Stuffed bell peppers is a classic American dish that one can't easily find in restaurants (unless it is a cafeteria).
It's essentially meatloaf stuffed into bell peppers and baked in the oven. My mom and dad have their own different versions, both delicious. This one is my dad's.
Video: How to Make Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed Bell Peppers
The Best Peppers to Buy
These stuffed peppers can be made with any bell pepper. Red, yellow, and orange peppers are sweeter, because they're riper, having been on the plant longer, while green peppers have a fresh bitterness that can make a welcome contrast to the meatloaf-like filling. Pick your favorite or mix them up!
Look for medium to large bell peppers that will hold a decent amount of stuffing. Choose peppers that are more round than long and will stand up on their own and not teeter over once you've stuffed them.
Steam Peppers Before Stuffing
One tip that adds a little time, but makes a difference, is to steam the raw peppers before stuffing them. You don't cook them all the way; just until they start to soften. This ensures that the peppers cook through thoroughly once they're stuffed and baked, making them easier to cut and eat.
You can skip this step if you need to save some time, but know that your peppers may be still be somewhat crisp after stuffing and cooking.
Make Ahead Stuffed Peppers
You can steam the peppers and stuff them up to a day ahead, and then bake them in the oven when you're ready. The baked, stuffed peppers also reheat well, and make an excellent lunch the next day.
Once the peppers are cooked you can freeze them, either individually or together. They'll keep for up to a month in the freezer. Thaw overnight and reheat in the microwave or a 350°F oven.
What to Serve With Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed peppers include vegetable, starch, and meat, so they really are a meal in themselves. We usually serve them a lightly dressed green salad or coleslaw on the side, and maybe a side of greens if we are feeling virtuous (or buttered noodles if not).
More Stuffed Pepper Recipes to Try
- Mom's Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Instant Pot Cajun Spiced Bell Peppers (or make them in the slow cooker)
- Cheesy Quinoa Black Bean Stuffed Bell Peppers
Dad's Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 1 1/2 cup of cooked white rice (from about 3/4 cup raw rice)
- 4 to 6 bell peppers, any color
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (if using can, drain of excess liquid first)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
Cook the rice (if needed):
If you are starting with raw rice, you'll need to cook it first. Cook the rice following the directions on the rice package.
Steam the bell peppers:
Cut the tops off of the bell peppers about 1/2 inch to 1 inch from the stem end and remove the seeds. (Save the extra bits of bell pepper for another dish such as Ground Turkey and Peppers.)
Place a steaming rack in a large pot and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by an inch. Place the bell peppers on the rack, cut side up, and bring the water to a boil. Cover the pot and let the peppers steam for 5 to 10 minutes until they start to soften.
Note that you can skip the steaming if you want, but this step will help ensure that the peppers cook through thoroughly when they are stuffed and baked.
Sauté onions and garlic:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.
Add the meat, cooked rice, cooked onions, tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper to a large bowl. Mix everything together with your hands or a wooden spoon, just enough so that the ingredients are all well distributed. Do not over-mix.
Stuff the peppers:
Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil inside the peppers. Arrange the cut side of the peppers up in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling.
Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl, then spoon over filling.
Add 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Place in 350°F oven and bake for 40-50 minutes (or longer, depending on how big the peppers are that you are stuffing), until the internal temperature of the stuffed peppers is 150-160°F.