I love these easy stuffed bell peppers that are hearty, savory, and meaty. Made with healthy ingredients: fresh bell peppers, white or brown rice, ground beef, shredded cheese, and simple pantry staples. Bonus, this recipe doubles as meal prep when you make freezer stuffed peppers (I’ll share how to easily to do this to save time).

Stuffed bell peppers covered in cheese in a white ceramic baking dish.
A beef and rice filling with melted cheese, baked in bell peppers. So easy and delicious!

What Makes This Recipe So Good

What Readers Say:

“I don’t make stuffed peppers often, so I end up using a different recipe every time but this one is a keeper! I made it exactly as written and it was definitely the best we’ve had! Perfectly flavored. I loved the idea of cutting the peppers vertically instead of horizontally, easier to fill and eat that way.”

Celeste 

When I want to make a hearty and quick meal for the dinner table, this recipe is my go-to. I know, I’m biased, but I think this is the best stuffed peppers recipe out there!

  • Healthy: This classic recipe is made with real-food ingredients and nothing ultra-processed. Rich in fiber, healthy fat, and protein. A great recipe to keep on your meal plan rotation.
  • Easy to Make: Using leftover rice (or frozen cooked rice) makes the dish come together quickly. Brown the ground beef and spices, then combine with tomato sauce and cooked rice, and bake. Easy to make with minimal dishes and easy clean up!
  • Budget-Friendly: Both rice and ground beef (which make the filling for the peppers) are budget-friendly real foods (learn how to stock a budget-friendly, real-food kitchen). And the rest of the simple ingredients are pantry staples. Nothing fancy or costly here.
  • A Great Way to Meal Prep: The perfect recipe to prep on the weekend and enjoy for a meal prep lunch or dinner during the week. Reheat the peppers and serve with fruit or a healthy snack on the side.
  • Freezer-Friendly: This healthy recipe freezes perfectly! Brown the ground beef and spices, combine with rice and tomato sauce, then fill the peppers. Freeze the uncooked filled peppers for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, defrost in the fridge and bake.
  • Easy to Customize: Use different ground meats, make it low carb with cauliflower rice, or skip the cheese to make it dairy-free. This recipe is a great base recipe to customize to your liking.

Time-Saving Rice Tip: Use frozen cooked rice. You’ll find cooked rice in the grocery freezer section. Keep a bag in your freezer for making meals that call for leftover rice: fried rice, stuffed peppers, etc. Or cook your own rice (the Instant Pot is the best way to cook raw rice, both long grain and short grain) and freeze it in bags (in 1-2 cup portions).

Stuffed bell peppers on a plate with salad.
Made with healthy pantry staples: rice, bell peppers, ground beef, seasonings, and tomato sauce.

Ingredients Needed

  • 4 bell peppers (any color of bell pepper)
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 lb ground beef (see variations below for other meat options)
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar Cheese

How to Make, Step By Step

The stuffed bell peppers come together easily and quickly. You’ll also find a printable version of the recipe and full instructions in the recipe card.

Bell peppers cut in half on a countertop.
Step 1: Wash and cut the peppers in half. I prefer to cut the peppers vertically, making them easier to fill and eat.

Step 1: Wash and Cut the Peppers

Wash the large peppers and slice the tops off, horizontally. Discard the seeds and membranes. Level the bottoms if necessary to stand up in the baking dish. Alternatively, prepare the peppers as pictured, by slicing the peppers in half, vertically, and discarding the seeds and membranes. Cutting the peppers in half vertically makes them easier to fill and eat.

Step 2: Preheat Oven to 350F.

Place the peppers in a 13×9 baking dish (or casserole dish) with a lid (or use aluminum foil when the lid is needed). Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Step 3: Cook the Onion and Garlic

Add extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil to a large skillet over high-medium heat. When hot, saute the onion and garlic until softened and translucent (about 3-4 minutes).

Step 4: Cook the Ground Beef

Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until brown. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce for the peppers (next step).

Tomato sauce and seasonings in a bowl.
Step 5: Combine the tomato sauce and seasonings in a bowl. Mix to combine. This sauce is what makes the peppers so good!

Step 5: Combine Tomato Sauce and Seasonings

While the beef cooks, add the tomato sauce and all the seasonings to a bowl. Mix well to combine.

Ground beef, rice, and the tomato mixture in a skillet.
Step 6: Combine the filling ingredients: cooked rice, ground beef, and tomato mixture.

Step 6: Combine Rice, Ground Beef, and Tomato Mixture

When the beef is cooked through (about 5-7 minutes), stir in the sauce and cooked rice to coat all the ingredients. Note, if there’s a lot of fat in the skillet, drain the extra fat from the skillet before adding the tomato mixture.

Ground beef and rice filling stuffed in bell peppers in a baking dish.
Step 7: Stuff the peppers with the hearty filling before baking.

Step 7: Stuff Peppers

Evenly stuff peppers with the beef and rice mixture, packing the filling in if necessary.

