Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

5 from 14 votes

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Stuffed Peppers made with ground turkey are gorgeous, inexpensive, versatile, and delicious any time of year.

Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers in baking dish.

Stuffed peppers have been popular for decades, and understandably so. This version made with ground turkey and turkey sausage is super satisfying but lighter than a beefy edition, perfect year-round.

So many things to say about stuffed peppers. First, they are undeniably gorgeous. You can make them with a single color of pepper or mix up the colors for an even snazzier presentation. They are also inexpensive — this recipe relies on economical ground turkey — and they are versatile, allowing for a lot of playing around with the filling. Filled with vegetables, this recipe is downright healthy; use brown rice for even more nutritional bang for your buck.

You really don’t need to serve anything else with these — these are truly a one-dish meal. But a salad would be nice to brighten and lighten up the plate. Try Winter Salad, Endive and Fennel Salad, or Frisee, Radicchio, and Endive Salad.

Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers in a white bowl.

Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers: Stuffed Peppers are gorgeous, inexpensive, versatile, and delicious any time of year.

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Ground Turkey Stuffed Pepper Ingredients

  • Bell peppers – Green peppers are the most classic peppers used in stuffed peppers, but you can use any color you want. Pick firm, glossy peppers.
  • Ground turkey – I like using ground turkey labeled 85/15%. This means it has more dark meat than lean ground turkey, which is 97% fat-free. It is a bit more juicy and flavorful, but you can use whichever version appeals to you.
  • Turkey sausage – You can use spicy or sweet.
  • Onion
  • Zucchini – Sub in yellow summer squash if you prefer.
  • Cooked rice – Brown or white.
  • Tomato sauce – Canned or boxed is fine.
  • Fresh parsley – Adds a pop of freshness.
  • Basil – You can sub in another herb like marjoram or thyme.
  • Sugar – Just a pinch to balance out the acidity.
  • Shredded cheese – The finishing touch; creamy and melty.
Ground Turkey Stuffed Pepper on a plate with greens.

Recipe Variations

Here are some other thoughts if you want to amp up the flavor of your stuffed peppers even further.

  • Add minced olives (green or black), capers, or anchovies into the combined stuffing, which will add a whole lot of zing. You can also add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to the filling before stuffing it into the peppers. These ingredients lean the peppers even more firmly into the Italian camp.
  • If you don’t have basil or prefer to use another herb, you have plenty of choices: dill, marjoram, oregano, thyme — all of these would be good choices, alone or in combination. Keep in mind the substitution ratio for dried herbs to fresh is 1:3, so 1 teaspoon of a dried herb vs. 1 tablespoon of a fresh herb.
Spoon with a scoop of Ground Turkey Stuffing from a pepper.

How to Make Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

  1. Prepare the peppers and oven: Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Cook the stuffing: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the turkey, sausage, and onion until the meat is brown and crumbly, about 8 minutes. Drain the turkey mixture and return it to the skillet. Add the zucchini and rice, stirring occasionally until combined, then stir in 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, herbs, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Cooking ground turkey, onions, and seasonings in skillet on the stove.
  1. Stuff the peppers: Dividing the mixture evenly between peppers, stuff the peppers; pack them full but not too tightly. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce on top, then add the shredded cheese.
Topping stuffed peppers with tomato sauce and shredded cheese.
  1. Bake and serve: Bake the peppers, loosely covered with foil, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 15 minutes longer, until the peppers are tender and the cheese golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers in baking dish.

Pepper Stuffing Tips

  • Make sure to chop the onion, and dice the zucchini into small pieces so they blend in with the other ingredients and make a cohesive stuffing with bits of all of the components in each bite.
  • Don’t pack the stuffing too densely into the peppers; it will slow down the baking, and the core of the peppers might not get hot.
Spoon scooping ground turkey mixture into orange, yellow, and red peppers.

How to Keep Stuffed Peppers from Falling Over

There are three simple ways to keep your peppers upright as they bake:

  1. Choose a baking pan that is just large enough to hold all 6 of the peppers snugly so that they hold each other upright with no room to tip (that’s what I did).
  2. Carefully slice a tiny bit off the bottom of the pepper so that there is a flat bottom. Make sure not to cut through the bottom of the pepper itself; you are just trying to trim off the rounded nubs at the base of the pepper.
  3. Nestle the peppers into foil. Pull off a square of foil, crunch it up around the base of the pepper, and squish the bottom so that the foil is flat on the bottom and the pepper can rest in its foil nest.

Leftovers and Storage

You can fill the peppers, cover them, and refrigerate for up to a day before baking. Leftover cooked peppers can be stored for up to 2 days in the fridge. Reheat the peppers in a microwave for about 2 minutes or in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes until hot throughout.

FAQs

Do you have to pre-cook peppers before stuffing them?

No, they will cook and become tender in the oven.

Why are my stuffed peppers watery?

If the filling has too much water, it probably will cause the finished stuffed peppers to become watery. Too much of a water-dense vegetable (like zucchini, tomato, or mushrooms) might also make the filling watery.

Why do stuffed peppers take so long to cook?

You want the peppers to become tender and the filling to heat through. The fact that the peppers are completely filled with the meat, rice, and vegetable filling means that it will take a while to fully heat through.

How do you keep stuffed peppers from falling apart?

Don’t overstuff the peppers, and don’t overcook them! Also, dice all of the vegetables into smallish pieces so the filling holds together.

What to Serve With Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers in a white bowl.

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5 from 14 votes

Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers made with ground turkey are gorgeous, inexpensive, versatile, and delicious any time of year.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Ingredients 

  • 6 large bell peppers (any color)
  • ½ pound ground turkey (preferably 85/15)
  • ½ pound mild or hot turkey sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup small-diced zucchini
  • 1 ½ cups cooked and cooled rice (white or brown or any rice blend)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (divided)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or any other shredding cheese)

Instructions 

  • Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes from inside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish, or a baking dish large enough to hold all of the peppers snugly, with nonstick spray, or lightly oil the dish.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, turkey sausage, and onion, and stir occasionally for about 8 minutes, until the meat is browned and crumbly (break it up with a spoon as you go). Drain the turkey mixture in a colander and return the meat to the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 minutes, until everything is very well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, parsley, basil, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Stuff the mixture into the 6 peppers, dividing it evenly and packing them full but not too tightly. Place the stuffed peppers upright into the prepared baking pan (see intro for tips on keeping peppers upright). Spoon the remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce evenly over the filling, and sprinkle the tops evenly with the shredded cheese.
  • Cover the peppers loosely with aluminum foil. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving on a platter or individual plates.

Notes

I like using ground turkey that is labeled 85/15%. This means it has more dark meat than lean ground turkey, which is 97% fat-free.  It is a bit more juicy and flavorful, but you can use whichever version appeals to you.
There are three simple ways to keep your peppers upright as they bake:
  1. Choose a baking pan that is just large enough to hold all 6 of the peppers snugly so that they hold each other upright with no room to tip (that’s what I did).
  2. Carefully slice a tiny bit off the bottom of the pepper so that there is a flat bottom. Make sure not to cut through the bottom of the pepper itself; you are just trying to trim off the rounded nubs at the base of the pepper.
  3. Nestle the peppers into foil. Pull off a square of foil, crunch it up around the base of the pepper, and squish the bottom so that the foil is flat on the bottom and the pepper can rest in its foil nest.

Nutrition

Calories: 284kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 66mg, Sodium: 955mg, Potassium: 724mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 4356IU, Vitamin C: 164mg, Calcium: 179mg, Iron: 2mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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