If your household is anything like ours, pizza night is requested on the regular. While I love a crispy crust topped with ooey gooey melted cheese that sports a killer cheese pull, sometimes I need an alternative that’s a bit healthier for all of us — that’s when I turn to these pizza stuffed peppers.
With the right amount of cheese you might still be able to get that stretchy cheesiness out of these but swapping in bell peppers and tossing the idea of a traditional crust means we all get a bit more nourishment from pizza night. And with simple ingredients like store-bought seasonings, it comes together almost as quickly as taking the trip to and from the local pizza place.
One of the best things about these peppers is that they are so customizable. You can use any kind of meat, the peppers you like, and the toppings you love (or just have on hand).
Everyone can participate, too, if you want some extra hands in the kitchen.
Whether you’re trying to sneak some veggies into the hungry mouths in your house, or you’re trying to find a low-carb way to fulfill your cravings for an actual pizza, this recipe should do the trick!
Why You’ll Love Pizza Stuffed Peppers
If you love pizza you’ll adore these delicious peppers that pack in all of the goodness of pizza without all of the calories (or cash).
- Easy – With only a bit of prep, the peppers are ready to pop in the oven in nearly no time and there’s very little cleanup. The cook time in the oven is just enough to get together a salad or other side dish (or finish the night’s homework or laundry).
- Low carb – While peppers aren’t carbohydrate-free they are significantly lower in net carbs than bread making this great for anyone watching those macros. It’s also a good option for those who are gluten intolerant.
- Healthy – With veggies, lean meats, and healthy olive oil this is a serious upgrade over takeout pizza when it comes to nutrition.
- Great for picky eaters – Covering veggies with cheese or transforming them into pizza is an easy way to encourage kids (and even picky adults) to get some nutrient-packed goodness in their bellies.
This healthier pizza makeover is a cinch to pull together with lots of ingredients you probably already keep around.
- Bell peppers – I like to use a variety of colors but you can choose green bell peppers or whichever shade you prefer. Cut them in half lengthwise and remove all of the seeds.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil is the best for sauteing and its light flavor works well in this recipe.
- Ground lean ground beef or turkey – Any type of ground meat will work but making sure its lean is key. It will prevent your peppers from being greasy or soggy.
- Italian seasoning – You can make your own mix or use the store-bought variety.
- Garlic powder – I use powders in this recipe to make it easier but if you want to press garlic or mince it you can do that instead. You can also use store-bought minced garlic.
- Onion powder – Again, the powder is the easiest way to get this meal together quickly but you can also finely mince the onions.
- Salt – Only a little of this is necessary since the cheese will add some salty flavor to these pizza stuffed peppers as well.
- Black pepper – Your typical shaker of black pepper will do but you can use fresh ground or a peppercorn medley if you want to fancy it up.
- Pizza sauce or marinara sauce – Use up a homemade version that you have left over or buy a store-bought variety.
- Mozzarella cheese – Shredding your own always yields the freshest results but you can use a pre-shredded variety. You can also purchase the Italian blends of shredded cheese or sprinkle other cheese in addition to mozzarella like colby jack or cheddar.
- Toppings of choice – Whatever your favorite pizza toppings are will be perfect on this pizza. Black olives, pepperoni slices, banana peppers, or diced mushrooms are all good options.
- Chopped parsley – This garnish is optional but does make the pizzas pretty. You can use dried, or fresh parsley that’s finely chopped.
How to Make Pizza Stuffed Peppers
With less than 20 minutes of hands-on prep time this pizza pepper recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal or an alternative to a typical weekend pizza night.
- After spraying a baking dish or baking sheet with cooking spray, pour some of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish.
- Next, place peppers in the dish so that they are evenly spaced.
- In a large skillet heated over medium-high heat, add olive oil, ground turkey or beef, and all of the seasonings.
- Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the meat and move ingredients around to brown evenly.
