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Classic stuffed peppers with rice, ground beef, two different types of cheese, and Italian herbs are baked in tomato sauce until tender and flavorful. This easy dinner recipe appeals to both kids and adults, is a cozy and satisfying meal, and even looks elegant enough for entertaining! Pair the stuffed peppers with a side salad, crusty bread, or fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

Blue and white plate with the best stuffed bell peppers recipe

How to Make Stuffed Bell Peppers | 1-Minute Video

You can’t beat good old-fashioned stuffed peppers with rice for a simple and hearty family-friendly dinner. It’s a great way to use up plenty of fresh bell peppers, and the flexible recipe can be adapted to accommodate a variety of taste and dietary preferences. Add sausage for even more flavor, swap out the rice for cauliflower rice, or use different types of cheese. There are so many ways to make this stuffed peppers recipe your own!

The Best Stuffed Peppers

I’ve tried many versions of stuffed peppers over the years, but I always come back to the original that I grew up with: a simple recipe for Italian stuffed peppers with rice and mozzarella. We add ground beef for filling protein, but you can swap it out for ground turkey or ground Italian sausage instead, or even make them vegetarian by using black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, or white beans.

I’ve shown sweet red bell peppers here, but you can also use yellow bell peppers, orange bell peppers, or green bell peppers for this recipe. It’s just a matter of personal taste preference. The red, yellow, and orange peppers are generally much sweeter than the green peppers (and I think they look really pretty in the dish). Green bell peppers tend to have a zesty taste, which pairs well with the savory meat, cheese, rice, and tomato sauce.

Overhead image of sweet bell peppers stuffed with rice and meat on a plate

Do you have to boil peppers before stuffing them?

Yes, I recommend par-boiling or pre-baking the peppers before adding the ground beef and rice stuffing. If you prefer a more crisp-tender pepper, you can skip this step since the peppers will definitely soften in the oven. That said, it’s very easy to give the bell peppers a little head start in the microwave. Just place them in a dish with water, cover loosely with a sheet of parchment paper, and cook on high for about 3 minutes.

Pre cooking bell peppers in a glass dish

Do you have to cook the meat before stuffing the peppers?

In this recipe, you’ll pre-cook the rice and the meat before stuffing the peppers. Some recipes call for a hybrid: pre-cooked rice, which is combined with raw meat for the stuffing. When using raw meat, the rice can soak up some of the drippings from the meat. This adds great flavor, but it can also yield a slightly less healthy, greasier dish. Either way works, but here we’re pre-cooking the ground beef to make sure that it’s totally cooked through and lean.

Process shot showing how to make stuffed peppers with rice

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of stuffed peppers with rice and ground beef. As always, specific measurements and complete step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Bell peppers: I used red bell peppers here, but you can use any color — red, yellow, orange, or green (or a combination).
  • Olive oil: for cooking the meat and onion.
  • Ground beef: or substitute with ground turkey, ground chicken, or bulk Italian sausage.
  • Onion: for slightly sweet, savory flavor.
  • Cooked rice: I use long-grain white rice, but any variety of rice is fine (brown rice, wild rice, or even cauliflower rice). You can also substitute with cooked quinoa or cooked couscous.
  • Tomato sauce: brings the filling together.
  • Worcestershire sauce: adds salty, umami flavor.
  • Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and ground black pepper: add flavor to the filling.
  • Sugar: just a touch to balance the acidity in the tomatoes and to create a more complex flavor.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese or mozzarella cheese: you get the flavor of the cheddar and the ooey, gooey, melty quality of the Monterey Jack or mozzarella. Feel free to substitute with any other type of cheese (Colby or Pepper Jack are also good options).
Sprinkling cheese on top of stuffed peppers

How to Make Stuffed Peppers with Rice

While these classic stuffed peppers may look fancy or complicated, they’re actually really easy to prepare! You’ll need to pre-cook the peppers (as I mentioned above) while you prepare the ground beef filling, then just stuff the peppers and bake them in the oven.

  1. Microwave the peppers until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Cook the ground beef and rice filling.
  3. Season the peppers with salt and pepper, then stuff the filling into the peppers.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven for 35 minutes.
  6. Remove the cover, top with cheese, and return to the oven for about 10 more minutes.
  7. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or basil. Serve warm!
Hands holding a plate of stuffed bell peppers with rice and ground beef

What to Serve with Stuffed Bell Peppers

Since this recipe includes veggies, rice, and meat, it’s an entire stand-alone dinner! If you’d like to round out the meal with additional sides, here are a few good options to serve with the stuffed peppers:

Close overhead image of stuffed peppers with rice and melted cheese

How much protein is in a stuffed pepper?

