Stuffed Bell Peppers

$12.21 recipe / $2.03 serving
by Marsha - Budget Bytes
4.73 from 55 votes
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Stuffed Bell Peppers have been a huge favorite of mine since my aunt first made them for me many many years ago. At the time it seemed like such an elaborate, fancy recipe, but who knew they were really this simple to make! It’s a classic comfort food recipe that’s hearty, filling, easy to customize, and can feed a large family. Plus the flavors in this version are incredibly delicious! So much so that we’re still talking about it over a month later! ;)

Close up side view of stuffed bell peppers in a casserole dish garnished with parsley.

What’s in Stuffed Bell Peppers?

There are several versions of stuffed bell peppers out there and most usually include ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and cheese. I got a little creative with this recipe as I wanted it to be simple to make, but still have tons of flavor! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bell Peppers: I used different colors of bell peppers because I love how colorful and vibrant they look, but if you’re working with a tight budget you can certainly just use all green bell peppers instead.
  • Italian Sausage: Italian sausage instead of ground beef for an extra boost of flavor. But you can use ground beef, ground turkey or even Italian turkey sausage if you like.
  • Onion and garlic: These two ingredients produce a great combination of aromatics to help flavor the sausage and rice.
  • Seasoning: A simple mix of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder is all you’ll need. If you want an extra kick, you can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes too!
  • Marinara sauce: Instead of adding a can of tomatoes or tomato sauce, I used marinara sauce. It’s tomatoes with extra herbs & spices all in one…aka more flavor!
  • Long grain white rice: The rice helps bulk up the filling for the bell peppers. In this recipe the rice is cooked in the same skillet as the meat filling. It gives the rice a ton of flavor and let’s be honest…who wants to clean more dishes by cooking a separate pot of rice? Not me!
  • Chicken broth: Broth is used to help cook the rice and it provides even more flavor of course!
  • Shredded Mozzarella: And mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top for a gooey, tasty finish!

Should I cook the bell peppers first?

I definitely suggest par-cooking the bell peppers first, just a little bit before stuffing them. Not only does this help to soften the bell peppers, but it also cuts down on your cook time. As the bell peppers are cooking you can make the filling, shaving off about 20 minutes from your total cook time.

Budget Saving Tips!

Here are a few tips to help you stretch your money when making Stuffed Bell Peppers:

  1. Use the green bell peppers! Although it makes for a colorful final dish when you use red, yellow or orange bell peppers, these colors often cost a little bit more. You can just buy all green bell peppers instead and save some coins.
  2. Cut a 4th bell pepper in half and stretch the filling out to make 8 servings instead of 6. Trust me..we stuffed these bell peppers quite a bit, but you could totally stretch the filling if you wanted to.
  3. If you want to just use 1/2 a pound of sausage, that works too! Just add an additional 1/2 cup of rice and 3/4 cup of broth to what is listed in the recipe below, to increase the filling and make up the difference.
  4. Feel free to use ground beef instead if it’s cheaper than the Italian sausage at your local store. You may need to add a bit more seasoning to make up for the flavor you would get in the sausage though.
Overhead view of 6 stuffed bell peppers in a white casserole dish.

What to serve with Stuffed Bell Peppers

The filling inside each of these stuffed bell peppers are pretty hearty by themselves, but if you want to serve something with it on the side, they would also be great with a simple salad or some crusty garlic bread. If you want to double down on the veggies, you can also serve these with some roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, or a side of simple sautéed vegetables.

Storing & Reheating

Got leftovers? No problem! These stuffed bell peppers hold up very well in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days. They can be reheated in the microwave or the oven and the leftovers taste just as good the next day, making them perfect for meal prep!

Close up side view of stuffed bell peppers on a serving plate.
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Stuffed Bell Peppers

4.73 from 55 votes
These Stuffed Bell Peppers are a classic comfort food that’s hearty, filling, has incredible flavors, and can easily feed a large family.
Overhead close up view of stuffed bell peppers on a serving plate.
Servings 6 servings
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 bell peppers ($3.97)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil, divided ($0.08)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage ($4.99)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced ($0.38)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced ($0.24)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt, divided ($0.06)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce ($0.71)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice ($0.21)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth ($0.15)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($1.25)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Wash and dry each bell pepper, then cut the bell peppers in half horizontally. Make sure to cut them as evenly as possible. Using a sharp paring knife carefully cut and remove the stem from the top half of each bell pepper (see picture below). It's okay if there is a small hole left where the stem was removed.
  • Place each bell pepper half in a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Brush the bell peppers with 1 Tbsp oil and season with ¼ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp cracked black pepper. Bake the bell peppers in a preheated oven for 20 minutes to soften. After 20 minutes remove the bell peppers from the oven and set aside.
  • While the bell peppers are baking, make the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Brown the Italian sausage.
  • Once the sausage has browned, add the diced onion and minced garlic to the skillet. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
  • Next add the uncooked rice, marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, 1 tsp of salt, and chicken broth to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the mixture to come to a full boil. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer, without lifting the lid or stirring, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, without lifting the lid, for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Next remove the lid, fluff the rice, and stir the mixture again to redistribute the ingredients. Begin to fill each bell pepper with the meat filling. Stuff as much filling as you can into each, filling them all the way to the top.
  • Top each bell pepper evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese. Loosely place some tented aluminum foil over the top of the casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the bell peppers should be tender but not mushy.
  • Now remove the foil and turn the heat on to broil. Broil the stuffed bell peppers for 2-3 minutes or just until the cheese gets a little brown on top. Be sure to watch the bell peppers closely at this step to prevent the cheese from over browning. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and enjoy!

