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.
When bell peppers are sliced in half they become the perfect vegetable to stuff with a variety of ingredients. They’re firm enough to hold their shape while cooking, yet soft enough to enjoy sliced up with the filling, for a self-contained complete meal (even in this stuffed pepper soup!)
This recipe is also endlessly customizable to fit a variety of diets and preferences, so have fun with it. But I do have a few tips below when it comes to flavors, time, and meal prepping for the future. Now let’s get into it.
Which Way to Cut the Bell Peppers
The base of this recipe uses 6 bell peppers that are halved lengthwise. While some recipes slice the top off, there’s a few reasons why I halve them the other way.
- You won’t waste any of the bell pepper if you slice it lengthwise.
- They don’t topple over when you try to slice into them after they’ve been baked.
- They’re easier to store in flat storage containers for meal prepping.
Filling Ingredients for Stuffed Peppers
The filling in this classic version is just a handful of simple ingredients, such as:
- Ground Beef: If you’re not a fan of beef, ground chicken or turkey will work too.
- Onion & Garlic: adding both ingredients will kick up the savoriness.
- Tomatoes: I’m using fire roasted diced tomatoes for that smoky depth of flavor
- 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.
- Cheese: Monterey Jack cheese pairs nicely with this recipe. But you can also use shredded Pepper Jack, Swiss, or Mozzarella.
Which Color Bell Pepper to Use
Have you ever wondered why bell peppers come in different colors and prices? 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.
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.
- Garnish and serve! Top them off with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Get Creative With The Stuffing
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.
How to Meal Prep
If you need to jazz up your meal prep routine, add these stuffed peppers to your menu. After you’ve made the recipe above, store them in airtight containers for up to 5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze them for up to 2 months.
To re-heat, you can place the frozen peppers directly in the oven and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-15 minutes, or microwave them for about 3-4 minutes. If you thaw them overnight in your fridge first, it will reduce the time needed to re-heat by a couple of minutes.
Stuffed Peppers Recipe Video
Want to see how I make this recipe step-by-step? Watch the video below!
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.
- Chicken Fajitas
- Chicken and Rice (one pan meal!)
- Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese
- Best Ever Chili
- Ultimate Chicken Salad
- Teriyaki Chicken
- Shepherd’s Pie
And for an appetizer spin on stuffed peppers, try these bacon and goat cheese stuffed mini peppers!
BEST Stuffed Peppers + Meal Prep Tips
- 6 bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
- 3 tablespoon olive oil (separated)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (I love fire roasted tomatoes), drained
- 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
- chopped parsley, for garnishing
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 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.