How to Make Family-Favorite Stuffed Peppers

Perfect for a family dinner or a cozy meal, these stuffed peppers are easy to prepare and super, super delicious. You’ll love how much flavor is in every component of this recipe.

One key to success? Roasting them beforehand ensures your peppers are evenly cooked.

Bright red bell peppers filled with a meat and rice mixture, topped with melted cheese and fresh parsley on a white platter.

Stuffed Peppers

This recipe blends homemade marinara, Italian sausage, and ground beef, in tender roasted bell peppers for a cozy and delicious meal.
Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Serving Size 6 stuffed peppers

Ingredients 

Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Rice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup uncooked rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup canned diced tomatoes do not drain

Roasting Peppers

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 bell peppers
  • dash salt and pepper

Meat Mixture

  • ¾ pound Italian sausage
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon salt divided
  • ½ teaspoon pepper divided
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Final Assembly

  • all components you made
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese divided
  • cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley Optional garnish

Instructions 

  • Make sauce. To prepare the marinara sauce, in a 10 or 12-inch skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the chopped onion on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onion from burning. Add garlic cloves and cook for an additional minute. Add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir and simmer on low while you start the rice.
    Homemade marinara sauce strained through a sieve into a stainless steel pan on a marble countertop.
  • Cook rice. In a separate 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat and add the rice, stirring and cooking for 2-3 minutes. Season the rice with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and ½ cup of marinara sauce. Stir ingredients and cover with a lid. Simmer rice on low heat for 20 minutes. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the lid and stir the rice. If not cooked completely, add additional broth if needed and cook a few minutes more until done.
    Diced onions and minced garlic sautéing in olive oil in a non-stick skillet, preparation for a flavorful base.
  • Prep peppers. While the rice cooks prepare the peppers. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the core and thick membranes. Brush oil on the inside of the pepper and sprinkle each pepper with a dash of salt and pepper. Place each in a 9×13 pan one to two inches apart. Roast the peppers for 20 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven to cool.
    Six colorful bell peppers, cored and seasoned, arranged in a white ceramic baking dish ready for stuffing.
  • Cook meat. Change oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the marinara sauce in a small bowl and clean the skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and cook the sausage and beef until no longer pink. Add the garlic cloves, oregano, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Drain any grease.
    Ground beef fully cooked in a skillet, ready for mixing into the stuffing for peppers.
  • Mix Filling. When the rice is done, add the meat mixture to the rice and 1 cup of marinara sauce. Stir well until the meat and sauce are well incorporated. Stir in ½ cup mozzarella and ¼ cup of Parmesan.
    Two images showing the progression of cooking rice with tomatoes and spices in a skillet, before and after adding shredded cheese.
  • Assemble peppers and bake. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of the 9×13 pan. (It’s easier to remove the peppers for a minute to do so and then return to the pan). Scoop the rice mixture into the peppers, generously filling them full until the rice mixture is gone. Add about 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce to the top of each stuffed pepper. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
    Stuffed bell peppers filled with a meat and rice mixture, topped with marinara sauce in a white baking dish.
  • Add cheese and broil. Remove the pan from the oven and discard the foil. Sprinkle on each pepper about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan and 2 tablespoons of mozzarella. Return the pan to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. If desired, turn the oven to broil and cook the peppers an additional 1-2 minutes to slightly brown the cheese. Carefully remove the pan from the oven.
  • Serve. Garnish peppers with chopped parsley and serve warm.
    Six stuffed peppers with melted mozzarella cheese, garnished with chopped parsley, arranged in a white ceramic dish, showing a variety of colors including green, red, and yellow peppers.

Notes

The rice can take a little longer to cook with the additional liquid from the tomato products. I looked at various recipes for ratios and followed some guidance from Mark Bittman, NY Times cookbook author. I love the flavor added to the rice by cooking it in the marinara sauce as well, and I recommend that.  It’s possible it could take a little longer to cook or need a little more liquid based on the type of rice used and the level of heat used. I used extra long-grain white rice because it was what I had. 
You really can use any color of pepper. I used a variety but you can buy what is on sale or stick with one color. I did try and buy peppers that were a similar height and looked like they could stand. If they don’t stand upright after trimming the tops, slice a small sliver off the bottom to help level them so they will stand. 
Roasting the peppers prior to cooking with the stuffing added flavor and ensured the peppers were cooked through perfectly when done.
I used mild Italian sausage and Cento crushed tomatoes. I also used Swanson’s reduced-sodium chicken broth. 
Putting sauce or liquid at the bottom of the pan helps the peppers to cook, which is why I put the marinara sauce in the pan as well.
Calories: 749kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 2363mg | Potassium: 1430mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 4927IU | Vitamin C: 180mg | Calcium: 316mg | Iron: 6mg

