Traditional stuffed bell pepper recipes call for browned ground beef, fluffy white rice, delicious spices, and melty cheese. When it comes to quick and easy weeknight main dish meals that are super satisfying, it’s hard to go wrong with cheesy stuffed bell peppers.
Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers Made With Ground Beef
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Traditionally, stuffed bell pepper recipes specify browned ground beef. However, you can easily use any type of ground meat to make this stuffed bell pepper recipe, including ground turkey, ground lamb, and even ground pork. For an extra interesting stuffed peppers recipe to add to your recipe collection, you can even try making them with Italian sausage.
What makes this stuffed bell pepper recipe so special is the homemade spice blend and the canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes. When these delicious ingredients are combined with the tasty ground beef and shredded cheese, you have a hearty meal that can’t be beaten.
This stuffed bell pepper recipe cooks up in such a way that the peppers aren’t soggy, and that’s the secret to this dish. When it comes to stuffed peppers, it’s all about the consistency of the peppers. You want them to be perfectly tender without getting too soft.
Ingredients for This Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe
Here are the basic ingredients you need for this stuffed peppers recipe.
Bell Peppers: We usually use a green pepper (sweet pepper) because green bell pepper is affordable, but if you use red bell peppers, you have a gorgeously colorful dish. You can also use a mixture of red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper. You can also make this recipe with mini peppers for some bite-sized Vitamin C.
Cooking Oil: For this recipe, we like to use extra virgin olive oil. However, you can use any type of cooking oil as long as they are neutral in flavor.
Garlic and Onion: You can use any color of onion for this stuffed bell pepper recipe. We usually use yellow onion, but white onion or red onion works just fine, too. For the garlic, you can chop fresh garlic or buy the diced garlic that comes in jars. In a pinch, you can also use garlic powder.
Herbs and Spices: We love the combination of dried oregano, chili powder, and ground cumin in this dish. Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt balance it out beautifully. If you don’t have all of the spices, you can use taco seasoning, which will give you a similar flavor. We’ve also been known to make this stuffed bell peppers recipe with Cajun seasoning or roasted red pepper flakes. A dash of Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar doesn’t hurt, either.
Ground Meat: Using lean ground beef makes this stuffed bell pepper recipe perfect, but you can use ground turkey or ground chicken, too. If you’re making a vegetarian dish, you can use a meat substitute. You can also use other types of meat to make this stuffed bell peppers recipe, including crumbled Italian sausage, leftover chopped steak, or shredded leftover rotisserie chicken.
Cooked Rice: We usually use fluffy cooked rice to make a stuffed bell peppers recipe. However, you can use any long-grain rice. For example, if you’re trying to get more whole grains into your diet, you can use brown rice or wild rice. Yellow rice would also be delicious and gorgeous in this recipe. Are you eating super healthy? Consider using quinoa or cauliflower rice to make these stuffed bell peppers. One thing we like to do is make our rice in the Instant Pot.
Canned Tomatoes: You can use any type of canned diced tomatoes to make this stuffed bell peppers recipe, but we love the flavor of fire-roasted tomatoes. You can also use Mexican-flavored canned tomatoes for Mexican stuffed peppers or just plain canned diced tomatoes. If you do that option, add just a little extra chili powder. Can you use fresh tomatoes to make this recipe? Absolutely, diced tomato is great in this stuffed peppers recipe! How about tomato sauce, tomato soup, or tomato paste? In a pinch, you can use tomato sauce, but nothing beats canned tomatoes.
Shredded Cheese: Here’s the deal: You need to shred your own cheese for this recipe (and most recipes, to be honest). The reason is that pre-shredded cheese has an agent that keeps it from sticking together. This agent keeps the cheese from melting properly. You can use any type of cheese you like, but we like using either Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese. You can also use cheddar cheese or even American cheese.
How to Prepare This Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe
To prepare the roasted peppers, wash them, cut off the tops, and remove the stems. We like to chop the tops and freeze them for future veggie recipes with tons of flavor.
Cook your basmati rice or other long-grain rice and set it aside. Preheat your oven and prepare your cooking pan by spraying it with extra virgin olive oil.
Heat a nonstick heavy skillet and add the olive oil, heating until it’s medium-hot. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté them just until they’re soft and translucent. Add the garlic to the skillet and stir for about 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.
Add the ground meat to the skillet and brown it until no pink meat remains. Then, sprinkle in the dried cumin, dried oregano, chili powder, freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt. Stir well until the meat, onion, garlic, and spices combine.
Stir in the canned fire-roasted tomatoes and the cooked basmati rice. Mix well.
Sprinkle about a cup of the freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese and stir until the meat mixture is fully combined and the cheese starts to melt.
Gently spoon the ground beef and rice mixture into the prepared bell peppers.
Top the stuffed peppers with the rest of the shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the tops of the stuffed peppers. Pour about 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the pan, being careful not to get any water into the bell peppers. Cover the stuffed bell peppers loosely with foil and bake just until the peppers are nice and tender. Then, remove the foil and bake the stuffed peppers for about 15 more minutes to allow the cheese to become bubbly and melted. For detailed instructions, see the recipe card below, which specifies cooking times, ingredient amounts, and helpful information.
