sweet onions diced
- 2 tbsp fresh minced dill
- 2 tbsp fresh minced mint
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 ½ cups water
- 2 cups Jasmine or Basmati rice rinsed well
- 2 medium lemons juiced (about 1/4 cup)
- 6-8 grape leaves chopped
- 3 medium lemons fresh squeezed (about 1/3 cup)
- 3 tbsp olive oil lighter green type has a more mild flavor
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp minced fresh dill
- 2 tbsp fresh minced mint
Put 3 tablespoons of a mild tasting olive oil in the bottom of your pot and turn to low heat.
Dice the sweet onions and add to the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Sauté on low for about 7 minutes until they become translucent.
Add fresh herbs, water, and lemon juice to the pot.
Turn heat up to medium and heat until it begins to boil.
Add rice that has been rinsed well.
Continue to let it boil until the liquid is slightly below the rice line.
Cover and turn to low and cook covered for 5 more minutes.
Turn off heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before taking the lid off.
While the rice is cooking, mix the lemon, olive oil, salt, and herbs in a separate bowl to make the dressing.
Fluff with a fork and add the chopped grape leaves.
Drizzle the dressing over the rice and mix well.
Serve hot or cold.
- You can adjust the amount of onion and lemon to taste.
- Light olive oil works best. Darker, virgin olive oil has too strong of a flavor.
- Works well served cold for lunches or to bring on picnics.
- A refreshing summer rice dish!