Classic Stuffed Peppers

classic stuffed bell peppers with ground beef, rice, and cheese

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 peppers
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
457 Calories
20g Fat
27g Carbs
42g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 457
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 119mg 40%
Sodium 1361mg 59%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 42g
Vitamin C 51mg 257%
Calcium 266mg 20%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 1054mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Baked stuffed peppers have long been a favorite family dish across the U.S. The stuffing in this version is a classic combination of ground beef, rice, aromatic vegetables, tomato sauce, and cheese. It's an easy dish to prepare and bake. Just blanch the peppers, brown the ground beef and vegetables, stuff the peppers, then bake and eat!

Stuffed peppers are versatile as well because the bowl-shaped peppers are the perfect vessel to hold just about any savory stuffing you can imagine. Feel free to make them with different ground meat or combination, replace the mozzarella or cheddar with another melty or flavored cheese, or change the flavor profile of the stuffing with your favorite spice or herb blend. You could even make them vegetarian or vegan-friendly by replacing the ground meat with cooked beans or a crumbled meat alternative and using a cheese alternative. If your peppers are small to medium in size, the recipe will make 5 to 6 servings.

If you wonder what to serve with that tasty stuffed pepper, there are plenty of options. Add a broccoli salad, tossed salad, or coleslaw to your menu, or serve them with steamed or roasted vegetables, such as broccoli, corn, or Brussels sprouts. For bread, choose cornbread, biscuits, toasted garlic bread, or a crusty artisan loaf.

Ingredients

  • 4 large bell peppers, green or multicolored

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 2 medium cloves garlic

  • 1 cup cooked rice

  • 16 ounces tomato sauce, divided

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, or shredded cheddar

  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Cut a thin slice off the stem end of the pepper—chop the pepper caps and aside to use in the filling. Remove the seeds and white membranes from the peppers and cut a very thin slice from the bottom of each pepper so they can stand without wobbling.

  3. Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil; add the peppers and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the blanched peppers and drain well; arrange them in a baking dish, cut side up. Set aside.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, kosher salt, pepper, and onions and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the reserved chopped bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the beef is no longer pink.

  5. Add the cooked rice and about half of the tomato sauce to the skillet and heat through. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

  6. Stuff the 4 large bell peppers with the ground beef and rice mixture.

  7. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and spoon the remaining tomato sauce over each stuffed pepper. Top with shredded cheese and return to the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and the center of the peppers reach about 165 F.

  8. Remove the stuffed peppers to a platter or individual plates and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Tips

  • Blanching the peppers softens them a bit, so they are more tender and less bitter. It’s okay to skip blanching, but the peppers will be slightly crunchy.
  • You may use 5 or 6 small to medium peppers instead of 4 large.
  • You’ll need approximately ½ cup of raw rice to make 1 cup of cooked rice, or you may want to make more rice and use the extra in other dishes. Cook the rice on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, or use an Instant Pot.

Recipe Variations

· If you prefer horizontally cut stuffed peppers, leave the stems in place, slice the peppers in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and membranes. Blanch if desired, and then stuff and bake as directed.

· Swap out the beef with ground turkey or chicken, or make them with a combination of beef and lean ground pork.

· To make vegetarian stuffed peppers, replace the meat with a plant-based alternative or 1 can of black beans or pinto beans (drained). For vegan, use a cheese alternative.

· For Italian flavors, replace the tomato sauce with seasoned marinara sauce and add 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese to the beef mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese.

For a different flavor profile, add 1 teaspoon of an herb or seasoning blend

How to Store Stuffed Peppers

· Refrigerate leftover stuffed peppers in a covered container within 2 hours and eat within 3 days. 

· To freeze stuffed peppers, let them cool completely. Freeze one or more cooked stuffed peppers on a baking sheet. When frozen solid, wrap each stuffed pepper in foil and transfer to zip-close freezer bags. Freeze for up to 3 to 4 months. Defrost in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

· Reheat leftover refrigerated or frozen defrosted stuffed peppers in a foil-covered baking dish in a 350 F oven for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the center reaches at least 165 F.

Do you eat the pepper when you make stuffed peppers?

Yes, you eat the pepper along with the stuffing. 

Why are my stuffed peppers watery?

Unblanched peppers might be a bit watery after stuffing and baking. If you blanch the peppers, make sure to let them dry or use paper towels to dab any pooled water on the inside of the peppers.