Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers

Classic stuffed bell peppers recipe. Bell peppers, first steamed then stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, rice, and herbs, and then baked in the oven.

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.

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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

Method

1 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.)

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

3 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 rice.

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4 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. 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 Place on middle rack and cook for 35-50 minutes, or longer, until the meat is cooked through.

Serve with ketchup.

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Comments

  1. gabi

    I love stuffed peppers! In Croatia they will be cooked in tomato salsa and served with mash potatoes. When you make them that way, rice in the stuffing doesn’t need to be cooked.

  2. Kristina

    This looks wonderful. I don’t have a steaming rack, though. Is there a way to precook the peppers in the microwave?

    I’m sure cooking them straight in the microwave for a minute or so would do the trick. ~Elise

  3. Jennifer

    Believe it or not, this mid-west American did not get these lovelies growing up, but would like to try it as a way to get my beau to put a little more veggie on his plate! I always thought that the ground beef needed to be pre-cooked….is this one of your mom’s ways to make this “less fussy”? (I would like to substitute turkey for the beef.)

    No precooking the meat. A half hour in the oven in the pepper at 350 is sufficient. ~Elise

  4. Kalyn

    Sounds delicious to me, and I especially like the addition of marjoram. I recently made some bell peppers stuffed with farro which I thought turned out well. Love the red and yellow peppers especially.

  5. jennsquared

    Looks yummy. I’ve never made one before so this will be my first stuffed pepper making. One question though – Do you cook the ground beef first or mix it with everything raw?

    You mix it with everything raw. The meat gets cooked in the oven. ~Elise

  6. Stacey S

    Can the leftovers be frozen?

    I assume so. We’ve never frozen these though. We eat up the leftovers for lunch the next day. ~Elise

  7. Allyn

    These look fantastic! I attempted stuffed bell peppers once, using couscous instead of rice for the “filler”. They came out well, but they were rather dense and ended up being kind of boring. I am definitely going to have to give this a try. Probably minus the ketchup, though. ;)

  8. Jean Prescott

    Do I understand correctly that you combine cooked rice with raw ground beef to stuff the peppers? Just checking. I love stuffed peppers and occasionally make them when I have friends over but hardly ever for me alone. They don’t make the best leftovers.

    Yes, cooked rice and raw ground beef. ~Elise

  9. Annie

    Ah, stuffed peppers. My mom never made this kind of thing. It was one of those foods when I grew up that people would be shocked that I’d never had. Now I always use red peppers because of their sweetness, and I cook them in the crock pot with a ground turkey and spanish rice filling. Same for stuffed cabbage. Yum. My tummy’s starting to growl.

  10. Lisa

    These look really good (though I am also planning to check out your dad’s recipe). I am a vegetarian, so I leave out the meat, but I add corn and zucchini in mine. I’ve never tried it with the combination of spices you have listed here but since I was planning to make them tomorrow anyway (needing to use up some bell pepers from the garden), I think I’ll try your mom’s way. Thank you for sharing.

  11. bilge

    Great pictures!
    Here is an easier Turkish version of the stuffed bell pepper. Mix all the ingredients raw (rice, ground beef, finely chopped onions, tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper). After stemming, pierce the bottom of the peppers with a knife at multiple places (so that water can get in). Stuff the peppers (though not too much because the stuffing will expand as the rice cooks) and put them in a shallow pan. Add some water (enough to reach the half of the height of peppers) and oil, cover the pan and cook on stove top until the rice is cooked and the skin of the peppers can peel off easily. I find this to be much easier.

  12. Trish in MO

    What’s really great about stuffed peppers is you can basically stuff them with practically ANYthing you may have leftover in your fridge and cupboards! I sometimes use the green peppers, but I love the yellow, red and orange peppers best. Store sometimes have the ‘stoplight peppers’ package, green/yellow/red, which is perfect for this.

    I do one thing differently though: I put the bell peppers alone in the oven first to par-cook them, then fill them and put them back in.

  13. Tal

    Looks delicious. I made this dish many times and I used different colors of peppers to differentiate between those who filled with meat and the veggies.

