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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.
Best stuffed peppers I’ve ever had!!!!! 👏🏻
This is a super easy & delicious recipe. I made with ground chicken and used green lentils as my grain, and sheep’s feta for cheese. I also subbed red onion for flavor & doubled the cumin. I added shredded zucchini, chopped cilantro, and diced jalapeno for a kick. I cooked on 400 degrees (not 425) and everything came out perfect with the times listed. Jenn, I love your recipes and will be making many more.
Made this for my parents. It was awesomely delicious! I just printed it for future use. I have your cookbook and I do not think you make anything unless it is wonderful!
Thanks for sharing.
These are literally the best stuffed peppers I’ve ever made! I had to make a small substitution as I swore I had tomato sauce but NOPE. Used tomato paste and water with a big spoonful of salsa and I threw in some corn. YUM
Made with the equally delicious cornbread muffins. Gonna need more cornmeal hahaha
Another winner!! I made these about a month ago, we ate two (there’s only two of us) and then froze the remaining four. A couple days ago I pulled two out a little early in the day to defrost and then baked per Jenn’s instructions. Just as good as the freshly made ones. The peppers do soften a bit more with freezing but not enough to mar the dish. I serve with a tossed salad and Jenn’s corn muffins (which almost steal the show!!). I use the corn muffin recipe instead of the cornbread (which is her suggested accompaniment, but same ingredients) because I can easily halve it to make 6 muffins. This is such a a great dinner with little very little effort!!
Best stuffed peppers I’ve had. Will add to my favorite recipes. I used a can of hunts meatloaf sauce instead of the tomato sauce. Delicious.😋
Fun to make, and the timing with first baking your cornbread was perfect! I do have a question – after the time for roasting the peppers, they had liquid inside of them – I just turned them over to empty it out, but wondered why that happened? I had them cut side up. I’ve put them back into the oven while I’m writing this. Will be interested to hear your thoughts. I couldn’t find anyone else who had that happen to them. Thanks, Jenn!
After the time it took to write, the peppers now look great!
Hi Sandra, it’s normal for a little bit of liquid to accumulate in the bottom of the peppers as they release their juices when they heat up. No need to pour it out next time. BTW, I added a note about that to the recipe in case others are concerned about it as well. Hope you enjoyed them!
Thanks so much, Jenn! I’m all set to make this dish again for tonight’s dinner – my husband got a huge smile on his face when he saw the ingredients sitting on the counter! I’ve shredded hot pepperjack cheese again – loved that the first time!
Going to try your cornbread this time as muffins. I saw that another of your fans had cut the recipe in half, and I’m trying that.
Thanks again for your help!
I made these tonight and they were delicious. I love all of your recipes, so I knew this would not disappoint. The flavour of the filling and the cook on the peppers is perfect. A very satisfying meal. These will go into rotation.
So good! The whole family gobbled these up. They made excellent leftovers as well. Made exactly as recipe stated. A+
These were so delicious! I didn’t have the full amount of cumin, and I used less chili powder than called for to appease my kids. But the adults LOVED it! I love the idea of cutting the peppers in half, and even with using large peppers, there was plenty of filling. My six year old ate the insides, but not the pepper. I will definitely be making these again!
They are definitely going to be my go to stuffed peppers. They were fantastic. Everyone loved them.
there is no mention of rice in the ingredients – type? cooked I assume. amount?
want to make it but it will be a guessing game.
Hi Tiffany, it sounds like you overlooked it, but the rice is the second to last ingredient (right above the cheese). You’ll need 1 cup of any type of cooked rice, quinoa, or grain of your choice. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!
Best recipe I have found! Delicious and will most definitely print this off and save it 🙂
Delicious recipe! Everyone loved it. Nice for leftovers too. Will definitely make again!! Thanks Jen
I haven’t had stuffed peppers in years (ok decades) – this recipe did not disappoint !!! Absolutely delish and so easy to put together! Will definitely be putting this on regular rotation. Thank you Jenn!
I followed the recipe exactly but my peppers came out too al dente. I would definitely add time to either the preliminary roasting stage or the final cook. It was also rather dry. I would increase both the amount of sauce and the seasonings.
*****I have made these stuffed peppers twice this month! I’ve shared recipe with family and friends. Also, left over meat filling makes great burritos! Definitely in the rotation!
Love your cookbook too!
Hi Jenn, Yes I made this one! Substituted ground turkey (drained the fat) and found some room for black beans. It was really good and will make again. Thank you.
Ooooh I love the idea of black beans in place of rice!!
these were the best i have ever eaten, thank you 😉
I made this last night, along with your every day cornbread. We really enjoyed it. I love the roasting of the peppers, rather than parboil. Also, enjoyed the ripe peppers instead of green. Not sure why I never thought of THAT before!
Thank you for another great recipe and excellent helpful tips!
