Need a tasty appetizer for game day or even a wedding? How about some stuffed hot banana peppers bites? These hors d'oeuvres are so cute and delicious and check all the boxes. Stuffed hot banana pepper bites are basically bruschetta made with toasted bread, spicy sausage, gooey cheese, and smoky sautéed peppers.Jump to Recipe
These adorable appetizers are laid-back enough to serve at your Super Bowl party and elegant enough to serve at a fancy soirée. It's a touchdown of a recipe.
I've made traditional stuffed hot peppers forever and they're scrumptious. My son loves the flavors of stuffed hot banana peppers but just not the pepper itself. So I concocted this appetizer made with stuffed hot banana pepper filling and mozzarella cheese on a crostini. He loves them and so does everyone else.
For the adults in my life, I still add a piece of sautéed banana pepper on top. You really shouldn't skip it. It's a great appetizer for a party, and my entire family goes wild over them, requesting them often. When I host a family gathering, these little bites are always on the menu.
You might have some leftover sauce and sausage from this recipe. Stuffed hot banana pepper bites are so versatile. Scroll down to see what other meals you can make from the leftovers.
When toasting the bread, I like to coat a sheet pan with olive oil and season the pan with salt and pepper. This may sound weird to you, but this allows you to season both sides of the toasts without having to flip them over.
I like to finish this tomato sauce with a little olive oil. This does two things. First, sometimes tomato sauce can become too thick and viscous. Adding olive oil will thin it out. Secondly, olive oil imparts so much flavor. It might not be obvious, but olive oil is what makes tomato sauce extra tasty.
Remember, you can dial the spiciness up or down, and can achieve this by adding more or less minced hot pepper. You could also forgo the sweet Italian sausage and just have hot Italian sausage or vice versa.
Most of the components for this appetizer can be made ahead of time. You can make the sautéed peppers, the sausage mixture, and the sauce and store them in the fridge. The crostini can be made ahead and stored in a paper bag. Just make sure that they are completely cooled. Otherwise, you will have chewy, soggy crostini. The cheese can be sliced ahead of time too, but I like to buy the pre-sliced log of mozzarella cheese. It just makes life a little easier.
How to Make Stuffed Hot Banana Pepper Bites
For the Sauce
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 cup finely diced onion
- 1 cup finely diced celery
- 1 TBSP finely diced hot banana pepper
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomato sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 TBSP olive oil (optional)
For the Sausage
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- ½ lb sweet Italian sausage casings removed
- ½ lb hot Italian sausage casings removed
- 1 cup of cooked sauce (recipe above)
- ¼ cup grated Romano cheese
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs or Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
For the Crostini
- olive oil for drizzling over bread
- 1 French baguette cut into 24 ½-inch slices
- salt and pepper
- sausage mixture
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese sliced into 24 pieces
- 2 TBSP butter
- 4 hot banana peppers seed, cut in half lengthwise, and each half cut into thirds.
- Remove the tops and ends from peppers, saving a few ends. (We will mince them and add them to the sauce, later.) Slice the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut each half into thirds. (Each pepper will yield 6 pieces.) Melt 2 TBSP butter in a large non-stick skillet and lay the pepper pieces in a single layer. Sauté the peppers for about 4-5 minutes per side, until slightly golden. Remove the peppers from the pan and set them aside.
- In the same skillet, add one TBSP of olive oil. Remove the casing from the sausage. Over medium-high heat, add casing-free sausages breaking them apart with your fingers as you add them to the pan. Use a hard spatula to continually chop the sausage as it cooks. Once browned and cooked through, add the sausage to a medium-sized bowl and set aside to cool.
- To the same skillet, melt 2 TBSP butter over medium heat. Add diced onions and celery and minced banana pepper. Sautė until vegetables are soft (about 8-10 minutes), stirring often. Add the minced garlic, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the basil, oregano, black pepper, and salt and stir. Add crushed tomato and Worcestershire sauce. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Once the sauce comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste. Reseason with salt and pepper if needed and finish with olive oil.
- While the sauce is cooking, Preheat the oven to 400° F. Slice the baguette into 24 ½-thick pieces. Coat a sheet pan with olive oil. Sprinkle the entire sheet pan with salt and pepper. Place baguette slices on the coated pan. Drizzle slices with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Removed the crostini from the oven, and once cool enough, flip each slice over.
- Once the sausage is cooled, pulse it in a food processor until the sausage resembles ground meat. Transfer the ground sausage back to the bowl and add one cup of cooked sauce, ¼ cup grated Romano, and ½ cup bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.
- To assemble, dollop a TBSP of sausage filling on top of each toast. Add a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese (I like the logs of pre-sliced fresh mozzarella. It makes life a little easier). Finish crostini with a slice of sautéd pepper, repeat. Heat crostini in the oven until the cheese is melted (5-6 minutes) and serve.
- To turn the leftover sauce and sausage into a pasta dish, boil 1 lb of your favorite pasta, following the package’s directions. Add 1 cup of heavy cream to your leftover sauce. Add the sausage mixture to the sauce and toss in cooked pasta. Rough-chop the mozzarella and hot-banana pieces and toss in the pasta and serve.
- To turn this dish into good old-fashioned stuffed hot banana peppers instead of appetizers, just mix an egg into the cooled sausage mixture. Slice some hot banana peppers lengthwise (but not all the way through) and scoop out the seeds. Stuff each pepper with the sausage filling. Coat the bottom of a 9x13 pan with some of the sauce. In a single layer, place the stuffed peppers on top and pour the remaining sauce over top. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.