These healthy stuffed peppers are full of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables, as well as satisfying protein from the beef. Each stuffed pepper half has about 324 calories, 22 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 19 grams of protein.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Make Ahead: This is a great prep-ahead meal. You can assemble the bell peppers, cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. Allow the dish to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking according to recipe instructions. Since the peppers and filling might still be cool, you may need to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.
  • How to Freeze: You can freeze the stuffed peppers before or after baking. Wrapped tightly, they will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Leftover baked stuffed peppers will last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • How to Reheat Stuffed Peppers: Cover loosely with foil and bake in a 350°F oven until heated through. If baking from frozen, you’ll need to increase the total baking time by at least 30 minutes.
Overhead image of an oval platter full of stuffed peppers with rice and ground beef

Recipe Variations for Stuffed Peppers with Rice

  • Swap out the ground beef and use ground turkey, ground chicken, ground pork, or ground sausage.
  • Choose red, yellow, or orange peppers for a sweeter taste; grab green bell peppers for a less-sweet, more zesty taste.
  • Any variety of rice will work. I like to use cooked long grain white rice, but cooked wild rice or cooked brown rice will both be delicious, too. For a shortcut, try microwaveable packets of rice like Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice. You can even try this recipe with cauliflower rice for more veggies!
  • Instead of rice, use cooked quinoa or cooked couscous.
  • Give the peppers a southwestern spin by adding some cumin, chili powder, and black beans to the filling mixture (rather than the Italian herbs). Use Pepper Jack cheese or Monterey Jack cheese with the cheddar cheese (instead of mozzarella), and garnish with fresh cilantro.
  • For a vegetarian dish, omit the ground beef and add a can of drained, rinsed black beans, white beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas to the rice mixture.
Dinner table with stuffed peppers with rice and side salad

Tips for the Best Stuffed Peppers Recipe

  • For a shortcut, use leftover rice from the night before or a packet of microwaveable rice (like Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice).
  • Garnish the finished dish with fresh herbs just before serving. They add a nice colorful, fresh touch!
  • Use red, orange, or yellow peppers if you prefer a sweeter taste. Try green bell peppers for a zestier bite.
  • For the Slow Cooker: To make these stuffed peppers in a Crock Pot, skip the step of pre-cooking the peppers in the microwave. Stuff the peppers with the rice and ground turkey filling, cover, and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours. Top with the cheese and continue cooking until the cheese melts (about 10-15 more minutes).
Overhead shot of hands holding a tray of the best stuffed peppers recipe

More Stuffed Pepper Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of a plate of stuffed peppers with rice

Stuffed Peppers with Rice

5 from 13 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 4 – 8 people
Calories 324 kcal
Classic Stuffed Peppers with rice, ground beef, two different types of cheese, and Italian herbs are baked in tomato sauce until tender and flavorful!

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise, discarding seeds and membranes. Place peppers, cut side up, in a microwave-safe 13×9-inch baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the dish. Lightly cover with parchment paper. Microwave until peppers begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.*
    Pre cooking bell peppers in a glass dish
  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion; cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off fat. Stir in cooked rice, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Add ½ cup of cheddar and ½ cup of Monterey Jack or mozzarella. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
    Stirring ground beef and rice filling in a Dutch oven
  • Season the inside of each pepper with salt and pepper. Stuff peppers with beef mixture and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cover with foil.
    Process shot showing how to make stuffed peppers with rice
  • Bake until tender and heated through, about 35 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheddar and remaining ½ cup of Monterey Jack or mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, until cheese melts, about 10 more minutes. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil.
    Sprinkling cheese on top of stuffed peppers

Video

Notes

*Alternatively, you can pre-bake the peppers in the oven instead of in the microwave. To do so, fill a baking dish large enough to fit peppers with about ½ -inch of water. Place peppers cut-side down in water, cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes.
  • For a shortcut, use leftover rice from the night before or a packet of microwaveable rice (like Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice).
  • Garnish the finished dish with fresh herbs just before serving. They add a nice colorful, fresh touch!
  • Use red, orange, or yellow peppers if you prefer a sweeter taste. Try green bell peppers for a zestier bite.
  • For the Slow Cooker: To make these stuffed peppers in a Crock Pot, skip the step of pre-cooking the peppers in the microwave. Stuff the peppers with the rice and ground turkey filling, cover, and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours. Top with the cheese and continue cooking until the cheese melts (about 10-15 more minutes).

