Italian stuffed peppers is a traditional dish, typical of the southern Italian regions.
They are easy to make, colorful, rich and with a truly exceptional flavor that will win you over at the first bite.
An easy recipe to make, perfect for Sunday lunch or a special dinner with friends.
Italian stuffed peppers are delicious both hot and cold. You can serve them as an appetizer or as a complete main course.
They are a classic dish of southern Italian cuisine, especially in the summer when the bell peppers are at their tastiest.
Stuffed bell peppers are a delicious and savory recipe that, as we will see, lends itself to many variations, with or without meat. Depending on your taste and imagination, you can choose from a wide variety of fillings.
Italian sausage stuffed peppers are definitely the most appetizing, satisfying and complete version, obviously for meat lovers.
To prepare delicious stuffed peppers, we recommend choosing medium-sized and even bell peppers with smooth, thick and firm flesh.
Thanks to their concave shape, the bell peppers become tasty holders for the delicious stuffing of beef, sausage, cheese and eggs.
So here is the traditional Italian recipe for homemade stuffed peppers with all the step-by-step tips for a perfect result.
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How to Make Italian Stuffed Peppers
- Prep Time: 15 Min
- Cook Time: 45 Min
- Servings: 4
PLEASE NOTE: The amount of bell peppers you need depends on both the size of the peppers and the dish you plan to make.
Of course, if you plan to enjoy stuffed peppers as a single dish, consider larger portions.
- 2 or 3 bell peppers (depending on size) of mixed colors: yellow, green and red
- 350 g (3/4 pound) of ground beef
- 150 g (5 oz) of sausage
- 80 g (2,5 oz) of stale bread or bread loaf
- 100 ml (1/2 cup) of milk
- 80 g (~ 1 cup) of grated Grana Padano cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano
- 150 g (5 oz) of provolone or mozzarella
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- fine salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
Step 1) – In a bowl, soak the bread in the milk. Let it soak until completely softened (about 5 minutes).
Step 2) – Meanwhile, place the ground beef and sausage (skinless) in another bowl. Start working the meat to mix it together. You can do this with your hands, which is definitely more practical, or with a fork.
Now add the eggs.
Step 3) – Add the bread – well squeezed out of the milk – and mix well.
Step 4) – Finally add the grated Parmigiano and the diced Provolone (or Mozzarella). If you are using mozzarella cheese, be sure to drain it well.
Step 5) – Finally, add the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Mix all ingredients well. The filling is ready; set aside.
Step 6) – Meanwhile, wash and dry the peppers. Then cut them in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds and internal threads from the peppers. Salt them and lightly grease the inside.
Step 7) – Fill the peppers generously with the filling and place them in an oiled baking dish. Press the stuffing well into the peppers.
Drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with a little Parmigiano cheese.
Step 8) – Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (356°F) for about 40 minutes. The cooking time depends on the size of the peppers. The larger they are, the longer they need to cook.
At the end of the cooking time, turn on the grill and cook for an additional 5 minutes. This will create a delicious and inviting golden and crispy crust on the surface.
Remove from the oven and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
Italian Stuffed Peppers are done! Serve hot or at room temperature.
How to Store Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers
Once cooked, Italian Stuffed Peppers will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator, sealed in an airtight container.
You can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven.
You can also make them the day before. Store uncooked stuffed peppers in the refrigerator and cook just before serving.
Can I freeze Stuffed Peppers?
Yes, it’s possible to freeze stuffed peppers. However, it’s important to take some precautions to ensure that the peppers remain fresh and flavorful after freezing.
First, it’s essential to allow the stuffed peppers to cool completely before freezing. Once cooled, you can wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or sealed food bags and place them in the freezer.
When you are ready to eat the peppers, it’s best to defrost them slowly in the refrigerator to prevent them from becoming too soft. Once thawed, you can reheat them in the oven or microwave until they reach the desired temperature.
However, it’s worth noting that freezing can change the texture of stuffed peppers, especially if the filling contains dairy or eggs. Therefore, the result may not be the same as with fresh peppers.
What Kind of Meat Can I Use to Make Italian Stuffed Peppers?
As you can easily guess, this recipe lends itself to many variations, depending on your taste and imagination.
As for the main ingredient of the stuffing, meat, let’s see what variations are possible.
We used ground beef and some pork sausage. The sausage is used to make the stuffing softer and juicier.
Of course, if you want a lighter dish, you can leave out the sausage.
If you prefer a milder taste, you can use veal.
A mixture of meats (beef, pork and veal) also makes a very good and tasty stuffing.
If you prefer white meats (chicken or turkey), remember that these are very lean meats and the stuffing may be a bit too dry. In this case, we recommend adding a fatty ingredient such as ground ham.
What Type of Cheese Can I Add to the Pepper Stuffing?
Cheese is another important ingredient for stuffing. Certainly Parmigiano is essential.
For a nice and tasty stringy effect, we also added diced Provolone cheese. You can skip the provolone if you want a less rich filling.
Or you can use another type of stringy cheese that you prefer. For example, caciocavallo, emmental or scamorza. Even smoked if you like.
As we mentioned, mozzarella cheese also works well. However, you must drain it as much as possible so that the stuffing does not become too watery.
Which Peppers are Best for Stuffed Peppers?
When buying peppers, choose those with a shiny, tight skin and firm flesh to the touch, with no roughness or dents.
Make sure that the stem cut is relatively fresh, i.e. green, not brown and not dry.
If you are not going to use the peppers right away, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to Make Stuffed Peppers with Vegetables (No Meat)
Of course, there are countless variations of stuffed peppers without meat.
As with any traditional recipe, there are different versions depending on the region of Italy where they are prepared. From Neapolitan-style stuffed peppers with olives and breadcrumbs to Sicilian-style stuffed peppers with olives and capers.
In fact, as we will see in the following section, the meatless version of stuffed peppers is the oldest in Italy.
Stuffed peppers without meat generally use breadcrumbs or rice or mashed potatoes or mashed chickpeas as a base for the filling.
Then you add seasonal vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, and peas.
You can also enrich the stuffing with cheese or tuna in oil.
Even without meat, stuffed peppers are a rich and tasty dish!
Italian Stuffed Peppers: Origins and Curiosities
Peppers are a vegetable native to North and Central America that was brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1493.
These vegetables love warm weather, so their cultivation has developed considerably throughout the Mediterranean. Peppers have become part of many regional recipes, especially in southern Italy.
Neapolitan stuffed peppers are the ones with the oldest tradition.
This recipe does not call for rice or meat because it was born as a dish of the Italian cucina povera.
In fact, in the past, rice and meat were very expensive ingredients that poor families could not afford.
So they filled the peppers with what they had: stale bread, anchovies, capers, eggplant, a few olives and whatever was left over from meals.
This is how the famous and amazing recipe for “Puparuoli ‘mbuttunati” (“stuffed peppers” in the Neapolitan dialect) was born.
Later came other recipes for stuffed peppers. Each family guards its own recipe and this gives rise to numerous versions.
The version of stuffed peppers with meat is very popular today and has become a classic dish of Italian tradition.