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The Best Stuffed Peppers – The Ultimate Comfort Food Recipe

When you think of classic comfort food do Stuffed Peppers come to mind? It is one of my favorite meals to make and eat when the weather begins to turn cold.

Seasoned ground beef mixed with small diced vegetables and rice and placed inside the center of tender bell peppers. Then add a little marinara sauce and shredded cheese on top and throw it in the oven.

Once baked the peppers are nice and tender and the filling is bursting with flavor. It is a complete dinner recipe that will leave you feeling full for hours.

best stuffed peppers
A true comfort meal that will keep you feeling full for hours! Stuffed peppers filled with ground beef, rice and diced vegetables.

But what I like best about making stuffed peppers is that they are extremely versatile. You can mix up the ingredients to make them however you like.

For instance, instead of using ground beef, make them a little healthier with ground chicken or turkey. And to make things more cost effective I purchase a family pack of chicken breasts once a week.

And instead of buying an additional pound of ground chicken, I will use my Hamilton Beach Duo Food Processor to grind up two of the chicken breasts to make my own ground chicken.

It is a much more economical way to have ground chicken on hand. Then I can also use the food processor to dice whatever vegetables that I am adding to the mix as well.

It is both a time saving and cost effective way to get a comfort food meal on the table without a lot of work.

Use Whatever Veggies You Have On Hand

And speaking of what vegetables to use, my theory is use whatever you have on hand and enjoy eating. In the recipe below I have included onions, garlic and diced peppers.

However, you could also add diced mushrooms, zucchini or even shredded carrots. And don’t stop there!

If you have leftover corn or black beans from making Chicken Burrito Bowls, Cowboy Caviar or Corn Chowder, throw them in the mix as well. You can easily switch up the flavor of this classic comfort food recipe with whatever you have in your kitchen.

diced mushrooms
Feel free to add other vegetables to the meat and rice mixture like diced mushrooms, carrots or zucchini.

The Best Stuffed Pepper Recipe

*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 bell peppers, any color
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup long grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ½ cups marinara sauce, divided three ways
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided

Optional Ingredients:

  • diced mushroom
  • shredded and diced carrots
  • diced zucchini

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

Cut the top off each pepper and discard the stem. Chop the remaining pepper from the top section and reserve for later use.

Remove the seeds and ribs from the inside of each pepper. Then rinse out the inside of each pepper to remove any remaining seeds.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it is at a rapid boil, lower the peppers inside and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully remove each pepper from the water and place in a large colander to drain.

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until half way done. Then add the diced onion and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Drain the meat mixture and return it back to the skillet.

pepper tops
Cut the top portion off each pepper. Discard the stem but save the remaining pepper top to add to the filling.

Add the undrained diced tomatoes, rice, water, diced pepper tops, Worcestershire sauce, and dried Italian seasoning to the meat and stir. Add Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a low simmer. Then reduce the heat and cover the skillet with a lid.

Cook the stuffed pepper filling for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure that the rice is submerged in liquid. Continue to cook until the rice is tender, adding extra water if needed.

Once the rice is cooked, stir in 1/2 cup of your favorite marinara sauce and 1/2 cup of the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.

Prepare The Peppers For The Oven

Pour 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, being sure to spread it out so that it covers the entire bottom of the dish. Place the drained peppers in the pan, cut side up.

Divide the filling evenly and fill each pepper with the meat and rice mixture. Then spoon the remaining 1/2 cup of marinara sauce over the top of the peppers.

Cover the baking dish with foil, being sure to tent the foil if needed so that it doesn’t touch the top of the peppers. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the dish and top the peppers with the remaining Mozzarella cheese. Continue to bake uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to turn golden brown.

stuffed pepper filling
Once the ground beef is no longer pink, add the remaining ingredients and cook until warmed through before adding the filling to the peppers.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. It is best to let the stuffed peppers sit for 5 minutes before serving.

When serving be sure to spoon some of the sauce from the bottom of the pan over top of each pepper for maximum flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use leftover cooked rice instead of uncooked rice?

If you want to speed up the process of getting the stuffed peppers in the oven, you can use cooked white rice.