    What a great idea! ~Elise

  14. azigmond

    Stuffed peppers are great to make and freeze! I make a veggie version:
    Two cups of cooked rice
    A can of black beans (rinsed)
    A can (or half a bag if frozen) of corn (rinsed)
    A can of Rotel, which is diced tomatoes and jalapenos (You can drain or not)
    Put that into six bell peppers.
    In a 1 cup measuring cup (okay, honestly we just put in a coffee mug!), put half a small can of tomato paste and fill it up with water. Pour 1/2 of that over the peppers before you put them in the oven (350 for half an hour) and then pour the rest over it when you have five minutes left.

  15. Susan

    My grandparents come from Czechoslovakia and we also cooked the peppers in a tomato “sauce” and served it with mashed potatoes and rye bread. My grandmother would also thicken the tomato “sauce” with a little flour and sour cream. Absolutely delicious!

  16. Robin

    I’ve never had rice-stuffed peppers; my family recipe calls for bread crumbs and chopped link sausage with lots of spices. But since my favorite comfort food is rice and ground beef cooked with onions and bell peppers, I don’t know how these couldn’t be wonderful!

    Hmmm… a couple of red bell peppers (another innovation that never occurred to me!) came home from the store with me the other day; might be dinner!

  17. Lou Grubaugh

    For a little different take on stuffed peppers, we like the ingredients in a favorite casserole, Arroz con Jocoqui (Rice and Sour Cream Casserole) found in ‘Elena’s Secret’s of Mexican Cooking’, by Elena Zelayeta.

    Peppers are halved longways, partially cooked, and filled with a combo of cooked rice, sour cream, diced green chilies, shredded jack cheese (corn is another good addition); and topped with grated cheddar. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted. Good served with salsa. Makes a great side dish with any meat, or a great vegetarian entree.

  18. Julia

    When I make stuffed peppers, I don’t steam the peppers, I bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and drop the cleaned peppers in it and remove from the heat. They sit till I am ready to stuff them. By that time the peppers are partially cooked but not over cooked. I have never used any thing but green peppers to make the recipe with so I may change the green pepper to the yellow, orange or red one but not until the price on them at the grocery store comes down.

  19. Esmeralda

    I prefer red, yellow, and orange bell peppers over green bell peppers because, like you mentioned, they have a “sweeter” taste. I make a sweet and savory version with cooked ground meat (turkey, beef, or lamb), leftover rice, chickpeas, sauteed chopped onion and carrot, sliced almonds, sultanas, salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice to taste, and a drizzle of olive oil. For a vegetarian option I just omit the meat; the chickpeas and nuts are great protein sources. These stuffed peppers make a wonderful light meal or a nice side dish.

    Your recipe sounds delicious. I look forward to trying it.

  20. Sally

    I grew up eating Stouffer’s stuffed peppers and I love them, but I learned to make them. The recipe I use is very similar to this one, except that I put about a cup of tomato sauce in the meat mix and another cup over the top and around the peppers as they bake — instead of the olive oil. I think stuffed peppers will be on the menu next week!

  21. Teresa

    Wow, I love all the comments with variations on this theme. The Turkish version sounds most intriguing. In my version, I do not pre-cook the peppers and I cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Sometimes if the filling I have isn’t quite enough to fill all the peppers, I’ll add some black beans to the mixture and top them with a little cheese at the end. Yummy!

  22. Gloriana

    Awesome! Made them tonight for my husband who LOVES stuffed peppers. Simple and delicious. The ketchup you suggest to go with them is the PERFECT accompaniment. Great for a quick no fuss dinner…a keeper for sure.

  23. Sherihan

    Nice recipe Elise (again as usual :))

    Do you know that here in Egypt stuffed vegtables such as green bell peppers, zucchini, small eggplants, tomatoes and a certain green leaf are a very famous plate, one of our big time favourite comfort food.

  24. Diana

    Love stuffed peppers…I really enjoyed everyones comment. I liked all of the possibilities. Especially beans…always trying to add beans for protein! Never thought of that with stuffed peppers! Cool.

  25. iffet

    I love stuff vegetables. We,Turks stuff a lot of vegetables. Some of them are grape leaves, peppers, cabbage, eggplant, zucchini, tomato even spinach…

  26. Susanl

    Red pepper is a great idea. I make a rice and turkey mixture, and sometimes we use a poblano pepper cut lengthwise for a little heat, and add dried cranberries or raisins for sweetness, then top with tomato sause. Thanks for a great website.

