Simple yet flavorful, these caramelized Italian Sautéed Peppers and Onions are sure to delight with their colorful presentation! Use this recipe to make a fantastic topping to jazz up your favorite mains like steak, chicken, shrimp, or sandwiches. With only 6 simple ingredients, one skillet, and 25 minutes of easy cooking, this easy recipe is great for weeknights or anytime!
Sautéing is an excellent cooking method for peppers and onions since it enhances the flavor through caramelization, building a smooth and memorable glaze to compliment many savory dishes.
Sautéing the vegetables and then simmering with wine elevates this veggie-friendly recipe to something truly special! Serve sautéed peppers and onions with a fine steak or our Dairy-Free Shrimp Scampi and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes recipe for New Year’s Eve or other classy holidays.
Or use this recipe as a savory topping for chicken paired with pasta, a fresh gluten-free baguette, or garlic bread for an easy weeknight dinner. If you're looking for another easy baked peppers and onions recipe, check out our Healthy Baked Chicken Fajitas.
How to Make Sautéed Peppers and Onions
Get excited -- this recipe has only 5 ingredients and two easy steps!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Sautéed peppers and onions are an Italian-inspired staple needing just a few key ingredients:
- Olive oil - You can use avocado oil or butter as a substitution, but olive oil will give you that authentic Italian flavor that we love!
- Bell peppers - Using various colors not only looks beautiful, but they each also have a slightly different flavor (red is the sweetest). I like using one of each color: red, yellow, and orange. You can also use green bell peppers, though they are more bitter than the other color variations.
- Red onions - We tested this recipe with multiple onion varieties and combinations, and all red onions won first place every time! Other onion varieties are too sweet or too earthy, and add a distinctive taste that overpowers the bell pepper and wine combination. Definitely stick to red onions if you can.
- White wine - A dry white wine elevates this recipe while deglazing the pan and adds acidity that compliments the sweetness of the peppers and onions. You can replace the wine with small splashes of vegetable broth or water to deglaze the pan, and then add a squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar at the end.
- Spices - rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper season these Italian fried peppers and onions. Get creative and use some of your favorite spice blends to compliment the meal they accompany.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to cook onions and peppers
Learn the simple steps to caramelize onions and peppers like a pro!
Step 1. Peppers and Onions: Heat a large skillet with olive oil to medium high heat. Add peppers and onion and cook, stirring on occasion, until they begin to soften (about 5-7 minutes).
Step 2. Flavorings and Spices: Add wine, salt, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 minutes more or until peppers and onion are as soft as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste!
Serve this recipe as a side dish or topping.
Hint: Use medium-high heat to cook peppers so they caramelize correctly. Cooking over low heat will steam them instead of sautéing them.
How to serve
We love the versatility of this recipe. Here are a few ways we enjoy them:
As a topping: Add them to a sub or hoagie-style sandwich with deli meat, cheese, and all your other favorite toppings. We also love them as a topping for brats, sausages (especially Italian sausage), steak, and chicken.
Incorporate in a pasta or grain dish: Toss the peppers and onions with pasta, rice, quinoa, or other favorite grain.
Switch up the seasonings or liquid to make this peppers and onions recipe match any meal you make.
- Mexican Onions and Peppers - Instead of the seasonings listed in the recipe card, add 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), and ½ teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. Season the peppers and onions with as much of this Mexican seasoning blend as you’d like. These are perfect for adding to tacos, burritos, and other favorite Mexican dishes.
- Cajun Style Onions and Peppers - Sauté onions, peppers, and slices of sausage together in a skillet with Cajun seasoning.
- Balsamic Glazed Peppers and Onions - Substitute deglazing the pan with 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar instead of wine like this recipe. This alternative ingredient will add a different and bold punch of flavor and to the sauteed veggies.
Store the cooked peppers and onions in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Sautéed peppers and onions freeze well and you can store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Top Chef's Tips
Use red onions. We tried this recipe with yellow onions too, but they were way too sweet and left a sticky earthy flavor that we didn't like as much. Red onions provide the perfect texture and very slight sweetness to compliment the peppers!
Use a large skillet. You want to give the peppers and onions as much room as possible to get that signature caramelization from sautéing. Overcrowding the pan will steam the veggies instead of sautéing which is still tasty, but not what we're aiming for.
Let it cook untouched for a few minutes. Let the peppers and onions release their sugars to build that beautiful glaze. Not stirring them for the first 3 minutes will start the process, and they will cook more thoroughly. The wine will pick up flavors from the bottom of the pan and coat the sautéed onions and peppers.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Sautéed Peppers and Onions:
For the best way to freeze cooked peppers and onions, allow to cool. Then spread across a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 4 months. Note that if you prefer your peppers and onions on the crisper side, they will soften after freezing and reheating.
You can add peppers and onions to the skillet at the same time. Peppers cook a little faster, but this is ideal because you want your onions a little softer so the sugars caramelize for extra flavor.
Use olive oil when sauteeing peppers for a traditional Italian flavor.
More Italian Recipes to Consider...
Serve these with your Italian Peppers and Onions:
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card or comment field below. Thank you!
Sauteed Peppers and Onions
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced thinly
- 1 large orange bell pepper sliced thinly
- 1 large yellow bell pepper sliced thinly
- 2 medium red onions sliced thinly
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- additional salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat a large skillet with olive oil to medium high heat. Add peppers and onion and cook, stirring on occasion, until they begin to soften (about 5-7 minutes).
- Add wine, salt, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 minutes more or until peppers and onion are as soft as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste!