My all time, forever and ever amen, healthy dinner love is taking it outside today: Grilled Stuffed Peppers!
Bright bell peppers that are grilled, stuffed with a hearty blend of sausage, rice, tomatoes, and CHEESE, then tossed back onto the grill until said cheese melts into gooey perfection, they have the makings of a dreamy backyard BBQ evening.
The filling and flavors of this recipe were inspired by my go-to Italian Stuffed Peppers and feel especially appropriate for cooking al fresco.
My biggest swap in this healthy grilled stuffed peppers recipe was to change out the original ground chicken for sausage (turkey sausage, specifically).
I reasoned that sausage would be a welcome change of pace, a hunch that was affirmed when Ben exclaimed, at various intervals throughout the meal, “Whatever you did to these, they are realllly good,” then proceeded to stake claim to the leftovers.
This method for cooking stuffed peppers on the grill is a master of flexibility.
You can certainly make these stuffed peppers with chicken if that’s more your style, or make stuffed peppers with couscous, quinoa, or farro in place of the rice.
Or, update the recipe to a different favorite filling altogether. Feeling Tex-Mex? Stuff the peppers with the filling from these Mexican Stuffed Peppers.
You can even make grilled vegan stuffed peppers with the lentil and quinoa filling from these tasty Vegan Stuffed Peppers.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll start by grilling the peppers to soften them up, stuff them as you please, then finish them off back on the grill.
How to Make Grilled Stuffed Peppers
Learning how to make stuffed peppers on the grill is a fun way to cook that will see you through many nourishing summer dinners to come.
The Italian-inspired filling below is an excellent place to start. Once you have the technique and timing down (stuffed peppers cook on the grill in about 25 to 30 minutes), feel free to play around with this recipe to make your own versions.
- Red Bell Pepper. Once grilled, the red bell pepper turns into a major flavor element of this dish. It develops a lightly sweet yet charred flavor and tender texture. Also, red bell peppers are packed with the good stuff, such as Vitamin-C (find out more health benefits here).
- Italian Sausage. A scrumptious, pre-seasoned upgrade to typical ground meat. It works beautifully here with the other Italian-inspired ingredients. Either Italian turkey or chicken sausage will work well. Look for uncooked sausage (either in bulk or still in its casings), versus precooked sausage.
- Italian Seasoning + Red Pepper Flakes. For delicious Italian flavor and a touch of heat.
- Diced Tomatoes. Tomatoes give the filling moisture and another touch of Italian flair.
- Rice. Adding cooked rice helps make these peppers extra hearty and satisfying. If you prefer, you can use another cooked grain like couscous, farro, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or orzo. Go with what you love and have on hand.
- Red Wine Vinegar. Gives the filling pop.
- Cheese. Melty mozzarella and salty Parmesan come together to create the most scrumptious, cheesy topping. You could also use provolone instead of the mozzarella for an extra somethin’ somethin’.
- Basil. A fresh way to finish off our grilled peppers.
- Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and membranes, and lay them in a baking dish.
- Brown the sausage with spices.
- Stir in the tomatoes and vinegar.
- Add the rice and part of the cheese.
- Grill the peppers on an oiled grill for about 6 to 9 minutes, until they soften and get a little blistered. Lay them in the baking dish, cut side up.
- Pile the filling into the pepper halves. Place the peppers back onto the grill.
- Grill the stuffed peppers for 20 minutes over medium heat, until the peppers are tender. Towards the end of cooking time, top the peppers with the remaining cheese.
- Transfer the peppers back to the baking dish, finish with fresh basil, and DIG IN!
- Grilled Stuffed Peppers with Cream Cheese. Swap half (or all) of the Mozzarella for diced cream cheese. Stir it into the filling until it melts. YUM!
- Grilled Stuffed Peppers with Couscous. Swap the cooked brown rice for the same amount of cooked couscous. This will work with any chewy, nutty grain. You can even try making the stuffed peppers with orzo (undercook it slightly so it doesn’t become mushy).
- Vegetarian Grilled Stuffed Peppers. Swap the sausage for a 15-ounce can of low-sodium white beans, such as cannellini beans. Rinse and drain the beans first. You might also try the filling in these vegetarian Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers.
- Buffalo Chicken Grilled Stuffed Peppers. Use the filling in this Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers recipe, but grill the peppers instead.
- Low Carb Stuffed Peppers. Use cauliflower rice.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Cook the stuffed pepper filling up to 1 day in advance, and store it in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator. Halve and core the peppers up to 1 day in advance, and store them in a separate airtight storage container in the refrigerator. Finish the recipe as directed when ready to enjoy.
- To Store. Leftover peppers can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm stuffed peppers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or gently in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Place grilled peppers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Grilled Stuffed Peppers
- Salad. I love grilled stuffed peppers with a green salad like this Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Chickpea Croutons.
- Vegetables. Serve this dish with a tasty side of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic.
- Bread. For a crowd-pleasing side, try this Caramelized Onion and Olive Focaccia.
Or, pair these peppers with a refreshing Italian Margarita for a truly dynamite combination.
More Healthy Stuffed Pepper Recipes
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Baking Dish. A beautiful investment piece that can be used in SO many recipes!
- Grill Tongs. The essential grilling tool you need.
- Skillet. This non-stick skillet is perfect for preparing the filling.
Grilled Stuffed Peppers
- 4 large red bell peppers
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound uncooked Italian chicken sausage or turkey sausage bulk or removed from casings*
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 can no salt added diced tomatoes with juices; 15 ounces
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice farro, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or orzo (if using orzo, undercook it slightly)
- 1 cup shredded Mozzarella provolone or a mix
- 1/2 cup Parmesan divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Preheat the grill to medium high (about 475 to 500 degrees F). Slice the bell peppers in half from top to bottom. Remove the seeds and membranes then place them in a 9x13-inch baking dish (this will be your vessel for easily getting the peppers on and off the grill).
- Make the pepper filling: heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and their juices. Stir in the vinegar. Let simmer for 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the rice and 1/2 cup of the Mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
- Lightly oil the heated grill. Grill the peppers on both sides until they just begin to turn fork tender but still have some crispness, about 6 to 8 minutes. Return them to the baking dish, cut-side up.
- Mound the filling inside of the peppers. Keep the remaining cheese handy so that you can top the peppers in their last few minutes of grilling.
- Lower the grill to medium (about 350 to 375 degrees F). Return the peppers to the grill, lifting them carefully so that the filling stays inside. You also can grill the stuffed peppers on a sheet of aluminum foil coated with nonstick spray or a grilling mat or grate if you prefer.
- Grill, moving the peppers around a bit periodically, until they are completely fork tender, about 20 additional minutes. I leave the lid down unless I am moving the peppers.
- During the last few minutes of cooking, sprinkle the peppers with the remaining ½ cup Mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan and let melt.
- Carefully transfer the peppers back into the baking dish. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Enjoy hot.
- *If you can't find turkey or chicken sausage, try swapping regular pork sausage. You also can use plain ground chicken or turkey, though if you do, I suggest amping up the spices by adding a bit of additional Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- TO STORE: Leftover peppers can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm stuffed peppers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or slowly in the microwave (I sometimes cut the peppers in half first when microwaving to help them cook more evenly).
- TO FREEZE: Place grilled peppers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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