Hands down, these are the best sausage stuffed peppers of your life. Tender and sweet bell peppers stuffed with a rich filling made with browned spicy Italian sausage, rice, two kinds of cheese, and pesto. Serve on a pool of marinara sauce. Buon appetito!
This fall I’m really craving all things cozy and nourishing (you may remember my homemade egg noodle soup from awhile back). This has to do with cooking but its also a state of mind. As the world around us seems to get crazier everyday, I try to implement as much comfort as I can at home. It’s a practice. We’re practicing.
Today I want to share with you one of my favorite cozy recipes: The often shunned but truly delicious stuffed pepper. Stuffed peppers get written off as bland or weirdly textured but I promise you I’ve reworked this recipe to guarantee tender, luscious peppers that aren’t falling apart or watery stuffed with a super flavorful filling—and all of that in as few steps as possible!
In fact, I had a hard time stopping myself from eating the whole pan, they were that good. I stuck the remaining peppers in individual servings in the freezer so I can pull them out for lunch in the weeks to come. Did I mention I’m also practicing self care?
Why You Need To Make These Peppers
- Out of this world flavor.
- A straight-forward pepper recipe that doesn’t require any pre-cooking of the peppers.
- Genius cutting method that keeps the peppers from falling over.
- Perfect bell pepper texture—not to crunchy and not at all soggy or falling apart.
- Gluten free and easily keto adaptable (aka low carb) if you sub cauliflower rice.
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion
- Black pepper
- Spicy Italian sausage
- Fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- Fresh oregano
- Fresh thyme
- Long grain white rice or brown rice
- Mozzarella. Although I’m not a huge fan of shredded cheese, I did use it for this recipe.
- Pesto sauce. Store-bought or homemade.
- Bell peppers. Use sweet peppers like red peppers or yellow or orange. Green peppers are too tart for this recipe.
- Fresh basil or fresh parsley
How To Make This Recipe
Sauté onions and garlic for the filling. Prep your ingredients and heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and season well with salt and pepper.
Brown sausage. Add the sausage and sauté, breaking up with the back of a spoon.
Finish filling. Add tomatoes, herbs, and rice and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in cheese (set aside a small bowl of extra mozzarella for sprinkling over the top), and pesto sauce. Taste and see if you need to add more salt and pepper. Set aside while you prep the peppers.
Prep peppers. Cut each pepper in half vertically and remove the seeds and white ribs. See step-by-step instructions below.
Stuff peppers. Spoon the sausage mixture into each pepper half.
Bake. Place the stuffed peppers in a 9×13-inch baking dish or a baking dish that will hold them snug. Pour in enough water to reach about 1/4-inch up the sides of the peppers. Bake, uncovered (no foil needed) for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Continue baking until cheese is browned and rice is cooked.
Enjoy! Remove from oven and place on a serving platter or divide them between individual plates. Drizzle the peppers with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil leaves if you’d like.
Which Way Do You Cut Peppers?
To keep peppers from falling over and to maximize the stuffing to pepper ratio, many chefs cut bell peppers in half vertically and lay them on their sides for stuffing. Here’s how:
Slice the peppers in half vertically leaving the stem intact
Using a pairing knife, cut out the seeds and white ribs
Sausage Stuffed Peppers FAQ’s
Can I use a different type of protein? Yes! I encourage you to make these your own. Swap for the same amount of sweet Italian sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, chicken sausage, or ground pork. If you are going to use something other than sausage, taste the filling before stuffing the peppers to see if it needs extra seasoning since the sausage does offer more flavor.
How do I store/reheat leftovers? Here are my best storage tips: Leftovers can go in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350°F oven until warmed through.
Are these healthy? They do have sausage and cheese which aren’t exactly good for you but the bell peppers are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, and pesto sauce adds a dose of healthy fats from the olive oil and nuts.
How do I make these vegetarian? To make them vegetarian simply omit the sausage. For a vegan stuffing alternative, omit the sausage and substitute dairy-free cheese and pesto sauce. Trader Joe’s has a really good vegan pesto and almond-based shredded mozzarella. If you want a great homemade vegan pesto, try my vegan almond pesto.
Can I make these ahead? Absolutely! These are a great dinner party dish because you can prepare them (but not bake) up to a day in advance. They take about an hour to bake so you can put them in the oven a little bit before guest arrive.
What Is A Good Side Dish For Stuffed Peppers?
Making a nice tomato sauce to serve with the peppers is a beautiful touch. Try my homemade marinara sauce or use your favorite store-bought brand. Other than that these really are a meal all by themselves. I would suggest a simple green salad, crusty bread, and a nice glass of wine to complete the meal.
If You Loved This Recipe, Try:
- Vinegar and Spice Baked Baby Back Ribs
- Lemon Garlic Basil Stir Fry
- Satay Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce
- Bucatini with Vegan Bolognese
- Double Pork Pork Burger
- The Best Lemon-Broiled Cod
- Miso-Maple Roasted Beets and Carrots
The Ultimate Cozy Meal
Bring a bit of comfort home and make a batch of these sausage stuffed peppers. I think you are going to love them. When you try the recipe, let me know how it went! Share a photo and tag me on Instagram using @katesbestrecipes so that I can see. Or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating)! Also, sign up for my weekly recipe newsletter so you never miss a thing.
Sausage Stuffed Peppers with Pesto
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion small dice
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- kosher salt, to taste
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 links spicy Italian sausage (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 1 cup dry long-grain white rice
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 cup shredded parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup pesto sauce
- 4 medium bell peppers, red, orange, or yellow
- fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Heat oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan until shimmering. Add onion and garlic and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.
- Remove the sausage from its casing and add to the onions. Cook until browned, breaking meat up with the back of a spoon. Season again with salt and pepper.
- Add tomatoes, oregano, thyme and rice. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently to keep rice from sticking. Cook until a spoon leaves a mark on the bottom of the pan and the rice mixture doesn't fall back in on itself. Remove from heat.
- Stir in 1 cup each of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese to the sausage mixture. Then stir in the pesto sauce. Taste (yes the rice will still be a little crunchy) to see if the filling needs more salt or pepper. Set filling aside while you prepare the peppers.
- Slice each pepper in half vertically keeping the stem intact. Remove the seeds and white ribs of each pepper with a pairing knife. Tap out any remaining seeds. Place the peppers in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or baking dish large enough to hold them snug so they don't move around.
- Fill each pepper half with filling pressing it down to fill all the nooks and crannies. You may have a little filling leftover depending on the size of your peppers but you should use almost all of it.
- Pour enough water in the bottom of the baking dish so it comes up about 1/4 inch on the sides of the peppers (I used 2 cups water).
- Bake, uncovered 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese then return to the oven and continue baking until rice and peppers are tender and cheese has browned, another 30-45 minutes.
- Remove to a serving dish drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with basil leaves and more parmesan, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
- Make-ahead instructions: These are a great dinner party dish because you can prepare them through step 6 (but not bake) up to a day in advance. They take about an hour to bake so you can put them in the oven a little bit before guest arrive.
- Vegetarian variation: Remove the sausage to make a vegetarian variation of the peppers.
- How to serve: For a beautiful presentation, spoon a pool of marinara sauce on each plate and place the pepper on top. Drizzle the top of the pepper with olive oil and sprinkle with extra parmesan shavings and fresh basil leaves.
- Storage instructions: Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat until warmed through in the microwave or in a 350°F oven. Peppers can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
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