Stuffed Mini Peppers

Stuffed mini peppers with ground meat, rice and vegetables are so cute and delicious. Baked in a creamy tomato sauce and served with sour cream, they are great served as an appetizer or entree.

Stuffed Mini Peppers

These cute stuffed mini peppers are simply delightful. Instead of making stuffed peppers using regular sized bell peppers, using the mini peppers makes a really nice appetizer or entree.

The meat and rice stuffing is so juicy and scrumptious, since they have the addition of some sautéed veggies. The peppers are baked in a creamy garlic tomato and herb sauce and then served with sour cream. Each delicious mouthful is encased in a bright mini pepper, cooked just until tender. These dainty peppers are so elegant and pretty, you can serve them at parties and holiday meals. They are very healthy for you too, with almost no fat in the recipe and full of vitamins and nutrients from all those veggies.

You can prep the peppers ahead of time, which makes this a really convenient recipe for company dinners or busy weeknights. The peppers also reheat and freeze really well, so you can cook them once and enjoy them for more than one meal.

I have several stuffed pepper recipes on my website, since we enjoy them so much in my family. The Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers are made using regular sized bell peppers, or make the Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers, which makes the process much faster.

Ingredients For Stuffed Mini Peppers:

  • mini peppers – you can use any mini peppers that you like. Sometimes you can buy them loose at farmer’s markets or grocery stores, or they have them in packages. Sometimes the peppers are smaller in size and sometimes they are larger. The larger ones will take a little bit longer to cook through than the smaller ones.
  • rice – I usually use long grain white rice and partially cook in before adding it to the meat mixture. The rice will continue to cook in the oven. You can also use leftover rice. I don’t recommend using uncooked rice in the meat mixture because it will take much longer for the rice to cook through inside the peppers. You can also use brown rice, if you’d like.
  • ground meat – you can use ground pork, beef, chicken or turkey. My personal preference is ground pork, but you can choose whatever you like. You can even use sausage meat. If you use lean meat, the peppers will not be as juicy as using ground meat that has some fat.
  • butter or oil for sautéing
  • onion
  • carrot
  • celery
  • garlic
  • canned tomatoes or tomato sauce – you can use canned diced tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes or canned/jarred tomato sauce.
  • salt, ground black pepper, dry herbs and seasonings – use any of your favorite spices and herbs to season the meat and rice stuffing as well as the tomato sauce. Granulated or powdered onion and garlic, dry basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, etc.
  • heavy cream – this will make the tomato sauce really creamy, rich and less acidic.
  • fresh herbs, such as parsley and or dill
  • sour cream, to serve with the peppers
Ingredients for stuffed mini peppers

How To Make Stuffed Mini Peppers

  1. Cook the rice until it’s slightly undercooked. You can also use leftover rice. Cool slightly.
  2. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery until tender. Cool slightly.
  3. Mix the stuffing ingredients. Combine the ground meat, rice, sautéed veggies, salt and pepper. You can also add some dry herbs and spices. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of water to the meat and rice stuffing as well.
  4. Prep the peppers. Cut off the stems and remove the seeds from the peppers.
  5. Fill the peppers with the meat and rice stuffing.
  6. Make the tomato sauce. Use the same skillet that you used to sauté the veggies, you don’t even need to wash it. Sauté the garlic in oil until fragrant, then add the canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper and dry herbs. Cook at a simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes if using tomato sauce and about 15 minutes if using canned tomatoes. Pour in the heavy cream and add fresh herbs.
  7. Add peppers and sauce to the baking dish. Pour the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish (I use a 9 X 13 inch baking dish) and then add the peppers on top of the sauce. (You can use all the sauce to the bottom, or pour some on top of the peppers as well.)
  8. Bake the peppers in a preheated (375-400 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on the size of the peppers. The larger ones will need to cook longer.
  9. Serve the peppers with the tomato sauce and sour cream.
How to make stuffed mini peppers step by step tutorial

Helpful Tips

Can you use large bell peppers instead of mini peppers?

