Italian Stuffed Peppers

What makes these stuffed peppers any different from other stuffed pepper recipes? The secret lies in the use of our Creamy Garlic Sauce and Basil Pesto Sauce, both of which give an added boost to the filling of cooked rice, tomatoes, cheese and hot Italian sausage.


  •  8 medium bell peppers, any combination of red, yellow, orange and/or green
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  •  1 pound mild or hot Italian sausage, removed from casings if necessary
  •  1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  •  ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  •  1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  •  1 tablespoon Armanino Creamy Garlic Sauce
  •  one 15oz can diced tomatoes
  •  2 cups cooked long grain rice
  •  ¾ cup Armanino Basil Pesto Sauce
  •  1 cup plus ¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend, divided (6 ounces)
  •  1 cup water
  •  fresh basil, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. Lightly oil a 9”x13” baking dish and set aside.
  2. Drain the tomatoes and measure the juice separately. Top the juice off with enough water to measure one cup. Set both aside until needed.
  3. With a sharp paring knife, cut out the top/stem of the pepper, leaving a little of the top curve of the pepper in place (this will help hold in the filling during baking.) Remove the seeds and pithy ribs.
  4. Lightly oil the outside of the peppers and place into the prepared baking dish, wedging in as needed. If the peppers won’t stand up straight, trim a little of the bottom off, taking care not to cut through to the inside of the pepper. Just a little trim of the skin will create a flat surface.
  5. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
  6. Add the onion and diced peppers along with a pinch of salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  7. Crumble the sausage into the pan and cook until lightly browned, breaking the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
  8. Add the spices – Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes (if using), salt and pepper – and sauté for a minute or so until fragrant.
  9. Add the garlic sauce and drained tomatoes and sauté for a 3-4 minutes scraping up the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan.
  10. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool, 5-10 minutes.
  11. Once cool, stir in the pesto sauce, then the rice. Gently fold in 1 cup of the shredded cheese.
  12. Evenly divide the mixture among the peppers and carefully pour the reserved tomato water into the pan around the peppers.
  13. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  14. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  15. Divide remaining shredded cheese (¼ cup) among the peppers and continue baking for another 15 minutes until the cheese has melted, the peppers are soft and lightly browned and the filling is heated through, about 1 ¼ hours total.
  16. Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve hot or room temperature.
  17. Make ahead: The peppers can be stuffed and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Add 10 minutes to the baking time if baking directly from the refrigerator.
  18. Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Chef’s Tips

  • Grocery stores usually carry some sort of shredded Italian cheese blend, typically made up of a combination of mozzarella, provolone, asiago and/or parmesan. If you can’t find, mix a 3:1 ratio of shredded mozzarella and shredded parmesan.
  • While you can certainly use freshly cooked rice, this is a great use for leftover rice. It’s a little drier and absorbs all the flavors perfectly. If making fresh rice, cook first and spread out on a sheet pan to cool while you prep the rest of the recipe. 1 cup raw rice = 2 cups cooked.
  • To break up the sausage into smaller pieces during cooking, use your potato masher. 
  • Use an old Italian grandma trick to fill the peppers – break out the canning funnel. The wide mouth lets you fill the peppers quickly and neatly.
8 servings
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour 30 minutes

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