Warm and comforting these healthy Italian Style Stuffed Peppers are your new go-to make ahead meal! These Stuffed Peppers are a one stop meal packed with veggies, meat, and rice. With a few pantry staples and fresh ingredients you are off to a healthy and easy make ahead dinner. They are even better as leftovers! 

My nonna made them often when feeding all her teenage grandchildren. She snuck extra veggies in them to make sure we got our daily dose (smart nonna). They are filling, packed with veggies, meat, and rice and seem to hit the spot every time. My mamma typically made them for Sunday supper and we ate the leftovers as an after school snack!

What are Italian Stuffed Peppers?

Stuffed peppers is a dish common in Italy. It consists of hollowed or halved peppers filled with any of a variety of fillings, often including meat, vegetables, cheese, rice, or sauce. The dish is usually assembled by filling the cavities of the peppers and then baking them in the oven. The peppers get soft and all the fillings and flavors intensify.

Health Benefits of Bell Peppers.

Bell peppers provide an array of vitamins and minerals. Plus, they’re a good source of fiber and relatively low in carbohydrates. They are also low in calories and a particularly rich source of vitamins C and B6.

Sweet bell peppers are a good source of fiber. Adding fiber-rich foods to your diet can promote healthy gut function and protect against conditions that affect the digestive system.

Multi-color and nutritious it’s a delicious Italian stuffed peppers area a dinner you’ll want to add on regular rotation! 

This is a healthy family recipe that everyone loves!

Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe 4, CucinaByElena

Ingredients for Italian Stuffed Peppers:

  • 4-5 bell peppers (I prefer a mix of colors or just red)
  • 1 pound ground beef (use 90% lean, or ground turkey)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t like the heat)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup cooked long-grain rice
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano cheese (more for topping), finely grated
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (good quality variety from Modena Italy)
  • 1/8 cup of red wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut in quarters
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
  • 8 fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for topping

Variations for Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Let’s start with- What Bell Peppers to use. I like to look for ones that are large and round, as they are the easiest to stuff. While you can use any color, for this Italian version, red bell, yellow, and orange peppers are my favorite, as their sweet flavor pairs nicely with Italian herbs and cheese.
    • How Do You Cut Peppers for Stuffing? Start by washing and drying the peppers. Then, halve your peppers from top to bottom, cutting right down through the stems. Remove the seeds and membranes. That’s it! You are ready to stuff.
  • Meat Variety. Traditionally we make stuffed peppers with ground beef. Here are options to try: Italian stuffed peppers with chicken is ultra mild, meaning you can flavor it any way you like! For a different twist, try using sweet or spicy Italian turkey sausage (look for either bulk ground sausage or uncooked sausage in casings; remove the meat from the casings prior to cooking). Regular ground turkey works too.
    • If you want to make vegetarian Italian stuffed peppers, you could try using crumbled tofu in these peppers or swap a can of rinsed and drained white beans.
  • All about Rice. Feel free to use any variety of whole grain rice. We use cooked white rice, as I always have it in my pantry and often keep a container of cooked rice in my freezer for easy meals. Cooked farro (a whole grain popular in Italy) would be delicious, though it’s not gluten free like rice, so definitely keep that in mind if making this recipe gluten free is important to you. Another option is using orzo! If you go that route, undercook the orzo a bit, as there will be some carryover cooking in the oven.
    • For a low-carb option, you can make these Italian stuffed peppers without rice; swap cauliflower rice instead.

Making the BEST Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Do you need to boil peppers before stuffing them?

Yes! You should blanch your bell peppers before stuffing them. This step insures the bell peppers are soft, with a little bit, after they are cooked in the oven. Pre-cooking is the idea of quick-starting the cooking process of your stuffed pepper and keeping them from being too firm. Since stuffed peppers can take as long as 45 minutes to bake, precooking the peppers shortens that time a bit.

Why add Balsamic Vinegar to Sauces and Recipes?

Balsamic vinegar is a slightly sweet, dark, richly flavored vinegar used to enhance salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. The acid in tomatoes isn’t exaggerated by adding vinegars, it’s actually balanced. Make sure you use a high quality balsamic vinegar, it should have the words “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” written on it. That’s how you know it is authentic and good quality.

Here is a balsamic vinegar brand I recommend.

Can you Make Stuffed Peppers Ahead Of Time

Yes, absolutely! Stuffed bell Peppers are a great make-ahead meal! These stuffed peppers can be made ahead. You can assemble the peppers with the stuffing and then refrigerate them for up to one day before baking and serving. 

How to Freeze Stuffed Peppers

  • Do You Freeze Stuffed Peppers Cooked or Uncooked? I recommend freezing these stuffed peppers after they’ve been cooked. Leftovers will be easy to reheat and serve for fast, healthy dinners.
  • How to Freeze Stuffed Peppers. Place the baked Italian stuffed peppers in a freezer-safe container cut side up in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat Stuffed Peppers after they are Frozen. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat gently in the microwave or oven. To microwave, cut the peppers into a few pieces first to ensure that they warm evenly. For the oven, place the peppers on in baking dish cut side up and warm at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe 2, CucinaByElena

Made with Amore, Elena

From my Cucina to your Table, Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!) 

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Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe 4 150x150, CucinaByElena

Best Italian Stuffed Peppers

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Warm and comforting just in time for the cooler weather! These Stuffed Peppers are a one stop meal with veggies, meat, and rice. They are filling, packed with veggies, meat, and rice and seem to hit the spot every time. Stuffed peppers is a dish common in Italy.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 45 bell peppers (I prefer a mix of colors or just red)
  • 1 pound ground beef (use 90% lean, or ground turkey)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t like the heat)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup cooked long-grain rice
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano cheese (more for topping), finely grated
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I suggest Colavita brand)
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar (good quality variety from Modena Italy)
  • 1/8 cup of red wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut in quarters
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • Coarse sea salt + black pepper to taste
  • 8 fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. Rinse your peppers and pat them dry. Cut out the stems and slice each pepper in half. Scrape out the seeds and membranes and discard them.
  2. Place cleaned peppers with tops on in a microwave and oven safe dish with 2 inches of water. Microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  3. Discard water from pan. Drizzle peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
  4. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Add oil to a 12-inch skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic, all the herbs, tomatoes, red pepper flakes.
  6. Add the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Cook for about 8 minutes until soft. Season with salt.
  7. Add meat to pan. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned. turn heat off pan.
  8. Stir in the cooked rice. Add the parmigiano cheese and stir to combine.
  9. Scoop about 3/4 cup of the meat filling into each pepper half. Add more meat as needed, until each pepper half is filled to the surface. Scatter any extra meat filling around the peppers in your pan.
  10. Sprinkle each pepper half with two tablespoons of shredded mozzarella. Gently pat the cheese onto the peppers. put the tops on the peppers- slightly tilted.
  11. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Then, broil the peppers for two minutes to brown the cheese, if desired.
  12. While the peppers are baking, gently rinse your basil leaves and pat them dry. Stack a few leaves, roll them up, and slice them into ribbons. When the stuffed peppers are done, sprinkle the basil on top.

Notes

Refrigerate leftovers for up to four days!

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