Air fryer stuffed peppers are a hearty & cozy dinner entrée. They are filled with veggie sausage, marinara, rice, onions, garlic, and Italian spices. Serve with a side salad or green vegetable for a delicious & comforting dinner! Vegan & gluten-free.
Like most of us, I’m trying to limit my grocery store visits these days. When I go, I stock up on enough to last a couple weeks. Then I do everything I can to make sure nothing goes to waste.
In normal times, I go to the grocery store almost every day. Now that my trips are limited, I’m especially cognizant of using the most perishable stuff first, and then counting on frozen and dried goods at the end.
For the most part, it’s going well. But I noticed a few days ago that I had bell peppers in the crisper that needed to be used ASAP.
I decided to make the most of my kitchen staples and make stuffed peppers in the air fryer. These stuffed peppers use a lot of pantry and freezer-friendly ingredients.
They’re filled with veggie sausage, rice, onions, garlic, marinara, and Italian spices. Finally, they’re finished with melty non-dairy cheese.
Just the kind of comfort food we need right now!
What kind of sausage should I use?
I used Beyond Meat hot Italian sausage for this recipe. You can find it with other vegan meats in the refrigerated section at natural grocery stores. Or sometimes it’s kept in the frozen section.
I always keep a package of these gluten-free sausages in the freezer. When I need one for creamy gnocchi soup, pizza, or this stuffed peppers recipe, I just pull one from the package and quickly thaw it in the microwave. (The breakfast sausage is also great in a cast iron breakfast skillet!)
But any vegan sausage would work here. Field Roast apple sage, Herbivorous Butcher or Tofurky Italian sausage would all be good. (Keep in mind that these options are not gluten-free, though, if that matters to you.)
Any rice will work
Basmati brown rice is my default. But any cooked rice will be fine here.
If you’re using frozen rice, I recommend heating it first before measuring one cup for the recipe. Frozen rice keeps its distinct grains. Once it’s warmed, more will fit into a measuring cup.
A great way to use the remnants of pasta sauce
If you’re right at the end of a jar of pasta sauce, this recipe is perfect for finishing it off.
The recipe calls for just a scant ¼ cup. Not enough to cover a pizza or toss with a pot of pasta, but great for making sure nothing in the jar goes to waste.
Why the air fryer?
I like to use my air fryer whenever possible, because unlike the oven, I don’t have to wait for it to preheat. That means I can start cooking faster.
Also, the air fryer cooks in about half the time as the oven. So dinner is on the table that much quicker.
(Here are more vegan air fryer recipes I know you’ll love!)
How to make this recipe
Prepare the pepper
First, cut the bell pepper straight down through the middle, right at the stem.
Most stuffed bell pepper recipes use one pepper per person. But for me, that always ends up being too big of a serving. I prefer to have half a pepper per person. Of course, if you’re really hungry, you can eat both halves!
Use your fingers to remove the seeds and white membrane from inside the pepper. You can leave the stem on for looks or pop it off.
Make the filling
Brown a sliced veggie sausage in a skillet with a little oil. Once it’s brown, add onions and garlic to the skillet. Sauté a few minutes more, until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
Add cooked rice, marinara, dried oregano, dried basil, granulated onion, salt, and pepper. Combine everything, turn off the heat, and set aside.
Now it’s time to air fry!
Air fry the peppers by themselves first, cut side down. Cook for six minutes at 360 degrees.
Then remove the peppers from the air fryer. Use a spoon to fill each half with the rice mixture. Make sure to get into all of the crevices. I recommend overfilling them a little, so that they’re heaping.
Return them to the air fryer. Cook for 6 minutes more.
During the last two minutes of cooking, top each pepper with shredded non-dairy cheese, if you like.
Why cook the peppers separately first?
The first time I made the peppers, I air fried them filled with rice for the entire 12 minute cooking time. The rice on top of the peppers got a little too crunchy, because the hot air swirling around it was very drying.
By reducing the amount of time the rice is in the air fryer, it doesn’t get as crunchy on top.
You’ll likely have some rice mixture leftover
Bell peppers vary a lot in size. So I prefer to err on the side of too much filling rather than not enough.
You may have enough leftover filling for half or all of a second bell pepper. Or you can just eat the filling on its own as a side.
What to serve with peppers
These peppers are great with any of the following side dishes:
- Easy spinach salad
- Roasted cabbage
- Broccolini with kale and garlic
- Red wine mushrooms
- Roasted cauliflower
- Sautéed kale with garlic
Air fryer stuffed peppers with veggie sausage & rice
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil
- 1 veggie sausage sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup cooked brown rice or white, if you prefer
- 1/4 cup marinara
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
- Pinch salt
- Dash pepper
- 2 Tablespoons shredded non-dairy cheese Optional
- 1 large red bell pepper
- Bring a large skillet to a medium heat with oil. Add the sausage slices to the skillet. As it browns, break up the sausage a little in the pan with your spatula.
- Once the sausage is brown, add onions and garlic to the skillet. Saute a few minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the cooked rice, marinara, dried oregano, dried basil, granulated onion, pinch of salt, and dash of pepper. Use the spatula to make sure everything is fully combined. Turn off the heat, and set the skillet aside.
- Cut the bell pepper in half, straight down the middle through the stem. Use your fingers to remove the seeds from inside the pepper halves, as well as any white membrane. You can leave the stem on for looks or pop it off with your fingers.
- Put the empty pepper halves face down into the air fryer. Air fry at 360 degrees for 6 minutes.
- Remove the pepper halves from the air fryer. Use a spoon to fill them with the rice mixture, making sure to fill all of the crevices. Fill them generously, so that there is a mound on top. Put the filled halves back into the air fryer, rice side up. Air fry at 360 degrees for 6 more minutes.
- During the last two minutes of cooking time, add a Tablespoon of shredded non-dairy cheese to each pepper, if you'd like. Continue until the cheese has melted.
- Remove the peppers from the air fryer and serve right away with a vegetable or salad.