This stuffed peppers recipe is a hit every time! The roasted bell peppers are filled to the brim with melty cheese and Italian flavor.

Stuffed Peppers

Did you know stuffed peppers is a traditional Italian way to use up leftover odds and ends in your kitchen? We can’t take credit for this genius move, but here’s our spin on it. Try our favorite stuffed peppers recipe! The filling is seasoned irresistibly with Italian spices, pizza sauce and melty cheese. Even better: it works for many diets. We’ve got variations for meat eaters, vegetarian, and gluten-free eaters! (Vegan too, if you want to skip the cheese.) Here’s how to make stuffed peppers…the best way we know how.

How to make stuffed peppers

There are a few main ways to make stuffed peppers: the variations are in the way you cut them, and how you pre-cook them before filling. Here’s what to know about this stuffed peppers recipe:

  • Slice the peppers lengthwise. We’re picky about our peppers. Eating them straight up with the top cut off makes them hard to eat (in our opinion). Cutting them lengthwise makes them easier to eat. Plus, you get 2 halves on your plate: which looks better and like a bigger portion
  • Pre-bake the peppers! Some stuffed pepper recipes call for boiling your peppers before baking. Others don’t pre-cook them and they turn out too crunchy. Our research found that pre-baking the peppers for 30 minutes makes them perfectly tender! Once you stuff them, you’ll need 20 minutes in the hot even to get the cheese nice and melty.
Stuffed peppers recipe

Vegetarian vs ground beef filling

The best stuffed bell peppers filling, in our mind? Our insanely delicious “sausage” made with mushrooms and walnuts. Sound weird? Hear us out. Or, make the ground beef option: or maybe both ways for a family with a variety of eaters!

  • The best filling option? “Sausage” with lots of spices. Here we combined walnuts, mushrooms, and lots of spices to make an Italian-sausage spin on our Walnut Taco Meat. It is extremely delicious and satisfies even the most passionate of meat eaters (really). Or…
  • Or, make it with ground beef. We eat lots of vegetarian recipes around here. But we know: some family members just love meat! You can make this stuffed peppers recipe with ground beef using the same spices: see below!

Can you make it vegan? Yes, but the cheese is pretty integral to the overall concept. So substitute your favorite brand of vegan mozzarella cheese! The rest of the filling is vegan.

How to make stuffed peppers

Filling adders & ideas

You’ll use that vegetarian sausage or ground beef filling and mix it with rice, pizza sauce, and mozzarella cheese to make a gooey, savory and altogether irresistible filling. There are lots of fun add-in ideas for this filling (at least, we have several!). Here are some ideas to get your wheels churning — consider adding:

  • Chopped basil or fresh oregano
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded (a few tablespoons)
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Capers, drained (just 1 or 2 tablespoons adds a tasty tangy flavor)
  • Green olives, chopped (again, just 1 or 2 tablespoons)

Variations on stuffed peppers

As you might expect: there’s no one way to make stuffed peppers. It’s an Italian concept, but there are so many different styles. Here are a few ideas:

Stuffed peppers

Tips for make-ahead and meal prep

This stuffed peppers recipe takes about 1 hour to make. We typically reserve this one for special meals: a weekend or dinner party. But want to save time and make it on a weeknight? You can do that too. There are several options depending on what you’d like to do:

  • Make rice in advance: Make sure to reheat it with a splash of water and a pinch of salt before assembling the peppers. It dries out quite a bit in the refrigerator.
  • Make entire filling in advance: You can make the entire filling in advance and refrigerate. Then re-warm before stuffing the peppers.
  • Bake the bell peppers in advance: You also can pre-bake the peppers in advance, then fill and bake them day of.
  • Make the entire stuffed peppers in advance: Make the entire pepper recipe in advance and refrigerate. The day of serving, top with breadcrumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until warmed through and the cheese is melted.

Make it a meal: serving this stuffed peppers recipe!

Lastly: how to accessorize these stuffed peppers? A simple salad is what we normally opt for, which you can mix up while your peppers do their final bake. Here are a few more ideas:

Stuffed peppers recipe

Bell peppers nutrition

Here’s another great thing about stuffed bell peppers…they’re loaded with vitamins, especially Vitamin C. In fact, one serving provides 169% of daily Vitamin C. Bell peppers are:

  • A low calorie food. One medium bell pepper has only 40 calories!
  • Loaded with Vitamin C. A medium red bell pepper provides a whopping 169% of your daily vitamin C! (Source)
  • A potential preventer of anemia. Some studies indicate peppers could prevent low iron (Source).

Let us know if you try this recipe, and what you think! We hope you love it as much as our family does.

