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Koupepia me ampelofylla ( Stuffed Vine Leaves)

koupepia with tomato


Koupepia (as we call them in Cyprus) are dolmades stuffed with rice, ground pork or beef, fresh herbs and seasoning, cooked in a tomato sauce. They can be served as part of a meze platter or salad plate, eaten as finger food or as a main dish.

The difference from the Greek ones is that in Cyprus we do not add avgolemono sauce but instead we add tomato and cinnamon, which adds a heavenly taste to this dish and an irresistible smell while they are being cooked.

This is one of my family’s favourite dishes and it’s one of those few times that I don’t have to prepare a second meal because they all love this one.



While I was cooking, I remembered that this is a recipe I knew since I was still at school.   When I was taking my First Certificate in English examination (called Lower Certificate) I was 14 years old. Our teacher told us that the examiners usually request the students to talk about something they like doing. I remember that even back then, I chose to speak about cooking.  They asked me what my favourite meal was and I told them it was koupepia,  stuffed vine leaves. The examiner asked me to describe the whole procedure of how this meal was prepared. Although I am not sure how my cooking skills were back then, I did pass the examinations but I suppose after so many years I must have improved my cooking skills as well.  Although I have a Proficiency Degree in English, I don’t know about my English, after so many years, as I don’t use English often. I hope that I  and can still explain the procedure and that you will understand my instructions but now that I am blogging in English again it will refresh my memory and hope to enrich my culinary vocabulary as well 🙂

Although dolmades are better served when warm, koupepia are best served cold, so they can easily be served as finger food, during a party or a gathering.  In Cyprus we also make this dish using Swiss Chard instead of vine leaves and will post the recipe in the future.

The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

Other relevant recipes:

How to.. preserve vine leaves

Dolmades me Avgolemono (egg-lemon sauce)

Kremmydia Gemista (Stuffed Onions)

Koupepia me Lahana and not Lahanodolmades (Koupepia with Swiss Chard)

Dolmades Gialantzi (vegan)

Kolokythia Gemista (Stuffed Courgettes)

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

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5 Responses

  1. Niki

    Geia sou Ivy, I am going to attempt your koupepia recipe this weekend and have 2 questions for you if you could please help! I know you’re so good! First of all, at this time of year can I get fresh vine leaves (I live in Cyprus) and secondly, you say cook for 45 mins – is this in the pan on the heat at a simmer or in the oven?
    Thank you! I love koupepia and can’t wait to try your recipe! x

  2. Ivy

    Hi Niki and welcome. Unfortunately it’s not the time for fresh vine leaves. You get them in Spring when the vineyards get their first leaves and which are very tender. However, you can find brined vine leaves in jars or in air tight containers.

    You can cook them both on the stove top or in the oven. When cooking on the stove top you should cover them with a plate the size of you pot cover them with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes. In the oven use a pot or a vessel both with a lid, no plate required, which is deep like a Dutch oven (I use Tupperware’s Ultra Plus) and bake. If you type the word koupepia on my site’s search engine you’ll find a vegeteraian koupepia recipe I made there and you can follow the regular recipe for koupepia and just see the cooking instructions.

  3. Niki

    Thank you – you’re wonderful! Am hungry just thinking about them! x

  4. Trista

    I found this on google and I have searched for YEARS to find te stuffed onion recipe! These sound like what my good friend's mother used to make. She did not remember her mom's recipe and I crave these!!! Can I PLEASE get the recipe for the filling. I am not able to find it on the bog. Thank you so much!

    • Ivy

      The recipe will be included in my cookbook which hopefully will be published in the next couple of months.