I feel like I’ve been prepping all my life to make the perfect classic Stuffed Peppers. Succulent red bell peppers filled with a hearty, flavorful blend of lean ground beef, rice, and cheese, along with a zesty blend of herbs and spices, they are the all-in-one healthy meal that ties together so many of my favorite recipes!
I seem to have created a stuffed pepper recipe for every need and craving over the years.
- We have our culturally inspired stuffed peppers: Italian Stuffed Peppers and Mexican Stuffed Peppers. (And Ben would have me add Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers to that list.)
- We have our vegetarian stuffed peppers: Vegan Stuffed Peppers and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.
- We even have our stuffed peppers by preparation method: Grilled Stuffed Peppers, Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers, and yes Crockpot Stuffed Peppers.
Only if you get tired of healthy all-in-one dinners that reheat like a dream, create minimal dirty dishes, and that the entire family happily inhales with gusto!
Around here, stuffed peppers are a way of life.
5 Star Review
“These are SO GOOD! Definitely our favorite stuffed pepper recipe, and we’ve tried many. Whole family loved them, including the picky toddler which is saying something.”— Nicole —
In my typical “take the scenic route” style, however, it seems that I came to every variation of stuffed pepper before I gave you the one you are really looking for: a go-to, CLASSIC stuffed pepper recipe that is ideal for everyday enjoyment.
This stuffed pepper recipe:
- Is inspired by my Stuffed Pepper Casserole—one of my site’s all-time most popular recipes, adored by toddlers, picky partners, and discerning healthy eaters alike.
- Takes the best methods, tips, and tricks from each of the stuffed pepper recipes on Well Plated.
- Contains a traditional stuffed pepper filling of beef, rice, and cheese.
- Is endlessly versatile—offering plenty of options to play around with the ingredients to suit your taste preferences and diet.
To summarize, they’re simply fabulous!
How to Make Stuffed Peppers
In this classic stuffed peppers recipe, I’ve eliminated as many extra steps as possible.
The filling for these classic stuffed peppers comes together quickly on the stovetop, and the peppers are a breeze to stuff.
PLUS, you don’t need to cook peppers before filling them.
Instead, pour a bit of water into the pan to ensure they soften quickly and properly.
- Bell Peppers. Vitamin- and fiber-rich bell peppers act as a healthy, colorful, and tender vessel for the flavorful filling.
- Ground Beef. Lean ground beef is a wonderful source of protein. It’s hearty and pairs nicely with the spices, tomatoes, and cheeses. You could also make stuffed peppers with ground turkey or chicken if you prefer.
- Brown Rice. Adding a grain like brown rice helps make the recipe more filling.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. This is a stuffed peppers without tomato sauce recipe, but I did add a can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes. They offer a more complex taste than sauce.
- Fresh Spinach. Fresh spinach cooks down and blends seamlessly into the filling, making it a wonderful healthy sneak. Spinach is packed with iron and vitamins.
- Spices. Italian seasoning, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper make this from-scratch filling far from one-note.
- Cheeses. Because a lid of melted cheese is a true crowd-pleaser! I used a combination of pepper jack cheese and sharp cheddar cheese.
- Slice the peppers and lay them in a baking dish.
- Brown the beef and onion. Add the seasonings.
- Stir in the spinach.
- Add the tomatoes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat, then stir in your cooked grain of choice and part of the cheeses.
- Pile the filling into the peppers, top with more cheese, and add water to the bottom of the baking dish.
- Bake stuffed peppers at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes. Add desired toppings. ENJOY!
Stuffed Pepper Tips & Tricks
- Keep the Peppers from Getting Soggy. Don’t overbake your peppers. They will get mushy and soggy if cooked too long. Also, avoid adding any extra liquids to the filling before baking to keep the peppers from getting soggy.
- Make Sure the Peppers are Fork Tender. While you don’t want your peppers soggy, you certainly don’t want them underdone. When properly baked, you should be able to easily pierce the peppers with a fork. If the peppers aren’t tender by the time the cheese is melted and the filling is hot, simply tent the pan with foil and continue baking until they are. The amount of time you need can vary based on your oven, particular baking pan, and the size of your pepper.
