Stuffed Peppers

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

Stuffed peppers in a baking dish.

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.)

Bowl of mashed beef .

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

Halved peppers on a cutting board.

Remove all the seeds and membranes.

seeded and cored peppers

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.

Roasted pepper halves in a baking dish.

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 cooked 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.

Stuffed peppers ready to bake.

Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted and bubbling, and serve.

Stuffed peppers in a baking dish.

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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 cooked 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

  • Very well written recipe with a delicious result. I followed the recipe and notes exactly since I have never made these before. My peppers were a little too soft because I think I pre-roasted them too long. Also, next time
    I will not tenderize the beef as per the recipe details because it made it too gummy and was also very difficult to break it all up the way I prefer it. Instead it would only break into @ 1/2 inch clumps while frying. I will definitely make this recipe again with a few adjustments. Thank you!

    • — Gina on June 14, 2024
    • Reply
  • That looks SO delicious!! I’ve made stuffed bell peppers before but, I didn’t know to cook the peppers first. Thank you for a delicious recipe, I will definitely make this!!!

    • — Amy Hinton on June 11, 2024
    • Reply
  • made it just like the recipe called for with the exception of using Rao’s marinara sauce Because that’s what I had. I thought it was delicious! And I will definitely make this recipe again thank you so much for sharing.

    • — Gay on June 10, 2024
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  • OMG! This recipe is s good! No wonder it has 5 stars. Please, try it, it is so yummy! Thank you.

    • — Nyet on June 7, 2024
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  • Just made this and it was amazing!! If you don’t like peppers you could use this stuffing for anything it’s amazing

    • — Louise F on June 3, 2024
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  • Made this as the recipe described with quinoa rather than rice and green peppers. It was delicious! Definitely will be making again for a lower carb meal option.

    • — Charm on May 29, 2024
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  • Had a pound of cooked ground beef in the freezer.

    Defrosted it overnight and then added all of the spices listed in the recipe.

    Next came tomato sauce and then rice.

    3/4 cups of cheese (I only had mozzarella) was added to the mixture last.

    Used orange peppers and did roast them for 20 minutes prior to stuffing

    The recipe was delicious we and especially liked that the peppers didn’t get soggy.

    This one is a keeper.

    Thanks from Ontario, Canada!

    • — Theresa Kerr on May 27, 2024
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  • This recipe takes a little longer but it is worth it. I did not use chili powder and used spag sauce instead of tomato sauce because that it what I had. It was really good.

    • — Susie on May 24, 2024
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    • These stuffed peppers are so delicious. I used Impossible veggie meat, since I don’t eat meat, and pepper jack and the peppers were perfect. The perfect spices and pepper jack gave it the little kick that I was hoping it would. I will be making these a lot! Thank you.

      • — Teresa on May 30, 2024
      • Reply
  • Beyond good – superlative stuffed peppers. I used ground lamb because it’s what I had on hand. Roasting the peppers before stuffing them added the omph and the instructions made the steps super easy.

    • — Judy Migliori on May 19, 2024
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  • Horrible. I should not have tenderize the meat with baking soda. Why why why did I not go with my instinct?

    • — Lisa on May 18, 2024
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  • Couple questions – After you brown the meat, do you drain it? ( I noticed some comments stating it was greasy. Did not see in the recipe where you say to drain the grease). Also, what temperature do you roast the peppers at. Recipe states 20 minutes but doesn’t give the temperature. Once the peppers are filled, I assume you roast at the same temperature, but please confirm. I look forward to trying this receipe one you advise. Thanks!!

    • — Pj on May 11, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi PJ, I don’t drain the grease off the beef after cooking it, but you can drain a bit off if you’d like. And the recipe gets cooked at 425°F/220°C. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2024
      • Reply
  • We loved this recipe. Roasting the peppers before filling seemed to make them better. The filling is wonderful! Didn’t change a thing. And reheated the next day: fabulous!

    • — louise e edwards on May 9, 2024
    • Reply
  • Perfect! Exactly as I hoped they would be! Love the idea to pre-roast the peppers and use other colors. My family ate them, rather than discarding them this way. Thank you for a great twist on a favorite nostalgia food.

    • — NicholeLT on May 6, 2024
    • Reply
  • These were AMAZING! But most importantly, toddler approved! Only had red quinoa but it was quite tasty with it. Also added in some corn that had to be used and served it with black beans on the side.

