Dinner Make Ahead - Heat & Serve Recipes

Stuffed Peppers with Sausage and Rice

Rice and sausage stuffed peppers topped with melted cheese and chopped parsley.

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Stuffed peppers are one of those recipes that look like it aught to be complicated but isn’t. Really it’s very similar to prepping a casserole. All it takes is a quick cook of a few of the ingredients (the peppers, rice, sausage and onion), combining the stuffing in a mixing bowl, filling the peppers and then baking them.

Everything you need to know to make Stuffed Peppers with Sausage and Rice

Casandra’s Tips and Notes

Bell peppers are the absolute #1 favorite food in my house. My kids eat them the way other kids might eat goldfish. It’s not a stretch then to understand that this Stuffed Peppers with Sausage and Rice recipe is not only a staple in our dinner menu rotation but often requested when I’ve over looked it for too many days in a row. 

Stuffed peppers are one of those recipes that look like it aught to be complicated but isn’t. Really it’s very similar to prepping a casserole. All it takes is a quick cook of a few of the ingredients (the peppers, rice, sausage and onion), combining the stuffing in a mixing bowl, filling the peppers and then baking them.

Stuffed peppers with sausage and rice are also a great go to weeknight dinner because most of the ingredients are things we keep in the house all the time which makes this a terrific last minute recipe. Rice, sweet Italian sausage, onion, tomato sauce and seasonings are really all you need; and bell peppers of course. I don’t always have canned tomato sauce on hand but I do usually have some homemade red sauce in the freezer to defrost and I use that instead.

Tray of various colored stuffed peppers topped with melted cheese and chopped parsley.

About the Ingredients

Bell peppers – I look for peppers that are a little flat on the bottom when shopping. This will help the peppers stand up in the baking dish without tipping over. Any color pepper is fine. After stuffing and baking the peppers they all taste the same.

Sausage – sweet Italian sausage meat removed from the casings.

Onion and garlic – diced yellow onion and minced garlic to add to the sausage while it’s sautéing in the pan.

Brown rice – this gets cooked before adding it to the stuffing. I like to cook it in chicken broth instead of water to give it a little extra flavor.

Tomato sauce – the old fashioned canned stuff is perfect for this stuffed pepper recipe. Sometimes I have leftover homemade sauce in freezer that I use but don’t worry about getting anything too fancy, it’s not necessary.

Seasonings – Italian seasonings, salt and pepper.

Cheese – shredded mozzarella and a little grated parmesan.

A yellow stuffed pepper cut in half to see the rice and sausage stuffing.

How To Make Sausage and Rice Stuffed Peppers

Prep and Steam the Peppers

The first step is to prepare the peppers. You want them to soften a little bit but not lose their structure. Set them upside down in a shallow dish of water and cover the whole thing with foil to keep the steam inside. Then bake them in the oven at 375°F just until the begin to soften – 20 minutes.

Cook the Rice

Now it’s time to cook the rice. I use this 4-cup Cuisinart Rice Cooker and it has become a kitchen tool I can’t live without. Just add the rice and liquid and press the only button on the whole machine. It will automatically switch itself to “warm” when the rice is perfectly cooked. No watching, timing, nothing. If you don’t have a rice cooker you can just cook the rice according to the package directions.

Sauté the Stuffing

While the rice cooks, sauté the sausage and onion. Finish off the browning by adding a little minced garlic. Pour in the sauce and seasonings to the pan too. Then stir the cooked rice into the sausage mixture along with some of the mozzarella.

Stuff the Peppers and Bake

By now the peppers should be soft and ready to stuff. Remove the peppers from the baking dish and dispose of the water. Set the peppers back in the pan, cut side up and spoon in the stuffing mixture. Pop the dish back into the oven for about 15 minutes so the flavors of the stuffing can really combine and the excess moisture is absorbed.

Top with Cheese and Melt

The final step is to top the peppers each with a little shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmesan. If you want to be really fancy you can garnish them with some fresh parsley too. Back into the oven and under the broiler they go for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.

Rice and sausage stuffed peppers in a glass baking dish. Topped with melted cheese and chopped parsley.

Make Ahead Instructions

These stuffed peppers are a great make ahead meal for busy weeknights. Simply prepare the stuffing in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to put dinner together.

When you’re ready, prep the peppers according to the recipe. Then stuff them, bake them and serve!

Another trick is to make the peppers entirely in advance. Follow the recipe all the way through stuffing them. Then store them in the refrigerator and reheat them when you’re ready.

To reheat the stuffed peppers, leave them at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then place them in a 375°F oven, covered with foil for about 30 minutes or until warm in the center. Finish them off by topping them with cheese and toasting them under the broiler.

Tray of various colored rice stuffed peppers topped with melted cheese and chopped parsley.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my rice hard in stuffed peppers?

The rice needs to be fully cooked before stuffing the peppers with it. Be sure to follow the package directions and test the rice before adding it to the stuffing.

What pairs well with sausage and peppers?

The peppers already have meat, veggies and carbs all in one dish so pairing them with a green salad is the best option.

Why are my stuffed peppers soggy?

Steaming the peppers first helps to not only soften the peppers but also release their excess water. This should prevent the peppers from getting too soggy. 

The Recipe for Sausage and Rice Stuffed Peppers

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what color pepper was your family’s best seller (ours is usually red.) Enjoy!

Tray of various colored rice stuffed peppers topped with melted cheese and chopped parsley.

Stuffed Peppers with Sausage and Rice

These little beauties are like individually portioned casseroles. Stuffed with rice, sweet Italian sausage and a seasoned tomato sauce these peppers will be a family favorite. Easy to make and simple ingredients make this a terrific weeknight recipe. Plan to serve 2 peppers per person.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 294 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 8 bell peppers
  • lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Set 1 cup brown rice to cook according to the package directions.
  • Prepare 8 bell peppers by slicing off the tops, including the stems, and removing the seeds and veins. Place the peppers cut side down in a baking dish filled with 1/2 inch of water. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • While the peppers bake, sauté 1½ lb sweet Italian sausage with 1/2 yellow onion over medium heat in a deep frying pan. When then sausage is just about cooked through, about 5-6 minutes, add 2 tsp minced garlic and continue cooking for 1 more minute.
  • Pour in 15 oz tomato sauce, 1 tsp italian seasoning, 1 tsp salt , 1/2 tsp pepper and half of the 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and stir to combine well.
  • Remove the baking dish with peppers from the oven. Carefully remove the peppers from the dish to a plate, pouring any excess water out of the pepper. Pour the water out of the baking dish. One at a time, fill each pepper with stuffing mixture and return the peppers to the baking dish cut side up. Once all the peppers are done return the baking dish to the oven for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, sprinkle the top of each pepper with the remaining half of the 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and the 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Turn the oven to broil and place the pepper under the broiler for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and just beginning to turn brown. Remove the peppers from the oven and serve hot.

Notes

Make Ahead: Prepare the stuffing in advance and store it in the refrigerator for later. When you’re ready, prep the peppers according to the recipe. Then stuff them, bake them and serve!
To Reheat Stuffed Peppers: Leave the peppers at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then place them in a 375°F oven, covered with foil for about 30 minutes or until warm in the center. Finish them off by topping them with cheese and toasting them under the broiler.

 

Keyword brown rice, sausage

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