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Meal Prep

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed peppers have been a favorite dish of mine ever since my aunt first made them many years ago. It seemed like a complicated and wonderful recipe at the time, but who knew it was actually so easy? This is a classic comfort food recipe that’s filling, easy to make, and can feed a large family. Plus, this version is incredibly delicious! We’re still talking about it more than a month later. 😉

These stuffed bell peppers are filled with a mixture of ground beef, tomato sauce and rice, then topped with cheese and baked to perfection. A classic dish that’s comfort food at its finest!

I love to prepare stuffed veggies such as stuffed zucchini, stuffed cabbage and these fabulously delicious stuffed peppers. My family requests this recipe time and time again, it’s just that good.

WHAT’S IN STUFFED BELL PEPPERS?

There are several versions of stuffed bell peppers out there and most usually include ground beef, rice, tomatoes, and cheese. I got a little creative with this recipe as I wanted it to be simple to make, but still have tons of flavor! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Bell Peppers: I used different colors of bell peppers because I love how colorful and vibrant they look, but if you’re working with a tight budget you can certainly just use all green bell peppers instead.
  • Italian Sausage: Italian sausage instead of ground beef for an extra boost of flavor. But you can use ground beef, ground turkey or even Italian turkey sausage if you like.
  • Onion and garlic: These two ingredients produce a great combination of aromatics to help flavor the sausage and rice.
  • Seasoning: A simple mix of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder is all you’ll need. If you want an extra kick, you can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes too!
  • Marinara sauce: Instead of adding a can of tomatoes or tomato sauce, I used marinara sauce. It’s tomatoes with extra herbs & spices all in one…aka more flavor!
  • Long grain white rice: The rice helps bulk up the filling for the bell peppers. In this recipe the rice is cooked in the same skillet as the meat filling. It gives the rice a ton of flavor and let’s be honest…who wants to clean more dishes by cooking a separate pot of rice? Not me!
  • Chicken broth: Broth is used to help cook the rice and it provides even more flavor of course!
  • Shredded Mozzarella: And mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top for a gooey, tasty finish!

SHOULD I COOK THE BELL PEPPERS FIRST?

I definitely suggest par-cooking the bell peppers first, just a little bit before stuffing them. Not only does this help to soften the bell peppers, but it also cuts down on your cook time. As the bell peppers are cooking you can make the filling, shaving off about 20 minutes from your total cook time.

BUDGET SAVING TIPS!

Here are a few tips to help you stretch your money when making Stuffed Bell Peppers:

  1. Use the green bell peppers! Although it makes for a colorful final dish when you use red, yellow or orange bell peppers, these colors often cost a little bit more. You can just buy all green bell peppers instead and save some coins.
  2. Cut a 4th bell pepper in half and stretch the filling out to make 8 servings instead of 6. Trust me..we stuffed these bell peppers quite a bit, but you could totally stretch the filling if you wanted to.
  3. If you want to just use 1/2 a pound of sausage, that works too! Just add an additional 1/2 cup of rice and 3/4 cup of broth to what is listed in the recipe below, to increase the filling and make up the difference.
  4. Feel free to use ground beef instead if it’s cheaper than the Italian sausage at your local store. You may need to add a bit more seasoning to make up for the flavor you would get in the sausage though.

Stuffed bell peppers have been popular for many years for good reason – they’re totally delicious! My version features a hearty beef and rice mixture with plenty of melted cheese. Serve your stuffed peppers as-is, or add a side salad for a meal that your family will be sure to love.

STUFFED BELL PEPPERS INGREDIENTS

  • Bell Peppers: You can choose any color bell peppers you like. Be sure to choose peppers with flat bottoms so they will stand up in the baking dish.
  • Ground Beef: I use 90% lean ground beef as it has plenty of flavor without a lot of grease. If you use meat with a higher fat content you may need to drain excess grease from the pan after it is cooked.
  • Rice: This recipe calls for cooked rice. Leftover rice will work just fine.
  • Onions: The onions should be finely diced and add a lot of flavor to the beef and rice mixture.
  • Seasonings: Season everything up with salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning. Tomato sauce adds moisture and flavor. A sprinkle of parsley over the baked peppers is the perfect finishing touch.
  • Cheese: I use freshly grated mozzarella cheese in this recipe, but you can feel free to substitute your favorite cheese if you prefer.

HOW DO YOU MAKE STUFFED BELL PEPPERS?

Prepare the bell peppers by slicing off the tops and removing the seeds. Bake the empty peppers to soften them up before you add the filling. While the peppers are cooking, brown your beef in a pan and break it into crumbles. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and cook until the vegetables have softened.

Next, place the rice, tomato sauce and seasonings in with the beef and stir to combine. When the meat mixture is finished, use a spoon to place it into the peppers. Add the cheese to the tops of the peppers and bake. Finish the dish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, then serve and enjoy.

TIPS FOR STUFFED PEPPERS

  • Look for bell peppers that are about the same size to make sure that each of the peppers takes the same amount of time to cook.
  • If a pepper does not stand up on its own, cut a thin slice off of the bottom of the pepper to make the bottom level.
  • Feel free to use different colored bell peppers. The cooking process is the same for each of the colors and the dish will be more vibrant.

STUFFED BELL PEPPER VARIATIONS

These meaty stuffed peppers are delicious as-is, but you can also customize them to suit your taste.

  • Meat: You can use sausage or ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • Grains: Try quinoa or orzo instead of rice
  • Veggies: These peppers are great with other vegetables added to the filling such as diced zucchini, olives or corn.
  • Cheese: You can use a different cheese to top the peppers such as cheddar or Monterey Jack.

These stuffed bell peppers are a classic dish that remain popular because they are so delicious. Everyone will be asking for seconds when these stuffed peppers are on the dinner table!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

These stuffed bell peppers are filled with a mixture of ground beef, tomato sauce and rice, then topped with cheese and baked to perfection. A classic dish that's comfort food at its finest!
Prep Time 20 days
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 6 bell peppers any color, or a combination of colors
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef I use 90% lean
  • 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice do not use raw rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • cooking spray

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Slice the tops off the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds inside.
  • Place the peppers cut side down in the baking dish. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the dish.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  • While the peppers are cooking, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula, until meat is cooked through.
  • Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the rice, tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove the peppers from the oven and drain off the water. Turn the peppers over and fill each one with the beef mixture.
  • Top each pepper with the remaining cheese. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned and peppers are tender.
  • Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.

Notes

  1. Look for peppers with flatter bottoms so that they will stand up in the pan. If your peppers are not completely flat on the bottom you can cut a thin slice off to help them stay up better.
  2. Be sure to use cooked rice in this recipe, raw rice will not work.
  3. If you are using meat that has a higher fat content, you may need to drain excess grease from your pan after it is cooked.

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