Italian stuffed cubanelle peppers are a favorite all-in-one dish that's full of flavor and EASY. Cubanelle peppers are stuffed with a garlicky mixture of mild sausage, Arborio rice, Pecorino, and mozzarella cheese, and parsley, topped with marinara and more mozzarella and baked until tender and bubbly.
Stuffed peppers are always a hit in our home. Rich in flavor and texture, simple to make, and filling enough to count as a complete meal.
We make some variation of stuffed peppers pretty regularly and this version uses cubanelles, also known as Italian frying peppers and sausage.
We also use Arborio rice, however, any white rice will work for this recipe. Stuffed cubanelles are the perfect opportunity to use leftover rice, whether it's homemade rice or even takeout rice, harkening back to the "waste not, want not" idea.
Both my grandmother and mother bestowed that mentality on me at an early age. The pepper and egg sandwich is probably the best example dish of this lifestyle.
Stuffed cubanelle peppers step by step process
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by mincing a ¼ cup of flat-leaf Italian parsley and 6 cloves of garlic. Also, dice 1 medium onion. Preheat your oven to 350f and set the rack to the middle level.
- Slice the tops off of 8 cubanelle peppers. Reach in with your finger or a spoon to remove all of the seeds.
- In a large pan over medium heat, saute 1 pound of bulk Italian sausage. Break it up with a wooden spoon. Once it browns (about 7-10 minutes) place the sausage into a dish and set aside.
- Return the pan to the burner and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the diced onion. Saute for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat then add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more. If you like a bit of spice, add a pinch of hot red pepper flakes at this time.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add in the sausage, 1 ½ cups of cooked Arborio rice, ¾ cup shredded mozzarella, ½ cup Pecorino Romano, ½ cup marinara sauce, and a ¼ cup of minced parsley. Mix well.
- Pour marinara sauce a ½-inch high into a baking dish. Also, add 1 cup of water into the sauce and mix together. Season the inside of each pepper with a sprinkle of salt and pepper - this is very important! Then, stuff the peppers with the sausage filling and place them down into the dish. Add a bit more sauce over each pepper and distribute the remaining mozzarella. Note: A large 10 by 15 baking dish will fit all of the peppers. I used a smaller dish in the pic above so I had to fit the last one in another dish.
- Puncture a hole into the bottom of each pepper with a toothpick or a sharp knife - this will allow steam to escape while baking. Cover the dish tightly with parchment paper, then foil. Really cover tightly so that the peppers steam and soften while baking. Note: The purpose of the parchment paper is to prevent the cheese from sticking.
- Bake the sausage stuffed cubanelles for 60 minutes covered. Remove the foil and check the peppers. If they are sufficiently tender you can remove them from the oven or continue cooking for 10-15 minutes longer if you want them even softer. If you like, you can broil the top for 30-60 seconds before serving, but watch carefully. Enjoy!
Top tips for stuffed Italian frying peppers
- The sausage. We used bulk sausage for this recipe because it cuts down on time, however, you can definitely make stuffed cubanelles using sausage links. Simply make an incision in the outer casing of the link and remove the filling. Use whatever type of sausage you prefer; spicy pork, fennel, or sweet without fennel would all work well.
- Pepper prep. It's so important to season the inside of the peppers prior to stuffing them. It's a simple quick step, but don't skip it. Your stuffed peppers will taste vastly better if you season them first with salt and pepper.
- Seal in the steam. Make sure you get a good seal when prepping the stuffed cubanelles to go into the oven. We used parchment paper first to prevent the cheese from sticking, and then foil. The tight seal on the foil will help the peppers steam and soften. Additionally, cutting a tiny hole in the bottom of each pepper will allow the steam inside the pepper to release and prevent them from bursting. These may seem like small steps but they do make a difference!
More Italian recipes with peppers
If you love peppers, here are a few of our favorites, some featuring cubanelles also known as Italian frying peppers:
- Sausage and peppers - The classic with just peppers, onions, oregano, and lots of olive oil.
- Calabrian potatoes and peppers - Long hot peppers, onions, and potatoes in this spicy side dish that is full of flavor!
- Stuffed bell peppers - Sweet bell peppers stuffed with sausage, beef, and rice.
- Peperonata - Peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil make for a super flavorful spread or side dish!
- Ciambotta - Summer vegetable stew of peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes.
- Spicy pepper bucatini - Tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, bell peppers, long hot and cubanelle peppers make a spicy satisfying sauce.
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- 8 large cubanelle peppers tops cut off and seeds removed
- 5 cups marinara use this recipe or store-bought sauce, divided
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- 1 ½ cups Arborio rice can sub plain white rice
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano grated
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350f and set the rack to the middle level. In a large pan saute the sausage over medium heat until browned (about 7-10 minutes), then remove and set aside.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add in the olive oil and onions and sautee for 3-5 minutes until softened, then add in the garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes longer. If desired, add the optional hot red pepper flakes at this time and cook for 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sausage, rice, parsley, Pecorino Romano, half the mozzarella cheese, and a ½ cup of marinara sauce. Mix together well and set stuffing aside.
- Pour the marinara sauce a ½-inch high into a large baking dish and add the water. Mix together.
- Season the interior of each pepper with salt and pepper. Stuff the peppers and place them lying flat in the baking dish. Add a thin layer of sauce to the top of the peppers and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.
- Puncture a hole with a knife or toothpick into the bottom of each pepper. This will prevent the peppers from bursting. Cover the baking dish with parchment paper then aluminum foil tightly and bake the peppers for 60 minutes.
- Remove the foil and check the peppers. If they are sufficiently tender you can remove them from the oven or continue cooking for 10-15 minutes longer if necessary. If you like you can broil the top for 30-60 seconds before serving, but watch carefully. Enjoy!
- Use this 15-minute marinara sauce or make your own.
- Seasoning the interior of the peppers is very important so that they come out flavorful and not bland.
- The stuffed pepper's cooking time will vary. If they are not soft enough just let them cook for another 10 minutes or so depending on how tender you like them.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and reheated in the microwave.