Bulgarian Stuffed Peppers
on Feb 20, 2023
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In my culture, there’s nothing better than Bulgarian stuffed peppers. Stuffed peppers are a traditional dish that can be seen in every Bulgarian household and every restaurant around the country.
Being born and raised in Bulgaria fills me with immense pride and joy, particularly when I have this platform to share our rich culture with the world. Despite our beautiful country not always being in the spotlight 🗺️, it consistently holds a very special place in my heart. Therefore, I am always committed to raising awareness and showcasing our hidden gem 💎 as much as possible.
Why You’ll Love These Bulgarian Stuffed Peppers
Not only is the meat and rice filling drool worthy, we make our peppers with the most incredible white sauce. The white sauce is optional for many but absolutely mandatory for me. The white sauce which we dip with bread is what makes this traditional dish unique. If you love this recipe, you’ll love our Lazy Bulgarian Moussaka!
How to Prepare Bulgarian Stuffed Peppers
- Preheat oven to 425F. Cut tops off peppers, remove seeds, and set tops aside. Sauté onions, carrot, and garlic in oil. Add salt, paprika, oregano, rice, tomato sauce, and water.
- Remove from heat. Mix in raw minced meat. Stuff peppers with mixture, placing tops on each. Arrange snugly in a baking dish.
- Sprinkle salt, drizzle oil, and pour 2.5 cups of water into the dish. Bake uncovered at 425F for 45-60 minutes.
- Peppers are done when charred and soft. Tilt dish to remove excess liquid. Skip if not making white sauce.
- In a bowl, combine egg yolks, plain yogurt, salt, and flour. Whisk well. Slowly pour in baked pepper water, whisking to temper the eggs.
- Pour sauce over peppers and bake for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and enjoy with fresh bread.
You can use any ground meat of choice. We love ground pork the most but you can use ground beef, veal, chicken, turkey, or anything you like.
Depending on the size of the peppers you may need to add more water. Ours were small so we added 2.5 cups which was half way. The water is needed so that the meat an rice can cook on the inside.
Depending on how big or small the peppers are, you may have some extra filling left over. IF you have extra filling you can core a few tomatoes, save the tops, stuff them, and bake separately with the tops on. We bake them uncovered with a splash of water in the dish (100ml) for about 45 minutes.
You can use any ground meat of choice. We love ground pork the most but you can use ground beef, veal, chicken, turkey, or anything you like. To make these vegetarian you can use a plant-based ground meat of choice but be sure to choose one that has a great taste and one you enjoy.
You do not need to make the white sauce but I personally cannot eat these peppers without it. I love the sauce so much but I will leave it up to you.
We like using the thin long peppers or smaller bell peppers. If you purchase the really large bell peppers you may need more filling as they hold a lot more of the mixture. We purchased 8 medium sized ALOHA peppers for this recipe which weighed 900 grams exactly.
Any rice will work for this recipe, instead of long grain, you can use short grain, or even jasmine rice too.
Make sure the opening of the peppers are facing each other with the tops on so that the mixture doesn’t spill out. Be sure to use a dish that will fit all the peppers so that they are nice and snug. I used a baking dish that is 8 by 13 inches in size but you can use any that your peppers fit in.
This recipe is a staple on Christmas Eve in Bulgaria but we make it only with rice as we don’t eat meat on December 24th.
Bulgarian Stuffed Peppers
- 8 medium bell peppers, (900 grams total)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil , or any you like
- 1 finely onion, diced
- 1 peeled carrot , grated
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 cup rice (any of choice) , (200 grams), rinsed
- ⅓ cup tomato sauce , (80ml)
- 2 tabelspoons water
- 400 grams ground pork, or any ground meat
The White Sauce
- 2 egg yolks
- 1.5 cups plain yogurt , (350 grams)
- pinch of salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup of the liquid in the baking dish after the peppers have baked
- pinch of salt , on top of the peppers before baking
- pinch of salt, on top of the ground meat after adding it in the pan to the rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , on peppers before baking them
- chopped parsley , for garnish
- NOTE: Please stir in between each ingredient when you add it into the pan as you cook. Please practice “mise en place” which means you prep/chop all of your ingredients before you start. I want you to be ready so that you don’t scramble for ingredients or get flustered.
Stuffing the Peppers
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Wash all the peppers, cut the tops and discard all of the seeds with a spoon. Make sure you save the tops and place them to the corresponding pepper so they can bake together later.
- In a large pan on the stove add the oil. Let it heat up on medium heat and sauté the onions and grated carrot. Add in the garlic and make sure you stir in between when adding each ingredient.
- Add the salt, paprika, and dry oregano (stir). Add in the washed rice (stir). Add the plain tomato sauce, (stir again). Add two tablespoons of water and incorporate into the rice and veggies.
- Take the pan off the heat completely or turn off the stove.
- Add in the raw minced meat and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt on top of the meat (to taste) and mix it really well. Make sure the meat is mixed with the rice and veggies fully.
- Take a spoon and stuff each pepper to the top with the meat and rice mixture. Proceed until the peppers are all stuffed and the filling is all finished. If you have any extra filling left over make sure you have an extra pepper on hand to stuff or look at my notes below.
- You can also use the extra filling in the fridge to stuff tomatoes/zucchini or so many other veggies too!
- Arrange the stuffed peppers into a baking dish making sure you put the tops onto each one. The peppers should be really snug so please use a baking dish that's not overly big.
- We make sure the opening of the peppers are facing each other with the tops on so that the mixture doesn't spill out. Be sure to use a dish that will fit all the peppers so that they are nice and snug. My baking dish is 8 by 13 inches but any dish will work.
- We add a pinch of salt on top of the peppers and a drizzle of oil onto each one.
- Pour 2.5 cups of water into baking dish and bake uncovered at 425F for 45-60 minutes depending on the oven and depending on the baking dish as well (some take longer based on the material).
- You will know when the peppers are done as they will have a beautiful char on top and will be super soft when you touch the skin.
- Remove the peppers out of the oven and carefully (with oven mitts on) tilt the baking dish pouring out any of the remaining liquid into a bowl. If you're not making the white sauce you can definitely skip this step and enjoy the peppers as is! We got about 1/2 cup of liquid total out of the baking dish.
Making the Sauce
- In a separate bowl, add two egg yolks, plain yogurt and a big pinch of salt (salt to taste). Mix it really well and whisk in the flour.
- Take the baked pepper water that was poured out of the baking dish and slowly pour it into the sauce as you whisk. This step is called tempering as we are bringing the eggs up to temperature.
- Pour this sauce over the peppers and put the dish back into the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Take the peppers out of the oven, garnish with parsley and enjoy! The sauce is incredible when dipped with fresh bread.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.