Stuffed Peppers

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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.

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

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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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

  • Made these today. Turned out delicious. We’re low carb so I substituted cauliflower rice for the cooked rice and also added in some broccoli slaw for extra fibre. 😀 Yum!

    • — Louise on May 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn, I lived many years in Middle East, and I love this dish. Now a proud US Citizen as a *practical* Engineer, you got to publish my comments: First, use GREEN peppers, they have strong taste, instead of rainbow-color=salad types. Second, Microwave for 3-4 minutes on HIGH. Then cut them half, exactly U say, fill with cooked rice and ground meat, pour tomato sauce and olive oil, oven at 400 for 30 minutes. YES, I do add tabasco to meat mix, besides some Wurchester. No other spices needed. Cheddar slices when out of oven. Lotsa RED wine, maybe even DRIZZLED on beef, before oven. My recipe is 2 paragraphs. Simple.

    • — Andre on May 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I used this recipe to make empanadas and now it is my go to recipe for them. I used only half the cheese though.

    • — Bob on May 6, 2022
    • Reply

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