    • — Julie on May 6, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made it exactly as recipe called for and it came out absolutely perfect and delicious. It’s rare that I don’t have to tweak a recipe so this is a keeper. This will be in regular menu rotation.

    • — Bryna on May 6, 2024
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  • Great recipe!! Just right. I may use a Little less cheese on top next time. So so yummy yummy.

    • — Lisa on May 1, 2024
    • Reply
  • I’ve made a lot of Jenn’s recipes and loved them all, however these were quite greasy. I don’t know if it’s because of the grass fed beef mixed with baking powder. I most likely will stick with my Mom’s Greek stuffed peppers recipe .

    • — Cynthia Corcoran on May 1, 2024
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  • I am a texture kind of veggie person. I like mine Al dente if possible. I made these pretty close to recipe with mixture but with olive oil sprayed 1/2 peppers. No precook. Cooked for about 20 min@425. If your like me? You will love these. ❤️. Excellent

    • — Daniel F on April 26, 2024
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  • Made as written except for adding 1tblsp honey to cut acidity of tomatoes. It was great.

    • — Sheila on April 25, 2024
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  • I followed most of the same ingredients except instead of tomato sauce (forgot to get at store). It probably added a little more fat content but I mixed in one small can of cream of mushroom soup & half can of milk (in the soup can). It turned out amazing & creamy… Really yum! So thank you so much for sharing this easy to follow recipe! God Bless!

    • — Sonya on April 23, 2024
    • Reply
  • Very good and adaptable to what you have on hand. I used ground turkey (skipped baking soda step)
    I used 1/2 can of rotel vs tomato sauce. Used quinoa to up the protein.

    • — Danita on April 23, 2024
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  • Please disclose that the rice has to be cooked prior before adding it to the sauce with cheese. Thanks

    • — Sandra on April 22, 2024
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    • It tells you right in the recipe. Try reading through the whole recipe before making the dish. Another user also wanted the temperature of baking the peppers. AGAIN it’s listed in the recipe.

      • — winny on June 3, 2024
      • Reply
  • The wife and I love this dish, I made it just as… you don’t need anything else it was delicious we plan on making again soon.

    • — Randini on April 21, 2024
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  • I love this! I have always made a similar recipe. I use quinoa instead of rice and I don’t mix the cheese in it. I will next time! This is one of my faves. The southwest flavor makes it the best!

    • — Dyana on April 19, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I really enjoyed making this. Thank you for your time in putting this recipe together, for others to enjoy.
    This was my First time making these and with your spot on directions , I was able to assemble them effortlessly. I did add some garlic salt. and a sprinkle of lawry’s season salt. Thank you again for all your work, and love for food.
    Warmly, Tina Shepherd

    • — Tina Shepherd on April 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was super easy to make, and I really appreciated the make-ahead instructions! I prepped a double batch on a Sunday (one batch for our family, one for friends who just had their third baby!). They didn’t take long to prep, then my partner (who gets home before me) was able to just add the extra cheese topping and bake them after work on Monday. Easy and very delicious! Toddler approved too, both by our toddler boy and our friends’ two toddler boys. This one will definitely get made again, especially when we’re needing to bring someone else a meal.

    • — Carleigh R. on April 15, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was tasty but I would recommend seasoning the peppers with garlic, onion powder, or spices of your choice before baking them. The filling had amazing flavor but the peppers themselves were lacking with just the EVOO.

    • — Kimberley Canfield on April 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • I made this tonight for supper. I tweaked it a little and added 1/ lb of sausage so I had to increase the rice and a little more sauce.
    It turned out delicious.
    I would show you a picture from my gallery but I don’t know where to put it. Renee in Michigan

    • — Renee on April 10, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is almost how my mom would make them with the exception she used canned cooking tomato’s but other wise the same almost. They were good and tomorrow here goes with company.

    • — George Bennett on April 6, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made it according to the recipe used less red pepper and added a bit more cumin. My 3rd time making it, I didn’t have enough cheddar cheese so topped it with mozzarella and it was do good! I love that it’s a forgiving recipe and it can be easily tweaked. I had never used the bake soda method to tenderize the beef in til I made this first time, but had no issues with it.

    • — Suzanne on April 3, 2024
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  • Never mentioned cooking the rice in the directions. Took longer because I had to do this in the end and it didn’t turn out as good as expected.

