Italian Stuffed Peppers for the Slow Cooker or Oven

These Slow Cooker Italian Stuffed Peppers are an easy way to get a satisfying and delicious dinner on the table without much fuss. And if you’re like me and you love a good meatball, you will definitely enjoy these stuffed peppers. They are basically flavorful meatballs stuffed into bell peppers and then cooked low and slow until they are tender and juicy. And because we’re not precooking the meat, these stuffed peppers come together quickly. {And if you love stuffed peppers, also check out my recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Soup!}

Italian Stuffed Peppers for the Slow Cooker or Oven

Stuffed peppers have always been one of my favorite comfort food meals. And they are one of those meals that are good year-round. They make for a cozy meal in the winter when you want something hearty and warm to fill the belly. But I also like them in the summer, too, with peppers fresh from the garden or the farmer’s market. And making crockpot stuffed peppers allows me to avoid heating the kitchen in the summer.

These Italian Stuffed Peppers are something I like to make when I want something different from my usual stuffed peppers. Now just know that while these peppers are delicious, this recipe is not authentic by any means. Authentic Italian Stuffed Peppers typically use an Italian variety of pepper, like Marconi or Jimmy Nardello, and then are stuffed and pan-fried. In my version, I use the more readily available bell pepper and stuff the peppers with ground beef, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasonings. Then instead of frying, I use my slow cooker (or the oven) to cook the peppers until they are soft and tender. 

What are the ingredients for Italian Stuffed Peppers?

Bell Peppers – Can we just talk for a minute about green bell peppers? They are typically less expensive than their more mature red, yellow, and orange cousins, which have to linger longer on the vine to get ripe and sweet. But the thing is, some people just don’t like green bell peppers. Personally, I love ‘em. I enjoy their grassy, slightly bitter flavor. (Bitter is a flavor that I think often gets a bad rap, but can actually add a complex flavor to a dish. Coffee, cocoa, beer, and olives are all bitter, yet still tasty).

But even if you fall into a camp that hates green bell peppers, you may like them in this dish. The slow cooking brings out a little sweetness and more of their complex flavor. It might be worth including one green bell pepper, just to give it a try. If you can’t even stand the idea of green pepper, however, then definitely go with what you like. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers are equally delicious in this recipe. 

Ground Beef – This is one of the ingredients that can make or break the recipe. Because we aren’t browning the meat before stuffing the peppers, you need to use lean ground beef. Otherwise, you risk ending up with a greasy pepper and no one wants that. But you also want your stuffing to be juicy and tender, so you don’t want it to be too lean. I found that somewhere between 85% and 93% works well for this recipe. You can also use ground turkey or other ground meat. Just be sure to keep the fat percentage in that 85-93% range. 

Canned Tomatoes – I like to use a can of tomato sauce plus a can of crushed tomatoes for some extra texture. Or substitute diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes, but you’ll want to strain off any extra juice so that your peppers don’t get watery as they cook. You can also just use all tomato sauce or even a jar of your favorite marinara sauce. Home-canned tomatoes will work, too.

Onion – I like to use a sweet onion or a red (purple) onion. And if you don’t happen to have fresh onion, a few shakes of dried minced onion works perfectly. 

Garlic – Fresh garlic is so flavorful and pungent – I just love to use it in the meat filling. But just like with the onion in this recipe, you can use a few shakes of granulated garlic if you don’t have fresh on hand (or if you don’t have the time or inclination to mince garlic). Really, this recipe is flexible and it’s OK!

Seasonings – I use a combination of dried basil, oregano, and fennel seeds. I particularly love the fennel seed because it has that licorice flavor that gives the meat mixture the flavor of Italian sausage. But of course, you can swap out seasonings to your preference. I sometimes use a premade Italian seasoning blend. 

Bread Crumbs – Italian seasoned bread crumbs will give your peppers the most flavor. But as I always say, be resourceful and use what you have. You can use homemade breadcrumbs or even Panko breadcrumbs. If you are using unseasoned breadcrumbs, however, go ahead and add an extra pinch of salt and Italian seasonings to your meat mixture.  

