I feel like I’ve been prepping all my life to make these perfect 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!
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We are no strangers to stuffed peppers, you and I.
In fact, I seem to have created one for every need and craving!
- 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 Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Peppers.
- We even have our stuffed peppers by preparation method: Grilled Stuffed Peppers, Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers, and yes Crockpot Stuffed Peppers.
Overkill? 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.
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.
These easy, healthy stuffed peppers take the “best of” every stuffed pepper recipe I’ve listed so far.
The recipe is most closely inspired by my Stuffed Pepper Casserole. It’s one of my site’s all-time most popular recipes, adored by toddlers, picky partners, and discerning healthy eaters alike. These stuffed peppers are just as fabulous!
As a starting point, I made these stuffed peppers with beef, rice, and cheese, but they are so much more than the sum of their parts.
You also have plenty of options to play around with the recipe.
- Make these stuffed peppers with ground turkey or with sausage.
- Swap the rice for quinoa (or make the stuffed peppers low carb with cauliflower rice).
- Take it a vegetarian direction. I have suggestions for you below.
How to Make Stuffed Peppers
The filling comes together quickly on the stovetop, and the peppers are a breeze to stuff.
I’ve also eliminated as many extra steps as possible. For example, you don’t need to cook peppers before stuffing 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 full of flavor and pairs nicely with the spices, tomatoes, and cheeses. You could also use ground chicken or turkey if you prefer.
- Brown Rice. Adding a grain like brown rice helps make the recipe more filling. For stuffed peppers without rice, try the recipe with farro, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or orzo instead (if using orzo, make sure it is truly al dente).
- 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.
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes. Since this is a stuffed peppers without tomato sauce recipe, I chose to use a can of bold and flavorful fire roasted tomatoes. They pack tons of flavor into the filling with one easy ingredient.
- Spices. Italian seasoning, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper add major flavor to the filling.
- Cheeses. Because a lid of melted cheese is a true crowd-pleaser! I used a combination of pepper jack cheese and sharp cheddar cheese. If you want a less spicy version of the recipe, you could swap more cheddar for the pepper jack, or try stuffed peppers with rice and mozzarella instead.
- 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 grain of choice and part of the cheeses.
- Pile the filling into the peppers, topping each with the remaining cheeses. 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 over bake 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.
- Greek Yogurt. Swap less healthy sour cream for equally cool and creamy non-fat plain Greek yogurt. It’s tangy and delicious on these peppers.
- Avocado. Sliced avocado is always a crowd-pleasing topping.
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
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.
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 stuffed 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!
- 4 large bell peppers any mix of colors you like; red is our favorite
- 1 pound lean ground beef 93% lean
- 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 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), ¼ cup of the cheddar, and ¼ 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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