With ground beef, cheese, and rice, think of this Mexican stuffed peppers recipe as your favorite taco in a healthy bell pepper shell, and you’ll be half way to the border asking for more.
Stuffed bell peppers could be the quintessential healthy-meal-delivered-in-a-vegetable-vessel if there ever was one. And yes, I did have to look up how to spell quintessential.
But this is no ordinary stuffed pepper recipe. It carries a bit of that Mexican swagger more often found at your fave taco joint where you head in with the best of intentions to eat a little lighter (hold the guac please), but head out grabbing your gut that’s now about to explode thanks to the Mexican platter combo you swore you’d save half for later—and didn’t.
I have a several stuffed peppers recipes here on the blog, like Southwestern stuffed bell peppers, creamy chicken and mushroom stuffed peppers and my version of the classic ground beef stuffed bell peppers. They’re obvi one of our favorite easy dinners.
This riff on the classic stuffed pepper recipe is Mexican-spiced for a lighter way to partake of your favorite Mexican food intake. And even better, it’s all cooked in one pan.
Ingredients in Mexican Stuffed Peppers
These stuffed peppers take advantage of all the favorite ingredients eaters the world over love about Mexican food, including:
- Red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers
- Lean ground beef
- White rice that’s cooked right in the sauce (or use leftover rice if you prefer)
- Jarred restaurant style salsa
- Classic Mexican spices of cumin and chile powder
- Cheese (because Mexican food always tastes better with melty cheese)
Pre-Cook Bell Peppers for Stuffed Peppers
Step one is prepping the bell peppers. Stem and seed the peppers, cutting them around the top instead of slicing them in half. I love the peppers almost more than the stuffing, so I am always in favor of more pepper, more better.
One of the most asked questions about making stuffed peppers is how long do you cook the peppers?
I have a secret that cuts the time in half.
I pre-cook my peppers by adding them to a microwave safe baking dish, and sprinkling the interior of the peppers with a bit of kosher salt, then adding ¼ cup water to the bottom of the dish.
Cover the peppers and give them a 5 minute blast in the microwave to pre-cook and soften them. I let them sit covered for 10 minutes or so to continue steaming while the filling is cooking.
Which leads us to…
Mexican Stuffed Peppers Ground Beef and Rice Filling
One of my goals in creating these stuffed peppers was to make it a one-pan dish you can make without a lot of prep or thought before hand. Most stuffed pepper recipes call for pre-cooked rice. In this recipe, the rice is cooked right along with the sauce.
First the ground beef is browned with the onion. Then, add a good quality, restaurant style salsa plus the classic Mexican spices cumin and chile powder. The salsa is a one-step ingredient that adds the garlic, tomatoes, and spices all in one fell swoop.
Water and dry rice are then added to the meat combination where it all cooks down and the rice absorbs the flavors and water to become tender. Stir in more water as needed until the rice is tooth tender.
How to Make Stuffed Peppers
Stuff the pre-cooked peppers with the warm filling. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until fork-tender, then top with shredded cheese and cook for a few minutes more, until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.
If you happen to have extra stuffing, spoon it around the bottom of the peppers to cook alongside.
These peppers can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated up to the point of baking in the oven. If baking straight from the fridge, add a few more minutes to bring to temperature and cook all the way through.
Crock Pot or Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers
This stuffed peppers recipe is one of the easiest to transition to the slow cooker or Crock Pot.
To cook in the slow cooker, prepare the recipe as instructed through step 3. Spray the inside of your Crock Pot with cooking spray before adding the stuffed peppers, adding any extra filling to the bottom of the crock’s insert. Wait to add the cheese until the last half hour of cooking time.
Cook for 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low, or until the peppers are soft and tender.
How to Freeze Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are super simple to freeze and reheat for busy days. Follow the instructions up to step 5. Cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
To cook stuffed peppers from frozen, do not thaw, but bake direct from frozen and covered with foil at 400°F for 1 ½ hours.