Grated Parmesan – I know folks have strong feelings about fresh vs. canned Parmesan, but in this recipe, I have never noticed much of a difference between the two. So use whatever you have on hand. 

Shredded Mozzarella – This is an optional ingredient. When I first started making this dish, I didn’t add cheese to the top. But then I got to thinking that cheese makes everything better, so why not add the cheese?! So now, I more often than not melt some cheese on my Italian stuffed peppers. And sometimes I substitute an Italian cheese blend or slices of provolone. And as a personal preference, I like to shred my own cheese from a block when I can. It melts better and is usually the more frugal option.

Italian Stuffed Peppers for the Slow Cooker or Oven

Tips for Making Italian Stuffed Peppers in the Slow Cooker:

  • When cooking your stuffed peppers, they often create a lot of juice. This is especially true if you make them in your crockpot because this is not a device that allows for liquid to evaporate and cook down. So be sure that any canned tomatoes you use are fully drained of any extra juices. And towards the end of the cooking time, right before I top the peppers with cheese, I will spoon off some of the watery liquid that has collected at the bottom of the pot. Then either discard the liquid or thicken it in a pot with a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch to make some extra gravy.
  • The cheese on your peppers will melt quite nicely in the slow cooker, but it won’t brown. So if you want your peppers brown and bubbly, you can transfer them to a broiler-safe pan and broil for 2-3 minutes. 

If you try this recipe for Italian Stuffed Peppers for the Slow Cooker or Oven, I hope you love it. And follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram so you don’t miss a post. 

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Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Italian Stuffed Peppers for the Slow Cooker or Oven

  • Author: Melissa | My Homemade Roots
  • Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 stuffed pepper halves or 4 whole stuffed peppers 1x


These Italian Stuffed Peppers can be prepared in the Slow Cooker or Oven. Smothered in a rich tomato sauce, they are tender, juicy, and filled with Italian flavors.


Units Scale
  • 4 bell peppers of any color (use 56 peppers if they are small)
  • 1 15ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 15ounce can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil*
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds*
  • 1 pound 85%-93% lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 fat cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and ground black pepper


To prepare the peppers:

  1. Cut peppers into equal halves, cutting top to bottom, and then cut out the stem. Alternatively, you can leave the peppers whole and cut off the tops if you prefer. Remove the seeds and white membranes. Set the peppers aside while you prepare the filling.
  2. Combine the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes in a bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and fennel seeds to a separate bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the egg and 1/4 cup of the tomato mixture. Whisk again to combine thoroughly.
  4. Add the ground beef, diced onion, and garlic cloves to the bowl containing the bread crumb and seasonings mixture. Mix everything until just combined. Hands work best here but you could also use a stand mixer. Don’t overmix or the meat may turn out tough.
  5. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture. Pack it tight in the peppers and don’t be afraid to heap up the meat a little bit.

If using the slow cooker:

  1. Spread a few tablespoons of the tomato mixture into the bottom of the crock, then lay the stuffed peppers on a single layer on top. It’s OK if the edges overlap slightly, but you want to use a large enough slow cooker to comfortably fit the peppers.
  2. Top the peppers with the remaining tomato sauce mixture, and then season them with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  4. About 30 minutes before you serve the peppers, remove the lid and spoon off any excess watery juices. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese, replace the lid and allow the cheese to melt for another 30 minutes.

To bake your peppers in the oven:

  1. Set your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a deep baking dish with cooking spray or coat with a thin layer of oil. Add a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce mixture to the bottom of the pan and place the peppers in a single layer in the pan.
  2. Add the remaining tomato sauce to the tops of the peppers and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Just before serving, remove the foil from the pan. If there are excess watery juices, spoon those off. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Turn the heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown to your liking.


* You can substitute 1 tablespoon of an Italian seasoning blend in place of the oregano, basil, and fennel.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6-8 hours in the slow cooker

1 Comment

  • Sal
    January 27, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    Delicious and easy!


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