Step 8: Bake 30-35 Minutes

Cover (with foil or the lid) and bake the peppers for 30-35 minutes, until the peppers are cooked to your desired texture, testing with a knife inserted in the side.

Melted cheese over the stuffed bell peppers in a baking dish.
Step 9: Top with cheese, then bake until the cheese is melty!

Step 9: Top with Cheese

And now for the best part…melty cheese! Sprinkle cheese over the stuffed peppers and return to the oven, uncovered, for five minutes to melt. Serve warm. Top with chopped cilantro or parsley, sour cream, chopped green onions, or serve without any additional toppings.

What Kind of Ground Beef Should You Use? Use lean ground beef (90% lean /10% fat) or an 80% lean/20% fat ground beef. The only difference is fat content, which may result in more fat rendered in the skillet. Drain excess fat leftover in the skillet before adding the tomato sauce.

What to Serve With Stuffed Peppers?

Stuffed peppers are a full meal, in my opinion, and don’t require a side dish. If you want to add a side, a few of my favorite options are:

Variations

This is a great base recipe that allows you to add your own variations for a low-carb recipe, a different protein option, or cooked in the slow-cooker so the stuffed peppers are ready when you get home from work.

What Readers Say:

“This recipe has SO many possible deviations! I started using cooked Italian sausage as the meat ingredient. The next time, I used air fried popcorn shrimp for a little crunch! The last time I tried it with some shaved steak. All were fabulous! The ONLY thing I do differently is not use rice. We are watching the carbs, so I use frozen dice/riced cauliflower. When mixed with the tomato sauce you really can’t tell because the texture is still there! I do add some extra shakes of spices. Thanks for sharing!”

MaryBeth Raines
  • Keto, Paleo, Low-Carb: Use cauliflower rice instead of white or brown rice. Cauliflower rice can be purchased frozen or fresh and is simply finely chopped cauliflower florets that resemble rice.
  • Slow Cooker: If you’re short on time in the evening and want the peppers to cook in the slow cooker all day, use this recipe as a guide. Cook the ground beef, then combine the cooked rice and beef mixture with the tomato sauce. Fill the peppers, then add everything to the slow cooker along with water or chicken broth to cook and steam the peppers. The slow cooker will slowly cook the peppers until they’re tender. Or, cook the peppers in the Instant Pot.
  • Use a Different Protein: Ground proteins work best, like ground turkey, ground pork, Italian sausage (ground), or ground chicken. As the reader above noted, you could also try other proteins.
  • Use Poblano Peppers: Poblano peppers are a spicy pepper variety with medium heat. Instead of bell peppers, stuff poblano peppers with the filling and bake. Look for large poblano peppers and cut them in half to easily fill the peppers.
  • Vegetarian Bell Peppers: If you want to make a vegetarian stuffed pepper, I recommend making my Tex Mex Vegetarian Peppers, which use rice or quinoa and black beans for a delicious, meat-free filling.

How to Freeze Stuffed Peppers

Let’s say that you fall in love with this meal. Which I think you will since this is truly the best stuffed bell pepper recipe. And now you want to do some meal prep to save time in the future. The good news: You can easily freeze the peppers and bake later! Here’s how…

  1. Brown the ground beef. Then combine the rice, beef, and tomato mixture per the recipe card (below).
  2. Stuff the peppers with the ground beef mixture and freeze in a freezer-safe baking dish (the disposable baking dishes work great for this since you don’t need to worry about glass breaking in the freezer). Do NOT add cheese before freezing.
  3. Store the peppers, in a freezer container with a lid, for up to 3 months in the freezer.

How to Cook Freezer Stuffed Peppers

Here’s how to cook the frozen stuffed bell peppers and turn them into a quick and delicious meal…

  1. Thaw the stuffed peppers in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Bake the peppers once thawed.
  3. Add 5 minutes to the original cooking time. For red, yellow, or orange stuffed peppers, bake for 35 minutes. For green peppers, bake for 40 minutes.
  4. Remove the peppers from the oven, top with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes until the cheese melts.
Cooked bell peppers on a plate with salad.
Enjoy bell peppers for a quick meal or make in advance and reheat for a meal prep lunch or dinner.

How to Reheat Leftovers

Leftover cooked bell peppers make great leftovers for lunch or dinner. The quickest way to reheat previously- cooked stuffed peppers is in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Or, reheat in the oven at 350F until warm (about 10 minutes).

Bell Pepper Storage: Bell peppers rot quickly if not properly stored. Store bell peppers properly in the crisper drawer and they’ll stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. Learn how to store whole or cut bell peppers and how to freeze them.