Is It Necessary to Boil the Bell Peppers Before You Stuff Them?
For this stuffed peppers recipe, you don’t need to boil the bell peppers before placing them in the baking pan. The cooking time is sufficient to get the bell peppers perfectly soft without being too soggy. The steam that comes up from the bottom of the cooking pan helps.
If you want to skip this step, you can steam your bell peppers on the stovetop before placing them in the baking pan. We don’t recommend boiling them because this will make them soggy, and this affects the flavor.
How to Keep Stuffed Peppers from Getting Too Soggy
Stuffed peppers become soggy when they absorb too much water and the flavor becomes watered down. To keep this from happening when you cook bell peppers, you can either steam them before you place them in the cooking pan, or you can add the water to the pan as directed in our recipe.
How Long Does it Require in the Oven for Stuff Bell Peppers to Cook?
Your stuffed bell peppers will be perfectly softened after about 35 minutes in the oven.
Should You Cover These Stuffed Peppers to Bake Them?
For the first 35 minutes of cooking time, cover the stuffed bell peppers loosely with foil.
Can You Freeze Stuffed Bell Peppers?
Absolutely! We love making a double batch of stuffed bell peppers because they freeze up so beautifully and the flavor is the same. We recommend freezing cooked bell peppers individually in freezer bags. Then, for a quick weeknight dinner or lunch, simply remove the frozen bell pepper from the freezer and thaw it in the microwave.
You can also make your stuffed bell pepper recipe in advance and place the whole pan in the freezer. Then, when you’re ready to cook them, allow the pan of bell peppers to thaw and cook as directed. Stuffed pepper recipes are also the perfect addition to your slow cooker recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best ingredients to use for stuffing bell peppers?
The best ingredients for stuffing bell peppers are a mix of flavorful and nutritious items. Typically, a combination of ground meat, rice, onions, garlic, and various seasonings is used. Feel free to get creative and use your favorite ingredients, such as quinoa, cheese, or even beans.
How long should I cook stuffed peppers in the oven?
To cook stuffed peppers in the oven, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the stuffed peppers in a baking dish and cook for 45-55 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the meat filling is cooked through. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the filling; it should be fully cooked and not pink.
Should I pre-cook the bell peppers before stuffing?
Yes, it’s a good idea to pre-cook bell peppers before stuffing, as this ensures they’re tender once the dish is complete. You can either blanch them in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or roast them in the oven for a short time. Allow the peppers to cool slightly before handling and stuffing.
What are some popular variations of stuffed bell pepper recipes?
There are numerous variations of stuffed bell pepper recipes. Some popular options include using different proteins, such as ground turkey, chicken, or meat substitutes. You can also try different grains, such as quinoa or couscous, or add a unique flair with ingredients like feta cheese, black beans, corn, or a spicy tomato sauce.
How do I make a vegetarian or vegan version of stuffed bell peppers?
To make a vegetarian or vegan version of stuffed bell peppers, replace the ground meat with a protein-rich alternative, like lentils, black beans, chickpeas, or a meat substitute. You can also add in extra vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, or zucchini. For a vegan recipe, use dairy-free cheese or omit the cheese altogether.
What are the best techniques to enhance the flavor of bell peppers in a recipe?
To enhance the flavor of bell peppers in a recipe, consider roasting them before stuffing, as this adds a smoky depth to their natural sweetness. Season the peppers with salt, pepper, and a touch of olive oil before roasting. Additionally, choose a flavorful stuffing mixture with a balance of herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables like onions and garlic.
The Best Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe
- 6 large green bell peppers
- 1 chopped onion white or yellow
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 cup white rice cooked
- 1.5 cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Mozzarella cheese divided
- 1 can 14.5 oz fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
- Cook basmati rice and set it aside.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a rectangular baking dish with olive oil spray.
- Remove the tops and stems from the bell peppers. Put the bell peppers with tops and stems removed in the baking dish with the cut side facing up in the pan.
- Heat a heavy nonstick skillet on the stovetop over low-medium heat and add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the onions to the olive oil in the skillet and sauté until they become translucent and tender.
- Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté it for about 30 seconds, just until it's aromatic.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet and brown it until no pink meat remains. This will take about 8 minutes. Drain the excess fat from the nonstick skillet, then return the skillet to the burner.
- Stir in the dried oregano, chili powder, sea salt, ground cumin, and freshly ground black pepper. Add the canned tomatoes and the cooked white rice. Allow the mixture to simmer slowly for approximately 5 minutes.
- Stir in a cup of the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Spoon the mixture into the bell peppers. Top the filled bell peppers with the rest of the shredded cheese. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
- Pour a little bit of water around the outside of the bell peppers to keep them from drying out while cooking.
- Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or just until the bell peppers are tender.
- Remove the foil and bake for 10-15 additional minutes.
Be sure to use cheese that you shred yourself. If you buy pre-shredded cheese, you have cheese that's been coated in flour or another anti-caking agent. This affects the melting ability of the cheese, and it's not as smooth.