Italian Stuffed Peppers are often considered an exclusively Italian food. Fact is, worldwide, stuffed pepper dishes come in dozens of variations. Heavily influenced by local food trends, authentic Italian Stuffed Peppers even vary widely across Italy. Every region has its own spin on the classic dish- which means that your version is just as ‘authentic’ as everyone else’s! In our recipe, we incorporate classic Italian flavors in a meaty marinara sauce topped with melted cheese- all stuffed in a fresh bell pepper.
One commonality among stuffed peppers is the addition of a carbohydrate in the stuffing to absorb moisture. We use rice, but there are other recipes without rice as well. Bread stuffing is an excellent example. We like rice because it does the job of moisture control without overdoing it and making the stuffing dry.
- Using two kinds of meat brings more flavor
- The filling holds together without being dry
- Plenty of cheese and sauce to go around
- Perfectly spiced with a taste of Italy in every bite
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make This Recipe?
We make our stuffed peppers with rice and ground beef as well as sausage, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Prepared marinara sauce along with an onion and fresh garlic are also needed. An egg for binding the filling, bread crumbs for the topping, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper are called for as well. Of course, you need bell peppers! If you want spicy Italian Stuffed Peppers, you can use a spicy sausage to up the heat!
How Do You Make Italian Stuffed Peppers?
To begin, you prep the peppers by cutting off the tops, removing the seeds and ribs, and giving them a quick parboil. Then, you’ll cook the meats completely before adding the rice, cheeses, marinara sauce, egg, and spices to complete the filling. Next, stuff the peppers with the filling and bake. How long to cook stuffed peppers is obviously impacted by our precooked ingredients. When they are cooked, top with cheese and bread crumbs and broil for a few minutes to get the perfect topping.
A common question is how long do you bake stuffed peppers, I usually let the peppers be my guide. You don’t have to worry about getting the meat to a certain temperature, so you can focus on cooking the peppers to your preference. If you don’t want your peppers super soft, decrease the bake time by about 5-10 minutes.
Step By Step: How To Make Italian Stuffed Peppers
1. Preheat oven. Cut the tops off the bell pepper and remove the seeds and ribs.
2. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pepper if needed for leveling.
3. Parboil bell peppers for 2-3 minutes. Dry on paper towels.
4. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until well cooked. Remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
5. In the same skillet, add Italian sausage, onion, and garlic. Cook until the sausage is cooked through.
6. Add the browned beef back, then add all the remaining ingredients for filling. Mix until evenly combined.
7. Divide the meat mixture in the prepared peppers. Lightly press the mixture as you fill.
8. Spoon 2 tablespoons of Marinara over the top of each stuffed pepper. Pour marinara sauce around the baking dish just covering the bottom.
9. Bake until peppers are tender or to 30 minutes.
10. Remove from oven. Top each peppers with Mozzarella and bread crumbs. Place back in the broiler, uncovered. Broil approx. 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
Alternate Fillings: There are endless combinations of fillings for stuffed peppers. THey’re actually a great way to use up leftovers- think spaghetti, taco meat, or even grilled chicken! Add in a starch like rice, pasta, or bread crumbs, some veggies, and a bit of cheese to create your unique stuffed peppers! If you like Tex-Mex flavors, our Southwest Stuffed Peppers pack a flavor punch with a ground beef and bean filling. Create cheesy stuffed peppers by using a variety of cheeses instead of meat. You can even make a low-carb, low-fat option with our Easy Stuffed Peppers. There’s really no wrong way to stuff a pepper!
Baking Dish Preparation- Bubbly, cheesy tomato sauce is delectable but can be a pain to get out of your baking dish. Consider lining your pan with foil to make clean-up easier. Also, to help the peppers stand better, use a pan with deep sides to support them.
Peppers- The most commonly stuffed pepper is the bell pepper, but you can stuff any pepper you please! Bell peppers work well because of their size, thick walls, and mild flavor. If you want to bring the heat with a hotter pepper, check out the pepper’s Scoville Scale rating, so you know exactly what you’re getting into! There many other mild peppers- banana, poblano, or Anaheim peppers for example- that are large enough to stuff. They each offer different flavors and heat levels. Check at your local farmer’s market and experiment with different varieties.
Pepper Prep- You can make your life easier if you select peppers with a nice even bottom. However, if you get a pepper that doesn’t want to stand up, you can trim a bit off the bottom to even it up. Just make sure you don’t break through to the middle or all your yummy sauce will run out! If you have a particularly pesky pepper that refuses to stand to attention, you can cut it in half lengthwise and stuff each half.
Make Ahead Tips
The best way to make Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers ahead of time is to complete all of the steps except for the topping and baking. This is a great recipe to make on the weekend and use as a family dinner early in the week. Simply pull it out of the fridge and bake, adding the topping as directed!
Can You Freeze This?
As to how to freeze stuffed peppers, depends if they’re fully cooked or stuffed but not cooked. I prefer freezing stuffed peppers stuffed but not pre-cooked. The overall texture of the pepper is much nicer this way. To freeze, assemble the stuffing, stuff the peppers, and allow everything to cool completely. Wrap with a couple of layers of cling wrap and then a layer of foil. It will keep for about 2-3 months. You can bake from frozen or thawed. Just follow the instructions for baking and adding the topping. Increase the cook time if it’s coming straight from the freezer.
When considering what goes with stuffed peppers, think about how big of a meal you are trying to create. You already have a vegetable and main dish all in one with just the peppers. Another veggie like steamed broccoli, mixed vegetables, or roasted zucchini would be good options. Of course, you can never go wrong with a side or Ceasar salad, and garlic bread is always an excellent way to round out an Italian supper. For a larger meal, add another side dish like pasta or roasted or mashed potatoes.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
Italian Stuffed Peppers leftovers keep well for several days in the fridge. As with any dish with a tomato based sauce, avoid plastic containers. A well-sealed glass dish works best and if it is microwave or oven safe, allows you to reheat without using another pan.
Italian Stuffed Peppers
- 6 Bell Peppers, Any Color
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- 8 Ounces Italian Sausage, Casings Removed
- 1 1/2 Cup Yellow Onion, Chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic, Minced
- 1 Cup Cooked Rice
- 2 Cups Mozzarella, Shredded
- 1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- 1/2 Cup Prepared Marinara Sauce
- 1 Large Egg, Lightly Beaten
- 2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, Or To Taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- Prepared Marinara Sauce
- 3/4 Cup Mozzarella, Shredded
- 3/4 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the tops off the peppers removing the interior seeds and ribs. If necessary, cut a thin slice from bottom of each pepper so they stand upright.
- In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the peppers until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.
- Arrange standing peppers in a baking dish. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef, until there is no longer any pink, then remove to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Drain off excess fat from the skillet.
- To the same skillet, add the Italian sausage, onion, and garlic and cook until the sausage is cooked through and the onion is soft. Drain off excess fat from the skillet.
- Add the browned beef back to the skillet. Then add the cooked rice, 2 cups shredded Mozzarella, Parmesan, 1/2 Cup Marinara sauce, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix until evenly combined.
- Divide the meat mixture evenly among the prepared peppers. Lightly press the mixture as you fill.
- Spoon 2 Tablespoons of Marinara over the tops of each stuffed pepper. Pour Marinara sauce around the peppers into the baking dish just cover the bottom, about 1/2-inch deep.
- Bake until the peppers are very tender and the filling is heated through 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Top each pepper with shredded Mozzarella then Italian bread crumbs.
- Turn oven to broil. Place peppers, uncovered under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the stuffed peppers to a platter, spoon the sauce from the baking dish over and around the peppers. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
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