Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Hola, friends! I have a super filling, all-in-one meal for you today: Mexican Stuffed Peppers. Colorful, fresh bell peppers that are split, stuffed with a tasty cumin-and chili-spiced Mexican chicken filling, then baked until tender, they’ve become one of our favorite healthy weeknight dinners.
I have a deep affection for stuffed vegetables. Maybe it’s the little girl in me that likes to have her own special serving, but when I place stuffed peppers on my plate, I feel special.
It’s as if someone gave me a pepper present: a healthy, yummy meal neatly packaged just for me.
The adult in me loves stuffed veggies too. I find tremendous satisfaction knowing that a complete meal—protein, veggies, dairy, whole grains—can all be bundled up together in one easy to make, easy to eat vehicle.
Add the fact that stuffed peppers are freezer friendly, easy to take for lunch, and reheat like a dream, and it’s anyone’s guess as to why we don’t make them every week!
Today’s Mexican Stuffed Peppers give a Tex-Mex spin to this ever-reliable, always delish dish. Their flavor profile is based off of my Chicken Quinoa Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers, which were one of the first recipes I learned to cook.
These Mexican Stuffed Peppers are gluten free, you can adapt them to be vegetarian if you’d like, and every component of the recipe can be prepped in advance. Wondering what to add to your meal plan this week? I have you covered right here!
How to Make Mexican Stuffed Peppers
This Mexican stuffed pepper recipe is ultra flexible! Here’s what you need to make it, along with suggested adaptations to suit different tastes, diets, (or whatever you have on hand).
- Bell Peppers. Red and green are our favorites for Mexican food, but you can use any combo of colors you like. If possible, choose bell peppers that are shorter and wider, as they’re a little easier to stuff.
- Ground Chicken. Ground chicken is lean, high in protein, and ideal for spicing up with a blend of authentic Mexican flavors. You can also make these stuffed peppers with ground turkey or lean ground beef (see below for a vegetarian suggestion).
- Rice. I recommend brown rice, which is a whole grain and thus higher in fiber, protein, and nutrients than its white rice counterparts. If you prefer to make the Mexican stuffed peppers with no rice, you can also swap another grain like quinoa or even cauliflower rice.
- Canned Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. A pantry staple. They have great flavor and make the filling moist and tender.
- Spices. Chili powder and cumin give this recipe an authentic Mexican flavor. The peppers are still fairly mild, so if you’d like to spice them up more, add a pinch of cayenne or chipotle chili powder (YUM).
- Cheese. Monterey Jack or cheddar jack will give you a traditional flavor. Use pepper jack for additional heat.
- Toppings. One of the very best parts of any Mexican recipe. We topped ours off with nonfat plain Greek yogurt (a healthy stand-in for sour cream), jalapeno, and cilantro. Avocado or your favorite salsa would be yummy too.
The Recipe Steps
The hardest part of this recipe is cutting and hollowing out the bell peppers—and it’s not hard at all!
- Halve your peppers from top to bottom (cut right down through the stems), then arrange them, cut-side up in a baking dish that’s large enough to hold them comfortably. This recipe will yield about 8 pepper halves total, but you may have more or less if your peppers are much larger or smaller. If all of your peppers don’t fit, you can bake the rest in a separate dish.
- Brown the chicken with the spices, then add the tomatoes and rice. The filling is fully cooked at this point, so you can taste and adjust the seasonings as you like.
- Pile the filling into the peppers.
- Top with CHEESE.
- Bake the peppers at 375 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes, until the peppers are tender but still hold their shape.
- Transfer to a plate. Add all of your favorite Mexican toppings, then dive in!
Dietary Notes and Swaps
- Vegetarian Mexican Stuffed Peppers. Swap the chicken for a 15-ounce can of rinsed and drained black beans. This version would also be delicious with corn added.
- Dairy-Free Stuffed Peppers. Omit the cheese and top the finished peppers with lots of creamy avocado instead. Or use a dairy free cheese alternative.
- Low-Carb Stuffed Peppers. Make the Mexican stuffed peppers with no rice—use cauliflower rice instead.
Store, Reheat, and Prep This Recipe Ahead
- To store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To freeze. Place in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To reheat. Reheat gently in the microwave or oven. If microwaving, for the easiest reheating, cut the peppers into a few pieces first so that they warm evenly.
- To make ahead. Before filling the peppers, let the chicken mixture cool completely. Prepare the Mexican Stuffed Peppers, cover, and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before baking. Refrigerated peppers may require an extra 5-10 minutes of baking time time.
- To meal prep. Prepare a large batch of the Mexican Stuffed Peppers filling, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Cut the peppers up to 1 day in advance. If you freeze the filling, let it thaw in the refrigerator the night before you want to bake the stuffed peppers. Additionally, you can save time by preparing a big batch of rice and freezing it for future uses, like Mexican Stuffed Peppers.
More Healthy Stuffed Vegetable Recipes
While anything Mexican will always receive a warm reception around here, stuffed peppers (and stuffed veggies in general) lend themselves well to a wide range of fillings.
- Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Stuffed Peppers <—fresh and super tasty
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans <—another tasty vegetarian option
- Zucchini Pizza Boats <—ultra kid friendly
- Stuffed Zucchini <—classic with an Italian spin
These stuffed peppers are very filling and well-balanced enough to be a full meal on their own. If you’d like to serve them with something fun, try them alongside Mexican Cornbread.
Or, just set out a big bowl of chips and salsa, pour yourself a Skinny Margarita, and call the fiesta complete.
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
FOR THE STUFFED PEPPERS:
- 4 large bell peppers — any colors you like (our favorites were the red & green)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground chicken — or turkey (I used chicken)
- 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes — with juices, 14 ounces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice — quinoa or cauliflower rice
- 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese — Monterey Jack, pepper jack, cheddar, or similar cheese, divided (I used a mix)
- Sliced avocado
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Sour cream — or plain Greek yogurt
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Slice the bell peppers in half from top to bottom. Remove the seeds and membranes, then arrange cut side up in the prepared baking dish.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, then pour in the can of diced tomatoes and their juices. Let simmer for 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the rice and ¾ cup of the shredded cheese. Mound the filling inside of the peppers, then top with the remaining cheese.
Pour a bit of water into the pan with the peppers—just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Bake uncovered for 25 to 35 minutes, until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted. Top with any of your favorite fixings, and enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat gently in the microwave or oven. If you plan to microwave the peppers, cut the peppers into a few pieces first so that they warm evenly.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Before filling the peppers, make sure to let the chicken/rice mixture cool completely. Prepare the Mexican Stuffed Peppers, cover, and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before baking. Refrigerated peppers may require an extra 5-10 minutes of baking time time.
- Adapted from my Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (2 pepper halves (without toppings)) — Calories: 438, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 125mg, Potassium: 984mg, Carbohydrates: 32g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 8g, Protein: 32g, Vitamin C: 154%, Calcium: 241%, Iron: 3%
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