- Cut the Pepper in Half from Stem to End. When baking peppers in the oven, I find splitting them from top to bottom, then laying the peppers flat on their back in the baking dish makes them easier to stuff and ensures they stay upright. If all of your peppers don’t fit in one pan, you can bake the extras in a separate, smaller baking dish such as an 8×8-inch pan.
- Fresh Herbs. Parsley and cilantro would both be delicious, fresh, and colorful.
- Greek Yogurt. Swap less healthy sour cream for equally cool, thick, and creamy non-fat plain Greek yogurt. It’s tangy and scrumptious on these peppers.
- Avocado. Sliced avocado is always a good choice.
- Salsa. If you’ve never tried stuffed peppers with salsa, you’re missing out. It’s an excellent way to add a little extra kick to this dish.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Store. Refrigerate peppers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- To Freeze. Freeze peppers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Plan Tip
Options 1: Make-Ahead Stuffed Peppers
Cut and core the bell peppers up to 1 day in advance, and refrigerate them in an airtight storage container. Cook the filling as directed up to 1 day in advance. Let cool, then refrigerate it in a separate airtight storage container. Fill and bake peppers as directed just before serving.
Option 2: Freezer Stuffed Peppers
Did you know stuffed peppers can be frozen before cooking? Prepare and stuff the peppers as directed. Then, rather than baking, store the fully assembled peppers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and bake as directed.
Cut your leftover stuffed peppers into small pieces, rewarm them, and enjoy them on top of greens like a salad. Or, dice up and reheat the peppers and pile them into tortillas for a spin on burritos.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. The perfect cookware item for preparing the pepper filling.
- Baking Dish. You’ll use this beautiful dish on repeat.
- Hamburger Chopper. The ideal tool for stirring and breaking up ground meat.
These crowd-pleasing, healthy stuffed peppers are truly the total package. If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!
Frequently Asked Questions
No. While some stuffed pepper recipes may suggest cooking peppers before stuffing them, I’ve found that it is not a necessary step if you follow the suggested preparation method in this post.
The amount of time needed to soften peppers in the oven will depend on the size of your peppers, the selected filling, and your oven’s temperature. On average, I find that most peppers will be tender after 30-35 minutes in the oven at 375 degrees F.
It’s hard to pinpoint who was the first person to stuff a pepper with a cheesy, meaty rice filling. This is because it’s a method that has been practiced for generations across cultures. From pimientos rellenos of Spain, to bharvan mirch of India, dolma in the Mediterranean, and chile rellenos in Mexico, different ethnic groups throughout history have made their own version of stuffed peppers using local ingredients.
- 4 large bell peppers any mix of colors you like; red is our favorite
- 1 pound lean ground beef or swap for ground turkey or ground chicken
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups roughly torn fresh spinach
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 cup cooked brown rice or farro, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or orzo (if using orzo, undercook it slightly)
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese or additional cheddar
- For serving: chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Slice the bell peppers in half from top to bottom down through the stem. Remove the seeds and membranes then arrange cut side up in the prepared baking dish.
- Heat a Dutch oven or similar deep, wide skillet over medium-high. Add the beef and onion. With a wooden spoon or spatula, break the meat into small pieces. Cook and stir until the meat is browned and fully cooked through and the onion is tender, about 7 minutes. Drain of any excess fat.
- Stir in the Italian seasoning, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Let cook 30 seconds.
- Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, cooking until it wilts down; this will take between 1 and 2 minutes.
- Pour in the can of diced tomatoes along with the juices. Let simmer for 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the rice (or your grain of choice), 1/4 cup of the cheddar, and 1/4 cup of the pepper jack. Taste and add additional salt and/or pepper as desired.
- With a spoon, mound the filling inside of the peppers, then top with the remaining cheeses. The peppers will be very full.
- Pour a bit of water into the pan with the peppers—just enough to scantly cover the bottom of the pan. I like to put the water in a liquid measuring cup, then carefully pour it around the outside (be careful not to pour it into the peppers themselves).
- Bake the stuffed peppers uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, until the peppers are tender and the cheese is melted. Top with parsley or cilantro. Serve hot.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate stuffed peppers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze 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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