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers
4.89 from 35 votes

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

Easy stuffed bell peppers that are healthy, hearty, savory and meaty. A simple, real-food meal made with basic, yet flavorful ingredients: rice, ground beef, tomato sauce, peppers, and spices.
Kristin Marr
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people (1 whole pepper per person)
Calories 501 kcal
Cost: $15

Equipment

  • 1 13×9 baking dish or casserole dish with a lid (or use foil for a lid)
  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 medium bowl

Ingredients

  • 4 bell peppers any color
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese or cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Wash the peppers and slice the tops off, horizontally. Discard the seeds and membranes. Level the bottoms if necessary to stand up in your baking dish. Alternatively, you can prepare the peppers as pictured, by slicing the peppers in half, vertically, and discarding the seeds and membranes.
    4 bell peppers
    Bell peppers cut in half on a countertop.
  • Place the peppers in a 13×9 baking dish (or casserole dish) with a lid (or use aluminum foil when the lid is needed). Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  • Add oil to a large skillet over high-medium heat. When hot, saute the onion and garlic until softened and translucent (about 3-4 minutes).
    1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • Add the ground beef to the skillet, sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, and cook until brown. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce for the pepper filling (next step).
    1 lb ground beef
  • While the beef cooks, add the tomato sauce and all the seasonings to a medium bowl. Mix well to combine.
    1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, 1 TB Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp dried basil
    Tomato sauce and seasonings in a bowl.
  • When the beef is cooked through (about 5-7 minutes), stir in the sauce and cooked rice to coat all the ingredients. Note, if there's a lot of fat in the skillet, drain the extra fat from the skillet before adding the tomato mixture.
    1 cup cooked rice
    Ground beef, rice, and the tomato mixture in a skillet.
  • Evenly stuff peppers with the beef and rice mixture, packing the filling in if necessary. (If you're freezing the peppers, stop here and freeze the peppers for a future meal.)
    Ground beef and rice filling stuffed in bell peppers in a baking dish.
  • Cover (with foil or the lid) and bake the peppers for 30-35 minutes, until the peppers are cooked to your desired texture, testing with a knife inserted in the side. Red and yellow peppers require about 30 minutes in the oven. Green peppers are firmer, so they will need about 35 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle cheese over the stuffed peppers and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
    3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Serve warm.
    Melted cheese over the stuffed bell peppers in a baking dish.

Video

Notes

Rice: I recommend using leftover white or brown rice. Prep the rice in advance for dinner on a separate night, and reserve 1 cup for the peppers. The Instant Pot is the easiest way to cook rice. Or, use frozen cooked rice from the grocery freezer aisle.
Freezer Cooking Instructions: Freeze the unbaked filled peppers (without cheese), then thaw them in fridge for 24 hours before baking. Bake the peppers once thawed. Add 5 minutes to the cooking time, then add the cheese as described in the recipe instructions.

Nutrition

Calories: 501kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 27gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 1401mgPotassium: 660mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 3890IUVitamin C: 154.7mgCalcium: 204mgIron: 3.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!
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36 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made these stuffed bell peppers last night and they were super good! I am so happy with the flavor of this dish. Thank you sooo much for sharing!

  2. I have used just barley along with the riced cauliflower with some extra seasoning and it was great! This is a very easy to personalize recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I would blanch the peppers next time. I cooked them for 45 mins. and they were still too crunchy. Delicious recipe though. I added corn and crushed red pepper 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I don’t make stuffed peppers often, so I end up using a different recipe every time but this one is a keeper! I made it exactly as written and it was definitely the best we’ve had! Perfectly flavored. I loved the idea of cutting the peppers vertically instead of horizontally, easier to fill and eat that way. Thanks for the great recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe has SO many possible deviations! I started using cooked Italian sausage as the meat ingredient. The next time, I used air fried popcorn shrimp for a little crunch! The last time I tried it with some shaved steak. All were fabulous! The ONLY thing I do differently is not use rice. We are watching the carbs, so I use frozen dice/riced cauliflower. When mixed with the tomato sauce you really can’t tell because the texture is still there! I do add some extra shakes of spices. Thanks for sharing!

  6. 5 stars
    Kristin! these peppers were really delicious! i started to doubt you when i was supposed to add the tomato sauce, but you have never failed me with your other recipes so i did and it worked great! i have one in the freezer for the near future. thanks!

  7. I don’t want to use met in my bell peppers. can I just stuff them with quinoa celery mushrooms onions garlic and some spices with a little tomato sauce. Blanch the peppers first and cool and stuff and freeze.
    this is new to me these are out of my organic garden this year. I want them for the winter meals. I have 6 I have harvested.
    Thank you
    ps I am not a business

  8. 5 stars
    This is basically what I do, except that I use my home canned spaghetti sauce. So yummy! It is a sweet taste that reminds me of late summer.

  9. 5 stars
    Really looks good, I make mine almost the same and will add garlic next time. I usually have left left overs and wanted to know if I can freeze them thanks

  10. 5 stars
    These look so yummy, Kristen! Thanks for sharing. My family loves stuffed peppers, and these look so easy and simple. I’ll definitely give them a try in an upcoming meal. Thanks for all your help and inspiration!

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