Gramala Instant Pot Dolmades

If there ever was a dish that exemplified the motto of Butternutplace— “Stay Briny”—it would have to be dolmades!

This lamb-y recipe makes creative use of leftover bones for an easy and less time-consuming cook time with help of the trusty Instant Pot.  You could use any pressure cooker, however.  Apparently, for decades grandmothers/yayas in Greece have been pressure cooking their dolmades.  Well, I’ve finally caught up, not just in cooking but in being a grandmother!  Since my grandmother name is Gramala, I’ve christened this recipe with my moniker.

With record high temperatures here in the PNW, I moved my kitchen outdoors this summer to the covered front porch.  There I have a butane cooktop, a toaster oven and the other man in my life, Marengo the Instant Pot. (You know, everyone is naming their IPs lately, and I just had to join in.)

The classic dolmades recipe is with rice and occasionally lamb. (Check out my original/traditional/classic recipe.)    I amped up this recipe with a whole pound of grass-fed ground lamb, and I reduced the rice.  Pine nuts and fresh herbs round out the flavor, plus a lot of lemon.  The bones and fresh tomatoes help to infuse the cooking liquid, making this a yummy treat. 

While this will save you time in cooking, it will not save you time in prepping.  Sorry!

Makes 50-60 dolmades depending upon the size of your grape leaves.


  • 1 lb ground grass-fed lamb
  • 1 C rice (long grain preferred)
  • ¼ C tomato paste
  • 2 C chopped onions
  • 3 T chopped garlic
  • ½ C lemon juice
  • ¾ C olive oil
  • ½  C chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh mint (or 2 t dried mint)
  • 1 T dried dill (or 3 T chopped fresh)
  • ¼ C pine nuts
  • 1 T fresh ground cumin
  • 1 ½ T salt
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 tomatoes, sliced
  • Enough bones to cover the bottom of your Instant Pot
  • 2 ½ C water
  • Brined grape leaves (about 60)


  • Put bones into the bottom of your IP and top with fresh tomatoes!
  • Add water to IP
  • In ¼ C oil, sauté your onions and garlic until just softened
  • Combine onion/garlic mixture with lamb, rice, herbs, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil and spices. Mix thoroughly with your hands and set aside.
  • Put mixture into your grape leaves.  See here for more information.
  • Layer dolmades in the IP on your fresh tomato bed, separating layers with fresh or brined grape leaves.  This should make about 3 layers of 20 or so dolmades each.
  • Pressure cook on manual for 12 minutes, with 15 minute natural pressure release.

Serve warm or at room temp with avgolemono sauce.  Here’s a link to my favorite recipe.

The dolmades and the sauce keep well in the fridge for 5 days.  You can also freeze the dolmades.  The sauce does not freeze well.

Stay briny,



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