A classic Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe with beef, rice, and tomatoes. Assemble them a day or two ahead for a quick 30-minute meal during the week!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To start prepare the peppers. Slice off the tops and stems, then remove the seeds. Cook the peppers in boiling water for a few minutes, just until they start to soften. I always par-cook the peppers, which makes them super tender. But if you prefer a firmer, crisp pepper, skip this step.
- Once the peppers are soft, set them aside to drain.
- Then cook the rice in the same hot water you cooked the peppers in. It saves a step, but the cooking water gently flavors the rice, too. Cook the rice until tender, then drain it, discarding the extra water. Then move it into a large bowl while you cook the beef.
- Next, grab a skillet and heat some olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. When soft, add the ground beef. Break up any large clumps of beef with a wooden spoon, and cook the beef until the pink disappears. Then stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
- Pour the beef and onion mixture into the cooked rice. Mix in the diced tomatoes and their juice, ketchup, parsley, and most of the cheese (reserving some for the tops of the peppers). Before stuffing the peppers, season the filling with some salt and pepper.
- Next, position the peppers upright in a baking dish that can fit them. (A cast iron pan works well.) Spoon the filling evenly into the peppers.
- Finally, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake the peppers at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the cheese melts and the rice and beef and rice filling is heated throughout.
Tips for the best recipe ever:
- Peppers of the same size. Try to buy peppers that are evenly sized, and that can sit up on their own. If you can only find peppers that are lop-sided, don’t worry. Just trim off a thin layer of the bottom with a sharp knife to make them stand up.
- Get colorful. Choose the most gorgeous, colorful peppers you can find, or mix and match with a combination of red, yellow, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers.
- Do you have to pre-cook peppers before you stuff them? No, not technically, but I find the par-cooking step only takes a few extra minutes and is more than worth it.
- Make-ahead friendly. 2 or 3 days in advance, make the filling and stuff the peppers, but don’t sprinkle on the extra cheese. Wrap the baking dish with foil and refrigerate. When you’re ready for dinner, sprinkle on the cheese, re-wrap in foil, and bake covered 350 for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes longer, until these cheese is bubbly and browning.
Variations and substitutions:
- Mexican stuffed peppers: Use chorizo in place of ground beef (or ground beef and homemade taco seasoning) and crumbled queso fresco, tomatoes, chopped scallions, and cilantro in the filling.
- Carnitas: Leftover Chipotle Carnitas or Barbacoa mixed into the filling? Sign me up.
- Different grains: Make this recipe with cooked quinoa, bulgur wheat, or another whole grain in place of rice.
- Vegetarian stuffed peppers. Chipotle peppers add a smoky, spicy kick to this version.
- Ground turkey or chicken. Stuffed peppers with lean chicken or turkey meat is a healthy (and delicious) way to go.
- Greek-style stuffed peppers. Make the filling with ground lamb, golden raisins, oregano, mint, and lemon zest. Use crumbled feta cheese in place of Monterrey Jack.
- Italian-style. Crumbled Italian sausage, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and garlic-butter bread crumbs.
More easy meals to try:
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Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 4 large bell peppers ½ inch trimmed off the top, stemmed, and seeded (see note 1)
- ½ cup long-grain white rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained (see note 2)
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced, or 2 teaspoons dried, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/4 cups Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add the bell peppers and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the water, allowing any excess water to drain back into the pot. Place the peppers, cut-side down, on a paper-towel lined plate.
- Return the water to a boil. Add the rice and cook uncovered until tender, about 13-15 minutes. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer beef mixture to the bowl with rice. Add the tomatoes and their juice, ketchup, parsley, and 1 cup of the cheese and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper).
- Place the peppers, cut-side up, in a 9 by 9-inch baking dish. Divide the filling evenly among the peppers. Sprinkle them with the remaining ¼ cup cheese. Bake until the cheese is browned and the filling is heated through, about 30 minutes.
- When shopping for bell peppers to stuff, choose those with broad bases that will allow the peppers to stand upright in the pan on their own.
- Tomatoes can also be drained, reserving ¼ cup of the juice and adding it with the tomatoes in step 6.