1/2 cup of uncooked rice = 1 1/2 cups cooked rice

You will also need to decrease the amount of liquid that the original recipe calls for if you use cooked rice. 1/2 cup of uncooked rice needs 1 cup of water to cook properly.

Therefore, it is best to eliminate 1 cup of water in this stuffed pepper recipe if using cooked rice. Then stir in the rice with the other ingredients and heat through until warm.

Then proceed with the recipe as instructed.

2. If I want to add other vegetables, when should I add them to the recipe?

If you choose to add diced zucchini, mushrooms and/or shredded carrots, do so when you saute the peppers and onions. This will allow them enough time for the vegetables to soften but not become too mushy.

3. Do I have to boil the peppers first?

If you want your stuffed peppers to have a firm and crunchy exterior, then it is best to skip the boiling process. Simply add the meat and rice mixture to the cleaned out peppers and bake as indicated.

If you want the peppers to be somewhat soft, but don’t want to boil them, there are three other options. First, while the oven is preheating, add a little water to the baking dish and place the peppers cut side down.

peppers stuffed with meat and rice filling
You can easily double or triple the recipe to make more stuffed peppers. The leftovers freeze well for an easy to prepare meal any time that you need one.

Then when you are ready to fill the peppers, remove them from the oven and discard the water. Fill the peppers and cook as instructed.

You can also place the peppers in an air fryer set at 400°F (200°C) for 5 minutes. This will allow the peppers to become slightly tender before being filled.

Finally, the third option is to place the peppers in an Instant Pot. Add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pot and turn the valve to Sealing.

Steam for 0 minutes and then move the valve to Venting. *Yes, you read that right. Zero minutes is the correct time to program.

While the pot is coming to pressure, the water will get warm enough to steam the peppers to the perfect consistency.

4. Can I make these ahead of time?

One of the best advantages of making stuffed peppers is that they freeze well. You can freeze them before you bake them or after they have been cooked.

The choice is up to you. When you go to freeze them, place the peppers on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving room between each one.

Then place them in the freezer until they are completely frozen. Transfer the peppers to a freezer safe container or Food Saver bag for longer storage.

When it is time to make the peppers, allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. However, be aware that if you froze uncooked stuffed peppers the peppers themselves will be much less firm than if you cooked them right away.

Therefore, if you plan to freeze them skip the boiling instructions at the beginning of the recipe.

Enjoy!

Mary and Jim

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The Best Stuffed Peppers

stuffed peppers with cheese on a white plate

The best stuffed bell peppers filled with your choice of ground meat, veggies, rice and cheese. Then it is topped with marinara sauce instead of tomato sauce for added flavor.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 bell peppers, any color
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup long grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ½ cups marinara sauce, divided three ways
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Cut the top off each pepper and discard the stem. Chop the remaining pepper from the top section and reserve for later use.
  3. Remove the seeds and ribs from the inside of each pepper. Rinse out the inside of each pepper to remove any remaining seeds.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it is at a rapid boil, lower the peppers inside and cook for 5 minutes. Carefully remove each pepper from the water and place in a large colander to drain.
  5. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef until half way done. Then add the diced onion and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.
  6. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Drain the meat mixture and return it back to the skillet.
  7. Add the undrained diced tomatoes, rice, water, diced pepper tops, Worcestershire sauce, and dried Italian seasoning to the meat and stir. Add Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste.
  8. Bring the mixture to a low simmer. Then reduce the heat and cover the skillet with a lid.
  9. Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure that the rice is submerged in liquid. Continue to cook until the rice is tender, adding extra water if needed.
  10. Once the rice is cooked, stir in ½ cup of your favorite marinara sauce and 1/2 cup of the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  11. Pour 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, being sure to spread it out so that it covers the entire bottom of the dish. Place the drained peppers in the pan, cut side up.
  12. Divide the filling evenly and fill each pepper with the meat and rice mixture. Then spoon the remaining 1/2 cup of marinara sauce over the top of the peppers.
  13. Cover the baking dish with foil, being sure to tent the foil if needed so that it doesn't touch the top of the peppers. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove foil from the dish and top the peppers with the remaining Mozzarella cheese. Continue to bake, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to turn golden brown.
  15. Remove the baking dish from the oven. It is best to let the stuffed peppers sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 808mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 29g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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