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Stuffed Peppers

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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
stuffed peppers ingredients

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.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Tenderize the beef: In a medium bowl, add the beef, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the baking soda.

beef, baking soda, and salt in bowl

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.)

mashed beef

Slice the peppers in half from the stem end down through the base.

cut peppers

Remove all the seeds and membranes.

seeded and cored peppers

Place the peppers, cut side up, in ta 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.

roasted peppers

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.

cooking onions in skillet

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more; do not brown.

adding garlic to skillet

To the skillet, add the ground beef mixture, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and increase the heat to medium high.

adding beef and spices to skillet

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.

browned beef with tomato sauce

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.

adding rice and cheese

Stir until melted and remove the skillet from the heat.

stuffed pepper filling

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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Video Tutorial

Stuffed Peppers

Classic stuffed peppers filled with ground beef, rice, tomato sauce, and cheese make an easy weeknight supper.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Comments

  • I made this with a twist and we loved it! My husband asked for southwestern style. So I followed your recipe and instructions, increased the cumin to 2 tsp, replaced the sauce with 2 diced roma tomatoes, added a can of black beans, deleted the oregano. Used a packet of prepared Cilantro Lime Rice. It was great!

    • — Laurie on December 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were DELICIOUS! Even my picky toddler loved them. I used the heat in a bag brown rice/quinoa and garlic mixture to save time and it paired perfectly. Will definitely be making these again!

    • — Jennifer D on November 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made these tonight with another person’s suggestion of adding black beans. Everyone in the house loved them!

    • — Jean on November 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • We loved these peppers. Easy to make and very flavourful. My picky husband, who never liked any version of stuffed peppers before, said he’d have these any time. Tonight we’re having your carne asada recipe which we also love. I have both of your cookbooks, and I’m hoping that there’s a third on the way. If there is, I’m hoping you’d consider putting these peppers in there.

    • — Sandi H on November 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were AWESOME! I have never been keen on stuffed peppers but these are delicious. The recipe was also super simple and easy to follow. Definitely making these a regular on our menu, thank you so much! Off to discover more recipes on your site…

    • — Joanna on November 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Great recipe. The meat was so tender. Enjoyed the flavor but I think it needs just a little more kick so I adjusted the spices a little. Froze some and look forward to eating them soon. Thank you. Now to try another one of your recipes!!!!

    • — Mary Ann on November 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for the first time, last week. I love that the peppers are cut in half BEFORE they’re stuffed; the recipe is simple to follow with your pictures, and your directions are clear and precise! Thanks for that! My family and I loved these peppers, and I wish I had doubled up on the recipe! Buon appetito!

    • — Lori J Jankowski on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Ms. Segal is wonderful in securing the accuracy of a recipe! The details about the water in the peppers after roasting is just an example of making sure the novice is confident, something I greatly appreciate. I loved this recipe, I used Quinoa and Chorizo instead of rice and burger and it was amazing. I left the chop on the onions thicker since I did not have the texture of the rice, turned out to be a great adjustment according to the diners. Thank you for sharing your recipes so freely, I have enjoyed them immensely.

    • — H Underwood on November 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Great recipe. Tasty and easy to make.

    • — Jennifer Biry on November 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have always thought I hated stuffed peppers because my mother always used green bell peppers. I saw this recipe and for the first time (I’m 71!) cooked stuffed peppers. These are delicious and I’m only sorry I didn’t make sooner, but will definitely make again🤗

    • — Mimi Long on November 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe. Easy but so tasty. Your recipes are always stellar.

    • — Joanna on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Another winner. Sending recipe to my son. Mom approved.

    • — June on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can these be made a day ahead?

    • — Jebsw on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yup – see the Make-Ahead instructions for more detailed guidance. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made these one night, and they were terrific! I have tried several stuffed pepper recipes, but this one is the best.

    • — Nick Wiebe on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I like the method of pre-cooking in the oven, you can prep rest of dish while peppers are pre-cooking and decreased dirty dishes. Roasting adds a better flavor than parboiling. I used tomato sauce, but I think a can of diced tomatoes would be a good addition as well as more seasonings. It was very bland. I added white pepper and it helped immensely.

    • — Kathleen on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m going to make these this week, but I’m thinking a can of black beans would be a nice addition. What do you think? I love beans with these southwest flavours!

    • — Kelly (familyfeast.ca on insta) on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Kelly, black beans would be great here; you’ll just need to cut back on the ground beef or grain in order to fit them. Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,
        I did add the black beans, and WOW! These were such a hit. We did end up with extra filling, so next time I’ll make an extra pepper (my family of 4 ate up all the peppers, so a couple more wouldn’t be a bad thing!) My husband has asked that I make these again soon. I wish there were leftovers for my lunch today.

