Welcome to the family, Vegan Stuffed Peppers! Colorful red bell peppers with quinoa, lentils, and a robust array of Italian flavors, this satisfying, protein-packed meal wants to be your meatless main squeeze.
I find quiet satisfaction in creating memorable recipes from humble ingredients, especially ones like grains and legumes that hang out faithfully in my pantry, patiently awaiting their time to shine.
They cost little—these vegan stuffed peppers are one of the most budget-friendly dinners you can cook—have a long shelf life, and are happy to sit stoically on my shelf until I feel inspired to pull them out and see what we can make together.
Stuffed peppers are more than a recipe in our home—they’re a healthy dinner (and leftover lunch) way of life.
A tidy package that contains every healthy food group, stuffed peppers are transportable, make-ahead friendly, and offer endless flavor possibilities.
To highlight their versatility and willingness to show up in whatever way you need them most, let’s take a trip down stuffed pepper memory lane:
- Italian Stuffed Peppers and Mexican Stuffed Peppers are the OGs.
- Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Stuffed Peppers are a cheesy twist that uses a favorite combo in a fresh way.
- Stuffed Pepper Casserole is excellent when you are craving the flavors but want none of the work. (To be clear, stuffed peppers are easy, but some nights I feel lazier than others; those are the nights I make this casserole.)
- These Stuffed Peppers use classic flavors.
- Same less-work story for these Crockpot Stuffed Peppers, which outsource the heavy lifting to the slow cooker.
- These Grilled Stuffed Peppers are summer’s best friend.
- Greek Stuffed Peppers are packed with feta cheese and flavorful spices.
We’ve been striving to eat more plant-based meals, so a few weeks ago I decided to see if I could take stuffed peppers beyond meat and still have a recipe that tasted every bit as satisfying as our other favorites.
At 9 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber per serving, these lentil stuffed peppers have what it takes to make (and keep!) you full.
Further, thanks to a few simple-yet-elevated additions like sun-dried tomatoes and Italian herbs, they’ll please your palate too.
Even if you don’t follow a vegan diet, these easy stuffed peppers are worth a spin and are an excellent addition to your healthy eating routine.
For those who like to plan meals in advance, I have stuffed pepper meal prep tips below for you too.
How to Make Vegan Stuffed Peppers
The filling for these vegan Italian stuffed peppers cooks on the stove at the same time that the pepper halves get a head start in the oven. At the very end, you put the two together for a fast, flavorful, and healthy vegetarian meal.
In addition to being vegan, these stuffed peppers are also naturally gluten free, thanks to the quinoa.
- Bell Peppers. Colorful, delicious, and made for stuffing! Bell peppers are the perfect vessel for our filling, and they’re packed with Vitamin-C and antioxidants. You can use any color you like, though for the delicate flavors in the filling, I prefer the mellow sweetness of red or orange bell peppers.
- Lentils. A plant-powered super star! For the best texture, I recommend green or brown lentils, which hold their shape without becoming mushy.
- Quinoa. Another ingredient that helps make this dish more filling and hearty. Quinoa is considered a complete protein and is high in fiber.
- Italian Seasoning. A blend of multiple herbs, it gives you more flavor bang in every spoonful.
- Tomatoes, 2 Ways. Fire-roasted canned tomatoes comprise part of the quinoa and lentils’ cooking liquid, allowing them to absorb additional flavor. Sun-dried tomatoes have a robust, concentrated flavor that gives the stuffed peppers a tasty boost.
- Nutritional Yeast. To keep the recipe vegan, I used the “cheesy” and nutty flavors of nutritional yeast to give this dish a little something extra, similar to the way one might use Parmesan. (I did the same in many of these recipes that use nutritional yeast.)
- Toppings. See some yummy suggestions below.
- Sauté the onion, then add the garlic and seasonings.
- Add the lentils, quinoa, and both tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 to 28 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the nutritional yeast.
- While the filling cooks, arrange the bell peppers cut side up in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- Add filling to each pepper. Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes. Top with fresh basil, and DIG IN!
Top Your Stuffed Peppers
We enjoyed the recipe as is (without cashew, non-dairy, or any other kind of cheese or cheese swap) and found them plenty tasty and satisfying. That said, if you’d like to gussy them up further, here are a few ways you can top your vegan stuffed peppers.
- “Cheese”. Either cashew cheese or non-dairy “mozzarella” would be excellent vegan options. If you don’t need the peppers to be vegan, you can use regular mozzarella instead.
- Fresh Herbs. A sprinkle of fresh basil is Italian perfection. Fresh parsley or thyme would be mighty fine too.
- Greek Yogurt or Coconut Milk Yogurt. For a dollop of creaminess and extra protein.
Meal Prep and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Prepare the filling up to 4 days in advance, and store it in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator. When you are ready to cook, add it to the halved peppers, baking as directed.
- To Store. Store leftover stuffed peppers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently in the microwave or oven at 350 degrees F. If microwaving, cut the peppers into a few pieces before reheating so that they warm evenly.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftover peppers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Hearty Vegan Main Dishes
Recommended Tools to Make Vegan Peppers
- Classic Dutch Oven. One of my most-used and beloved kitchen tools.
- Baking Dish. Beautiful and perfect for this recipe!
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This one won’t slip away while you’re chopping peppers.
Thanks to this tasty vegan recipe, we’ve got some extra pep in our (stuffed pepper) step, a bit more wiggle room in our budget, and a new everybody-approves healthy dinner to add to our list. I hope this recipe is all of that and so much more for you!
If you try these vegan stuffed peppers, please leave a comment to let me know how it turned out for you! It means the world to me and is incredibly helpful to other readers too.
Vegan Stuffed Peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 cup lentils (I like French green lentils–i.e. lentils du puy, which hold their shape; brown lentils will also work; red or yellow lentils are less recommended as they will become mushy)
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional for baking the peppers
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or up to 1/2 teaspoon if you like more spicy
- 2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth plus additional as needed
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes dry packed and rehydrated or packed in oil, drained and patted dry*
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or Parmesan if you do not need the peppers vegan
- 4 large red bell peppers
- Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 cup non-dairy mozzarella “cheese” or cashew cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, parsley, or a mix
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Let cook just until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the lentils, quinoa, broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 25 to 28 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir once halfway through, then again towards the end of the cooking time. If the mixture looks too dry, splash in additional broth or water. Stir in the nutritional yeast.
- While the lentils and quinoa cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Slice the bell peppers in half from top to bottom (I cut right down through the stems). Remove the seeds and membranes then arrange cut side up in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle the insides with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Carefully pour a thin layer of water into the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. This step gives the peppers a head start while the filling finishes up.
- Carefully mound the cooked filling inside of the peppers. If using a non-dairy “mozzarella” sprinkle it on top. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the peppers are completely tender and the filling is piping hot. Sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy!
- TO STORE: Store leftover stuffed peppers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat gently in the microwave or oven at 350 degrees F. Cut the peppers into a few pieces before reheating so that they warm evenly.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftover peppers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Adapted from my Italian Stuffed Peppers.
- *If your sun-dried tomatoes are dry packed, rehydrate them before starting the recipe. Chop them, and place them in a covered bowl of hot water. After about 5 minutes, drain the water and pat the tomatoes dry. Use in the recipe as directed.
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