Stuffed mini peppers with goat cheese and pesto are delicious and easy one-bite appetizers for your next holiday or dinner party. Only 20 minutes (with a few good shortcuts).
Serve them with a dramatic drizzle of balsamic reduction for the perfect finishing touch.
My friend Barbara sent me a recipe for mini stuffed peppers, raving how great they were and how easy they were to make. I loved the look and simplicity and decided to create my own version.
I always look for ways to simplify the many similar recipes floating on the internet without compromising taste. After several tries, I think I managed to achieve a tasty and easy recipe. A fun twist to traditional stuffed pepper recipes.
Why make this recipe
- It has flair: The pepper shells have some charred edges (love that) and the balsamic garnish gives the peppers a sweet earthy finish.
- It’s festive: I combine the soft goat cheese and pesto for a festive, colorful appetizer.
- It saves time: I broil the mini sweet peppers instead of baking them which cuts the time in half.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Mini peppers: They are also called mini bell peppers or mini sweet peppers. And usually come together in a tri-colored packaged.
Goat cheese: If you’re not a huge tangy goat cheese fan (like me), you can use alternative kinds of cheese. For example:
- I love a milder version of this recipe with smooth ricotta cheese instead. Just add a pinch of salt (and a squirt of lemon if you like) to boost the flavor of the ricotta.
- Feta cheese, stronger than plain goat cheese, should work fine too, but I haven’t tried it.
- If you’re about to ask about cream cheese, keep in mind that goat cheese is healthier – lower in fat and calories, higher in protein and calcium. It will work though – rich and creamy.
Pesto: You can make your own or use your favorite store-bought brand. This basil pesto with walnuts is quick 5-minute pesto recipe.
Balsamic reduction: If you don’t have or don’t want to make balsamic reduction, you can drizzle on sweet Thai chili sauce instead. Be conservative (or not) – it’s spicy.
Parmesan cheese: You can add a tablespoon directly to the goat cheese-pesto mixture. Instead, I sprinkle a bit on top before broiling. Or, leave it out altogether.
Step by step instructions
- Goat cheese: Goat cheese typically comes in a vacuumed sealed package. If the packaging is bloated or loose around the cheese, avoid it.
- Filling: Use a small spoon and take your time when you’re adding the filling to the peppers. The cheese and pesto mixture will settle as it heats up in the oven. So, to avoid a cheesy mess, don’t over stuff them.
- Peppers: If you’re not going to be using mini peppers within a day or two after buying them, remove them from the plastic package. Moisture builds up in the package will cause them to deteriorate sooner. Place them loosely in the crisper drawer of the fridge where they should stay fresh for a couple of weeks.
- Clean up: Make sure to line your sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. This helps make clean up much easier.
- Add some heat: Feel free to add chopped seeded jalapenos or red pepper flakes.
If you’re serving these little peppers as a side dish or appetizer at a party, they can sit out for about an hour.
Yes, they can be frozen. Just make sure you freeze them individually on a sheet pan first before transferring them to an airtight container or freezer bag.
While it’s not required, broiling the peppers makes them more tender and the slight char gives them extra flavor.
What to serve with them
These stuffed mini peppers aren’t just a great party appetizer. You can also serve them as a side dish to Chicken Burgers with Mango Salsa or Grilled BBQ Chicken. The creamy texture and combination of flavors in the goat cheese and pesto also complements Juicy Bone-in Pork Chops or Crispy Baked Fish.
Removing the seeds: Use your fingers to remove seeds and ribs in the mini peppers instead of a paring knife. Much quicker!
Buy pesto instead of making it: Many people seem to like the Costco version. I find it too cheesy for my taste, but hey – personal preference. If you have basil hanging around, it just takes 5 minutes to make our classic basil pesto recipe. Of course, any pesto with fresh herbs will do, not just fresh basil.
Buy shredded fresh Parmesan cheese: This is a big-time saver, and it works well in this recipe.
Broil instead of bake: I broil everything to cut down on time. Other recipes call for baking the mini stuffed peppers at 425F for 20-25 minutes.
Use a store-bought balsamic reduction: I use a good store-bought reduction often. If you prefer to make your own, check out the instructions in the recipe card.
The recipe can be made ahead up to the point of broiling the stuffed peppers in the final stage just before serving.
Alternatively, make the full recipe and serve at room temperature. I find they still fly off the plate. My only suggestion is to drizzle the balsamic reduction on top or on the serving tray just before serving as it tends to bleed into the food.
Store leftovers in the fridge covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
Other easy appetizers you might like
- avocado appetizers on crostini
- smoked salmon canapes on cucumber
- baked brie with preserves
- endive appetizers with ricotta and gems
- caprese appetizers
- dukkah recipe
- shrimp cocktail recipe (with homemade cocktail sauce)
Here’s our popular post on 20 vegetarian appetizers (and serving tips)
If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!
Stuffed Mini Peppers With Goat Cheese
- 8 mini peppers (3-4 inches/7.6-10 cm long) any color (about 1/2 lb.)
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Goat Cheese Mixture
- 1/2 cup goat cheese (3 oz), Note 1
- 2 tablespoon pesto (or more to taste), Note 2
- 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped green onion (about 1 green onion)
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (optional), Note 3
- Balsamic reduction drizzle, Note 4
- TURN ON BROILER in oven. Move the oven rack to broil position, about 6 inches from the top. Line pan with foil for easy clean up.
- PREPARE PEPPERS: Cut off tops/stems of mini peppers. Slice peppers down the middle lengthwise to make two halves. Using clean fingers and nails, scrape out seeds and soft ribs. Place on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Drizzle oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn peppers face side down in single layer on pan. Broil 3 minutes. Turn peppers over. Broil 3 minutes on side facing up or until peppers begin to char. Remove from oven.
- MAKE GOAT CHEESE-PESTO MIXTURE (1 min): While peppers are broiling, combine goat cheese, onions and pesto in small bowl. Microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften. This makes it easier to stuff the peppers. Mix well.
- STUFF AND BROIL: Spoon a teaspoon of mixture into each pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if using. Broil for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until starting to brown.
- SERVE: Drizzle balsamic reduction in zigzag or cross hatch pattern on cutting board or platter. Transfer peppers with small spatula. Serve immediately.
- Substitutes for goat cheese: Use ricotta cheese if you prefer a milder cheese. Just add a pinch of salt (and a squirt of lemon if you like) to boost the flavor of the ricotta. Feta cheese, stronger than plain goat cheese, should work fine too. Cream cheese can also be used, but keep in mind that goat cheese is healthier – lower in fat and calories, higher in protein and calcium. It will work though – rich and creamy.
- To make your own pesto: You can use a good store-bought brand or try our classic basil pesto recipe.
- Parmesan cheese: You can add a tablespoon directly to the goat cheese-pesto mixture. Instead, I sprinkle a bit on top before broiling. You can leave it out altogether, if you prefer.
- Balsamic reduction: I use a store-bought version in a small squeeze bottle that is perfect for drizzling. If you prefer to make your own (or can’t find it), here’s how to make balsamic reduction: Bring to boil a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoons honey or brown sugar. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 6-8 minutes until it reduces by half to a syrup consistency (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).
- Make Ahead: The recipe can be made ahead up to the point of broiling the stuffed peppers in the final stage just before serving. Alternatively, make the full recipe and serve at room temperature. Do the balsamic drizzle just before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Our mini stuffed pepper recipe was inspired by a recipe from Aggies Kitchen.