    • — Kelsey on April 2, 2024
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    • This was an amazing recipe! I make stuffed peppers often and this is by far the best. For those of you complaining about cooking rice, I simply bought a pouch of pre made rice (the kind you’d usually heat up in the microwave) and it worked perfectly. Texture of the beef was something someone complimented… Incredible recipe!

      • — Amy on April 12, 2024
      • Reply
  • I do agree with others about the unpleasant texture of the beef, salt & baking soda combo. HOWEVER, I did some research one line and found that for GROUND BEEF the method changes. So now I use the method explained in America’s Test kitchen & other science based methods of tenderizing GROUND meats.:
    Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with 1T water ( for each 1 lb ground beef). Then EVENLY mix that into 1 lb ground meat. Let the meat sit for 15 minutes while the peppers are roasting. Proceed with the other parts of the recipe as written. Tbe 1 t to 1-1/4t salt gets stirred into the beef along with the other seasoning. Resuls: No weird texture. Instead you have moiste , tenderized ground meat.
    Great version of stuffed peppers. But I deducted 1star( should have deducted 2 stars) for HOW the baking soda was used. I think Jenns method MIGHT be for meats or skin of meats rather than ground meat.
    Bottom Line :Keep the recipe BUT read up on how to tenderize GROUND beef.

    • — GMJ on April 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made this last night. So easy and tender and delicious. Made great leftovers too. Will definitely become a regular in my rotation!

    • — Anna on March 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • I haven’t made it yet (doing to for 3 friends who are in need of some TLC), but I must comment on your no-nonsense video! I don’t like my time wasted by “cuteness” or watching while the host chops every little bit of onion, etc. Your video was so well done – clear, informative and to the point! Thank you!

    • — Pat on March 21, 2024
    • Reply
  • Just delicious. Can’t wait until I make it again.

    • — Angela Werner on March 20, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is a great recipe! I had a 14 oz can of tomato sauce, and didn’t want to waste it…just added a little more of the spices and a little red pepper flakes. I’ll be making this again, Thank you!

    • — Gina McMellon on March 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Instructions were easy to follow. I’ve made stuffed peppers using your recipe for my family and they all loved it. This is one of my go to recipes for family, friends and potluck gatherings.

    • — ccy on March 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • Tenderizing the ground beef with baking soda was a big mistake. This gave the beef a very slimy, stomach churning texture that I wish i had never experienced. We’re not big on wasting food in this house, but these leftovers went straight into the trash

    • — Sarah on March 9, 2024
    • Reply
    • Agreed. Flavor was good but meat texture was unappealing

      • — Jennifer on March 14, 2024
      • Reply
      • I used turkey with this instead of beef because my family has just always preferred turkey and it was a HUGE hit! My daughter HATES stuffed bell peppers normally and she said “Mom really outdid herself. I never thought I’d enjoy eating a bell pepper”, so I would say it was great. Thanks!

        • — Natasha Brodsky on May 28, 2024
        • Reply
  • I’ve been making this for awhile and this is absolutely delicious 😋 I use ground turkey and my boyfriend doesn’t consider it “meat”. He had no idea and he requests it often. I think the magic is in the baking soda. Never saw this process before, but it totally tenderizes the meat so well! I use this prep for other recipes that require ground meat. It’s so smart! Also used to boil my peppers before stuffing and roasting us better, tastier, and less chances of me burning myself.
    Honestly, I WOULD give this recipe out, but I like feeding people and just invite people over when I make this.
    Thanks so much for a fan favorite!

    • — Jenn V on March 8, 2024
    • Reply
  • Roasting the peppers BEFORE adding the filling is something that I learnt from you.
    Doing the peppers roasting keeps the rice from getting too soft and mushy. Thank you from that single detail that makes an incredible difference on the taste and look of the dish.
    Now I do aubergines and zucchini the same way.

    • — Alicia Radice on March 7, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made these last night!!! So so good. Thank you!

    • — Angela on March 5, 2024
    • Reply
    • I wanted something with more zip. I loved roasting the peppers as I think boiling them loses nutrients. I followed the recipe and it was awesome and a keeper. I did drain my beef and used Mexican cheese with the Colby. first peppers of the season and I was happy they turned out so delicious! and I used the suggestion of making cornbread. made my husband’s night.

      • — Sue in texas on June 12, 2024
      • Reply

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