Italian Stuffed Peppers filled with lean ground turkey, Italian poultry sausage, brown rice, and flavored with everything you love about Italian cooking! They can be prepped ahead of time for easy meals during the week, or you can make a batch to have stocked in the freezer for tasty, healthy dinners later on.
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Stuffed peppers are one of the best yet underrated recipes around. Up until about five years ago or so, I never ate or made a stuffed pepper. But after that first bite, I knew these perfectly portioned comforting and oh so delicious recipes would be in constant rotation.
Today, I’m sharing my absolute favorite healthy stuffed pepper recipe – Italian stuffed peppers.
Reasons you’ll love this recipe.
- Lean and filling. Lighten up by using lean ground turkey and poultry sausage.
- So delicious. These stuffed peppers are bursting with comforting Italian flavors.
- Meal prep superstar. Assemble the ingredients ahead of time, cook entirely for the week, or freeze to enjoy later on. There are so many ways to have stuffed peppers ready in advance.
- Bell peppers. Any color will work. I recommend purchasing large peppers with flat bottoms.
- Italian poultry sausage links (casings removed). You want to make sure to get fresh sausage, not the pre-cooked kind. I go right to the meat counter and ask for four links of Italian poultry sausage. This way, you can purchase what you need!
- Ground turkey. This lean protein creates a filling stuffed pepper without all of the fat and calories.
- Worcestershire sauce. Using Worcestershire sauce in ground turkey recipes gives them a rich meaty flavor – I like to call it my secret sauce.
- Seasonings. Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper are my favorite all-purpose seasoning in Italian recipes.
- Marinara sauce. Use a high-quality jarred sauce-like sauce or make a batch of this easy marinara sauce.
- Grated Romano or parmesan cheese. Grating the cheese fresh provides the best flavor. You can also use parmesan.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese. Again, shredding mozzarella fresh instead of purchasing store-bought pre-shredded gives these peppers an amazing ooey-gooey cheese flavor.
- Cooked brown rice. I recommend cooking brown rice ahead of time so this recipe comes together quickly.
How to Make Italian Stuffed Peppers
- Start by preparing the bell peppers. Cut the tops off and remove the ribs and seeds. Many healthy stuffed pepper recipes call for cutting the pepper in half, but that doesn’t make for a filling meal. One serving of this Italian stuffed pepper recipe includes an entire pepper!
- Place the peppers to the side and cook the meat. Start by cooking the Italian poultry sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. As the sausage cooks, break it into smaller bite-sized pieces. After the sausage cooks, remove and place into a large bowl.
- In the same skillet, cook the ground turkey the same way you did the sausage and break it down into small bite-sized pieces.
- After about 4-5 minutes, stir in the seasoning mix and Worcestershire sauce ! I use this same seasoning mix I love to use for my turkey meatballs.
- After the ground turkey cooks, add it to the bowl with the sausage.
- Add in the marinara sauce, rice, and cheese and stir everything together.
- Spread 1/2 cup or so of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 ceramic baking dish.
- Fill the peppers with filling, I pack the filling in using a spoon but leave a little space for the cheese! Typically, I don’t have any leftover filling, but if I do, then I just put it in the baking dish with the sauce on the bottom.
- Arrange all the stuffed peppers in the dish, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top, and cover with foil.
- Place the baking dish into a 400-degree oven to bake for about 50 minutes or until the peppers are tender. Serve hot.
Suggested Side Dishes
These stuffed Italian peppers are beyond delicious on their own. But, if you want to serve it as a whole meal, they go great with a side Ceasar salad and a slice of garlic bread.
You’ll love having this for a delicious Sunday dinner, or if you make it ahead of time, then a quick and easy weeknight meal!
- Purchase flat bottom bell peppers. This helps the peppers stay upright as the recipe cooks.
- Make sure to taste the seasoning as you continue to cook. If it needs a little more salt, add 1/4 teaspoon, give it a couple of stirs, and see if that does the trick.
- Cook the rice in chicken broth to give it more flavor. You can also use veggie or beef broth.
- Bulk up the veggies. Saute onions, peppers, or mushrooms to add with the mix. You’ll probably need extra peppers if you add more to the filling.
