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Classic stuffed peppers filled with ground beef, rice, tomato sauce, and cheese make an easy weeknight supper.
Almost every cuisine has a version of stuffed peppers, or hollowed bell peppers filled with meat, tomato sauce, vegetables, rice and cheese. In the US, the dish undeniably retro – in fact, the most popular internet recipe comes from the one and only Betty Crocker. Here, I’ve given the classic recipe a little update by quickly tenderizing the beef before cooking and seasoning it with Southwestern spices, which complement the sweetness of the bell peppers perfectly. That said, the recipe is endlessly versatile; you can change up the meat, spices, grain, or cheese to give the dish a whole new spin. This version goes nicely with cornbread.
The peppers need to be par-cooked before filling so that they cook through. Many recipes call for boiling the peppers first, but I prefer to roast them – more flavor and less cleanup! The best way is to slice the peppers in half from the stem end down through the base, remove all the seeds and membranes, and then roast the halves until they’re tender-crisp.
What You’ll Need To Make Stuffed Peppers
When selecting bell peppers, look for peppers that are bright, shiny and firm. They should not have wrinkled skin, soft spots, or moldy stems. I prefer red, orange, or yellow peppers; green peppers are unripe and have an unpleasant, somewhat bitter taste. (If left to fully ripen, green peppers will eventually turn another color, and the flavor will become increasingly sweet.) Bell peppers keep for up to a week in the refrigerator crisper drawer.
Tenderize the beef: In a medium bowl, add the beef, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the baking soda.
Use your hands to mix until evenly combined, and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes while you continue with the recipe. As it rests, the baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and making the beef tender. (I use this tenderizing technique in many ground beef recipes, including beef enchiladas, beef chili, and shepherd’s pie.)
Slice the peppers in half from the stem end down through the base.
Remove all the seeds and membranes.
Place the peppers, cut side up, in a 9×13-inch baking dish; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Roast the peppers for about 20 minutes, until slightly browned and tender-crisp. A bit of liquid will accumulate in the bottom of the peppers; that’s okay.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more; do not brown.
To the skillet, add the ground beef mixture, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and increase the heat to medium high.
Cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and almost cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, until the meat is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and 3/4 cup of the cheese.
Stir until melted and remove the skillet from the heat.
Remove the peppers from the oven and spoon the meat filling evenly into the peppers. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese and place back in the oven.
Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted and bubbling, and serve.
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Classic stuffed peppers filled with ground beef, rice, tomato sauce, and cheese make an easy weeknight supper.
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
- 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
- Heaping ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut in half from the stem to the bottom and cored
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup cooked rice, quinoa, or any grain
- 1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Jack cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
- Tenderize the beef: In a medium bowl, using your hands, mash the beef with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the baking soda. Let sit for 20 minutes while you continue with the recipe.
- Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, if you like. Place the peppers, cut side up, in the baking dish; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Roast the peppers for about 20 minutes, until slightly browned and tender-crisp. A bit of liquid will accumulate in the bottom of the peppers; that's okay.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more; do not brown. Add the ground beef mixture, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and increase the heat to medium high. Cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and almost cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, until the meat is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and ¾ cup of the cheese, and stir until melted. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Remove the peppers from the oven and spoon the meat filling evenly into the peppers. Sprinkle with the remaining ¾ cup cheese and place back in the oven. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted and bubbling, and serve.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: The peppers can be partially cooked and filled with the beef mixture up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated, or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, cover the dish with foil, and bake in a 425°F-oven for about 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and remove and discard the foil. Top the peppers with the cheese and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Serving size: One 1/2 pepper
- Calories: 381
- Fat: 24 g
- Saturated fat: 9 g
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Sugar: 6 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 24 g
- Sodium: 646 mg
- Cholesterol: 74 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Gluten-Free Adaptable Note
To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.
Great Recipe! Followed exactly came out delicious and faster than my old recipe. I always make extra filling & freeze in 2 serving packs. So easy to have on hand! I also just for fun made one with soft marinated goat cheese on top. Wow delicious too!
taste great but I like being accurate with how I measure ingredients by weight. I think if we all got on the metric system with the rest of the world instead of the hamburger system the world would be a better place. good news though I grated enough cheese to drown in my living room
Hi Joey, Your comment about the cheese made me laugh! The great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. Hope that helps!
