substitute for tomato sauce in stuffed peppers

If you want to perfect your cooking and find the perfect substitute for tomato sauce in stuffed peppers, we have it covered.

We’ve collected ten exceptional stuffed pepper filling ideas, from satay sauce to brunch-inspired meals.

The humble bell pepper is often in our favorite dishes, from curries to roasts and even hummus. But we believe this fruit deserves more attention as the main attraction.

Not only do stuffed bell peppers look insanely beautiful when they are plated up, but they also make for a delicious recipe. 

But what if you are avoiding tomatoes? How can you make stuffed peppers without tomato sauce?

Here are our top ten ideas and how to perfect these recipes in our troubleshooting section at the end of this article.

The Best Substitute For Tomato Sauce In Stuffed Peppers

tomato sauce substitute

Recipes for stuffed peppers are usually swamped with recipes using tomato sauce. But can you make stuffed peppers without tomato sauce?

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Of course!

Get that apron on and read through this post to feel inspired and excited to get cooking.

Stuffed peppers are a great dish to impress guests as they look super aesthetic with their bright colors.

As well as making a great recipe for a budget as they are inexpensive and easy to prepare. 

Most recipes will be meat or vegetarian alternatives such as vegan sausages or chickpeas, rice or another grain, and a sauce. 

Although most recipes use a marinara or pasta sauce, there are certainly other options for stuffed pepper filling ideas.

This is everything you need to know about how to make stuffed peppers without tomato sauce.

Satay Inspired Sauce

satay sauce

If you love Asian-inspired cooking and peanut butter, then satay sauce will be a great option for you.

Combine equal parts of your favorite peanut butter with soy sauce and a splash of sesame oil to get the perfect easy satay.

This is great in stuffed peppers with chicken or beef, rice, and cheese.

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Hot Sauce

hot sauce

If you are feeling brave, then Sriracha sauce adds a wonderful kick to the mellow flavor of the bell peppers.

Plus, many hot sauces and ready-to-go Sriracha sauces are made with a base of red peppers. Setting them up perfectly to compliment your dish. 

Lemon and Cilantro

Sometimes simple is best. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a good handful of chopped cilantro to any rice, quinoa, or couscous dish for a simple yet elegant filling.


Feeling like a cold lunch dish? Why not prep your peppers ahead of time and let them cool and add in some homemade guacamole.


Simply mash an avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and black pepper, finely chopped cilantro, red onion, and cherry tomatoes, and top with pomegranate seeds.

Curry Sauce

We put bell peppers in curry, so why not put the curry in the bell peppers?

If you are feeling up for the challenge, make your curry sauce and combine it with day-old rice, a can of drained chickpeas, and onion for a spice, full-of-flavor stuffing.

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Cheese Heaven

Sometimes all you need is some (or rather a heavy dose) of grated cheese to add some moisture into your dish.

Add 50g per person of grated or sliced cheese, such as mozzarella or Emmental, and let it melt beautifully on top of your stuffed pepper filling.

And let’s face it, cheese goes with most other ingredients, so this is a versatile way to add flavor and moisture.

Greek Style

greek style

Greek-style stuffed peppers are a perfect summer option for the fresh taste and flavor-packed filling.

Mix ground beef with pre-cooked chickpeas, rice, fresh parsley, and onion.

Add spices such as allspice, paprika, garlic powder, and bake in the oven while you prep a greek salad to pair alongside the stuffed peppers. 

Whip up an easy Greek salad of feta, cucumber, chopped raw green bell peppers, red onion, dried oregano, olives, lemon juice, beef tomatoes, and a good drizzle of olive oil. 


What would go better in a red pepper filling than homemade red pepper hummus? Or a store-bought alternative, we won’t tell if you won’t.

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Check out recipes like – Smoked Hummus Stuffed Peppers for a creamy, smoky pepper hummus which you can fill your peppers with, and top with crunchy seeds, a drizzle of top-quality olive oil, and a sprinkle of paprika. 

Cream Cheese Snack Bites 

snack bites

Looking for an easy yet cute and colorful show-stopping side dish or canape?

Grab some sweet baby bell peppers (they are usually thinner and dainty) and cut in half, lengthways, to make mini stuffed pepper boats. 

Fill with your favorite garlic and herb cream cheese and top with a drizzle of honey or agave nectar for a vegan alternative. 

Breakfast Ready

Fancy a brunch-style stuffed pepper? Cut your bell peppers in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds and membrane. 

After pre-cooking your peppers, crack an egg into each pepper half. Top with bacon cubes, sprinkle over some grated cheese and bake for 25 minutes.

The beauty of this option is that the runny egg and cheese will complement your crispier bacon and bell pepper.

Troubleshooting Your Recipes

stuffed peppers

You found the perfect recipe to make your stuffed peppers without tomato sauce, but maybe the recipe didn’t come out as you had expected.

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Not to worry! 

Here are a few common problems that we have seen in stuffed pepper recipes and how to fix them.

Soon, you will be a pro in the kitchen and have all your dinner guests begging for your to share the recipe so they can recreate your recipes at home.

Why are my stuffed peppers watery?

Bell peppers naturally have high water content. This can cause problems in the kitchen when cooked and the water is released. To avoid this, prick the underside of the pepper pre-cooking.

This releases some liquid inside the pepper to prevent a watery dish. You may also wish to try experimenting with your toppings. Overcooked rice or moist cheeses can cause problems. 

Why are my stuffed peppers bitter?

The easiest way to ensure your peppers are sweet and juicy is to pre-cook them before stuffing.

You can do this by boiling them in a saucepan for just a few minutes.

Bitter stuffed peppers are most often seen when the underripe green peppers are used. 

To eliminate the worry of having a bitter dinner, use a red bell pepper as they are the ripest and, therefore, the sweetest fruits to use.

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Why are my stuffed peppers hard and crunchy?

Our top tip for getting the perfect succulent stuffed pepper is to ensure you pre-cook the pepper before stuffing and baking.

The best way to tell when the peppers are soft and ready to plate up is by checking with a fork.

It should be easy to pierce with a fork without the pepper falling apart.

Why are my stuffed peppers dry?

Dry peppers could result from an overly dry filling used or just general overcooking of the stuffed pepper.

Using fillings without tomato sauce may close attention to the sauce and ingredients you use.

You may need to add an extra fat source such as cheese or oil to the stuffing mix.

Let’s Get Cooking

Stuffed peppers are a great option for budget-friendly meals, family dinners, and dinner parties. They truly make a great dinner whenever you plan it into your weekly meal plan. 

Create them in two ways: scoop the contents out after cutting off the top carefully (like a lid) or cut them in half lengthways to create beautiful open bell pepper boats.

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If you avoid tomato for whatever reason, it can be easy to substitute for tomato sauce in stuffed peppers.