If there ever were a weeknight meal that could easily be packaged in a pretty bow, it’s Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers. Sweet, colorful bell peppers stuffed with a chili- and cumin-infused turkey filling (or chicken or beef) pack big Tex-Mex flavors. Add the fact that the meat cooks neatly inside the peppers, and now you have a true gift for every busy cook.
This low-carb dish takes easiness to the maximum. It makes time in the kitchen feel like a relief.
Stuffed peppers (and stuffed vegetables generally) may be the dinner I cook most frequently if I kept a tally. It’s just too hard to resist such a nutritious meal in one snug package!
And of course, I couldn’t even let my cookbook go to print without a stuffed peppers recipe (Taco Stuffed Mini Peppers. YUM!). So, get your copy here to taste my best version yet.
These Instant Pot stuffed peppers have a tremendous advantage over other cooking methods: you do not need to cook the meat first before stuffing the peppers.
Just like my Crockpot Stuffed Peppers (a stand-out amongst the ever-expanding list of slow cooker recipes on my site), the meat cooks directly inside the peppers in the Instant Pot. You don’t need to brown it first, saving you a step, and pan to wash.
A set-it-and-forget-it meal that tastes fantastic and leaves me fewer dishes in the end? Now THAT is my kind of gift!
The Best Way to Cut Stuffed Peppers
The way you cut bell peppers prior to stuffing them depends upon the method you’re using to cook them.
- Option 1: Keep the Peppers Whole and Slice Off the Pepper Top.
- This method is preferable for cooking peppers in the instant pot or slow cooker, where the peppers are packed tightly side by side.
- The high walls of the slow cooker or instant pot help support the peppers (unlike a shorter casserole dish).
- Option 2: Split the Pepper in Half from Top to Bottom.
- This method is preferable for when you are cooking the peppers in a baking dish.
- In a baking dish or pan, a half pepper rests easily on its back, so you don’t have to balance it standing up.
Since we’re cooking stuffed peppers in the Instant Pot, we’ll be using Option 1.
How To Make Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- Bell Peppers. The perfect base for our all-in-one healthy meal package. Bell peppers hold their shape well and complement whatever flavors you stuff inside them.
- Ground Turkey. For lean, tasty protein, I chose to use ground turkey. Ground chicken or beef would also work well here.
- Brown Rice. If you prefer to make Instant Pot stuffed peppers with no rice, feel free to use a different whole grain of choice. Instant Pot stuffed peppers with quinoa are a popular, healthy option. I would not recommend cooking Instant Pot stuffed peppers with cauliflower rice because the filling would likely get too watery and mushy in the Instant Pot.
- Spices. To make our stuffed peppers POP! I used a mixture of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper for some heat.
- Diced Tomatoes + Green Chiles. Not only are we using a can of green chiles on their own, but we’re also using a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. They add a fun, zesty twist to our stuffed pepper filling!
- Shredded Cheese. My favorite component of a stuffed pepper is the undeniably delicious cheesy lid. Monterey Jack, pepper jack, cheddar, or a similar cheese will work great here.
- Add water to the Instant Pot.
- Slice the peppers, removing the seeds and membranes.
- Place the peppers in the Instant Pot on a trivet.
- Add the turkey and spices to a mixing bowl.
- Pour in the tomatoes and green chiles.
- Add the rice and part of the shredded cheese.
- Stir until combined.
- Mound the filling into the peppers. Cook on HIGH (manual) pressure for 10 minutes. Immediately vent.
- Top the peppers with the remaining cheese. Cover the Instant Pot with the lid and let it sit. Serve the peppers with toppings and ENJOY!
How To Store Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm stuffed peppers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F. You can also reheat them gently in the microwave (cut them into a few pieces first to help them cook evenly).
- To Freeze. Freeze stuffed peppers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- Salad. Black Bean Corn Salad would be delicious with these stuffed peppers.
- Chips + Dip. The ultimate crowd pleaser! Pair your favorite tortilla chips with salsa, Corn Dip, or Vegan Queso Dip.
- Beans. Pack some extra protein into your meal by serving a side of Crock Pot Pinto Beans.
More Ways to Enjoy Stuffed Peppers
- Vegetarian. Use a can of black beans in place of the meat. Or try one of these delicious vegetarian stuffed pepper recipes: Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers or Vegan Stuffed Peppers.
- Gluten Free. No need to make any changes! This recipe is already gluten free.
- Buffalo Sauce. Prefer the zing of buffalo sauce? Try these Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers.
- Casserole-Style. If you prefer not to use the Instant Pot or turn on your oven, this Stuffed Pepper Casserole gives the same zesty flavors, but in a deconstructed style. It’s a reader fave!
- On the Grill. If you love a smoky, charred flavor, these Grilled Stuffed Peppers are for you.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Instant Pot. This is the version I own and love. Use it to make any of these healthy Instant Pot recipes.
- Tongs. The easiest way to remove your peppers from the Instant Pot.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. A sharp knife makes cutting the peppers easy.
Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- 4 large bell peppers - any colors you like our favorites are red and green
- 1 pound ground turkey or ground chicken or lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, if you like your peppers extra spicy
- 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles in their juices (such as Rotel)
- 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles in their juices
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice or cooked grain of choice, such as quinoa
- 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese - Monterey Jack pepper jack, cheddar, or similar cheese, divided (I used sharp cheddar)
- Cilantro salsa, non-fat plain Greek yogurt, or any of your favorite toppings (optional, for serving)
- Place the trivet in your Instant Pot. Pour in 1 cup water (if using a 6-quart model) or 1 ½ cups water (if using an 8-quart model).
- Cut off the tops of the peppers. With your fingers, gently pull out the seeds and membranes so that you have hollowed out pepper “shells.” If you are having trouble loosening the inner membranes of the peppers, use a dull butter knife to gently press them loose.
- Stand the peppers up in the Instant Pot, nestling them beside each other so that they stay upright.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the turkey. Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper over the top.
- Next, pour in the diced tomatoes in green chiles and the can of green chilis.
- Last, add the rice and ¾ cup shredded cheese (doing the ingredients in this order makes them easier to combine).
- With a fork, gently stir to combine all of the ingredients as evenly as possible, being careful not to compact or overwork the meat. Make sure the spices are evenly distributed.
- With a spoon, scoop the filling and lower it down into the peppers by heaping spoonfuls. Divide it evenly between the peppers and fill the peppers all the way to the top. The peppers will be very full.
- Close and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on high (manual) pressure for 10 minutes (depending upon your model, the button may also say “pressure cook”). Once the pressure has built and the 10-minute timer has elapsed, immediately vent to release any remaining pressure.
- Carefully open the Instant Pot. The meat should be completely cooked through at this point, but if you want to be 100% certain, test it with an instant read thermometer - it should be at 165 degrees F (if it is not for some reason, reseal and cook 1 to 2 additional minutes; if it's close (160 or more) a few minutes rest without cooking further should carry it over to a safe temperature. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top of the peppers. Replace the lid (no need to seal) and let sit for a minute to allow the cheese to melt.
- With tongs, gently lift the peppers onto serving plates (some water may drip off as you lift; this is moisture that built as the peppers cooked; simply let it drip back into the pot as you lift out the peppers). Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh cilantro and any of your favorite toppings.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm stuffed peppers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze stuffed peppers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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