This Pepperonata Burger makes perfect use of a wide range of peppers, from sweet to hot.  It is an Italian classic that can easily be a plant-based dinner or a rich topping for proteins.

Pepperonata Topped Hamburger
Pepperonata Topped Hamburger

What is Pepperonata?

Pepperonata (peh-peh-roh-NAH-tah) is an Italian vegetable dish of slow-cooked, or stewed bell peppers with onion and garlic.  Of course there are variations and some Italian cooks will add tomatoes, eggplant, or other Italian vegetables. 

The simplest way to make Pepperonata is to cook 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 sliced onion in 1/4 cup of olive oil over low heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add 5 bell peppers that are quartered and of different colors and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the bell peppers are soft.

One Low Carb Use: The Pepperonata Burger

It’s sometimes served with a frittata, steak, chicken, or over pasta. It is often served cold as part of antipasti. Today’s recipe is for a simple Pepperonata Burger.

Since I have an abundance of different pepper varieties, I wanted to try a mix of hot, mild and sweet peppers.  I also wanted to make it more of a main dish to have with hamburger, as I no longer eat bread or pasta, hence the Pepperonata Burger.  

A Note on Selecting Ground Beef for Hamburgers:

If you want the tastiest burger, buy some with at least 20 percent fat.  If I buy hamburger from the grocery store I look for “chuck” burger that is an 80-20% burger to fat ratio.  My mom cooked in a time when all fat was considered bad and meat was to be cooked a long time for safety, so she will make burgers with very lean meat and cook them to well done.  There is an abundance of scientific studies out there about good fats/bad fats/animal fats/etc.  It is really difficult to make good health decisions because for every study that tells you about a particular nutritional fact, there is a study available that will refute that fact.  Whatever your sentiments are about fat, I can tell you one thing……the burger has a whole lot more flavor with more fat in it.  And the Pepperonata Burger takes flavor a big step further.

Pepperonata as a Plant-Based Dish

A pepperonata saute makes an excellent side dish or topping for vegetables like squash. If you want it to be plant-based, just exclude the anchovies. Click here for a great recipe for pepperonata over squash topped with a Romesco sauce.

Pepperonata Saute for Bunless Burgers

Pepperonata Topped Hamburger
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 6
Calories 182
Author dorothy stainbrook



  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs assorted peppers mostly sweet peppers with some hot peppers, chopped
  • 1 large onion coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms any kind you like, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup pitted chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup pitted chopped green olives
  • 3 Tbsp capers drained and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovies minced
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over med-high heat.
  • Add the peppers and onions to the pan and saute, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and saute for another 5 minutes, or until vegetables start to brown. **NOTE: if you want to take the time to roast peppers and remove skins, it does make this dish better, particularly if you are using a lot of bell peppers with thick skin. I usually just chop fresh peppers with skins on because I'm always short of time.
  • Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions are translucent and the peppers and mushrooms are extremely soft (about another 10- 15 minutes). Add the garlic and saute quickly being careful not to burn the garlic (only needs about 30 seconds).
  • If you are serving the pepperonata as a topping for a burger, grill or saute the burger at this time while the pepper mix is cooking down.
  • Remove the skillet with the pepper mix from the heat and stir in the olives, capers, vinegar, and anchovies. Stir in more olive oil if desired to make the peperonata moist and oily.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a little more vinegar if needed. Serve over a hamburger that you grill while the pepperonata is cooking down..


Calories: 182kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 3gFat: 14gFiber: 4gSugar: 7g
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Another great recipe using pepperonata as a skillet sauté over butternut squash can be found by clicking here.

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 3 years and the keto diet for 2 years now, and I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out.  I am currently an online diet coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 250 client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

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  1. Anita Alig on September 20, 2019 at 6:08 am

    This looks delicious and I appreciate your take on fat adding flavour! Thank you!

    • dorothy stainbrook on September 20, 2019 at 6:42 am

      Thanks Anita! Yes, fat had a bad rap for so long and the focus on health and weight loss now leans toward sugar. Certainly that is what I have seen with my own journey and those that I coach….take care of the sugar but keep food tasting good if you want sustainability. Good fats can help with that.

  2. Tristen Jones on September 19, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Woooow, this looks so good. I am going to attempt to make it and let you know how I did! I will have to get creative and substitute the beef for something else 🙂

    • dorothy stainbrook on September 19, 2019 at 11:01 am

      Tristen, It’s actually a great topping to go over spaghetti squash!

  3. Empowered Man on September 19, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Wow does that look good!

    • dorothy stainbrook on September 19, 2019 at 10:16 am

      Thanks! I love it and you don’t miss the buns at all!

  4. jackieschwabe on September 19, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Looks Yummy!

    • dorothy stainbrook on September 19, 2019 at 9:52 am

      As an aside, the peppers are pretty cheap in the summer at the farmers markets and they freeze well. They are really expensive at the grocery store in the winter months, so chop some up and put in the freezer if you can.

  5. […] For another great use of pepperonata, click here to see the recipe for a Pepperonata Burger. […]

  6. Beth on November 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I made it and it was fabulous! Next time I will up the jalapeno to sweet pepper ratio, I was being cautious. 🙂 It was beautiful, though. Thanks!

    • dorothy stainbrook on November 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      So glad it worked for you Beth. The first time I made it, it was great. The second time though I used different hot peppers and the skins didn’t soften up so it was an annoying texture in the dish. That’s why I added a note to roast the peppers and take the skins off. I think it all depends on what kind of peppers you’re using. The sweet bell peppers don’t seem to be a problem, but some of the New Mexico type peppers were. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Beth Camero on October 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I love your recipes! I’m going to make this tonight – my sister-in-law is coming for dinner and she’ll be suitably impressed. 🙂 Thanks!

    • dorothy stainbrook on October 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Thank you so much Beth. Be sure and let me know if you make anything that doesn’t come out well. I’m always learning and love feedback. Thanks!

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