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.

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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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

  • Hello….what is the purpose of the baking soda….

    • — T-How on August 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi, he baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and making the beef tender. Hope you enjoy if you make the peppers!

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • Oven temp??!!

    • — Mary on August 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, the oven temp is 425°F/220°C.

      • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • These stuffed peppers are a little tedious to make, at first, but after making them three times, I’m getting the hang of it. I would have never thought of roasting the peppers first. What I especially like about your recipes is, you walk us thru step by step. There is no way to fail. Thanks Again for a great recipe!

    • — Liz on August 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Excellent! I’ve tried a few different recipes for stuffed peppers over the years but I wasn’t pleased with any of them. But this recipe is great. The spice level is perfect and the blend of spices, and cheese with the peppers is very tasty! Thanks for sharing this recipe:)

    • — Laura K. on August 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for the first time last night for my two teenagers. My son plowed through 2 1/2 of them (which is all I gave him) without pausing for breath. My daughter ate 1 1/2 and said “I’m still hungry but I want to save the other half because it’s so good I want it for lunch tomorrow”. Needless to say they were a big, big hit, and I may just be making them again tonight!

    • — Marie in Nor Cal on August 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Very tasty. I followed the recipe exactly, and we loved the result. Much tastier than other stuffed pepper recipes I’ve tried.

    • — Patrice on August 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made stuffed peppers a billion times but I was interested in trying your recipe because you incorporated several methods that that interested me. First, you didn’t blanch peppers but roasted them instead. I’d hoped that this might add additional flavor…but I don’t think it affected taste at all. The peppers are background to filling and either method produces the same results. I do think blanching saves more of the texture of the pepper. Also, you used cooked rice rather than adding additional liquid (canned tomatoes, etc.) and cooking the rice in the sauce That’s a good way to use up leftover rice but I’d rather cook rice in the meat sauce. I didn’t use your spices as I’m not fond of cumin. I added, instead, roasted green chili, olives (so I could use them up) and corn. I used Mexican tomato sauce (El Pato) in lieu of regular sauce and chili powder to add flavor and a spicy kick to an otherwise bland dish.

    I know it isn’t fair to judge a recipe if you change it past recognition, which I sorta’ did, but I was more interested in trying your methods instead of the flavor of the finished dish. My additions might make it too spicy for kids, too.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • — Leslie on August 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wow! These came out amazing! Substituted coriander for cumin and used less of it. Otherwise, kept the rest of the recipe exactly as posted! Everyone loved it! Can’t wait to make it again! Thank you!

    • — Porter House on August 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Not a stuffed pepper fan usually, but my neighbor gave us a ton of green peppers from his garden and then I found this recipe. Delicious. Made these 2 weeks ago and my hubby loved them and asked today if I could make them again this weekend. I love the pre-roasting of the peppers and they come out nice and firm and not mushy. Never made them with cheese before & that was a nice addition.

    • — Donna M Lebeduik on July 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve been making peppers for a while now and tried many recipes but was never satisfied. Im so happy that I don’t have to look anymore. These are amazing and would not change the recipe at all. Thank you.

    • — Sandy Pentz on July 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • These are delicious.

    I never really cared for stuffed peppers before as they seem kind of blah to me but my kids and husband love them. A neighbor gave me a bunch of peppers from her garden so I came looking for a new recipe and found yours. These got great reviews from my husand and kids, and even I liked them. This will be our go to recipe from now on. Thanks for sharing it.

    • — Mrs. Timothy on July 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi! Looks yummy and I will make this for my family this weekend. Can I omit the cheese from the meat mixture and just put cheese on top? Thanks!

    • — Hallie on July 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious!!

    • — Mary ODonnell on July 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • These came out awesome. I forgot about the 20 minute tenderizing step AFTER I started the rice and peppers, so I use 50% ground beef and 50% ground pork and came the meat combo was very tender.

    Sprinkled chipotle chili powder on the top of the cheese before putting in the oven. As usual with these dishes, no leftovers and requests for the recipe.

