Succulent bell peppers filled with a hearty, flavorful blend of ground beef, rice, and cheese, this classic Stuffed Peppers recipe is the ultimate all-in-one meal. It gives you all of the food groups in one tidy, delicious package.
Why You’ll Love These Classic Stuffed Peppers
- All-In-One-Meal. Each stuffed pepper is its own package of vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Like my Stuffed Zucchini, this is a one-and-done dinner.
- Budget-Friendly. Stuffed peppers turn humble, affordable ingredients like rice and ground beef into a well-rounded meal (don’t miss these other Ground Beef Dinner Ideas for more wallet-friendly meals).
- Loved the World Over. Similar to Cabbage Rolls, different cultures have different versions of this recipe. You can vary the spices and ingredients to suit your cravings, or the ingredients you have on hand.
- Meal Prep and Freezer-Friendly. Don’t miss all of my tips below to make these stuffed peppers in advance to enjoy this week, or months from now.
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 —
The Best Stuffed Pepper Recipe
This is a go-to, CLASSIC stuffed pepper recipe ideal for everyday enjoyment.
This stuffed pepper recipe:
- Contains a traditional stuffed pepper filling of beef, rice, and cheese.
- Is a hearty, all-in-one meal. Veggies, protein, and whole grains, all in one tidy package.
- Is EASY. You don’t need to cook peppers before filling them. Just pour a bit of water into the pan to ensure they soften quickly and properly.
- Is endlessly versatile—offering plenty of options to play around with the ingredients and toppings to suit your taste preferences and diet.
To summarize, this recipe for stuffed peppers is simply fabulous!
How to Make Easy Stuffed Peppers
Feel free to change up the kind of meat, swap the rice for another grain (like in Quinoa Stuffed Peppers), or use whatever cheese is in your refrigerator.
- Bell Peppers. Vitamin-rich (especially vitamin C) and fiber-rich bell peppers act as a healthy, colorful, and tender vessel for the flavorful filling. Use any mixture of colors you desire. Red are my favorite, but green work too!
- Ground Beef. Not just for Hamburger Casserole, 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 these stuffed peppers with ground turkey, chicken, or sausage (Italian or regular).
- Brown Rice. Stuffed peppers with rice are a classic. Adding a grain, like long-grain brown rice, makes the recipe more filling and stretches this recipe to be budget friendly. (To cook rice, see How to Cook Brown Rice on the stove top, or make Instant Pot Brown Rice).
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. A can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes is a simple change that adds a more complex flavor without sacrificing moisture.
- Fresh Spinach. Fresh spinach cooks down and blends seamlessly into the filling, making it an excellent healthy sneak for stuffed peppers. Spinach is packed with iron and vitamins.
- Cheeses. Because stuffed peppers with cheese is a true crowd-pleaser! I used a combination of pepper jack cheese and sharp cheddar cheese.
- Spices. Italian seasoning, cumin, garlic powder (which is quicker and easier than garlic cloves), salt, and pepper make this from-scratch filling far from one-note.
- Slice the Bell Peppers. Lay them in a baking dish.
- Brown the Beef. Add the seasonings.
- Add the Spinach. It will wilt pretty quickly.
- Add the Tomatoes. Canned is perfect and gives a more interesting texture than tomato sauce.
- Add the Grains and Cheese. Rice and quinoa are my favorites. I love a mix of cheeses.
- Fill the Peppers. Then top with more cheese!
- Pour a Little Water in the Dish. This is my trick so you don’t have to precook the peppers.
- Bake. Cook stuffed peppers in the oven at 375 degrees F until tender. ENJOY!
You can find an easy stuffed peppers recipe for every need and craving!
- Culturally Inspired. Italian Stuffed Peppers with mozzarella cheese, Greek Stuffed Peppers with feta, and Southwest Mexican Stuffed Peppers with black beans are tasty riffs.
- Un-stuffed. This Stuffed Pepper Casserole has the same ingredients and flavors, just deconstructed.
- Vegetarian. Vegan Stuffed Peppers are every bit as satisfying, no meat needed.
- Pesto. Stir several spoonfuls of Basil Pesto into your filling, or dollop it on top.
- Varied Preparation Methods. Grilled Stuffed Peppers, Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers, and yes, Crockpot Stuffed Peppers all have their place.
- Creative. Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers are my husband’s forever fave.
While stuffed bell peppers are great as-is, for something special, try them with one (or all!) of the below.
- Fresh Herbs. A sprinkle of parsley or cilantro would be delicious, fresh, and colorful.
- Greek Yogurt. Instead of sour cream, try cool, thick, and creamy plain Greek yogurt. It’s tangy and scrumptious on stuffed peppers.
- Avocado. Sliced avocado is always a good choice.
- Salsa. You’re missing out if you’ve never tried stuffed peppers with salsa. 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 Tips
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 fridge, 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, reheat, and pile the peppers into tortillas for a spin on burritos.
What to Serve with Stuffed Peppers
While these can serve as an all-in-one meal, if you’d like to pair them, here are a few sides that go well with stuffed peppers.
- Cornbread. Try Cornbread Muffins or bake up a pan of Mexican Cornbread.
- Sautéed Vegetables. Whip up Sautéed Spinach or Sautéed Cabbage on the stove while the peppers bake.
- Sweet Potatoes. One of my favorite vegetables to pair with peppers. Try Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, or Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
- Salad. Freshen up your plate with Strawberry Spinach Salad or Fruit Salad.
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.
Recipe Tips and 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 extra liquids to the filling before baking to keep the stuffed 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 stuffed peppers with a fork. If the peppers aren’t tender when 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, baking pan, and pepper size.
- Cut the Pepper in Half from Stem to End. When making stuffed peppers in the oven, I find splitting them from top to bottom best. It allows you to lay the peppers flat on their back in the baking dish, which makes for easier stuffing. If all of your peppers don’t fit in one pan, you can bake the extras in a second, smaller baking dish such as an 8×8-inch pan.
- 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 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juices (15 ounces)
- 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°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 and the onion is tender, about 7 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.
- Stir in the Italian seasoning, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Let cook for 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 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, or 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.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, you do not need to precook the peppers before stuffing. While some stuffed pepper recipes may parboiling, blanching, or roasting, I’ve found that it is not a necessary step. If you follow the suggested preparation method in this post (pouring a little water into the bottom of the dish), there’s no need to soften the peppers before stuffing them.
If your stuffed peppers are soggy, they were likely overcooked. Unfortunately, you can’t do much to fix soggy bell peppers. If the soft texture bother you, try dicing them up and mixing them with pasta for a chunky spin spaghetti sauce.
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 baked stuffed peppers will be tender after 30 to 35 minutes in the oven at 375°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.