If you’re looking for a delicious stuffed pepper recipe these Italian Stuffed Peppers will do the trick! Slice large bell peppers in half then stuff with a flavorful combination of Italian turkey or chicken sausage, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spinach. A little melted cheese on top and dinner is served!

close up of three bell pepper halves stuffed with a meat filling and topped with cheese.
Photo Credits: Mariam Hamdy

Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meals to make  because they are endlessly versatile and an easy way to feed a crowd (or hungry teenagers)! If I'm in the mood for something vegetarian I'll make Suzy’s vegetarian stuffed peppers with chickpeas. For chicken, I go for my chicken stuffed peppers seasoned kofta-style. but I was feeling nostalgic for my mom's Italian sausage and peppers, so I created this Italian Stuffed Peppers recipe with the flavors was craving, just without the bun.

For the filling, I use Italian turkey sausage because it’s low in saturated fat, then add on all the veggies — tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spinach. Then I let it simmer together with spices like oregano, basil, thyme and some crushed red pepper (you could also skip measuring out individual spices and just use homemade Italian Seasoning). 


Toward the end, I stir in a little bulgur wheat and parsley. The bulger adds a nutty flavor, and additional fiber and protein while the parsley adds fresh herbal notes. If you’re allergic to wheat you can always swap the bulgur for rice. The filling is stuffed into bell peppers, then topped with fontina or asiago cheese. 

Italian Stuffed Peppers are an all-in-one dinner (no sides required) to feed a crowd or to make great leftovers for workday lunches. 

two cooked stuffed pepper halves on a plate.
Table of Contents
  1. What’s in Italian Stuffed Peppers 
  2. How to Make Italian Stuffed Peppers 
  3. Italian Stuffed Pepper Swaps and Subs 
  4. What to Serve with Stuffed Peppers 
  5. More Peppy Pepper Recipes
  6. Fine Bulgur Wheat from The Mediterranean Dish
  7. Italian Stuffed Peppers Recipe
ingredients for italian stuffed peppers including bell peppers, fine bulgur wheat, olive oil, diced yellow onion, minced garlic, italian turkey sausage, spices, diced tomatoes, baby spinach, parsley, basil, and shredded mozzarella cheese.

What’s in Italian Stuffed Peppers 

Ok. Let’s be straight here. We are not talking about a traditional Italian recipe, but rather one inspired by the flavors of Italy – tomatoes, good, intense spices and a healthy dose of vegetables. 

  • Bell peppers: I’m a big believer in eating with your eyes. The more color the better. You just want medium to large bell peppers of any color, but I prefer the sweeter varieties of red, yellow or orange. 
  • Bulgur wheat: I like to think of bulgur wheat as my favorite secret ingredient. It’s loaded with fiber and a great way to stretch a pound of beef in a pot of chili, add texture to vegetarian dishes, or fill out stuffed peppers like I do here. If you have a gluten intolerance, swap the bulgur for rice
  • Olive oil: If you’ve ready anything about the Mediterranean Diet you already know that olive oil is our preferred oil for everything from baking cakes to sauteeing veggies. In this recipe, I like our slightly spicy, peppery Italian Nocellara Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Yellow onion and garlic: These two flavor-boosting alliums are foundational ingredients in so many recipes. They add a little sweetness and a little spice to the dish.
  • Italian turkey sausage: Ground Italian turkey sausage sold by the pound works great in this stuffed pepper recipe, but if you can only find it in links pick up a package. Just remove the casings and discard before cooking. Prefer chicken or pork sausage? Use that instead. 
  • Spices: Salt, black pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, fresh parsley add so much flavor to these Italian stuffed peppers. If you’re short on time and you’ve already whipped up a batch of our Homemade Italian Seasoning then use 2 teaspoons of that, plus the salt and pepper noted in this recipe.
  • Diced tomatoes: Use fresh if you have them, if not canned tomatoes are a convenient and easy pantry staple.  
  • Baby spinach: Don’t let those leafy greens go to waste! Toss them in stuffed peppers. If you have frozen spinach you could use that too, just thaw completely and squeeze out the extra liquid. 
  • Cheese: ¾ cup to 1 cup fontina, asiago or mozzarella cheese. These are lovely, soft melting cheeses. Use one or all three! 

How to Make Italian Stuffed Peppers 

Once you make the filling, stuffing the peppers is really just about heating up the whole meal, softening the peppers, and melting the cheese.  

  • Preheat the oven: Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Set out a large casserole dish or a 9x13 baking dish.
  • Cook the bulgur: In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat add 1 ¼ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then stir in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Make the filling: In a large skillet set over medium heat add the olive oil. Once it begins to shimmer add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the ground Italian sausage, breaking it up as you cook. Then add the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Continue breaking up the sausage as it cooks. When the sausage is almost done cooking, about 6 minutes, stir in the canned tomatoes (juice and all) bulger, spinach and chopped parsley. Stir together and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes just to let some of the moisture evaporate. You still want the filling to have some moisture. meat filling for italian stuffed peppers cooking in a skillet.
  • Prepare the peppers: Slice the peppers in half through the stem. Remove the seeds, but don’t pierce the flesh. Stuff each pepper half with the filling. Top with shredded cheese and bake, uncovered for 35 minutes, until the peppers are tender, but still have structure. The cheese should be melted and browned in spots.four red pepper and four yellow pepper halves stuffed with a meat filling in a baking dish.