Great Recipe- the tenderizing trick is great. I am about to make an ethnic recipe with ground pork. Do you think the baking soda would work on ground pork, or ground lamb?
So glad you enjoyed it, Laura! The tenderizing trick is really only necessary with lean ground beef (pork and lamb have plenty of fat), but I certainly don’t think it’d hurt.
Tried this out a couple nights ago for me and my husband. It was delicious and so adaptable to larger or smaller groups. Because I couldn’t get to the grocery store, I substituted 1 cup of petite diced tomatoes for the tomato sauce. It turned out just fine. Thank you for a new favorite!
Really enjoyed this! I subbed the ground beef for ground Turkey & just added the salt to the seasoning. Definitely a keeper!
Jenn, stuffed peppers was one of those dishes that bring back a lot of bad childhood memories. You know, green undercooked peppers, lots of rice as filler, coughing into your napkin. (Sorry Mom)
While I was laid up after a car accident my neighbor brought over stuffed peppers from, of all places, Costco. They were made with the red, yellow and orange peppers and weren’t half bad. Then I came across your recipe and I know it would be so much better. Well, they were, peppers done just right, quinoa as filler, nice cheesy topping. So good, thank you.
This comment made me laugh!! hahaha. My mom used green peppers also (bitter) and we used to “cough” into our napkin as well . The only way we could be excused from the table was to “eat” all our supper! Loved it with the colored peppers. Thanx for the memory…
I’ve made a lot of stuffed bell pepper recipes and this is by far the best one yet. Followed the recipe exactly so I can give it 5 stars 😬. As always…your recipes are always awesome.
The best stuffed peppers we have ever had. I also made your recipe for everyday cornbread. Also excellent! My husband doesn’t like corn bread but, he really liked this recipe.
I followed the directions step by and step and everyone raved! As recommended, I served this with the cornbread. Thanks, Jennifer!
These stuffed peppers are amazingly delicious! Roasting the peppers makes them sweeter & tender. I substituted ground Turkey for the beef. Thank you Jenn for my new stuffed pepper recipe!!!
Delicious! Hubby said they were
Can I use farro instead of rice?
These are hands down the best stuffed peppers I’ve had. I used bulgur instead of rice and loved it.
Made this recipe last night. Best stuffed pepper recipe which will go in my go-to recipe file. I had always used green peppers (which was my mothers recipe), but by far using red, orange and yellow are much better. The spices also enhanced the taste. Made it step by step as shown, and no need to change a thing. Thank you.
Delicious and very easy to make. Portions were perfect to fill up the 3 peppers
These were delicious! Followed the recipe exactly as it was written. Will definitely make again. Thanks for another great recipe!
Absolutely super! Perfect flavors. Your recipes are always easy to follow – this was no exception but I didn’t expect stuffed peppers to be so yummy! Thanks for a great dinner.
I made these today exactly as written. While I’m not a big stuffed pepper fan, my husband is and he raved about them. He’s picky about his stuffed peppers and thought these were the best he’s had!!!
Thank you Jenn, once again!
They are so good, I will be making them a lot more.
These are the best stuffed peppers I’ve ever eaten. If you enjoy a little spice you will love these!
This Stuffed Peppers recipe is the best I’ve had. I love the addition of rice or quinoa, which helps the other ingredients to hold together in the peppers. I used quinoa, adding more protein to the recipe. I used no-salt added tomato sauce and baking soda substitute because of my dietary needs. I love the addition of chili powder and cumin. The flavour was great, and the eating experience was very pleasant. I just added some country sourdough french bread with the peppers to finish the meal. This was a very easy recipe too! Thanks for a “keeper” recipe.
Since I had only 1 red pepper I had to halve the recipe but that meant that I had some filling left to top corn chips. This is the perfect recipe for stuffed peppers. It is so easy and tasty. The Southwestern spices complemented the corn bread. Next time I will definitely have more peppers so I can make a full recipe and freeze half for an additional meal.
How could I have not made stuffed peppers for so long? This recipe is just like my mother’s. I think I will make it Sunday, maybe with a few adjustments. Thanks for the inspiration.
We love stuffed peppers and I never thought to roast the peppers rather than parboil. Great idea and I cannot wait to try this recipe.
If I use 93% lean ground turkey, do I still need to tenderize with the baking soda? Or is that step only needed when using beef?
Nope – only with beef 🙂
When you say to tenderize the meat and let it sit; is that at room temp or back in the fridge? Thanks!
Hi Turtle, It’s only 20 minutes, so you can leave out or put it in fridge. Hope that clarifies. 🙂
Thank you! Would it be possible to get a little list of the other variations if/when you have time? It says that you can change up the spices and I was curious to try making those as well. I have some big stuffed pepper fans here! 🙂 Thanks as always! Your recipes are always a big hit!
