Italian sausage stuffed mini peppers make such a great appetizer recipe! Two-bite, sweet mini peppers are filled with a creamy mix of Italian sausage, cheeses, onion, garlic, and fresh herbs in this easy dish.
I'm one of those people who hover around the appetizer table at parties. Always have been! A little of this and a little of that is my M.O. when it comes to party food.
Sometimes at home we'll even make a few traditional appetizer-type recipes and share them for dinner. Baked clam dip is a frequent pick (I could eat the whole thing), as are crispy brussels sprouts.
These sausage stuffed mini peppers totally fit the bill for my favorite kind of appetizer, which has some substance and oomph behind it when compared to something like chips and salsa.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- These stuffed mini peppers are just-as-delicious cousins of the more popular jalapeno popper, except they're meatier, less spicy, and more Italian in flavor.
- You can prep and assemble the peppers ahead of time, simply placing the trays in the oven to heat and melt the cheese just prior to when you'd like to serve them.
- This recipe makes a great option for those who eat a gluten-free diet.
- Peppers: You can usually find an 8-ounce bag of mini sweet peppers, which is what this recipe calls for, but if not there should be an 16-ounce one. You can double the recipe (which will use the full pound of meat) or use the excess peppers in a variety of ways (see the below section).
- Sausage: This recipe calls for mild, but sweet Italian sausage will also work. It's also lower in spiciness but with the addition of sweet basil. If you like spice then by all means go with hot Italian sausage.
- Cream cheese: Either full-fat cream cheese or reduced-fat Neufchâtel cheese work.
- Shredded cheese: Any meltable cheese that doesn't clash with these flavors is just fine. I've used mozzarella, provolone, pepper jack, and white cheddar (and a mix thereof) on separate occasions and that they were all good. For this particular batch I used two: mozzarella is a melty dream but doesn't have the boldest flavor, with extra sharp cheddar coming in for a flavor assist.
- Crushed red pepper: This provides more flavor than a considerably spicy zip. Feel free to omit it or increase the amount in line with your preferences.
What are mini sweet peppers?
Mini sweet peppers are tiny, slightly sweeter versions of bell peppers. Even though some of the smaller, curvy red ones look like red jalapenos, just like bell peppers they're not spicy at all.
They do have seeds though, so slicing them in half and removing the seeds and pith, the white center part to which the seeds attach, is the first step in prepping these mini peppers.
And while you can totally eat mini peppers raw, you can also roast them briefly to soften them without making them mushy. I like to make roasted mini peppers in the air fryer.
Some other uses for mini sweet peppers (besides stuffing them) are slicing them raw to add to salads, dipping slices in hummus, pan- or oven-roasting them along with your favorite cooking oil and spices, or even grilling them.
- Heat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Slice the peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and pith, and place them on a rimmed sheet pan.
- Give the pepper halves a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 7 minutes. We just want them in the oven enough to soften up a little bit. Too long in there would cause the peppers to lose their shape and become floppy and tricky to stuff. You can see that conundrum in action with these healthy stuffed poblano peppers.
- Crumble and brown the sausage until fully-cooked, then set aside. Use the same pan to then saute the onion and garlic in olive oil.
- Stir together all of the filling ingredients, except for the reserved portion of shredded cheese.
- Divide the filling between all of the peppers, pressing it in there to fill the crevices. Top evenly with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350°F (177°C), or until the cheese has fully melted and the stuffed mini peppers are hot throughout.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- When compared to other peppers, these mini peppers (just like bell peppers or cubanelles, my favorite for Italian cubanelle peppers) don't need to have that thin layer of outer skin removed in order to be pleasantly chewable, so you don't need to do a full roast like you do in my how to roast poblano peppers in the oven post. Seven minutes will do the trick.
- Drizzle just enough oil on the peppers before roasting as too much will cause the filling to slip out of the peppers. Blotting the peppers with a paper towel before stuffing to remove some moisture is recommended.
- When slicing the peppers, be sure to cut them lengthwise in a way that will have the wider, flatter surface of both halves lie against the sheet pan. This way they'll be more stable and roll around less.
More Italian Sausage Recipes
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Italian Sausage Stuffed Mini Peppers
For the Peppers:
- 8 ounces mini sweet peppers
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Salt and pepper for seasoning peppers
For the Filling:
- 8 ounces mild Italian sausage cooked and crumbled
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Half of an onion, diced small
- 5 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 4 ounces cream cheese full-fat or reduced-fat
- 2 ounces shredded cheese (about ⅔ cup) see notes, divided
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 5 fresh basil leaves finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
- Heat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Slice each mini sweet pepper in half lengthwise, then slice/scoop out the pith and seeds and discard. Place each pepper half on a sheet pan with the cut-side up.
- Once all of the peppers are on the pan, lightly drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 7 minutes to slightly soften them up, then set aside. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) once the peppers are done.
- Add Italian sausage to a pan set over medium heat, breaking it into small crumbles as it cooks. Once fully cooked (no longer pink), transfer sausage crumbles to a paper-towel lined plate to cool.
- Clean out pan to use again. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and set it over medium/low heat. Once heated add diced onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, then add garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden and tender. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add cooked and crumbled sausage, sauteed onion and garlic mixture, cream cheese, 1 ounce (about ⅓ cup) of the shredded cheese, parsley, basil, and crushed red pepper. Stir well to break up the cream cheese until all ingredients in the filling mixture are evenly combined.
- If you find excess liquid has pooled in the peppers as they've cooled, you may wish to blot it before stuffing them so the filling doesn't slide around. Stuff each pepper half with the filling, pressing it into the peppers well. Top evenly with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake (now at 350°F) for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the stuffed mini peppers are heated well throughout. Serve warm.
- You don't need to remove the skin from the peppers.
- Cut the peppers lengthwise in such a way that the two relatively flat and wide sides of each pepper will be laid flat against the sheet pan. This will reduce the amount of rolling around they do.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
They are so delicious. Can you freeze?
I'm so glad you like them! I haven't frozen these so I'm not sure how they would do. I'd be afraid if they were already baked they'd get a bit too mushy when it comes time to reheat. They may be able to be frozen once assembled/not baked yet, but I haven't tried it myself.