Nutrition

Serving: 1/2 of a stuffed pepperCalories: 324kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 19gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 484mgPotassium: 508mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2349IUVitamin C: 81mgCalcium: 235mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: classic stuffed peppers, stuffed bell peppers, stuffed peppers recipe, stuffed peppers with rice
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in August, 2020. It was updated in July, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Kris says:

    Thank you Blair!
    I know it sounds silly, but I’ve always shied away from stuffed peppers because I’m not a fan of green pepper. I saw your beautiful picture and thought What! Certainly! Love the flavor of other color peppers! I’m going to make this with red pepper!
    Sometimes I don’t use peppers I’ve bought as fast as I think I will, this will help prevent that,. Normally they get chopped up, put into a ziplock & frozen for later for another dish.
    Thank you for sharing your talents with us. I enjoy the beautiful photos of the area as much as the recipes!
    Kris

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Kris! Thanks for note. I hope you enjoy the peppers — they’re so great with the sweeter red peppers. 🙂

    2. Jay says:

      Green peppers cause digestive problems for me but the red,yellow and orange are my favorites!

      1. The Seasoned Mom says:

        Any color tastes great with this recipe!

        1. Kimmy McGaha says:

          5 stars
          The best stuffed peppers I have ever had. Perfect in every way. Very appetizing dish.

          1. The Seasoned Mom says:

            Thank you very much, Kimmy!

  2. Garner says:

    My husband loves stuffed peppers! I’m looking forward to trying your recipe and using the sweeter peppers. That might make me a bigger fan. I really appreciate all of the options you’ve mentioned too!

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you! I hope that he approves! 🙂

  3. MLHenry says:

    Easy and inexpensive to make, and the meat sauce is delicious! Missed putting cheese in the meat mixture, but it was still awesome just on the top. Very good recipe.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you!

      1. Janice A says:

        5 stars
        This recipe is so good! I roasted the peppers in the oven instead of microwaving.

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          Thanks, Janice!

  4. Sara says:

    5 stars
    Very good!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Sara!

  5. Sheila says:

    5 stars
    Stuffed Peppers – Absolutely delicious! I used red peppers. I added about 1/2 cup of chopped cooked mushrooms with the cheese to the meat sauce. A nice optional addition.
    Great video and pics.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Sheila! Your additions sound delicious. We’re so glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Trevor Roadhouse says:

    5 stars
    Fabulous!!!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you, Trevor!

      1. Ginny says:

        5 stars
        Delicious!! My Italian husband grew up on his mother’s stuffed peppers, and he thought these were better than hers! He said he looks forward to me making these again.

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          Wow! Thank you so much, Ginny!

  7. Susan Z King says:

    3 minutes in the microwave was far from enough time prior to baking !!!
    I will go back to the dark ages and lightly boil them next time
    TY anyway

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Hi Susan,
      We’re sorry this didn’t work for you! Of course, every microwave is different and could require more time. However, boiling would work as well. We hope you give this recipe another shot.

  8. Karie says:

    5 stars
    I love that you cut your bell peppers in half! These are so delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe with us~

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Kari! We’re glad you enjoyed it.

  9. Vita says:

    Its not just with rice. Don’t say it in your title please

  10. Bo says:

    5 stars
    This was hands down the best stuffed peppers I’ve ever made or ate. I switched up some of the ingredients to make this my own recipe. I used ground mild Italian sausage and leftover Uncle Bens wild rice. I also used spaghetti sauce instead of tomato sauce. The results were amazing!! Thanks Bo

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you so much, Bo!

      1. Molly says:

        Could I cook the topping the day before and refrigerate to prepare ahead? Then cook peppers and stuff on day of serving?

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          Hi, Molly! Yes, you can definitely prepare the filling in advance. When you’re ready to assemble and bake, just make sure that the filling has a chance to come to room temperature (or warm it slightly in the microwave or on the stovetop). You don’t want to put a cold filling in the peppers, because it won’t warm through in the recommended time. Hope you enjoy!

  11. Tricia says:

    5 stars
    I searched through recipes and yours seemed to be the best choice. So happy I found these peppers. My husband and I loved them.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thanks so much, Tricia!

  12. Adel says:

    In Middle East they stuff zuchini and eggplants with mixture of raw meat and rice. They close the veggs with potatos ank cook them after covering with water in a pot. The problem is the rice do not get ripened! How to solve the problem.

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We use cooked rice to avoid this!

  13. Mary Stewart says:

    5 stars
    Added more seasoning but it was delicious

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you, Mary!

  14. Kathy A Dinser says:

    5 stars
    We loved these. Sooo tasty. Used yellow peppers.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Wonderful! Thanks, Kathy!

  15. Ruth says:

    5 stars
    These were so good, no recipe tweeking needed, they are full of so much flavor

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you, Ruth! We’re so glad you enjoyed them!

  16. Kathy says:

    5 stars
    My husband begs for these. I use butterball frozen turkey burgers and add the seasonings from the recipe. I will never make them any other way!!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so happy to hear this! Thank you for sharing, Kathy.