The recipes here and here each call for dumping a lot of a tomato & broth (+ onion) sauce in the baking dish. Like around .75 cup per bell pepper.

That's way (way, way) too much to want to spoon over the peppers at the end, so is this stuff just meant for pouring into a cup (or tipping a corner of the dish over your soup hole if you have no cups nor time for fancy "table manners") to slurp down alongside your pepper? Seems weird, so wondering if it serves an indirect yet essential purpose like adding flavor and moisture (these recipes call for covering the baking dish) to the stuffed peppers themselves.

I don't know if this is common in similar recipies. Both of the cited recipes are by the same guy, so maybe it's just his quirk...

  • 1
    It might be to keep from burning the peppers. That’s a really long time from my experience (but I also par cook my peppers before stuffing). I’d assume that you’d want the amount to be related to how large of a dish you’re baking in. (Basically, I’d fill to an inch or so)
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 23:33
  • @Joe thanks for the comment. I've experimented with it a couple times since. You're right about preventing burning although an inch deep of the liquid is way more than I needed for that (I did cover the dish with foil). You're also right about it being a really long time -- i've realized it doesn't take nearly as long. Some weird things about that recipe as given, for sure -- maybe its author likes really soggy falling-apart peppers? -- but it is delicious when I substitute seasoned sausage for half the ground beef, add diced onion, more black pepper, and maybe a blast from a spice weasel. Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 5:42

2 Answers 2


These recipes seem to be a misunderstanding how stuffed pepper recipes typically work. At least when we are looking at the Balkan tradition, where the dish originated - this answer focuses on it only. If there is by now a changed form in US recipes, it is not included in my use of the word "traditional".

Traditionally, stuffed peppers are made with sivriyas or other peppers with at least one small dimension, not the monstrous spherical things available in Western supermarkets nowadays. The rice is prepared in the pilaf way - it is fried in oil, then it can be slightly parcooked or just be used at that stage. It is mixed with the other filling ingredients (much more rice than meat) and stuffed into the peppers after they have been punctured in multiple places with a fork. They are placed in the baking dish and the liquid is added.

When you do it that way, the rice cookes in the oven. The liquid you mention is needed to cook the rice. The holes are needed for the liquid to penetrate into the peppers, the small dimensions are needed so that the liquid reaches even the middle, and the "small pieces of meat embedded in rice" texture is again needed for the liquid to get throughout the rice.

When the peppers are ready, they will still have some liquid left over in the baking dish. But after an hour or so, the rice will soak up the rest of the liquid, and you'll only serve the dish after it has rested.

Beside that, it is pretty common to eat the prepared peppers with an additional liquid - mostly yogurt, but I have also seen tomato sauces, but never something as thin as broth. These sauces are added at serving time, traditionally. For eating, you don't spoon the sauce, you break off parts of the stuffed pepper and mix the rice into the sauce before scooping it up. It is possible that the people who made the recipes in your link are using the liquid in that way.

It is also possible that they are just taking the peppers out of the sauce before serving and discarding it. Note that one of the recipes mentions as a last step "drizzle with a spoon of pan juices" - this suggests that you are only using a small part of it.

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    I've seen tons of stuffed bell peppers in the US, not sure we can really say they're nontraditional at this point.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:11
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    Agree with @Cascabel. And also have eaten lots of them. I would say (from experience) the (southern-) Balkan area mostly uses the pointy variant, but would not be surprised to find the round bell pepper variants more eastwards in Europe or in Central Europe. But that's not to say the recipe might be maladapted for use with a different pepper. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:47
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    @Cascabel the dish comes from the Balkans originally, and this is what I count as "traditional". The USA may have created a newer variation of the dish, which is not what I was referring to in my answer. I edited this in the text to prevent misunderstandings.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 13:44
  • Ah, childhood memories.... The leftover stewing liquid is used for the roux–based tomato sauce.
    – Stephie
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 12:14

I'm from the Balkans, and yes, stuffed bell (not cone-shaped) peppers in tomato & onion sauce is a traditional dish here, usually served with mashed potatoes and with a splash of yougurt or sour cream (optional, to be added when the dish is served). Often, the sauce is made from diced fresh tomatoes and in such a quantity that it almost covers the peppers in the baking dish. The sauce reduces during the baking process and before serving the dish, I usually press it through a sieve or use a stick blender to get a more smooth texture.

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