Italian Stuffed Peppers

Italian Stuffed Peppers (Cubanelle and Anaheim)


4 cubanelle peppers topped & seeded

1 pound ground Italian pork sausage see notes

1 small yellow onion diced

4 garlic cloves minced or grated

1¼ cups marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock divided

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 cup pre-cooked rice see notes

¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt to taste


Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Prepare a baking dish by lightly spraying with oil. Set aside.

Step 2:

Place sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Using a wooden spoon or potato masher (my favorite tool for this task), break up the sausage and allow it to start browning.

Step 3:

Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook until the sausage is no longer pink and the onion begins to soften, about 4-6 minutes.

Stir in grated or minced garlic and cook for another minute.

Step 4:

Add marinara sauce (or crushed tomatoes) and ¾ cup vegetable or chicken stock; stir to combine.

Bring to a bubble and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and thickened a bit.

Step 5:

Stir in rice until fully combined.

Mix in mozzarella cheese and cayenne pepper.

Taste and season with salt if needed.

Step 6:

Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, fill each pepper to the top.

You may have extra filling depending on the size of your peppers. See notes in post for other uses.

Step 7:

Place each pepper carefully on its side in prepared baking dish.

Pour remaining ¼ cup stock in the dish — this will help steam and soften the peppers as they cook.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes or until peppers are tender.


Pepper Selection: Use cubanelle or Anaheim peppers for this recipe, known for their mild flavor and thin skin, perfect for stuffing.

Flavorful Sausage Base: Ground Italian pork sausage provides a savory and seasoned base for the filling, enhanced with onion and garlic.

Simmering with Marinara: Cooking the sausage and vegetables in marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes adds depth and richness to the filling.

Rice and Cheese: Pre-cooked rice and grated mozzarella cheese bind the filling together, adding texture and a creamy element.

Spice Level: Adjust the cayenne pepper or omit it based on your preference for heat.

Baking Method: Baking the stuffed peppers covered with foil allows them to steam and become tender.

Stock Addition: Pouring stock around the peppers helps create a steamy environment for even cooking.

Extra Filling Ideas: Utilize any extra filling creatively, such as on baked potatoes, in tacos, or mixed into pasta for versatile meals.

Sausage Variations: Substitute with turkey, chicken, or plant-based sausage to suit dietary preferences.

Spice Substitutions: Use paprika or adjust spices to taste if you prefer less heat.

Make-Ahead Filling: Prepare the filling in advance for quick assembly when ready to bake.

Freezing Instructions: Freeze assembled but unbaked stuffed peppers for convenient future meals.

Rice Variations: Experiment with different types of rice or grains like quinoa for alternative textures.

Storage of Leftovers: Refrigerate leftovers for several days and reheat as needed.

Vegetarian or Vegan Options: Adapt the recipe using plant-based sausage and cheese for vegetarian or vegan versions.

Adjusting Pepper Sizes: Modify filling quantities based on pepper size for optimal stuffing.

Enhancing Flavor: Customize the filling with additional herbs and spices for richer flavors.

Nutrition Information:


Calories: 490 calories | Protein: 20 grams | Fat: 30 grams | Saturated Fat: 10 grams | Carbohydrates: 30 grams | Sugar: 6 grams | Fiber: 4 grams | Cholesterol: 60 milligrams | Sodium: 1200 milligrams

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use a different type of sausage in this recipe?

Yes, you can use any ground sausage of your choice, such as turkey sausage, chicken sausage, or a plant-based alternative for a vegetarian version.

Adjust the seasonings as needed.

What can I substitute for cayenne pepper if I prefer less heat?

If you prefer less heat, you can substitute cayenne pepper with paprika or omit it altogether.

Adjust the spice level to your taste preference.

Can I prepare the filling in advance for a quicker meal preparation?

Certainly! You can prepare the filling in advance and store it in the refrigerator until ready to stuff the peppers.

This can save time when you’re ready to assemble and bake the dish.

What are some other uses for the extra filling mentioned in the notes?

The extra filling can be used in various ways, such as topping baked potatoes, filling tacos, or mixing into pasta.

Get creative and use it as a versatile component in other dishes.

Can I freeze these stuffed peppers for later consumption?

Yes, you can freeze the stuffed peppers before baking.

Prepare the peppers up to the point of baking, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and freeze.

When ready to enjoy, bake them directly from frozen, adding a bit of extra time to ensure they are thoroughly heated.

Can I use a different type of rice in this recipe?

Yes, you can use different types of rice such as brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice for a lower-carb option.

Adjust the cooking time and liquid requirements accordingly.

How do I store leftover stuffed peppers?

Store leftover stuffed peppers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

To reheat, use the microwave or oven until heated through.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian or vegan?

Certainly! For a vegetarian version, you can substitute the ground Italian pork sausage with plant-based sausage or crumbled tofu.

Ensure any cheese used is plant-based for a vegan option.

What should I do if my peppers are too large or too small?

If your peppers are too large, adjust the filling quantity or cut them in half to create smaller portions.

Conversely, if they are too small, consider using more peppers or reducing the filling quantity.

How can I enhance the flavor of the filling?

To enhance the flavor of the filling, consider adding herbs such as oregano, thyme, or parsley.

You can also experiment with spices like paprika or red pepper flakes for additional depth and heat.

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