    • — Henry on July 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • I bought a 6 pack of tri-colored peppers at Sam’s so I needed a recipe for stuffed peppers. This one had great reviews so I gave it a try. It did not disappoint! My husband loved it and could have eaten more than his share. I loved how the spices and cheese played off the sweetness of the peppers. I also loved the step of precooking the peppers and then stuffing and cooking until the cheese was melted. This gave the peppers a more tender bite but not mushy. I prefer them soft and not crunchy like other recipes. I cooked them on a cookie sheet and after taking them out of the oven I placed a large Stab glass lid over them to keep them warm until everyone came in to eat. This caused the unplanned steaming of the peppers in which I was able to peel off the charred skins and discard. I plan to check out more recipes on this site in the future

    • — Karli Siscoe on July 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were GREAT. I used about 1/2 of the spice amounts listed. Will absolutely make again. My husband loved them.

    • — Rosalie on July 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Too greasy for me.

    • — Carol on June 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • I ended up throwing the meat away after those seasonings. Lol i added a small amount and then added more but wasn’t more then the recipe. It tasted horrible. I actually had more hamburger, thank god. But all i do is simple ingredients. Next time I know. Also needs a small spoon of sauce on top. + Cutting peppers in half made them pretty flimsy + small. Won’t do that again. Red and orange peppers are best. Not sure after roasting them first seems like they made them too wet lol. I didnt like this recipe unfortunately. Next time i will do small tweaks. Maybe im just not a fan of cumin or chili powder together. Tasted very bad. Maybe i did add too much. I did just enough to cover all the meat. But not completely. Did i do something wrong? Im new to cooking.

      • — Katie on July 13, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Katie, I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy the peppers! Based on what you’ve written, I’m not sure if you added more spices than the recipe calls for? If so, that may have accounted for it not testing great. Same goes for if you added less than the recipe required. The last option is that perhaps you just don’t like those flavors. Please let me know if I can help in any other way!

        • — Jenn on July 13, 2022
        • Reply
  • Great recipe! Tasted delicious. I subbed ground chicken, olive oil spray, and fat free cheese, then added a little extra rice. It was sooo good.

    • — Shelby on June 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • WOW! This baby cook found this recipe incredibly easy to make. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s healthy, and my boyfriend and I both LOVED IT! I found myself with more filling than the peppers could really hold, but who ever turned their nose up at extra? 10/10 would recommend!

    • — Hannah on June 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Despite my mistake SO good. Grabbed chipotle chili powder from my spice rack instead of the plain and was worried about the extra heat. Didn’t think that I could handle it, boy was I wrong. My market only had prepacked Monterey jack, so I used a Colby jack. Looked beautiful and tasted even better. Big change from my stuffed peppers with Madeira wine in the meat and a marinara sauce. These were so much better. Will find the right cheese for next time and am torn about which Chili powder to use. Will I be sorry if I don’t use the Chipotle? Your thought on this one. Thanks, Jenn, for another great meal

    • — Carol J Winkelman on May 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you liked them, Carol! I think if you enjoyed them this way and you were able to tolerate the heat, I’d stick with that! (Going with the old saying of “Why fix what’s not broke?”) 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 30, 2022
      • Reply
      • I tried this recipe tonight and it’s a keeper! My husband and I both loved it. Such a depth of flavor! Best stuffed peppers I’ve ever had. I’ll definitely be making this again, and often.

        • — Jan Cordero on July 1, 2022
        • Reply
  • I have never made stuffed peppers before. But my husband always talked fondly about growing up having these for dinner. I totally trust your recipes because everything you publish is amazing! These stuffed peppers did not disappoint! So so good and my husband even said they were better than the ones he grew up eating!

    • — Andie R on May 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • These peppers were delicious! I made them exactly as the recipe stated. Love your recipes Jenn!

    • — Kathy on May 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • these were fantastic, keen to see how they fare after freezing. didn’t alter the recipe at all.
    have the first cookbook and second, LOVE the recipes, definitely my go to.

    • — Leona Henry on May 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made these stuffed peppers for dinner tonight. Absolutely the best recipe I’ve ever had!!!

    • — Liz Healy on May 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. These look delicious. Would they still taste good without the cheese? (We don’t eat cheese, unfortunately…)

    • — Katherine on May 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, I think they will still be good. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • 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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