Italian Stuffed Pepper Swaps and Subs 

Stuffed peppers, Italian-inspired or otherwise, are so easy to adapt to the vegetables you have in the fridge or the cans you have in the pantry. Here are few ideas to get you started: 

  • Peppers: If you only have green peppers, use those! Hatch peppers? Give it a shot! Poblanos, use them up! 
  • If Diary’s not your thing, skip the cheese and sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs over the top. 
  • If you’re a vegetarian, swap the sausage out for diced mushrooms, increase the bulger by ½ cup and add an extra teaspoon of spices.
  • Swap the spinach: Kale, Swiss chard or beet tops will work too. 
  •  Can’t eat tomatoes, leave them out, and add a ¼ cup of broth to compensate for the lost liquid. 
two cooked stuffed pepper halves on a plate with a fork.

What to Serve with Stuffed Peppers 

I have a family of four and because this recipe includes vegetables, meat, grain, and dairy I don’t feel compelled to make something else for dinner. 

However, if I’m making this to have a quick lunch to heat up throughout the week, I will pair it with a simple salad like this Lemon Parmesan Lettuce Salad.

If we are having people over, then I will whip up some Rosemary Focaccia Bread to sop up any juices and finish the night with a simple dessert like these Tahini Brownies. I mean, who doesn’t love a brownie?!

More Peppy Pepper Recipes

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Fine Bulgur Wheat from The Mediterranean Dish

Add some extra bulk and nutrition to your stuffed peppers with our Fine Bulgur Wheat. Fluffy, earthy an loaded with fiber!

4.95 from 17 votes

Italian Stuffed Peppers

Summer Miller
two cooked stuffed pepper halves on a plate.
This Italian stuffed pepper recipe is loaded with sausage, spinach, tomatoes and bulgur wheat for a filling and complete weeknight meal. Finish with a little melted cheese and dinner is served!
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 35 minutes
Total – 55 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 8
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large bell peppers, any color
  • ½ cup fine bulgur wheat
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound mild Italian turkey sausage, casing removed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¾ cup fontina or mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven: Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Set out a large casserole dish or a 9x13 baking dish.
  • Cook the bulgur: In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat add 1 ¼ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then stir in the bulgur wheat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Make the filling: In a large skillet set over medium heat add the olive oil. Once it begins to shimmer add the diced onion and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the ground Italian sausage, breaking it up as you cook. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Continue breaking up the sausage as it cooks. When the sausage is almost done cooking, about 6 minutes, stir in the canned tomatoes (juice and all) bulger, spinach and chopped parsley. Stir together and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes just to let some of the moisture evaporate. You still want the filling to have some moisture.
  • Prepare the peppers: Slice the peppers in half through the stem. Remove the seeds, but don’t pierce the flesh. Stuff each pepper half with the filling. Top with shredded cheese and bake, uncovered for 35 minutes, until the peppers are tender, but still have structure. The cheese should be melted and browned in spots.

Notes

  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams and spices.
  • Mix it up: Use your favorite bell pepper for this recipe — green, red, yellow or orange — they will all be delicious. 
  • I use fine bulgur wheat in this recipe to add fiber and bulk up the filling. If you have gluten sensitivities go ahead and swap it for rice. 

Nutrition

Calories: 193.9kcalCarbohydrates: 17.1gProtein: 13.6gFat: 8.7gSaturated Fat: 3.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2.8gCholesterol: 38.3mgSodium: 903.5mgPotassium: 483.6mgFiber: 4.5gSugar: 5.3gVitamin A: 1947.1IUVitamin C: 78mgCalcium: 118.5mgIron: 7.2mg
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Summer Miller is an award-winning cookbook author, journalist, and an IACP finalist in essay writing and memoir. Her recipes, food writing, and editing chops span both print and digital media. You can find her work at Simply Recipes, Eating Well, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and the Kitchn among others. She is the Senior Executive Editor at The Mediterranean Dish.
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner this week and made the Simple Mediterranean Cucumber Salad as a side, they were both delicious! The recipe was easy to make and the flavors were exquisite! The only thing I did differently was to substitute Quinoa for the Bulgur since that is what I had on hand. I will definitely make it again. Thank you so much Ms. Suzy.

  2. 5 stars
    Turned out delicious. Used fresh thyme as I had some and added a few black olives. Will definitely make again

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you SO MUCH Ms. Miler! I never thought turkey could be so flavorful. I grew up late 60’s-early 70’s eating really bitter stuffed green bell peppers with ground beef and tomato sauce…so my aversion to stuffed peppers is legendary…LOL.

    This recipe restored my faith in flavor, healthy eating, and living well while controlling my cholesterol and body fat!

    Everyone else: don’t 👏🏼 change 👏🏼 a 👏🏼 thing 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 in this recipe!

    Once again, thank you so very much for a really great dinner recipe!

    Respect!
    Jeff in Houston