Aug 23, 2023
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Stuffed peppers are always a family favorite. This classic version is loaded with ground beef, garlic, onion, tomatoes, spinach, and rice. They’re healthy, filling, and bonus – they make for delicious leftovers or meal prep.
There are so many ways you can get creative with stuffed peppers. One of the things I love about this recipe is that it’s endlessly customizable to fit a variety of diets and preferences. You can even make stuffed pepper soup! But today, we’re making the classic version with ground beef, rice, and veggies.
When bell peppers are sliced in half they become the perfect holding device to stuff with a variety of ingredients. They’re firm enough to maintain their shape while cooking, yet soft enough to enjoy sliced up with the filling. But the best part (in my opinion), is that this recipe is perfect for meal prep – so you can easily reheat it for a quick-and-easy dinner in the future. I’ve got a few tips on that for you below!
Stuffed Peppers Ingredients
- Ground Beef: You can choose lean or extra lean ground beef, it’s up to you! You could also easily swap the ground beef with ground chicken or ground turkey.
- Onion & Garlic: These ingredients both add a punch of flavor, and the onions also help to keep the filling moist.
- Tomatoes: I prefer fire roasted diced tomatoes for that smoky depth of flavor, but any diced tomatoes work.
- Rice: You can use any kind of rice, including white, brown, or wild rice.
- Italian Seasoning: This spice blend is a classic combination of aromatic herbs. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, feel free to swap in dried thyme, basil, oregano, and parsley.
- Cheese: Monterey Jack cheese pairs nicely with this recipe. But you can also use shredded Pepper Jack, Swiss, or Mozzarella.
How To Make The Best Stuffed Peppers
I’ve got a secret tip to make this a quick weeknight dinner. Pre-bake the peppers! No, you don’t need to get more dishes dirty and par-boil them. And there’s no need to wait until you’ve cooked the meat mixture. Pre-bake the peppers while you’re making the filling and save yourself about 15 minutes. Preheat your oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then follow these steps:
Prep bell peppers. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membrane. Then rub the insides and outsides with a a bit of olive oil and arrange them face down in a baking dish. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes to soften them up.
Cook the meat. While the bell peppers are baking, in a large skillet sauté the onions, garlic, and beef. Then drain off any excess liquid.
Sauté the rest. Add in the rice, tomatoes, spinach, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Sauté for about one to two minutes or until the spinach has wilted.
Start filling. Remove the peppers from the oven and flip them over. Then fill them with the beef mixture and a sprinkle of cheese.
Bake. Place them in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the peppers soften. Then, just garnish with a little chopped parsley if you’d like, and serve them up!
Stuffing Alternatives and Ideas
The beauty of this recipe is that you can stuff your peppers with just about anything! Here’s a few tasty combinations to toss into your weekly meal rotation:
- Mediterranean Peppers: Ground beef, chickpeas, onion, rice, tomato sauce, feta, garlic powder and paprika.
- Vegan Mushroom and Walnut Peppers: Diced mushrooms, walnuts, garlic, onion, rice, and taco seasoning.
- Vegetarian Tex-Mex Peppers: Black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, garlic, onion, rice, taco seasoning, pepper jack cheese, and chopped cilantro.
If you’re looking to meet a few dietary needs, try these substitutions.
- Paleo and Whole30: swap out the rice with cauliflower rice or broccoli rice. Leave off the cheese or swap with cashew sour cream.
- Keto: Swap the rice for sauteed mushrooms or diced zucchini.
While some recipes slice the top off, there’s a few reasons why I halve them through the stem. First, you won’t waste any of the bell pepper if you slice it lengthwise.
Second, they don’t topple over when you try to slice into them after they’ve been baked. And third, they’re easier to store in flat storage containers for meal prepping.
All bell peppers start out green, and then change colors as they mature and ripen. Green bell peppers are always the cheapest as they’re picked under-ripe and have a slightly bitter taste to them. If allowed time to ripen on the vine, green bell peppers turn into vibrant yellow, orange and red bell peppers. These versions are sweeter and have more nutrients. In fact, red bell peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C of green bell peppers. This gives them a higher price tag compared to the other two. But for this recipe, you can choose whichever color you prefer!
How to Store and Meal Prep
If you need to jazz up your meal prep routine, these stuffed peppers are a great option!
- Store for the week: After you’ve made the recipe above, store them in airtight containers for up to 5 days in the fridge.
- Freeze for later: You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. If you stack them, just make sure to place parchment paper in between layers.
- To reheat: You can place the frozen peppers directly in the oven and bake at 350°F for about 10 to 15 minutes, or microwave them for about 3 to 4 minutes. If you thaw them overnight in your fridge first (which I recommend doing), it will reduce the time needed to re-heat by a couple of minutes.
More Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas
Have a busy schedule ahead? Here’s a few dinner recipes to keep up your sleeve. They’re easy to make, full of flavor, and make for great leftovers.
And for an appetizer spin on stuffed peppers, try these bacon and goat cheese stuffed mini peppers!
I hope you enjoy these tasty stuffed peppers! If you make it, I’d love to hear how they turned out in the comment box below.
Best Stuffed Peppers
- Casserole Pan A good casserole pan is always needed!
- 6 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
- 3 tablespoon olive oil (separated)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 (15-ounce can) diced tomatoes (I love fire roasted tomatoes), drained
- 1 ½ cups cooked rice
- ½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese
- chopped parsley, for garnishing
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membrane. Drizzle with a little olive oil and rub both the inside and outside to coat them. Arrange them upside down in two baking pans or one half sheet pan and pre-bake for about 15 minutes, while you're making the stuffing.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic and onions for one minute.
- Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is browned, breaking it up with a spatula as needed.
- Drain off any excess liquid from the beef and stir in the diced tomatoes, rice, spinach, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir for a minute or two, or until the spinach is wilted.
- Remove the bell peppers from the oven and use tongs to flip them over.
- Fill the peppers with the beef mixture and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Place them back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the peppers are soft.
- Top with fresh parsley and serve.
- Each serving is two halves of stuffed pepper.
- You can get 1 1/2 cups cooked rice by cooking 1/2 cup of dry rice (approx). But you can always cook more than needed and meal prep it for other recipes as well.
- You can bake these in two casserole pans or one larger half sheet pan.
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Recipe originally posted July 2020, but updated to include new information.