These delicious vegetarian Turkish Stuffed Peppers (Biber Dolmasi) are filled with aromatic stuffing made of rice, onions, pine nuts, currants, and various herbs/spices. You can serve them as a side dish as well as the main meal or an appetizer. The leftovers are great for boxed lunch the next day or a picnic.
Stuffed vegetables (which is translated as "dolma") are very popular in Turkey. There are various recipes for the stuffing; some recipes include meat and some recipes replace the rice with bulgur. The other vegetables often used for dolma are tomatoes, courgettes, onions, wine leaves, and aubergines.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Biber Dolmasi is versatile, you can fill them with minced meat, onions and rice for a non-vegetarian version.
- It is very easy to make with step-by-step pictures and instructions.
- You can make this healthy vegan dish a couple of days ahead.
- It can be served cold or at room temperature as a part of a buffet or mezze spread.
- You can use this aromatic rice filling with different species and colors of peppers.
- They are much easier to make than other stuffed vegetables or Yaprak Sarma (wrapped grape leaves) because the peppers don't need much preparation.
- They freeze beautifully! You can double the recipe up and freeze the leftovers for emergency guests.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Turkish mini bell peppers - They are called Dolmalik, or Dolmalik Biber in Turkey which means "pepper for stuffing". They have a rich smoky-sweet flavor and they are ideal for stuffing. These small green bell peppers have thin skin which makes them more pleasant to eat. You can also use jalapeño peppers, red romano peppers or bell peppers if you can't get hold of Turkish mini bell peppers.
- Rice - Any short grain rice would work with this recipe. Make sure you wash the rice under running cold water to get rid of the starch.
- Pine nuts - They are great for adding some texture and nutty flavour to dishes such as Yaprak Sarma - Dolma, Rice Stuffed Chicken or Vegan Moussaka with Aubergine. Omit them if you have nut allergies or you don't have them in hand.
- Onions - It adds great flavour to the rice stuffing. You can use finely diced brown, yellow or white onion. Shallots would work great as well.
- Currants - They are small dried raisins and a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Although they are typically used for baked goods, it is common to use them in cooking in Turkish Cuisine.
- Olive Oil - It is an important ingredient to achieve the best taste in olive oil-based dishes. I prefer extra virgin olive oil but you can use any oil you like cooking with.
- Tomato paste - It is the staple of Turkish cooking. It adds an umami flavour to the dishes as well as a bright red colour. You can find it in Turkish or Middle Eastern shops. You can also buy it from .
- Spices - Cinnamon, paprika and black pepper are my favourite spices to use for rice stuffing but you can add your favourite spices and adjust the amount to your taste.
- Herbs - I use a mixture of mint (you can use either fresh or dried), dill and parsley. You can also use basil, oregano or chives.
This is a straightforward recipe to follow. However, to achieve the best results you need to follow a few simple steps:
Prepare the Rice Filling
Place a medium-size saucepan on low heat and add olive oil along with the onions. Gently sauté them until soft and translucent and then add the pine nuts. Sauté together on low heat with the onions until lightly golden, stirring occasionally.
Add the rice along with the blackcurrants and cook for a few minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, ½ cup of water, cinnamon, freshly ground black pepper, paprika, dried mint, sugar, salt and tomato paste, and cover the pan with a lid.
Cook until the water evaporates, take the pan off the heat then add the parsley along with the dill. The rice will continue cooking with the peppers so it's ok if they are still crunchy. Give the mixture a stir and let it cool down for 10 minutes before stuffing the peppers.
Prepare the Peppers
You can prepare the peppers while the onions are slowly cooking. Cut off the stalks of the peppers gently and scoop out the seeds. Wash your peppers and lightly season with salt. Set aside until the filling is ready.
Stuff the Peppers and Cook
When the filling cooled down a bit, stuff the peppers with rice filling up to ⅔ only as the rice will swell when cooked. Don't push the filling down or overfill the peppers. Put a cherry tomato on each pepper and place the peppers upright in a saucepan tightly. Dilute the tomato paste in water and add to the pan. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes or until the rice is soft.
For more scrumptious vegetarian dishes why not try:
The most common pepper used in Turkish cooking is called "sivri biber". It has a long shape and is usually spicy-hot. It is perfect for grilling, frying or using in stews.
Another common pepper that I use for Turkish recipes is called "carliston". It is a mild pepper with a lime green colour. They can grow the size about 20 cm long and 4 cm wide. They are perfect for deep frying and serving with yoghurt or for salads!
And lastly, "dolmalik biber" with a rich smoky-sweet flavour and thin skin which makes them more pleasant to eat. These small green bell peppers are ideal for stuffing.
You can serve these delicious peppers with some garlicky yoghurt and a piece of bread as a meal. Some bread recipes you might enjoy having with your dolma are:
Tawa Naan with Garlic, Gozleme (Turkish Pancakes), Homemade Toast Bread, Bazlama (Turkish Bread) and Homemade Pita Bread.
Dolma is also great to serve with salads such as Greek Cucumber Salad, Summer Chickpea Salad, Warm Austrian Potato Salad or Piyaz (Turkish Bean Salad).
No, you can and should stuff the peppers without cooking them first. They will cook at the same time as the rice stuffing cooks.
Top Tips From the Chef
- If you run out of peppers, you have can fill tomatoes or onions with the rest of the stuffing.
- To reheat the leftover Biber Dolma, place them in a saucepan and add a few drops of water. Gently simmer until they reached the desired temperature. Alternatively, you can use the microwave for reheating Biber Dolmasi.
I hope you enjoy the process of making these delicious Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers as much as you enjoy eating them!🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Biber Dolmasi - Turkish Stuffed Peppers
- 10 small Turkish bell peppers (or 5-6 large bell peppers)
- 3 tablespoon good quality olive oil
- 30 g pine nuts
- 2 large onions (small diced)
- 30 g black currants
- 200 g short grain or pudding rice (1 cup)
- 60 ml lemon juice ¼ cup
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoon chopped dill
- 10 cherry tomatoes (for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste diluted in 1 cup water (to cook the stuffed peppers)
- Place a medium-size saucepan on low heat and add olive oil along with the onions. Gently sauté them until soft and translucent and then add the pine nuts. Sauté together on low heat with the onions until lightly golden, stirring occasionally.
- While the onions are gently cooking, prepare the peppers.
- Cut off the stalks of the peppers gently and scoop out the seeds. Wash your peppers and lightly season with salt. Set aside until the filling is ready.
- When the onions are soft and translucent, add the rice along with the blackcurrants, cook for a few minutes.
- Add the lemon juice, ½ cup of water, cinnamon, freshly ground black pepper, paprika, dried mint, sugar, salt, and tomato paste, stir to combine, and cover the pan with a lid.
- Cook until the water evaporates, take the pan off the heat then add the parsley along with the dill. The rice shouldn't be fully cooked as it will continue cooking with the peppers.
- Stir the mixture and let it cool down for 10 minutes before stuffing the peppers.
- Fill the peppers with rice filling up to ⅔ only as the rice will swell when cooked. Don't push the filling down or overfill the peppers.
- Put a cherry tomato on each pepper and place the peppers upright in a pan tightly.
- Add the tomato paste diluted in water to the pan and cook for 45 minutes or until the peppers are cooked and the rice is soft.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
This post use affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and then buy something, we get a small amount of commission to keep the site running, but it doesn’t cost you anything more.
Did you make this recipe?