Yes, absolutely. If you use large peppers, partially cook them first, before stuffing, either in boiling water for 3-5 minutes, or in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. I also have a recipe for Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers that uses regular sized bell peppers. You will need to bake the stuffed peppers for an additional 15-30 minutes.

How to make the stuffing in the peppers juicier?

Adding lots of sautéed veggies not only adds a ton of flavor to the filling, but it also makes them juicier too. I also add additional water to the filling which also makes the filling juicier and more tender.

What tomato product to use for the sauce?

You can use your favorite store bought tomato sauce for this recipe or use canned tomatoes to make a quick tomato sauce. If you use crushed tomatoes, keep in mind that they have a thicker consistency and have more seeds and tomato skin. I prefer using diced tomatoes, which have more liquid in them and use them in the food processor or blender before making sauce with them, because the consistency is better in my opinion. If you use tomato sauce, you don’t have to cook it very long at all, since it’s also cooked beforehand. The canned tomato products need to be cooked a bit longer in the skillet, just so the tomatoes soften and get a richer flavor.

Leftover Meat and Rice Filling:

If you have more meat and rice filling than peppers, use the leftover filling to make lazy cabbage rolls, which are so good or traditional cabbage rolls, a classic favorite.

Make the meat and rice stuffing to make the most delicious meatballs, baking them in the sauce just as you would the peppers. My family loves them! In fact, I often make half of the mixture into small meatballs and half stuffed peppers and cook it all together.

Should you cover the baking dish when baking?

You can cover the baking dish with aluminum foil or a lid for the first 30 minutes or so, which will help to cook the peppers faster. This is really helpful if you make large stuffed peppers. However, uncover the baking dish after 30 minutes, so the peppers get more roasted and so the sauce doesn’t get too watery. The bell peppers will exude some liquid as they bake and if the baking dish is covered the whole time, the sauce won’t get rich and creamy, but may become too watery.

How to Store:

Store the cooked peppers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze stuffed peppers?

Yes, stuffed peppers freeze really well. You can freeze stuffed peppers and bake them when ready to serve, or freeze the stuffed and baked stuffed peppers and then just reheat before serving. Freeze the peppers in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Reheating:

Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop, on low heat, covered in a skillet or pot. You can also reheat in the oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) until warmed through.

Stuffed mini peppers with tomato sauce in a baking dish

What to Serve With Stuffed Peppers

Since the peppers have vegetables, meat and rice, they are great on their own with some sour cream. You don’t have to serve anything else with them.

You can also serve the peppers on top of a bed of fluffy white rice, with more sauce poured on top.

Serve the tomatoes with a loaf of homemade bread.

A fresh garden salad is a great option as well.

Juicy stuffed mini peppers with a ground meat and rice stuffing and baked in a creamy tomato sauce
Print

Mini Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed mini peppers with ground meat, rice and vegetables are so cute and delicious. Baked in a creamy tomato sauce and served with sour cream, they are great served as an appetizer or entree.

  • Author: Olga’s Flavor Factory
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Entree

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/22 lbs mini peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup long grain rice uncooked (or 3/41 cup cooked)
  • 1 lb ground meat (ground pork, beef, turkey, chicken, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter or oil (for sautéing vegetables), plus another teaspoon for the sauce
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus a little bit more for carrots and onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus a little bit more for carrots and onions
  • 46 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) canned tomatoes (diced, crushed) or tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dry herbs and spices, such as granulated onion and garlic, Italian seasoning, parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc.
  • Sour cream and fresh herbs, such as parsley and/or dill, to serve with the finished dish

