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Baked Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice, Ground Beef, and Fresh Herbs

BEST Greek Stuffed Tomatoes (Gemista)

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4.9 from 21 reviews

  • Author: Suzy Karadsheh
  • Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 stuffed tomatoes 1x


This stuffed tomato recipe is prepared Greek-style with a hearty, flavor-packed stuffing mixture of ground meat, rice with onions, garlic, fragrant spices like cumin, oregano, and nutmeg, and fresh herbs. A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil helps these stuffed tomatoes as they bake to delicious, tender perfection. Perfect as a main dish with Greek salad and Tzatziki sauce or as a stunning side next to lamb or lemon chicken. 


  • 1/2 cup long grain rice
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek olive oil)
  • 1 large red onion halved, mince 1/2 of the onion and slice the other
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef (you can use ground lamb or turkey)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spearmint
  • 6 large tomatoes


  1. Rinse the rice well, place in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes until you are easily able to break one grain of rice between your fingertips. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. And begin working on the stuffing mixture.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and heat until just shimmering but not smoking. Add chopped onions (but not the sliced onions) and garlic, toss briefly until fragrant (do not brown the onions and garlic.) Add the ground meat, season with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, allspice and nutmeg.  Cook the meat for about 5 minutes or until fully browned and cooked through (use a wooden spoon to break the meat apart to avoid large chunks.)
  4. When meat is fully browned, add drained rice it to the meat mixture in the skillet. Add crushed tomatoes, white wine, and water (a pinch of salt if you like.) Bring the saucy mixture to a boil, turn the heat down and let simmer for for just 10 minutes or so (the simmering is an optional step, but it is helpful to get the rice cooking a little bit.) When ready, stir in the fresh herbs. Season with kosher salt to taste.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare tomatoes for stuffing. Cut tomato tops (about 1/2 inch from top). Set the tops aside (they will be used later). Take a small pairing knife and carefully go around the edges of the tomato to loosen/separate the flesh. Then using a spoon, carefully scoop out the tomato flesh. Chop the flesh into large pieces and set it aside of later use (see photo in the tutorial above).
  6. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan (this is the one I used). Oil the bottom of the baking pan with extra virgin olive oil. Spread chopped tomato flesh and sliced onion the bottom of the baking dish and add the chopped tomato flesh and sliced onion to make a bed for the stuffed tomatoes.
  7. Now, spoon the saucy meat and rice mixture into the empty tomato shells. Arrange the stuffed tomatoes in the prepared baking dish. Cover the stuffed tomatoes with the reserved tops. From one of the corners of your baking dish, carefully pour about 3/4 cup of water. Add a little pinch of salt and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.
  8. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in heated oven for about 30 to 45 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour or so (a total of 1 1/2 hours or until the rice is fully cooked. The tomatoes will collapse well and become super tender.) Be sure to check during baking and add a little water if needed.


  • Cook's Tip: The tomatoes are meant to lose their shape here, the important thing is that the rice in the stuffing is fully cooked.
  • Cook's Tip: If you want to use brown rice, that is possible, but you will need to adjust the liquid and cooking time accordingly. Brown rice does take longer to cook through.
  • Serving Tip: To serve these as a main course, allow 1 to 2 stuffed tomatoes per person (depending on what you serve along). To serve them as a side dish, 1/2 stuffed tomato per person works well.
  • Prepare Ahead Options: You can fully prepare and cook the stuffed tomatoes the night before you need to serve them. Take them out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for a bit, then add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan, cover and warm through in a medium-heated oven. OR you can prepare the tomatoes and stuff them but do not bake them. Cover and refrigerate in a refrigerator-safe dish. Take them out a bit before baking so they are not too cold. Assemble in the baking dish as instructed and bake accordingly.
  • Leftovers will last about 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator in tight-lid containers.
  • Recommended for this Recipe: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives) and from our spice collection: cumin, allspice, and nutmeg.
  • Visit The Mediterranean Dish store to browse our olive oils, spices, and more!
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Greek