- Spice up the filing. Use hot sausage or add some red pepper flakes to the mix to make spicy italian stuffed peppers.
- Shred the mozzarella for maximum ooey-gooey cheesiness. You can also use fresh mozzarella! In this case, chop into small cubes before adding it to the mix.
- Add some freshly chopped basil and other herbs for a burst of fresh flavor. Thyme is also a favorite spice.
- Swap out other grains. Quinoa works great in stuffed pepper recipes! You can use the same amount of quinoa as you would brown rice. You can also use other grains like bulgur or farro. You can even use cauliflower rice to make this a low carb recipe.
Meal Prep Tips
- Assemble the stuffed peppers, cover them with foil, and place it into the refrigerator. When you’re ready to cook, continue with the recipe. Keep in mind that you might need to add 10 minutes to the recipe since they will be cold when they go into the oven. The stuffed peppers can stay in the refrigerator for 2-3 days!
- Cook the rice and meats ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator, and then assemble the rest of the peppers when you’re ready to eat. You can also freeze the cooked meats and rice if you’re not eating within 2-3 days. If you do freeze, then thaw it out, and then continue with the recipe.
- Assemble stuffed peppers entirely and freeze. You can either flash freeze on a sheet pan and then wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze in a couple of large freezer bags. Or, freeze in a disposable pan! I prefer to let the peppers thaw somewhat before cooking them, but you can cook them straight from the freezer. If you cook them straight from the freezer, then you’ll need to add an extra 30 – 45 minutes of cooking time.
- Cook peppers completely to eat all week or freeze. I think these Italian stuffed peppers get better as the days go on. So, make them on Sunday to enjoy as dinners or lunches during the week. You can also freeze stuffed peppers into portions and then warm them up in the microwave.
Yes, of course! I like using ground turkey and poultry sausage to lighten up the calorie load, but you can also use beef and pork. Just make sure to account for the extra calories.
However, suppose you’re trying to reduce calories and saturated fat. In that case, I highly recommend giving the ground turkey and chicken sausage a try because it is truly delicious, and you’d never know it’s lightened up!
I recommend using a marinara or a smooth tomato sauce. The recipe already has chunks of meat, which might not work well with a chunky meat sauce.
You can also use a homemade sauce like this slow cooker marinara if you have some in the freezer.
However, you can use jarred sauce if you don’t have any homemade sauce available. My favorite jarred sauce for this recipe is Rao’s Marinara!
No, I’ve used them all, and they all taste great! I usually purchase a bulk pack or whatever is on sale.
More Healthy Italian Dinner Recipes
These Italian stuffed peppers became a family favorite and that made me so happy! If you are looking for a couple of more Italian themed recipes, take a look at this list:
- Stovetop Turkey Bolognese
- Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
- Healthy Chicken Parmesan
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- Zucchini Lasagna with Ricotta and Noodles
- Pasta Fagioli (Copycat Olive Garden Recipe)
Italian Stuffed Peppers
- Large skillet
- Mixing Bowls
- 9 x 13 ceramic baking dish
- 6 bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 4 Italian poultry sausage links about .75lbs, casings removed
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups sauce divided
- 1/3 cup grated romano cheese
- 1.5 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1.5 cups cooked brown rice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove and discard the tops, seeds, and membrane of the bell peppers and set aside.
- In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook the sausage. Break up into small pieces as it cooks. Remove from pan and place into a large bowl.
- In the same skillet heat the last tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and cook the ground turkey. Again, break up the turkey as it cooks. After about 5 minutes stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the turkey is no longer pink.
- Place the cooked turkey in the bowl with the cooked sausage. Stir in the 1/2 cup of the sauce, rice, grated romano and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
- Add the rest of the sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 ceramic baking dish.
- Stuff each of the peppers with the rice and meat mixture and place them into the baking dish. Add any leftover mixture to the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top of the stuffed peppers.
- Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
- Serve hot.
Did you make this recipe?
Have you tried these delicious Italian Stuffed Peppers? I can’t wait to see it! If so, I’d love for you to rate this recipe and leave a comment below. We all learn from each other’s experiences. Also, it would be awesome if you could share a picture on Instagram and tag it #organizeyourselfskinny.