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Nutrition

Serving: 6servingsCalories: 454kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 18gFat: 33gSodium: 1461mgFiber: 3g
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Also try our Chorizo Stuffed Bell Peppers!

How to Make STUFFED BELL PEPPERS – Step by Step Photos

Bell peppers cut in half and placed in a casserole dish. One bell pepper lifted up towards the camera.

Preheat the oven to 350°F then wash and dry 3 bell peppers. Cut the bell peppers in half horizontally, yes horizontally. Most stuffed bell pepper recipes either keep the bell peppers whole or cut them vertically, but by cutting them horizontally you end up with a flatter bottom service and it’s easier to stuff. Trust me! Make sure to cut them as evenly as possible. Using a sharp pairing knife carefully cut and remove the stem from the top half of each bell pepper. It’s okay if there is a small hole left where the stem was removed.

Bell peppers being brushed with olive oil.

Place each bell pepper half in a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Brush the bell peppers with 1 Tbsp cooking oil, divided between all 6 halves, and season with ¼ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp cracked black pepper, also divided between all 6 halves. Bake the bell peppers in a preheated oven for 20 minutes to soften. After 20 minutes remove them from the oven and set aside.

Cooked Italian sausage in a large skillet.

While the bell peppers are baking, make the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Add 1 lb Italian sausage and cook until brown.

Cooked Italian sausage with onions and garlic.

Once the sausage has browned, add the 1 diced yellow onion and 3 minced garlic cloves to the skillet. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Cooked sausage, rice, marinara, seasoning and chicken broth.

Next add ½ cup uncooked white rice, 1 cup of marinara sauce, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp of salt, and ¾ cups chicken broth to the skillet. Stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the mixture to come to a full boil. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer, without lifting the lid or stirring, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, without lifting the lid, for an additional 5 minutes.

Cooked stuffed bell pepper filling.

Next remove the lid, fluff the rice, and stir the mixture again to redistribute the ingredients. Begin to fill each bell pepper with the sausage and rice mixture. Stuff as much filling as you can into each, filling them all the way to the top.

Overhead view of stuffed bell peppers with mozzarella cheese being added on top.

Divide 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese on top of each bell pepper evenly. Loosely place some tented aluminum foil over the top of the casserole dish and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Overhead view of finished stuffed bell peppers in a casserole dish.

After 15 minutes, remove the foil and turn the heat to broil. Broil the stuffed bell peppers for 2-3 minutes or just until the cheese gets a little brown on top. Be sure to watch the bell peppers closely at this step to prevent the cheese from getting too brown. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and enjoy!

Overhead shot of stuffed bell peppers topped with mozzarella cheese and fresh parsley. Served in a white casserole dish.
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Comments

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  1. Just finished eating these! SO good! Will be making them again. Family gobbled them up! I made double the amount for leftovers.

  2. I cut the peppers in half to make little boats but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It could have been super delicious but the rice was still raw. 20 minutes for cooking plus 5 rest was not enough. I cook rice frequently so I wasn’t expecting it to be crunchy after 25 minutes. I will increase the cook time for the rice next time and it will be perfect. Everything else was super tasty

  3. riced cauliflower can be substituted for regular rice, keeping carbs lower; toss in a small diced jalapeño to the mix and kick it up a notch! jhm

  4. Looks delish. I can’t eat sausage, so I will substitute ground beef. I also hate mozzarella, so I will substitute shredded sharp cheddar

  5. There are some changes I would recommend to this recipe.
    1. Do not cook the stuffing in a skillet. Cook it in a pot – you will run out of room in a skillet.
    2. When all ingredients for the stuffing have been added, ABSOLUTELY you should be stirring this occasionally as it cooks. If you do not stir it, the rice will settle at the bottom and burn into charcoal, ruining all your hard work.

  6. That was really good! I think that rice is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.