        • — Kelly (familyfeast.ca on insta) on November 15, 2022
        • Reply
  • Made these for supper the other night. We all enjoyed them. They were very good. I will definitely make them again.

    • — Sharon on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Another delicious recipe!!

    • — Jennifer Dubler on November 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • Could you substitute Morningstar Crumbles for the ground beef? If so, would you eliminate the first step of tenderizing? Thanks!

    • — Barbara on November 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, I’ve never worked with a beef substitute, but I think it should work (and you can skip the tenderizing step). I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2022
      • Reply
  • What temperature is the oven supposed to get?

    • — Carol on November 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, the oven temp is 425°F/220°C. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 9, 2022
      • Reply
  • Delicious. The flavors really blend together. For my diet needs: Reduced cheese to reduce saturated fat. Used brown rice and wild rice precooked combo from Seeds of Change to add complex carbs. To us it is the excellent spice combination that really pulls this together! This is on our make again list. This is my first recipe to try her. I will continue to browse!

    • — Caro on November 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • This looks and sounds like a great recipe for me to try. Would a Plant Based Meat substitute work instead of beef?
    Carol

    • — Carol on November 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, I haven’t tried it, but I suspect it should work. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’d like to try this with ground turkey instead of beef. Any thoughts for “tenderizing” or keeping is moist? Turkey dries out.

    • — Sara Shoob on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sara, I don’t think there’s anything you need to do the tenderize the turkey (and the baking soda step isn’t necessary). Ground turkey should be fine as long as you don’t get the extra lean. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Would this work with gruyere cheese instead? My husband’s picky about his cheese.
    Thank you for your wonderful recipes! Looking forward to making these stuffed peppers this week.
    SF Ana

    • — Aana on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ana, so glad you like the recipes! I haven’t tried this with gruyere, but it should work. Hope you enjoy the peppers!

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • Made it last night. It’s a great keeper! I used ground turkey and used diced tomatoes. Absolutely delicious and perfect recipe. As Jenn said if you use ground turkey you don’t need to use baking soda to tenderize. Another great recipe. Thanks!!

    • — Ellen on November 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I hadn’t made Stuffed Peppers in a very long time, then came across Jenn’s recipe on Once Upon a Chef Facebook page. I had all the ingredients at home, except the peppers, so I went to the grocery store, purchased some lovely-looking peppers, and made the recipe. It is an outstanding recipe and the flavour profile was perfect! So much flavour, Jenn’s step-by-step directions, along with the photos, made this such a simple and clear recipe to follow. Thank you Jenn, for another incredible recipe. This will be part of my repertoire going forward!

    • — Lori J Jankowski on November 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe, I made it long ago and loved it then couldn’t find it for the longest time. I tried other stuffed pepper recipes and it was never the same! So happy I found it again

    • — Carissa Bridgeforth on October 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • I used lean hamburger but I had a lot of grease – should I drain prior to adding tomato sauce

    • — Lynette on October 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yes, that’s fine to drain. Hope it turns out well!

      • — Jenn on October 24, 2022
      • Reply
  • Best stuffed peppers ever! All your recipes are soooo good! I’m reliant on your blog now. I will definitely try this recipe to make also stuffed cabbage rolls.

    • — Louise L. on October 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Perfect recipe. Followed instructions exactly. Done in under an hour. Had some leftover couscous that I used instead of rice. Peppers were cooked to tender but not mushy.

    • — KateB on October 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • I always thought I was not a fan of stuffed peppers….until trying this recipe!! It is delicious! I think the cumin and chili pepper really give this dish a fabulous flavor.
    This recipe is a keeper!

    • — Jennifer J on October 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • We had an over abundance of peppers from the garden, this summer. Since this is my go to recipe site, I came straight here to look for recipes using peppers.

    This is such a yummy recipe, that I’ve made it 3 more times, using up our bounty of red and yellow peppers. These stuffed peppers are delicious as leftovers, too!!

    Bon Appetit!!

    • — Patty Markey on October 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe is sooo good! I have tried many different stuffed pepper recipes and this by far is the best! I’ve been making it weekly and my husband and I devour it! I double the seasonings and add a can of diced tomatoes to it.

    • — Aunie on October 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • WOW!! I made these for dinner last night using my favorite orange bell peppers, it came out great and I’m enjoying leftovers for lunch (microwaved) as we speak. Write. Anyway, I’ll never use another stuffed pepper recipe again. And I can’t wait to try these with large Poblano peppers. The seasonings in this recipe would be great with Poblanos or even Anaheim peppers. Thanks Jenn!!

    • — Susie Sylvia on October 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best stuffed peppers I have ever made. Will definitely make these again.

    • — Virginia on October 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • I make this with ground chicken and love it!

    • — Candy Baker on September 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best stuffed pepper recipe by far!

    • — Jeanne Econie on September 28, 2022
    • Reply

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