Absolutely loved this recipe I tend to use recipes from here but only recently got to doing the review thing I will post a pic on Instagram. This time I wasn’t so sure about it because I ran out of shredded cheese and did not have any cumin. I substituted fennel seed for the cumin and block Velveeta for the shredded and paired the whole thing with boiled cabbage. The fam loved it!
First time making stuffed peppers, followed recipe to the T and they came out PERFECT!! My adult son gave them a 10 out of 10!! YUMMY. I used orange and red peepers and they looked so pretty too. Thank you for sharing recipe.
Very good. A bit greasy so won’t use all the olive oil and will drain the beef after cooking.
Turned out great! I used lean ground turkey and skipped the rice (served it with roasted potatoes on the side instead) and the filling still turned out delicious.
Used pasillo peppers, absolutely delicious, now a staple.
This was very good. I used Jasmine rice and it was pretty crunchy. Anyone else think the rice needs a little precook?
The recipe calls for cooked rice 🙂
I followed the recipe in detail. It doesn’t say “cooked rice” anywhere. Newby mistake, I guess.
I have made that mistake on several occasions. Trial and error my friend.
Made this last night, delicious! Followed recipe but added tomato sauce to rice after it cooked to keep from sticking. I did wind up adding the rest of the 15oz sauce can to mixture for moisture. I’m freezing leftovers for another meal. Will definitely make it again. I also put onion & garlic in my chopster and sautéed all together & drained fat before adding rice & cheese.
A little strong on the cumin for my taste but a really good recipe with the roasted peppers.
Try using parmesan and mozzarella with ground chicken and it is also delish!
This recipe turned out great! I used Rao’s marinara and havarti cheese. I’m not much for leftovers but these tasted even better the second day. Will make again. Thank you!
What a great recipe! I am making them again tonight. Great flavor and easy to make. I would highly reccomend this recipe!
I used el pato Mexican tomato sauce (also good in chili)which really amped an already great recipe.
This was great! I’ve yet to find a single recipe on this site that wasn’t easy to follow and tastes great! We like things spicy, so I added a touch of jalapeño sauce, gave it a nice kick. Definite keeper.
These are awful! So bland no flavor.
Just made this tonight and it was excellent. Definitely making this again! Followed the instructions exactly.
Absolutely delicious recipe. Super Easy, well written instructions. We usually buy these already prepared from Costco, but this recipe is ,hands down , the outright winner for a fraction of the price. Definite going into the weekly roster.
Can I use Old Cheddar cheese in place of Monterey Jack or Cheddar Jack cheese? Will it change the taste of the Stuffed Peppers?
Yep that’s fine, Anne. Enjoy!
Does adding baking soda to ground beef keep it pink when cooked? I cooked it on the stove for around 10 mins, then in the oven for 15, then another 10… and some spots are still pink or translucent! Despite them bubbling in the oven. Very tasty though ?
Hi Sarah, No, it shouldn’t impact the color of the beef. I assume with all that cooking time, it was cooked through so not sure why it was still pink! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Family asked for them and they came out Delicious! Thank You ??
This is NOT your Mother’s Stuffed Pepper recipe!!!! My husband ate three peppers and asked me to put it in the “Recipe Box”. Loved the recipe, the peppers were still a bit crisp, the filling delicious, and the cheese put it over the top. Thank you again for all the wonderful recipes.
I’ve made stuffed peppers a variety of ways but following your recipe yielded the BEST ones. I had red and green peppers on hand so that’s what I used but in the future I will follow your recommendation and only use r, o, and y ones. I will also investigate some bottled hot sauces to serve on the side.
Two years ago, I discovered your online recipe for Cheese Strata and am now a huge fan. I’ve purchased, love, and use your cookbooks (2018 and 2021).
These stuffed peppers are definitely 5 stars. Everyone asked for seconds!