  27. topdog

    Thanks for this reminder about stuffed peppers and thanks to the commenter for the recipe for Turkish stuffed peppers. My Turkish aunt made these for me in 1988 when I was last in Turkey, and I count it among my top 10 pleasurable eating experiences, and I had no idea how she did it. In fact she defrosted them from frozen, so perhaps the Turkish method lends itself to freezing more than other methods.

  28. Laine

    Mmm these sound good. Has anyone tried a version with some cloves, cinnamon or allspice, lamb (kind of moussaka-ish) instead of the beef and herbs? I think, topped with a dollop of bechamel to brown, this might be good too. Also, try a version with chicken, basil, some spicy chilies, and a few drops of fish sauce, for a thai influence.

  29. Brittany

    The first time I had these, my dad made them with sage sausage and they were the most amazing food I had ever eaten… I think I was 8. I saw some sage sausage in the farmers market the other day… I think I might make some. My dad’s recipe is similar to your dad’s recipe but we use brown rice.

  30. zeynep

    That is wonderful. I love eating stuffed vegetables. One suggestion though: you suggest serving with ketchup. Try it with plain yogurt on top. I know yogurt on food is strange for Americans but trust me, it is wonderful and that’s the way to go outside the US.

  31. Linda in Washington State

    Thanks for you and your mom for her simple stuffed bell pepper recipe. The recipes I have seen use the green bell peppers. I couldn’t find a recipe use the red,orange, yellow bell peppers. I am with your mom simple is better. I can remember simple recipes and add something new to a without overly changing the taste.

  32. Raegan Miers

    I am 30 yrs. old now. But I to grew up eating stuffed bellpeppers. The only difference is we used 1/2 can of plain spagetti sauce and added it to the rice mixture and then we sprinkled cheese on top of the bell peppers right after they came out of the oven.

  33. Matt

    No problems freezing them unless you call them getting mushy a problem. Personally I like them better that way :)

    Last time I made stuffed peppers I went a new route…sort of a baked Chile Relleno. Used Poblano peppers with chilli, rice and cheese inside, needed to lay them sideways due to the shape. Needless to say, the best stuffed peppers I’ve ever eaten.

  34. Mercina

    I think I’ll try this recipe out. Has anyone tried yemista? It’s a Greek dish that is somewhat similar to stuffed peppers. You can use tomatoes or peppers, the stuffing is made with ground beef and rice, and you use a bechemal sauce on top of the veggies.

  35. Maria Anntoinette

    I’m excited to try your Mom’s stuffed bellpepper’s recipe tonight. I never thought to use red, yellow, or orange bellpepper. All the other recipes say to use green. I’m thankful I kept searching. I’m fascinated by not having to pre-cook the meat. I will add Cinnamon and Cloves w/ the oregano & garlic. I love that it doesn’t require using the same ol’ spices. (Why didn’t I think of it?) Thank You for sharing.

  36. Regan

    I just made stuffed peppers the other night, but the recipe of my childhood is a bit different. I parboil the peppers in water until just soft and set aside to stuff. For the stuffing, I precook the ground beef or turkey in a skillet with onions and the chopped up tops of the peppers, and once cooked, combine with Spanish rice (recommend Zatarains Spanish rice mix) which I cook while the meat is cooking. I usually add a little of my favorite salsa to taste and about a half cup of whatever melty cheese I have on hand. Then I stuff the peppers with the meat/rice mixture, top with some more shredded cheese and bake at 350 until nice and hot and the cheese is melted.

  37. Leslie

    Can you use instant rice in this recipe. I’ve seen some that you can.

    In this recipe my mother uses already cooked rice, which could come from regular rice or instant rice. In my father’s recipe, he sometimes works with instant rice that has not been cooked yet, though some people have had mixed results with that. You get more consistent results if you use cooked rice, whether instant or regular. ~Elise

  38. Lisa H.

    We made these last night (and will be adding them to the regular rotation). They were great, but no where near done after a half hour in the oven. An theories as to what could have caused the longer cooking time? We did use 8% fat ground beef instead of ground chuck… could that be it?