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice until slightly underdone. You can also use leftover cooked rice.
  2. Heat butter or oil in a skillet. Add the onions, carrot and celery, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, rice, sautéed veggies and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4-1/2 cup of water. You can also add some of your favorite dry herbs and spices as well.
  4. Cut off the tops of the peppers and remove the seeds.
  5. Fill the peppers with the meat and rice mixture.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Meanwhile, in the same skillet that you sautéed the veggies, add about 1 teaspoon of oil, then add the minced garlic right to the oil. Cook, stirring for about 30 seconds, just until the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes or the tomato sauce, mixing to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Cover immediately because it will bubble and make a mess.  Cook, at a simmer, for about 5 minutes if you’re using tomato sauce and about 15 minutes if you’re using canned tomatoes.
  8. Add the heavy cream, the dry herbs and fresh herbs to the sauce off the heat. Stir to combine. Pour most of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. (I save some to serve with the peppers later or you can pour the remaining sauce on top.)
  9. Nestle the stuffed peppers into the sauce.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending on the size of your peppers. (You can cover the baking dish with aluminum foil or a lid and they will cook through faster.)
  11. Garnish with more fresh herbs. Serve the stuffed peppers with the tomato sauce and sour cream.
  12. Store leftover stuffed peppers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the peppers for up to 3 months.
  13. Reheat leftovers in the microwave, in a skillet on the stovetop or even in the oven.

Keywords: stuffed mini peppers, mini peppers stuffed with ground meat and rice, stuffed mini peppers with tomato sauce, baked stuffed mini peppers

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Stuffed mini peppers with sour cream and tomato sauce

This recipe was originally published on March 23, 2012. I have updated the photos and clarified the instructions.

25 Comments

  • Natasha of Natashaskitchen.com

    Mmm, mini peppers sound nice. Thanks for yet another great post. We’ve tried several of your recipes and everything turns out great! I’ll have to try mini stuffed peppers; they always have bags of mini peppers at costco; this would be a good excuse to buy them!

    • Olga K.

      Thanks, Natasha! I love your recipes too:)
      My mom gave me one of those bags of peppers and since I’ve been meaning to make the stuffed peppers, it was perfect timing.

  • Alla Sherstyukov

    Hi Olga 🙂 When you make these and have extra filling left and want to make some lazy cabbage rolls but not to eat the same day, do yu make the patties and freeze them or cook them and then freeze or what do you do? Thanks 🙂

  • Nata

    Hi Olga, I have a question. Do you think it will work if I make them ahead of time and freeze them and then cook them in sauce a different day? If yes, would there be any special considerations?

    • olgak7

      How far ahead of time do you want to make it? You can simply store the stuffed, uncooked peppers in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. If you want to make them far in advance, you can store them in the tightly sealed container or ziptop bag, thaw them when you want to cook them. Drain the peppers on a paper towel first, since they will most likely exude some liquid as they thaw. Then make the sauce and cook the peppers as you would normally.

      • Nata

        Thanks for such a quick response! I would want to make them at least a couple of weeks in advance, trying to save time on the prepwork for a party. How important is the searing? I’m not sure if I will be able to do that after thawing them, plus if I’m making a large amount it, I would have to do it in many batches.

  • olga

    Oh interesting. I remember one being similar to the lazy cabbage roll recipe. With cabbage in the meat mixture and peppers boiled in water. It was my favorite! I hope im not losing my mind lol

    • erica

      Yes actually I think I know what you are talking about.. it was called something like lazy cabbage kotleti.. it was very good, I was also looking for it and I can’t find it. However I don’t remember that they had peppers in them..

  • Olga

    Hello Olga,
    I was just wondering how much total tablespoons of butter do I use? It’s written 1 1 1/2 tablespoons, does that 1 stick, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons? Thanks =)

  • Karen

    I made these to day. They’re delicious, and the multicolored little peppers make for a colorful novelty for a dinner with guests.

    I found I needed to cook for 10 minutes more (total 30) to soften the peppers enough. And I liked them with the sour cream so much I added it to the sauce and the tang is just right.

  • Mariya

    I have made these several times and they are so delicious! I want to make a big batch for Sunday, but in a slow cooker. Do you know how long I would need to cook them? I’m gonna make them the night before and leave them in the fridge. Thanks in advance!

    • olgak7

      Hi Mariya.
      I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the stuffed peppers.
      I don’t use my slow cooker very often, so I’m not sure how long it would take to cook them there.

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