Stuffed peppers are a super simple meal that everyone loves! Red and green bell peppers are seasoned and stuffed with a mixture of rice, Pecorino Romano, ground beef, marinara sauce, and herbs, topped with mozzarella cheese, and baked in more sauce until the cheese is golden.  These peppers make the perfect easy weeknight meal and are great leftover too!

Overhead shot of red and green Italian stuffed peppers.

Editor’s Note: Originally published on 12/21/2018.  Updated with full process shots and expanded info.

Italian stuffed peppers are one of our family’s favorite meals because they’re easy and since there’s a combination of rice, ground beef, and peppers, they make a great all-in-one meal.

These stuffed bell peppers are perfect to make ahead for busy weeknights and we think they’ll be a regular for you too!

Ingredients shown: bell peppers, Pecorino, olive oil, marinara sauce, beef stock, parsley, basil, ground chuck, rice, mozzarella, and garlic.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375f and set the rack to the middle level and bring a pot of water to boil. Slice 6 large bell peppers in half and remove the seeds.  Mince 8 cloves of garlic and a 1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley.  Chop a 1/4 cup of basil and grate 1 cup of Pecorino Romano and shred 1 cup of block mozzarella cheese.
Italian stuffed peppers recipe process shot collage group number one.
  1. Boil the peppers for 7-8 minutes or until fork tender.  Remove and drain the peppers and set them aside to cool.
  2. Heat a large pan to a touch higher than medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, spread out the ground chuck and let it brown.
Recipe process shot collage group number two.
  1. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or meat masher and continue to cook until well browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until very fragrant. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.
  2. Add the Pecorino Romano, 2 cups of cooked white rice, 1 cup of low-sodium beef broth, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, 1 cup of marinara sauce, and the parsley and basil.  Mix well and taste the stuffing, adjusting any salt and pepper to taste.  Note: You want this stuffing to taste really flavorful.  Don’t be shy with the salt.  If it seems bland, add more salt and/or Pecorino.  
Recipe process shot collage group number three.
  1. Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and season the interior of each pepper with a generous sprinkle of salt.  Peppers are bland on their own so salting at this step is important.
  2. Spoon the stuffing into the pepper cavity until full and place them in a baking dish deep enough to hold the peppers and the marinara sauce.
Recipe process shot collage group number four.
  1. Add the remaining 3 cups of marinara sauce and 3/4 cup of water into the dish.  The sauce should cover the bottom 1-2 inches of the peppers. Sprinkle the tops with the mozzarella cheese and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the peppers.  
  2. Cover the peppers with parchment paper, then tightly with foil, and bake for 25 minutes.  Note: The layer of parchment prevents the cheese from sticking while the foil wrapped tightly helps the peppers steam and cook more quickly.
Recipe process shot collage group number five.
  1. Remove the covering and bake for 15 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted and golden.  For a more golden top, broil for 1-2 minutes but watch carefully to prevent burning.  Spoon the pan sauce onto the peppers and serve with more grated Pecorino Romano cheese.  Enjoy!
Overhead shot of baked Italian stuffed peppers in large roasting pan.

Top Tips

  • Peppers.  We used red and green bell peppers for this recipe but you can use any color of bell pepper you’d like.  You can use other peppers as well, but depending on the size and shape you may have more stuffing than you need.  If you’re looking for a recipe with frying or cubanelle peppers, check out these sausage stuffed cubanelles.
  • The meat. We used 80/20 ground chuck for this recipe.  If you’d like to use leaner chopped meat, bulk sausage, or ground chicken/turkey you definitely can.
  • Seasoning. Peppers can be quite bland on their own so seasoning the inside of the cavity with salt is very important.  Be sure to taste your stuffing prior to filling the peppers and make any adjustments there as well. 
  • Marinara.  We used our simple marinara sauce for this recipe.  It’s a great way to use up leftover marinara!  Alternatively, you can use crushed tomatoes that have been seasoned with a little salt and minced garlic.
  • Baking. We recommend covering the peppers first with parchment paper to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil, then foiling and sealing tightly.  This helps to keep the peppers moist and allows them to steam in the oven.  Stuffed bell peppers are much better when they are very soft.  The initial par-boiling significantly helps with speeding up the softening, otherwise, the peppers could take as long as 90 minutes to cook.  But use the cooking time as a general number and if the peppers need a bit more time, let them resume baking until they are very soft.
Plate with cut open Italian stuffed pepper.

More stuffed veggie recipes

Vegetables are wonderful to stuff and we do it often!  Here are some of our favorite stuffed veg recipes.

If you’ve enjoyed this Italian stuffed pepper recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

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Italian Stuffed Peppers

5 from 16 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Italian stuffed peppers with rice, ground beef, and Pecorino Romano in a marinara sauce topped with mozzarella and baked until golden.

Ingredients 

  • 6 large bell peppers cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley minced
  • 1/4 cup basil chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 cups marinara sauce divided, see notes below
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup mozzarella grated
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided, plus more to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375f and set rack to the middle level.  Bring a pot of water to boil.
  • Slice peppers in half and remove the seeds. Boil peppers for 7-8 minutes or until fork tender. Remove and drain the peppers. Spread the peppers out on a baking tray to cool.
  • Heat a large pan to a touch higher than medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, spread out the ground chuck and let it brown.
  • Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or meat masher and continue to cook until well browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until very fragrant. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.
  • Add the Pecorino Romano, cooked rice, beef broth, parsley, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 cup of marinara sauce.  Mix thoroughly and taste the stuffing. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. You want this stuffing to taste great!
  • Season the interior of each pepper with a generous sprinkle of salt. Stuff the peppers and place them into the baking dish.  Pour the remaining 3 cups of marinara sauce and the 3/4 cup of water into the dish. The sauce should come up about 1-2 inches on the sides of the peppers. 
  • Sprinkle the mozzarella on top of each pepper and drizzle each with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Cover peppers with parchment paper then tightly with foil (this prevents sticking) and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the covering and bake for 15 more minutes or until golden. For a more golden top broil for 1-2 minutes but watch carefully!  Spoon the pan sauce on the peppers and serve with more grated cheese.  Enjoy! 

Notes

  • Use this 15-minute marinara sauce or your own.
  • Parboiling the peppers will significantly speed up the cooking time.
  • Salting the interior of the peppers is a very important step to having well-flavored stuffed peppers.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and reheated in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 573kcal | Carbohydrates: 49.9g | Protein: 44.9g | Fat: 20.3g | Saturated Fat: 6.4g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 279mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 0.1g | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 24mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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This recipe was originally published on December 21, 2018.  It was completely updated on January 9, 2023.

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29 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We made this tonight and it was SO GOOD! We temporarily can’t eat beef so we used ground turkey. I didn’t have rice, I know how does that happen, so I used riced cauliflower instead. We will absolutely be making this again! Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes.

  2. I’ve made this recipe before and it’s delicious
    I have a question
    Can I make this and freeze ??
    I get a lot of company and would like to double this and freeze
    Please let me know the steps I should take if it is possible to freeze

    1. Hi Sue, yes, you can freeze these. For ease, you can place them in a disposable tray, wrap in foil, then freeze. Then when you’re ready to make them, remove from the freezer and reheat at 350f until warmed through.

  3. 5 stars
    absolutely fantastic. the spices, the flavors, 100%. I substituted mushrooms for hamburger and brown rice for white but I would make this with hamburger as I’m sure it would be amazing. It is time consuming. Lots of chopping and cleaning up but worth it.