I’m telling you, the homemade marinara sauce mixed with the Italian sausage and beef, tucked inside those sweet roasted peppers—it’s just comfort food heaven. It’s become our go-to for Sunday family dinners.

Halved red bell pepper stuffed with a savory mixture of rice and ground meat, topped with cheese and parsley, served on a white plate.

I hope this recipe brings as much joy to your table as it does to mine!

Stuffed Peppers Tips

  • Choose the Right Peppers: Opt for bell peppers that are similar in size to ensure they cook evenly. Peppers with flat bottoms are ideal as they stand up better while baking.
  • Pre-cook the Rice Properly: The texture of the rice is crucial. Make sure it’s almost fully cooked before stuffing, as it only absorbs a limited amount of liquid in the oven.
  • Drain the Meat: After cooking the sausage and beef, be sure to drain the excess grease thoroughly. This step prevents the filling from becoming overly oily and helps the flavors shine.
  • Test for Doneness: Given oven variations, check the peppers towards the end of baking to ensure they’re tender. A fork should easily pierce the pepper without resistance.

Key Ingredients and Tools

When making this recipe, a few items in your toolkit can make all the difference in achieving that perfect bite. Here’s a closer look at some of them:

ngredients for stuffed peppers arranged on a white marble background, including bell peppers, ground meats, rice, and seasonings.

12-inch Skillet with a Lid. A large skillet with a lid is essential for cooking the rice evenly and ensuring it’s perfectly tender before stuffing the peppers.

Italian Sausage. Opt for mild or spicy depending on your preference. Italian sausage adds a depth of flavor that is hard to replicate with other meats.

Canned Crushed Tomatoes. These are the backbone of your homemade marinara sauce. Go for quality brands like San Marzano for the best flavor.

Fresh Parsley. A sprinkle of fresh parsley before serving not only adds a burst of color but also a fresh, herbaceous note to balance the rich filling.

Choosing the right tools and ingredients can elevate this dish from good to great, making your stuffed peppers a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with french bread, a side salad, and fresh fruit.

Troubleshooting and Help

Can I make this vegetarian?

Absolutely! Just swap out the meat for a mix of your favorite veggies or a plant-based meat substitute. Mushrooms, zucchini, and black beans make great fillings too.

What if I don’t have Italian sausage?

No problem! You can use all ground beef or even ground turkey if you prefer. Just amp up the seasoning a bit since sausage usually brings extra spices to the dish.

Can I prepare these stuffed peppers ahead of time?

Yes, you can! Assemble the peppers up to the point of baking and keep them covered in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to eat, just pop them in the oven and extend the baking time by about 10 minutes or until they’re heated through.

Is there a way to make these peppers less spicy?

Definitely. Choose mild sausage and bell peppers that are naturally sweeter, like red, yellow, or orange peppers. They have a milder flavor compared to green peppers

How do I know when the peppers are fully cooked?

The peppers should be tender enough that a fork can slide in easily. If they’re still a bit firm, pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or need more tips on making this recipe just right!

Storing Leftovers

Storing and Freezing:

To store these, allow them to cool completely after cooking. Then, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate. They will keep well for 3-4 days.

If you want to freeze the stuffed peppers, here’s how:

  1. Let the cooked peppers cool completely.
  2. Place them on a baking sheet, not touching each other, and freeze until solid. This prevents them from sticking together.
  3. Once solid, transfer the peppers to a freezer-safe bag or container. They’ll be good for up to three months.
  4. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

These peppers freeze and reheat well, so don’t hesitate to make a big batch and save some for later!

Feel free to play around with the filling and seasonings to match your preferences or what you have on hand. Happy cooking, and enjoy your meal!

Stuffed yellow and green bell peppers with melted cheese and parsley garnish in a white baking dish.
How to Make Family-Favorite Stuffed Peppers
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