    More likely that you were using larger peppers than we were. ~Elise

  39. jimnoak

    This recipe is much like the one I’ve been using for 35 years, but I quickly blanche the peppers rather than steam them. I’ve found that it’s hard to ruin this recipe, even when you experiment with other herbs, or seasonings. (in moderation) A healthy dash of hot sauce suits my family just fine, and a light topping of spicy/tangy catsup is also a must.

    I prefer using the red and yellow peppers, but they are usually priced sky high, costing 3 or 4 times as much as green ones. It’s worth it to me anyway.

  40. Morgan

    I made this for my family tonight. I also had rice on the side with two peppers. It was great, everyone loved it.

    I made a sauce to go with it (instead of using ketchup). I got it from here: http://www.bigoven.com/165563-Barbecued-Beef-Brisket-recipe.html

    Everyone thought it went well with it. Maybe someone else wants to try it?:

    * 1 1/4 cups ketchup
    * 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
    * 1/3 cup lemon juice
    * 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    * 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
    * 1 large clove garlic, crushed

    I removed the butter and water from the mixture shown originally in the website.

  41. Darlene

    My family thinks I make the best stuffed peppers on the planet. I make them like yours but with a few changes.
    1. No precooking the peppers. Bake all for 2 or 2.5 hours and the peppers are tender as can be.
    2. Add either tomato juice or tomato sauce to the meat mixture. Then pour the remaining tomato juice over the entires pan of peppers before cooking. (I also put a slice of tomato on the top of the pepper and cover it with the stem and “cap” that I cut off the pepper when cleaning it. It gives it a great & delicious look.
    3. Add onion to the hamburger mix. I agree with the person above who said hamb. without onion is like a day without sunshine.
    Next:
    Happy Eating. We are having them tonight!

  42. NaNa Pam

    WOW! While looking a recipe for stuffed peppers (I have 5 in the fridge) I cannot believe my luck. Now I am going to try to combine a couple of recipes and see what I come up with. I especially like the thought of using black beans for protein. Thanks to you all, this was my first visit.

  43. michael

    We always make a homemade creole sauce to pour over the peppers a few minutes before they are done. It adds another dimension to the taste. We live in the heartland where peppers are aplenty right now.

  44. Debbie

    I love to make stuffed peppers. My mother in law lives in New Orleans and she taught me to add raw shrimp into the meat mixture. It is delicious (if you like shrimp).

  45. Mrs. Fabulous

    This will be my first time trying stuffed peppers. I have only one question. Why do we have to steam the pepper?

    You don’t have too, but the peppers will cook more easily if you do. ~Elise

  46. Debbie V.

    We have always added an raw egg or two (depending on the amount of meat and rice mixture). Also we use tomato soup sometimes instead of spaghetti sauce. Delish!

  47. Lidia

    This looks delicious!! I want to try it for a change since my meals seem to be always the same. I just have a question: What would you serve as a side dish?

    Whatever you want. We usually go pretty simple with side dishes – steamed broccoli, boiled green beans, etc. ~Elise

  48. Mom of 4

    Thanks so much – can’t wait to try this recipe – I use poultry seasoning in my meatloaf, so will subs. that for the seasonings listed. good tip with the olive oil to brown the peppers! Bon appetit!

  49. elaine ord

    There are many ways of making stuffed peppers, you just have to be creative. I’ve found a pale green pepper, which is more milder than the traditional green. red and yellow are also very good. I never pre cook the rice or ground beef. I also add 1/3 hot or sweet sausage to my lean ground beef mix, onions are always a must, garlic, if you prefer…stuff the peppers gently, and pour a mix of crushed and canned tomatoes, seasoned with whatever you have on hand, cover with foil and bake about 45 min. or so till the rice is done. Mmmm, yes they can be frozen, but there’s usually none left for future meals.

  50. Anna Marie

    It’s currently in my oven & smells delicious although it’s been cooking for an hour now & still not cooked through. What gives?

