Meatballs and Peppers in Gravy

Meatballs and peppers in a creamy gravy and mushrooms, onions, and garlic is healthy comfort food at its best.

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Tender beef meatballs cooked with peppers, onions, and mushrooms in a light creamy gravy is a tasty spin on traditional meatballs in red sauce. Serve them with pasta, rice, or over a bed of creamy spinach polenta.

Does this title make my recipe look weird? That's how I feel about this recipe. I wasn't really sure what to call this dish. It's essentially a twist on an Italian meatball but instead of serving it with traditional marinara sauce, I add bell peppers and a creamy gravy to the meatballs.

Sure, it may seem strange at first (don't worry, that's what I thought too). But, I read the reviews of similar dishes online and most of them were glowing. With that knowledge, I overlooked the title and gave this recipe a go myself, and I'm so glad I did. It just works and makes for one tasty dinner!

Meatballs and peppers with mushrooms in a creamy gravy.

How Do You Make Meatballs and Peppers in Gravy?

Don't let the mixtures scare you — this dish is actually quite simple to put together and cook!

First, I mix together the ground beef, onion, Italian seasonings, salt, and pepper. (Add heat here if you like — red pepper flakes or a tablespoon or two of hot sauce will go a long way).

Once these ingredients are mixed together well (you might even have to use your hands here to ensure proper mixing), I scoop up the meat and roll it into about 20 balls, about an inch or so around.

I then heat the olive oil up over medium heat in a large skillet and add the meatballs, one at a time (as in, don't dump them in all at once, but you can cook more than one at a time if there's room). I cook for 4-5 minutes, turning gently as they cook, until they are browed all the way around.

Turning the heat down allows for the meatballs to cook through the centers more evenly. After about 15 minutes, I remove the meatballs and set them aside in another dish, tenting with aluminum foil to keep them warm.

To the same skillet I just used to cook the meatballs, I add the peppers, mushrooms, squash, and garlic. I cook these veggies until they are tender, or for about 4-5 minutes.

In a small dish off to the side, I mix together 1 tablespoon of the evaporated milk and the flour to make a slurry. I add this to the pan and give it all a good stir. Finally, I add in the rest of the evaporated milk and cook the entire thing down for about 5-8 minutes until it starts to thicken, then I add more salt and pepper to taste. From there, the meatballs go into the veggies and gravy mixture and it's ready to serve!

Ways to Serve Meatballs and Peppers

Meatballs and Peppers in Gravy, how do I serve thee? Let me count the ways:

  • With brown or white rice or cauliflower rice.
  • On top of couscous or Israeli couscous.
  • Egg noodles or another type of pasta go great underneath the meat, veggies, and gravy.
  • On top of veggie noodles.
  • With a side of polenta.
  • With spaghetti squash on the side or inside the squash as a "boat."

Side Dishes to Serve with Meatballs and Peppers

This is an easy one — grab a carb or a veggie or two and you've got yourself a great side dish.

  • Polenta fries make for a yummy and unexpected side.
  • Try roasting up some root vegetables while your meatballs are cooking.
  • Parmesan Roasted Broccoli is a favorite veggie around my house.
  • How about a healthy salad?
  • Sweet potatoes are a great side dish, too.
  • If you don't want your meatballs over rice, noodles, or veggie noodles, how about serving those on the side?

Beef meatballs with mushrooms, peppers, and onion in white gravy with potatoes on the side.

Can You Freeze Meatballs?

If you want to make a big batch of these meatballs to freeze for later, that's great. Just go ahead and brown them, then cook them all the way through. Once they are cooked through, take them out of the skillet and let them cool.

When they're room temperature, add them to a rimmed sheet pan or other tray that will fit into your freezer. Let the meatballs freeze like this for a couple of hours. Remove them from the freezer, then stack the frozen meatballs into a freezer-safe bag or container.

Freezing the meatballs on a tray before putting them in a bag ensures that they will not all freeze together or clump into a big ball of meatballs.

Can I make these meatballs with ground turkey or chicken?

These meatballs will come out great with any ground meat. You could use chicken, turkey, pork, or turkey sausage. To keep the meatballs nice and moist, try to use ground turkey or chicken with a little bit of fat - something like a 93% lean will work great. You can also use ground dark meat chicken or turkey to be sure they come out nice and moist.

What's in Italian Seasoning?

Italian seasoning is a pre-mixed spice mix that you can buy at the grocery store in your grocer's spice aisle. It generally contains the following dried herb: basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder.

To make your Italian seasoning spicy, add in some red chili flakes.

If you want to make your own Italian seasoning, combine the above ingredients equally (except for the garlic powder, which I would put half as much in) into a spice jar. Label the jar and keep in a cool, dry place with your other herbs. This mix will last about 3-4 years if the spices you used to make it were purchased fresh.

The Recipe
Meatballs and peppers with mushrooms in a creamy gravy.

Meatballs and Peppers in Gravy

Adapted from
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  • 1 lb. 95% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 summer squash, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 oz. nonfat evaporated milk
  • 1.25 tbsp. whole wheat flour (substitute 1 tsp. arrowroot or cornstarch for low carb/Paleo/GF)

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Mix together the beef, onion, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. If you like heat, consider adding ¼-1 tsp. red pepper flakes as well.


Roll this mixture into 20 meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.


Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned on all sides.


Turn heat down and continue cooking for 15 minutes until cooked through. Remove and set aside. Tent with foil to keep warm.


Add the peppers, mushrooms, squash, and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes until just tender.


Meanwhile, mix together 1 tbsp. of evaporated milk with the flour. Add to the pan and stir well.


Add in the remaining evaporated milk and cook for 5-8 minutes until sauce is thick. Season with salt and pepper. Add meatballs to the pan and stir to combine everything.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 5 meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 280
Calories from Fat 24
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 472mg
Total Carbohydrate 19g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 13g
Protein 33g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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