You could replace the cumin and chili powder with a few tablespoons of chopped fresh basil and replace the cheese with mozzarella and Parmigianno-Reggiano for an Italian twist. Another delicious version I’ve made is with ground chicken (skip the tenderizing with baking soda), fresh basil, diced tomatoes (instead of the sauce), and smoked mozzarella (there’s a recipe for this on Cook’s Illustrated).
It was a HUGE hit! They liked it better than Chef John’s stuffed peppers, which has been our go-to recipe. And it was so easy! Thanks for another great recipe! I’m eager to try the Italian version next!
I’m going to make the Italian version that you mentioned, but with hot Italian sausage. Do I still add the oregano? Also, do I skip tenderizing it? Thanks!
You could probably skip the oregano and can definitely skip the tenderizing. Please LMK how they turn out!
I tried the Italian version using mild Italian sausage, a pinch of oregano, parmigiana and mozzarella cheese. I also added fresh basil as you suggested. So far this is my wife’s favorite version! I love how you can change up this recipe so many ways! Tomorrow I’m making your individual meatloafs from the new cookbook!
So glad it came out well — thanks for reporting back! 🙂
Haven’t cooked this yet, but it was so fun to see this recipe that was very much a part of summer meals from my childhood. My mom used peppers and tomatoes right from the garden (though the tomatoes don’t hold up nearly as well as the peppers). I’m looking forward to trying this (though I’ll probably lean more to Italian spices that I enjoy most) and reliving a great memory! Thanks for adding it to your site.
I made this recipe tonight. Thanks, Jenn. As usual, your recipe did not disappoint. Very flavorful. I used shredded Mexican cheese which is what I had on hand. The peppers were delicious! What a great idea to roast them. Also, I never thought to try red, yellow and orange peppers since my usual stuffed pepper recipe calls for green peppers so that’s all I’ve ever used. What a nice sweet taste vs the bitter taste of the green peppers. I used to eat the filling but not the pepper. Tonight I enjoyed it all! I didn’t have chili powder so I substituted red pepper flakes. The meal was absolutely delicious and what a nice presentation! Mouth watering to look at and the kitchen smelled divine. Thanks for another delicious recipe. You are my amazing culinary goddess!
Delicious and easy. I substituted riced cauliflower (used store bought frozen) and ground turkey for a lower carb/fat version. Both worked great. Had leftovers for lunch. Yum!
Looking forward to making these tomorrow night. I’d like to double the recipe and freeze some. Should I cook them before I freeze? Then do I cook them when frozen?
Hi Kelly, I would prepare them up to point where they are filled and topped with cheese, then freeze. When ready to eat, thaw them overnight in the fridge and then follow the make-ahead instructions in the recipe to heat. Hope that helps!
My husband doesn’t like rice. I dice some zucchini and mix that in with the meat, cheese mixture.
Hi Jen: Monterey Jack and Cheddar Jack cheese are hard for me to find. Can I use cheddar and if so should it be a strong cheddar or a milder one?
Thank you for all your good recipes.
Sure, Susanna, that’s fine and I’d probably go with a sharp Cheddar. Hope you enjoy!
Hi Jen: Do you think barley would work in this recipe? I made it as is and it was great, but I have some barley and considered using it
Sure, Audrey, barley is fine to use here. Enjoy!
Hi Jenn, this dish looks delicious! Would it still work if I substituted ground chicken or Turkey for the beef?
Yep, I’ve tried it; just skip the baking soda and tenderizing step and add 1 tsp salt to the meat in the pan. 🙂
If I use ground turkey for this recipe do I still tenderize the meat? This sounds delicious and I am anxious to try it out. Thanks
Hi Tammy, With turkey you would not need the baking soda. Just add the meat and 1 tsp salt directly to the pan. Please LMK how it turns out!
Good Morning Jen!
You have listed on the recipe that Prep time is 30 hours and cook time is 45 hours!!!
I think you may want to correct that since we wouldn’t want to be in the kitchen for that long!!!!
LOL – fixed 🙂
Baking soda ? Use to tenderize chopped meat?? No need to do this or to bother precooking the rice OR roasting the peppers or using of all things —- baking soda! Why are you complicating a simple recipe I’ve made for years using RAW ground beef or turkey, RAW rice and RAW peppers. Baked in tomato sauce all come out cooked, succulent and delicious.
I’ve tried the baking soda trick and it does make the meat a gentler chew, hard to describe but it helps something you didn’t know could be improved make for a better finished dish anytime cooked ground beef if needed. I used to put the filling for stuffed peppers in raw ones but I prefer the tenderness (not mushiness) and flaor of partially baked green peppers.
Wow….way to be kind, Nancy! How about no need to comment on this recipe when you obviously have a different way of making it. Just no. As a reader, I find your comment to be non-constructive. I feel for you as you must be dealing with something difficult in your life to feel you have to be insulting.
You might consider making the recipe first as written and then offering your comments. It is certainly more helpful for all the readers on this site to learn from other cooks who have made the recipe and can then offer a constructive opinion.