    Could be you’re working with large green peppers, or it could be your oven. ~Elise

  51. Vicki

    I make mine with meatloaf mixture. I add alot of veggies to it along with the usual bread crumbs, egg, etc. Then I top them with a ketchup & mustard & garlic & Worcestershire sauce mixture (like the one posted above. Bake for 45 minutes or so at 350. WoW. So easy. I premake LOTS of meatloaf mixture; this is good for alot of things, including faux hamburgers. Premake it and freeze in patties separated by waxed paper or saran wrap; then you can thaw as many patties as you like to make meatballs, hamburgers, stuffed peppers or … meatloaf! Veggies I use include chopped carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, celery, cabbage, or whatever is in the fridge that needs to be used up. (I hate wasting food.) I use ground turkey instead of beef and add Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce to make it taste beefy (mushrooms help alot too). Nobody can tell the difference!

  52. googleit

    Good thing there’re no rules in this game. I stuffed mine with ground turkey seasoned mexican. Black beans, rotel, cilantro, rice, cheese. Topped with sour cream. EXCELLENT!

  53. april

    I needed something fun to make for my family for father’s day this past weekend. I made a version of this and it was a HIT! Thanks for making me look like I am a pro in the kitchen.

  54. Donald Merwin

    In our family recipe the topping is canned tomato soup rather than catsup, etc. With the well-spiced filling, it seems to work pretty well.

  55. Cris

    Can’t wait to do this, but since I am a vegetarian I think I will substitute the meat for mushrooms and corn. And maybe I’ll join your mom’s and your dad’s recipes and come up whith just one ;)
    (love your site btw)

  56. Josh

    I really liked the idea, but my batch didn’t really turn out as well as the others. The filling was squishy and slimy, almost like the meat wasn’t cooked (despite cooking for an hour). I believe there were several contributions to this: 1) a lean version of GB or maybe turkey meat would have been better. The fat had nowhere to drain, so I believe that added to the texture issues. 2) I used brown, basmati rice. My attempts to be healthy might have worked against me since the fat or other liquids could have been absorbed by a white rice. 3) My original (mother’s) recipe called for a can of cream of chicken…and I just had to add it. That added moisture probably messed with the end result. I hope this helps others trying the recipe so not to make the same mistakes I made!

    The changes you made to the recipe would result in something that in no way resembles the original. If you make it again, I would advise following the recipe as written. ~Elise

  57. David

    I’m eating paleo, so I wanted to avoid the rice in this recipe. I just chopped up the tops of the peppers and shredded some zucchini and added them both to the mix. It turned out great!

  58. Scott

    As a child we were dirt poor and mom would get a can of corned beef hash and stuff bell peppers with it. It was bland, but it is a memory that I don’t care to forget.

    So, I looked around and found this recipe and improvised.

    1 can of corned beef hash
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup Ramona cheese

    Do the same as this recipe. Steam or boil the peppers to get them tender, then stuff with the mix. Drizzle olive oil on top, and bake for 50 minutes at 350.

    Simple, cheap, and a little better than it was as a kid.

  59. Diane

    My mother’s stuffed pepper recipe was just a bit different. She added sauteed onion to beef/veal/pork mixture, ‘almost done’ white rice, some grated Parmesan and an egg or two, depending on how many she was making. The peppers were placed in a deep roaster and covered with a mixture of tomato soup, spaghetti sauce and some red wine. Bake the whole thing for an hour or better and serve with mashed potatoes.
    I do the same thing but I use sweet red peppers cut lengthwise into boats and I make them in the electric roaster. Mine end up being huge-softball size-so I freeze one to a package and we’ll split it for dinner.
    When I was a kid I couldn’t stand green peppers so Mama made porcupines (balls of just the filling) and baked them separately for me.
    I’m still not wild about green peppers so I wait until the sweet reds are on sale and make a vatful to freeze for the winter.

  60. Jenn

    I love bell peppers (red, green, orange, or yellow. I generally eat them raw. This is my first time making an attempt to make some a stuffed one. I am excited how these will turn out. I’m glad to have found your recipe. It is simple and fast. Thank you so much for sharing.

  61. Jason

    I tried this out tonight. It seemed like it might’ve worked better with the ingredients pan fried instead of baked, since the fat from the meat collected inside the pepper and created a semi greasy mess of rice and ground beef. Not very good. I hope this works out better for the rest of you.