Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Stuffed bell peppers is one of those classic comfort food dishes that my family practically lived on when I was a kid. This recipe my mother adapted from Adele Davis as mom was teaching herself to cook in the 60s.

Like so many of those early recipes, mom has modified them to her taste and style through the years. This one she rarely does exactly the same way twice, she’ll use a different set of herbs and seasoning depending on what strikes her fancy looking through the spice cabinet.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Whereas my father is a stickler for details and exact ingredients measurements, mom usually can’t be bothered; she keeps things simple, and improvises as she goes along. While dad’s stuffed bell pepper recipe is terrific, it’s a little too much fuss and bother for her to make. This one is easier and more her style.

Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Red and yellow bell peppers have a very different flavor than green bell peppers. The red ones especially are much sweeter. Any bell pepper can be used for this recipe; use the type you like the best.


  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked white rice (starting from about 3/4 to 1 cup raw white rice)
  • 4 to 6 bell peppers (red, yellow, or green), use 4 large, or 6 medium sized
  • 1 to 1 1/4 lb of ground beef (ground chuck, 16% fat)
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry summer savory or thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground marjoram (or 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped)
  • (Can substitute herbs with other herbs such as an Italian herb mix)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Paprika


1 Cook the rice: If you haven't already made the rice, start cooking the rice following the package instructions (usually 1 cup of raw white rice plus 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.)

2 Steam the bell peppers: Cut the tops off of the bell peppers. Remove and discard (compost) the stem and seeds.

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Place bell peppers cut side up on a steaming rack over an inch of water in a large covered pot. Bring to boil, let steam for 10 minutes. (Note you can skip this step if you want, but steaming the pepper shells first will make them more tender and easier to eat.)

3 Mix the filling: Heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, basil, summer savory, marjoram, salt, several turns of black pepper, and the cooked rice.

4 Fill the bell peppers: Remove bell peppers from steamer pan. Place cut side up in a pyrex or other oven-proof casserole. Gently stuff the peppers with the ground beef rice mixture.

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Drizzle olive oil over the stuffed peppers, along the outside of the peppers, and into the pan. Rub the oil over the outside of the peppers; it will help with browning. Sprinkle the tops generously with paprika.

5 Bake: Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 350°F for 35-50 minutes, or longer, until the meat is cooked through.

Serve with ketchup.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

Showing 4 of 62 Comments

  • pam

    i made it; on a whim i decide to make it Chinese flavor (soy sauce + sesame oil + water chestnut & green onion)
    so simple & yummy!


  • Carol Ingerson

    Love the comments, history and variations. I precoooked everything, steamed the peppers, used Rotel, Italian seasoning, onion and garlic powder, 1/2 c. tomato sauce. Microwaves and freezes well.

  • Kostagh

    Actually, stuffed peppers are an Oriental dish, you can find them from Persia to Austria, Czechoslovakia and even Southern Germany. In my native country, Romania, we usually use a mixture of beef and pork (the pork fat makes the filling softer and more tasty), but I’ve also used chicken, turkey, sheep, veal and beef meat. First of all, when preparing the bell pepers, use a small knife and a tea spoon with the purpose of removing ONLY the part with the stem. Also, use the spoon to “scrape” the inside of the pepper to remove the inner ribs in the pepper. Don’t throw them away. Wash the seeds and the fleshy part can be used in making the sauce. I for one prefer red peppers as they’re tastier and sweeter. Also, prepare several ripe but no too soft tomatoes. The filling is prepared by mixing as per your taste, minced onion and minced garlic, ground black pepper and a pinch of thyme, into the minced meat and rice mixture. I for one, don’t cook it in advance. It can be easily cooked inside the peppers. In order to accelerate and facilitate cooking of meat, do not forget to cut a little snick at the bottom of the bellpeppers. The sauce will penetrate the mixture and cook it more easily. Fill the peppers with the mixture, using the old teaspoon. Top with a cap made of a piece of tomato (not a slice per se, but a piece that would contain the outer part of the tomato, so as to close it). Depending on size of peppers, count one or two per serving. Then prepare the sauce. Simmer two minced onions (arount 2-3 ounces of minced onion) in some vegetable fat (I for one usually use sunflower oil but any cooking oil will do), till soften and yellowish in colour. Quench it with some thick tomato juice (usually a good pint is sufficient) and maybe some water. Add salt, pepper, finely minced bell peppers, a sizable amount of minced garlic(as per your taste) and (I prefer) thyme. Let it simmer at around 180-200 Celsius in the oven in a large caserole or a cooking clay pot. Careful! When you put the dish in the oven, the sauce should preferably completely cover the peppers. I prefer it served with sour yoghurt (or Greek style yoghurt) or sour cream. Serv in a plate where you put the stuffed peppers, add sauce and a generous amount (2-3 table spoons) of yoghurt or sour cream, as per your preferring. If the meat is replaced in the stuffing by a mixture of vegetables and minced mushrooms then it can be an excellent vegetarian dish. Good apetite! BTW! You can replace the bell peppers with zucchini cut in half and emptied of their content also using a tea spoon, or with large thick tomatoes, that can be emptied using the same procedure, filled and the interior minced and added to the sauce. This is a time proven recipe. I’m 53. My grandmother was using the same recipe, so did my mother and now me and my brother have also passed it to the next generation. :))

  • Valentina

    What is in summer savory?

  • Grace

    Great recipe, I followed it tonight but made my dish with few
    “fast trucking” modifications:
    – redbell capsicums were nice and soft after I microvawed them 2×3 min, resting 1 min in between

    -staffing was a last night left over bolanese mince mixed with cooked rice and fresh herbs from the garden (thime, shallots and oregano) -quite a lot of them.

    -before staffing, the inside of the already quite soft peppers I brushed with ‘Thai red curry paste’ mixed with ‘Cherry tomato Parmesan pasta sauce’ to give this dish an extra bite, (wanted to use basil pesto, but my impromptu combination worked really well)

    – on top of the staffed peppers I put a thin slice of Parmesan
    – Baked for 15-20 min in preheated oven to 220 deg.Celsius,I did not use any oil or sauce for baking ,
    tonight it was the best outcome I ever had for this dish, that is my husbands favoured, and we really enjoyed this variation including ‘spice challenged’ kids.

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