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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.
YUM! These turned out great…thank you!
I have made stuffed peppers many times. These were hands down the best I’ve ever made. My husband ate 2 and wanted a 3rd. I used grass rooted beef. Half a block of santorini cheese shredded. I also mixed the spices into the tomato sauce first.
Thanks for this delicious recipe.
Crowd pleaser! Substituted with ground turkey – my teenagers loved it and that’s a tough crowd to please. Super easy and tasty!
Unbelievably delicious!!! I made it on a whim because the store had a special on red and green peppers. It was the first recipe that I came across. My adult daughter went nuts over it, especially when the leftovers tasted even better.
Wow! My SUPER picky 10 year old loved these and asked me to make it again. A win!!
Super yummy! I substituted one poblano pepper in place of a bell pepper because I do not eat bell peppers but my husband does… And then I used half lamb and half ground beef and Pepper jack cheese. This turned out amazing it will be made many more times!
These came out great! My family and I really enjoyed these. Will definitely be making again!
I made these one night for the wife and I. OMG! I thought that they were great, my wife took leftovers for 3 days in a row, which she never does. Lol 😆. I also prefer to roast the peppers, great flavor 😋. Thanks.
I’ve been a fan of your recipes for quite some time. Thank you!
Being a very old nutrition major I remember that adding baking soda to veggies, etc destroys vitamins. I checked again and that still seems to be the case.
My market doesn’t offer bell peppers as large as yours and I always have leftover filling. It’s a welcome addition to many things like pasta. I’ve made it with tofu ground beef as well and it’s delicious also! It’s a favorite recipe I make often.
Nice and easy! I had another recipe for stuffed bell peppers but this was easier! These tasted great – kids and adults all enjoyed!!
Used Bens express vegetable medley rice
Used Mutti finely chopped tomatoes
Used no salt taco 8 spice. Troyer’s Spices St Mary’s. 3-4 teaspoons
Just made these last night – so delicious! Next time I need larger peppers….stuffing is so flavorful.
I made these …By far the BEST stuffed peppers EVER!!!!
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!
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!
Made these tonight with another person’s suggestion of adding black beans. Everyone in the house loved them!
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.
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…
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!!!!
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!
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.
Great recipe. Tasty and easy to make.
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🤗
Wonderful recipe. Easy but so tasty. Your recipes are always stellar.
Another winner. Sending recipe to my son. Mom approved.
Can these be made a day ahead?
Yup – see the Make-Ahead instructions for more detailed guidance. Hope you enjoy!
I made these one night, and they were terrific! I have tried several stuffed pepper recipes, but this one is the best.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Made these for supper the other night. We all enjoyed them. They were very good. I will definitely make them again.
Another delicious recipe!!
Could you substitute Morningstar Crumbles for the ground beef? If so, would you eliminate the first step of tenderizing? Thanks!
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!
What temperature is the oven supposed to get?
Hi Carol, the oven temp is 425°F/220°C. Enjoy!
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!
This looks and sounds like a great recipe for me to try. Would a Plant Based Meat substitute work instead of beef?
Hi Carol, I haven’t tried it, but I suspect it should work. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
I’d like to try this with ground turkey instead of beef. Any thoughts for “tenderizing” or keeping is moist? Turkey dries out.
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!
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.
Hi Ana, so glad you like the recipes! I haven’t tried this with gruyere, but it should work. Hope you enjoy the peppers!
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!!
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!
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
I used lean hamburger but I had a lot of grease – should I drain prior to adding tomato sauce
Yes, that’s fine to drain. Hope it turns out well!
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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!!
Best stuffed peppers I have ever made. Will definitely make these again.
I make this with ground chicken and love it!
Best stuffed pepper recipe by far!