Italian stuffed bell peppers are an elevated version of classic stuffed peppers with spaghetti sauce, beef, and generous Italian seasonings.
Stuffed peppers are fun to make and fill with all sorts of tasty things. This Italian variation has been a family favorite for a while now.
Classic stuffed peppers are usually green bell peppers filled with ground beef, rice, and tomato sauce. They are tasty, but they can sometimes be a little bland.
Stuffed Bell Peppers Italian
As much as we love color and bold flavors around here, taking it up a few notches and making Italian-inspired beef stuffed peppers was in order.
While I stopped short of stuffing these peppers full of straight pizza toppings, I did take some inspiration from our last take-out order of sausage and mushroom pizza.
Side note – I’m so glad I live in a house of mushroom lovers! If you don’t happen to be one, the mushrooms aren’t required here. Feel free to swap in another favorite vegetable or skip them altogether.
Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef and Rice
Start by browning the ground beef and onions together. Add the mushrooms along with seasonings. Pour in the spaghetti sauce and simmer for a few minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in the cooked rice.
While the meat sauce is simmering, cut the bell pepper in half from stem to end. By splitting them this way, they lay nice and flat in the baking dish, and you can avoid the balancing act that can happen with pepper halves. Plus, I like the extra surface area for more melted cheese.
If you’re lucky enough to have filling left over after filling the peppers, you can stash it in the fridge or freezer and serve it over some sauteed peppers and onions another time.
Cover the pan of filled peppers with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and bake an additional 5 minutes, just until melted.
The best stuffed peppers will be slightly firm when you take them from the oven. To get fork-tender peppers, not a pile of mush, be careful not to overbake.
Avoid extra liquid, so your peppers don’t get soggy from being steamed. The peppers are done when you can easily poke them with a fork, the filling is hot, and the cheese is melted.
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Rice and Ground Beef
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- long grain white rice
- ground beef
- sweet onion
- red, orange, or yellow peppers
- spaghetti sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Italian seasoning
- garlic and onion powder
- salt and pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes *
- Monterrey jack, pepper jack, or mozzarella cheese
- Italian parsley
* I make this recipe with the full 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes. We don’t find it to be too spicy at all, it simply deepens the flavor. If you are leery of the heat, I recommend starting with just half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to boost the flavor without adding much heat, if any at all.
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Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers
- ½ cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium sweet onion finely diced
- 4-6 bell peppers red, orange or yellow, depending on size
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced thin
- 24 ounces pasta sauce homemade or store-bought (about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
- ⅔ cup freshly shredded Monterrey jack, pepper jack, or Mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped small
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the rice and the water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. While the rice is simmering, cook the ground beef with the onions in a large skillet. Drain any excess grease, if needed.
- Add the mushrooms, spaghetti sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes to the skillet with the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.
- While the filling is simmering, split the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place the peppers on a large sheet pan and set aside. Add the cooked rice to the skillet with the meat and sauce. Stir to combine.
- Spoon an equal amount of this mixture into each bell pepper. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the top of each pepper.
- Cover loosely with foil and bake 50 minutes in the oven. Remove foil and top with cheese. Place back in the oven just until the cheese is melted, approximately 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.