Classic stuffed peppers with rice, ground beef, and a healthy rainbow of sweet red, yellow and orange bell peppers makes the best easy dinner idea any night of the week.
Ever since I was a starry eyed pre-teen, I’ve been a fan of drawing rainbows. Now I eat them.
But as a kid, I wrinkled my nose at the sight those orbed vegetables, and when they showed up on my dinner plate, I plotted how to ditch every single bite in a napkin that was slipped slyly to the dog anxiously waiting under the table. I was a kid, and eating a whole bell pepper even if it was stuffed with ground beef was not my idea of dinner. Now, it’s my favorite part!
As an adult, eating the food you hated as a kid suddenly becomes not. that. bad. and sometimes really, really good. And I can’t stop! I just keep making more versions of this meal served in it’s own vessel like my Mexican Stuffed Peppers, Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Stuffed Peppers, Zuccnini, Quinoa and Turkey Stuffed Peppers and even Baked Eggs in Stuffed Peppers.
But the cornerstone of all peppers is this classic recipe for the best stuffed bell peppers with rice and ground beef.
The Best Type of Peppers for Stuffing
Today’s selection of peppers comes from a mix of grocery store varieties (red, yellow and orange) and ultra local farmer’s market (more yellows and purple) for a rainbow of sweetness begging to be stuffed.
If you prefer green peppers, for sure go for it and use them instead.
I went back to the memory of my mom’s recipe with ground beef and rice in a tomato based sauce, and embellished it with chunks of mushroom and fresh cut corn and a sprinkle of herbs and red pepper flakes.
What You Can Put In Stuffed Peppers
This is one of those throw what you have in the fridge type of recipes. Use my portions as guidelines but definitely put on your experimental hat when choosing ingredients:
- Red, yellow, orange or even green bell peppers
- Lean ground beef
- Cooked white rice (you can use brown rice, farro or quinoa, too)
- Tomato sauce
- Corn, celery and garlic
- Cheese, I added some grated fontina, but you could use Monterey jack or mozzarella or whatever’s on hand.
- If you prefer green bell peppers, certainly use them instead of or in addition to this bevy of colorful beauties.
Cut the tops off of the peppers to stuff the whole thing with beefy goodness. If you prefer smaller portions, cut the peppers in half and serve open faced.
How to Make Stuffed Peppers Stand Up
When I ate these as a kid, my mom served the peppers cut in half, laid on their backs. But I like stuffed peppers best when standing straight up, brimming to the top with filling.
Here are my tips to get stuffed peppers to stand up and not tip over:
- Use a baking dish that snugly fits the peppers. The peppers shrink as they cook, so pack them in tightly when raw, and they’ll soften and fall a bit with heat.
- Trim the bottom of the pepper. Give the peppers a flat surface to stand on by evening out their rollicking bottoms.
Cook the Meat Before Filling
When making stuffed peppers, a popular question is, “Do I have to cook the meat before stuffing the peppers?” The answer is, yes. Adding juicy, browned meat adds loads of flavor to this dish, so be sure not to miss this step. Brown the meat before adding the vegetables, where they will soften and gain flavor, and add the seasoning afterward to simmer and meld the flavors.
The Best Rice for Stuffed Peppers
Medium, long grain white rice or jasmine rice is the rice I use most often in stuffed peppers. But brown rice or other grains like farro or quinoa in these peppers are terrific options too.
This is a great recipe to use up leftover rice. Or, while the meat is cooking, prepare the white rice or other grain you’re adding to the pepper mixture, and stir it into the meat and vegetables just before filling the peppers.
How Long Do You Cook Stuffed Bell Peppers?
A common question is, how long do you cook stuffed peppers?
My secret time saver: Blanch the peppers in the microwave to cut the cooking time!
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 1/4 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.
Stuff the peppers with the warm filling and cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until fork-tender and the cheese begins to bubble.
Make Them In the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker
This 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 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
Freeze stuffed peppers after cooking them. Store in a freezer safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Freeze in individual servings to take to work for lunch or pull out for a quick to heat dinner.
To reheat frozen stuffed peppers:
- Microwave in a microwave safe container for 20 minutes on HIGH heat or until warmed inside.
- To cook in the oven, preheat to 375°F and cook for 1 hour.
What to Eat With Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers are really a whole meal in one, so all you really need to complete your easy, healthy dinner, is a simple salad and an easy dessert if you feel like going the distance.
- Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways
- Avocado Grapefruit and Fennel Salad
- Citrus Fennel and Avocado 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! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
BEST Stuffed Bell Peppers with Ground Beef
- 1 pound lean ground beef 90% lean
- 4 mushrooms chopped
- 3 ears of fresh corn kernals or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
- 2 ribs of celery chopped thinly
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons basil
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups cooked long grain rice
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 6 bell peppers
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese or monterey jack cheese
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 mushrooms, corn kernals, chopped celery, onion and garlic and cook until vegetables are softened. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper to taste and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and chopped parsley and cook for another 5 minutes or until the rice is warmed through.
Meanwhile, cut off the tops of the peppers and 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 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes or until they start to soften.
Transfer to a 3 quart baking dish and fill the peppers with the hot meat and rice mixture. Sprinkle the tops with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is browned. Serve hot.
More Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipes
- The BEST Mexican Stufffed Peppers Recipe
- 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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