Stuffed Bell Peppers

updated Apr 19, 2024

The mix-and-match filling means you’ll never tire of serving stuffed bell peppers.


Prep25 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Who hasn’t dreamed of studying at their dream school, finding the perfect partner, or experiencing the ultimate vacation? While perfection is rarely the reality, when it comes to finding the ideal weeknight dinner I have finally found the one. Stuffed bell peppers are the dream dinner I’ve been searching for all along. 

Stuffed bell peppers are literally stuffed with everything your dinner needs. The veggies, starch, and protein are all packed into colorful, single-serving “cups” and finished with a cap of melty, browned shredded cheese

This recipe is versatile enough that you can mix and match with your favorite flavors or just use up leftover ingredients taking up space in the fridge. Here’s how to make perfect stuffed bell peppers. 

Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Why You’ll Love It

  • These stuffed bell peppers are packed with flavor in every bite, thanks to Italian sausage (I think it’s way more flavorful than ground beef!), herbs, garlic, and cheese.
  • This recipe is so versatile, you can cook these stuffed bell peppers as written or use the recipe as a guide for using up leftover meat, rice, and vegetables.
  • Stuffed bell peppers make for the best freezer meal (especially when you’re tired of casseroles). Freezing stuffed bell peppers individually means you can bake only what you need, when you need them. 

Key Ingredients in Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Bell peppers: Look for bell peppers that have a stable base so that they won’t tip over in the baking dish. 
  • Cheese: Add half of the shredded cheese to the filling to add richness and bind it together, and save the rest for topping the stuffed peppers.
  • Ground meat: Mild Italian sausage adds so much flavor to the stuffed peppers, but you can swap in any ground meat — like beef or turkey — that you have on hand.
  • Rice: Stuff these peppers with whatever rice you have on hand, whether it’s freshly cooked rice or leftover white or brown rice. 
  • Diced tomatoes: Use a can of regular or petite diced tomatoes, or add smoky flavor with fire-roasted tomatoes.
Credit: Photo: Ryan Liebe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

How to Make Stuffed Bell Peppers 

  1. Hollow out bell peppers: Slice off the top of the bell peppers, and scoop out the seeds and white membranes. Don’t let the colorful pepper on the lid go to waste — dice and add it to the filling.
  2. Prepare the filling: Sauté the aromatics, then brown the ground meat. There’s bound to be some flavorful brown bits left on the bottom of the pan; deglaze with broth before stirring in the tomatoes, rice, and cheese. 
  3. Stuff the peppers: Pack the hollowed-out peppers with filling until it mounds slightly on top.
  4. Bake: Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the baking dish, and cover with aluminum foil. This steams the peppers as the filling heats, so that the peppers are crisp-tender, and not mushy. Uncover for the final 5 to 10 minutes of baking to brown the melted cheese topping.

Helpful Swaps

  • Meat: Use any ground meat you have on hand — Italian sausage, ground beef, or ground turkey.
  • Cheese: Choose a mild cheese that melts nicely, like low-moisture mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or pre-shredded Italian-blend cheese. 
  • Rice: Use white or brown rice. Warm, freshly cooked and cold, leftover rice work equally well in this recipe. 

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

  • Make ahead and refrigerate: You can hollow out the bell peppers and prepare the stuffing up to 1 day before cooking. The peppers may need a few extra minutes of covered baking time to heat through completely.
  • Store leftovers: Place leftover, cooked stuffed bell peppers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. 
  • Freezer-friendly make-ahead meal: Freeze the uncooked peppers after stuffing or cook the stuffed peppers according to the recipe, then cool completely. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw as many peppers as you need overnight in the refrigerator before baking. Because they’re going into the oven cold, the peppers may need a few extra minutes of covered baking time.  

What to Serve with Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe

The mix-and-match filling means you’ll never tire of serving stuffed bell peppers.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 6

    medium bell peppers

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 4 ounces

    low-moisture mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Italian-blend cheese (about 1 cup shredded), divided

  • 8 sprigs

    fresh parsley, plus more for serving

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    dried Italian seasoning

  • 1 pound

    uncooked mild Italian sausage (casings removed), lean ground beef, or ground turkey

  • 1/2 cup

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup

    cooked white or brown rice

  • Water for the baking dish


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Cut the tops off of 6 medium bell peppers. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and white membrane. Finely chop the tops, avoiding and discarding the seeds and stem (1 to 1 1/2 cups). If needed, trim a little bit off the bottom of the bell pepper so that it is stable when standing up.

  3. Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Mince 2 garlic cloves. Grate 4 ounces low-moisture mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater if needed (about 1 cup), or measure out 1 cup store-bought shredded. Pick the leaves from 8 fresh parsley sprigs and coarsely chop until you have 1/4 cup.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper tops, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  5. Add 1 pound mild Italian sausage, ground beef, or ground turkey. Cook, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices, 1 cup cooked white or brown rice, and the parsley. Stir to combine and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.

  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt or black pepper if needed.

  7. Evenly divide the filling among the peppers (about 3/4 cup filling per bell pepper). Arrange the peppers, cut-side up, in an 11x7-inch or 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour in enough water to just cover the bottom of the baking dish (1/2 to 3/4 cup). Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

  8. Bake until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through, about 35 minutes. Uncover and divide the remaining 1/2 cup cheese evenly over the peppers. Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the cheese is melted and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish with more chopped fresh parsley leaves if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The peppers can be stuffed and refrigerated up to 2 days before baking. Uncooked or cooked stuffed peppers can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerated or thawed uncooked stuffed peppers may require up to 10 minutes more covered baking time. Reheat cooked bell peppers that have been refrigerated or thawed in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.