- Continue cooking and occasionally stirring until the meat is completely cooked with no traces of pink.
- Use a spoon to fill each of the pepper halves with the ground meat mixture being careful to drain some of the extra grease before filling.
- Then, top the ground meat with the pizza sauce and cheese.
- Next, add any toppings that you like.
- Pour any remaining sauce into the casserole dish, spreading evenly where possible.
- Using aluminum foil, cover the peppers and bake.
- Halfway through cooking, remove the foil from the top of the dish and continue to bake.
- Remove the peppers from the oven when they have become fork tender and the cheese is fully melted and golden brown.
- Allow the peppers to cool briefly.
- Then, garnish with parsley if desired, and serve.
There are all sorts of interesting add-ins and changes to make these pizza stuffed peppers special.
- Mini peppers – Instead of large peppers, try using mini peppers. They’re perfect for kiddos or as appetizers.
- Portobellos – Swap out the peppers for portobello mushrooms. Just clean them, remove the stem and add the meat, cheese, and topping.
- Creamy cheese – Swipe a creamy cheese across the bottom of the inside of the pepper for a cheesier treat. Cream cheese, ricotta, seasoned boursin, or goat cheese are all options.
- Fresh mozzarella – Try buying the smaller pearl mozzarella balls. Place a few on top of the meat instead of, or in addition to, the shredded cheese.
- Meatless – Use your favorite ground meat substitute or just omit it altogether. You can also fill it with other veggies like seasoned riced cauliflower or broccoli.
- More seasoning – After adding all of the ingredients to the peppers, sprinkle Italian seasoning over the top of the peppers.
- Heat – If you like a little spiciness with your pizza, try adding crushed red pepper flakes to the beef mixture. Or sprinkle finely diced jalapenos to the top.
- Parmesan cheese – Sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top of the peppers.
- Toppings bar – Get everyone involved in the preparation! Put out bowls of toppings to use to dress up the peppers before they go in the oven.
- Diced tomatoes – For more tomato flavor, add petite diced tomatoes to the meat and seasonings.
- Sauce – Skip the marinara and make a variation on a white pizza by using an alfredo sauce.
Storage, Make Ahead and Freezing
It’s unlikely that you’ll have many leftovers after making these tasty pizza stuffed peppers. But if you do, they’re easy enough to store in the refrigerator.
You can also easily reheat them in the microwave with good results unlike your standard leftover pizza slice!
Make-Ahead: If you’re prepping these for a party or just doing meal prep to have dinner ready to pop in the oven the next day when you get home, you can fill the peppers with the cooked beef ahead of time.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Add the sauce, cheese, and toppings just before baking.
Refrigerator: Place these peppers in an airtight container, or wrap them with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezer: While you can freeze these, the texture of the peppers themselves may differ once thawed and reheated. If you do choose to freeze them, store in a ziploc bag for up to 3 months.
Other Pizza-like Dishes
Pizza Stuffed Peppers
- Heat Resistant Rubber Spatula
- 3 bell peppers (any color will work) seeded and cut in half lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground lean turkey or lean beef
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups pizza sauce or marinara sauce divided
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- toppings of choice I use olives and pepperoni
- chopped parsley optional
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and lightly spray a 13 x 9 inch baking or casserole pan with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup of pizza sauce to the bottom of the pan and spread with a spoon or spatula. Set aside.
- 2.Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat and add olive oil, ground turkey, and seasonings (Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper). Cook until meat is fully cooked and no longer pink, about 7-9 minutes. Crumble the meat with a wooden spoon.
- Spoon in ground meat into each bell pepper. Top each with 2-3 tablespoons of pizza sauce and a small handful of cheese. Top with your favorite pizza toppings (I used olives and pepperoni). Add the remaining pizza sauce to the bottom of the pan and spread it out with a spoon if you can.
- Cover peppers with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 more minutes until the cheese is melted and the peppers are tender. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley (optional) and enjoy!