Sides That Go With Stuffed Peppers
- Caesar Salad with Homemade Garlic Croutons
- Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways
- Avocado Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
- Kale Salad with Cranberries, Apple and Cheddar Cheese
- Winter Green Salad with Orange Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- 6 bell peppers , stems and tops removed, then seeded and
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped, about 1 ½ cups
- 24 ounce jar restaurant style salsa
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup shredded cheese , Mexican blend or cheddar
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup sour cream , optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Brown the ground beef in a large fry pan over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until cooked almost through. Add the onion cook until softened, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the jarred salsa, chile powder, and cumin. Add the white rice and water, season with kosher salt and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, adding more water if necessary. When the rice is tender, fold in ¾ of the chopped cilantro, reserving some for garnish.
- While the meat and rice are cooking, cut off the tops of the peppers, spoon out the ribs and seeds, then rinse. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the peppers with kosher salt and place in a microwave safe dish with ¼ cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes or until they soften but still hold their shape.
- Transfer the peppers to a 3 quart baking dish. Fill the peppers with the hot meat and rice mixture.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle with cheese and heat for an additional minute or two until the cheese has melted. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and sour cream if you’d like, and serve.
More Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipes
- Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe
- Spiralized Zucchini, Quinoa and Turkey Sausage Stuffed Peppers
- Baked Eggs in Stuffed Peppers
- Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers
- 27 Ways To Make Your Bell Peppers Less Boring
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I made this today & it turned out great! I love it. It will be in my rotation.
Delicious! A little spicy, but the sour cream tones it down. Will definitely make again!
I’m glad you enjoyed!
These. Were. Delicious!
Like many internet recipe commenters I ended up changing things – I subbed out ground turkey for beef, and didn’t have enough salsa so I added some diced green chilies and used chicken broth instead of water, but I think the recipe is still basically the same, and it was SO GOOD! And quite filling, but surprisingly low-calorie!
I will absolutely be making these again.
Very tasty I forgot the cilantro and now am kicking myself but still good. Next time I will add a can of beans as a personal preference and perhaps omit the meat for a meatless monday dish. Thank you for the recipe!!
So yummy also have used chorizo in place of the ground beef. I did drain is well before adding the onions. I recommend this recipe!!
Amazing recipe! We are not huge fans of “traditional” stuffed peppers but had a bounty of peppers from my garden that needed to be used and decided to give this a try! Made it following the recipe as written with the addition of some corn and WE LOVED IT! Thank you it’s a keeper.
AWESOME Recipe!!! Thank you !!! I used chili powder and taco seasoning. I also used a 8.5 ounce Jasmine cilantro and lime rice. The peppers were delicious!! I love the shortcut of prepping the peppers in the microwave!!!
Any recommendations of how to substitute diced tomatoes with Green chiles for the salsa? Trying to use what’s in the cupboards and we’re currently out of salsa….just not sure amounts?
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
I would sub one can for one can! You’ll want less chiles than you would tomatoes and those cans are much smaller.
I’be used canned enchilada sauce in a pinch. Mix a cup into everything.
Katherine T Hietanen
Excellent recipe Mabel !
I only had three peppers. I froze the remaining mixture in a FoodSaver bag for a future dinner.
Also, I only had a 16 oz. tub of fresh salsa, I added a couple fresh tomatoes to bring up the volume, I also used homemade chix stock, and 1/2 t. of coriander because it pairs with the cumin.
I love using up multiple ingredients that are always in my pantry. This would be a great summer recipe to use the peppers and tomatoes in your gardens !
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Thank you Kay!
Made it for dinner, two thumbs up from hubby! Another keeper
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
Thanks so much!
Why aren’t there any measurements or temps for the oven?????
Use the same amount of water and same time.
It says 350 degrees F.
The ingredient list doesn’t reflect the cheese or cilantro. How much of each?
Ashley @ Foodie Crush
I just use them as toppings :) Thanks Rhonda!