This stuffed peppers recipe is…

Vegetarian and dairy free.

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Stuffed peppers

Classic Stuffed Peppers


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This stuffed peppers recipe is a hit every time! The roasted bell peppers are filled to the brim with melty cheese and Italian flavor.


Ingredients

Scale

For the mushroom walnut crumbles (or use 1 pound ground beef and the spices; see Step 2 below)

  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • 4 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (or coconut aminos for soy free)
  • 1 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon each fennel seeds, dried oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the stuffed peppers

  • 6 multi-colored bell peppers (red, yellow and green)
  • ¾ cup dry short grain rice or 2 cups cooked (reheated to warm with a splash of water and a pinch of salt)
  • ½ cup pizza sauce (purchased or homemade)
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella balls (or cut into bite-sized chunks)
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and/or Italian panko or bread crumbs (omit for gluten-free)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the rice: Start the rice to cook. (See Make Ahead Tips in the notes below*.)
  3. Pre-bake the bell peppers: Wash the peppers and cut them in half lengthwise; remove the stems and seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then place the peppers on top. Bake with the cut side down for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip to cut side up, draining any with water. Sprinkle with salt (about a heaping ¼ teaspoon kosher salt divided between the peppers). Bake another 15 minutes until tender, then remove and stuff (see below).
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Roughly chop the mushrooms. Place them in a large food processor, then add the walnuts and tamari, ketchup, spices, and salt. Pulse gently multiple times until everything is evenly chopped, being careful not to over process (or it will be too mushy). If you don’t have a food processor, use a chef’s knife to roughly chop everything and place in a bowl with the spices. 
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring until it releases all of its liquid then becomes dry and browned. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Ground beef variation: Drizzle olive oil into a skillet. Add the beef with the spices and salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes until browned, then drain the fat. Taste and add additional salt as needed. 
  6. Stuff the peppers: Once the peppers are pre-baked, mix the filling from the previous step with 2 cups cooked rice (measure it), pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and kosher salt. (If desired, add a mix-in like drained capers or chopped olives; see above.) Taste and add additional salt if necessary. Spoon the filling into the peppers.
  7. Bake the peppers: Top with a handful of shredded mozzarella, and grated Parmesan and/or panko or breadcrumbs. Place the peppers back onto the parchment lined baking sheet and bake 20 minutes until the cheese melts. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving. 

Notes

*Make ahead tips: You can make the rice in advance, but make sure to reheat it with a splash of water and a pinch of salt before assembling the peppers. You can make the entire filling in advance and re-warm before stuffing the peppers. You also can pre-bake the peppers in advance, then fill and bake them day of. Finally, you can make the entire pepper recipe in advance and refrigerate: then top with breadcrumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until warmed through and the cheese is melted.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired

Keywords: Stuffed peppers, Stuffed peppers recipe, Stuffed bell peppers, How to make stuffed peppers

More bell pepper recipes

More to make with bell peppers? Here are all our favorite ways to serve them as a side dish:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m confused, I structions are confusing for meat mixture. I’m using ground chicken vs beef. It says to add thr spices but do you still use the rice mixture with cheeses and pizza sauce?

    1. Yes, still use the rice, cheese and pizza sauce! The ground beef just replaces the mushrooms and walnuts.

  2. Are the peppers cut in half b/c 1/2 of a pepper = 1 serving? I certainly hope that’s not the case, is it? Also, why don’t you post the Nutr. Info for your recipes? Is it b/c ‘healthy’ isn’t always ‘waistline friendly’? I’m not bring snotty, but I find this to be true with many (so-called) healthy dishes. BTW, I always use low sodium Soy Sauce, in order to stay healthy. Thank U

    1. Hi! We cut them in half because we find that they cook better and are easier to eat. Two halves per serving and the nutritional info is just below the recipe.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. The recipe for stuffed peppers at acouplecooks is the only one anybody needs. For my part, I prefer the usual way to cut the peppers. I start with an economical beef chuck roast (whole, intact) which I braise: the first step is searing it in a small bit of avocado- or walnut oil for 3-4 minutes on each side. Then put roast, wrapped in parchment paper, in a lipped baking dish into a 325-degree oven slowly to cook. When done, remove and rest it for a half hour or so. Slice against grain maybe 1-1/2 inches thick, and cut into 2-inch lengths. Chop lengths as desired for stuffing peppers. Proceed as directed with ACoupleCooks recipe. Pre-cooking the peppers is a splendid idea to keep them firm.

    1. Thank you so much! We’re so glad that you enjoy this recipe and that it works well with braised beef as a modification. Thanks for making it and letting us know! Let us know what else you end up trying.