How To Make Stuffed Bell Peppers

updated Aug 14, 2022

Got leftovers? Stuff 'em in a pepper, top with cheese, and call it a day!


Prep20 minutes

Cook1 hour 10 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Stuffed bell peppers are what dinner dreams are made of. They can be filled with any combination of starches, meat, beans, and sauces, making them the ultimate leftover vehicle. The peppers steam and bake in the oven into supple submission, making them a mostly hands-off dish.

Stuffed Peppers

All Leftovers Welcome

Stuffed bell peppers were clearly born from a need to create a leftover-friendly dinner. Most recipes call for at least cooked rice and often cooked beans. Frozen rice and canned beans are welcome to be used as needed to fill these peppers.

The beauty is that you can easily substitute leftover quinoa or couscous for the rice, or use leftover roast chicken in place of the ground beef. The canned tomatoes can be replaced with salsa — just don’t skip the tomatoes all together, and make sure to drain them first.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Tops Are Tops

Some recipes call for saving the pepper tops and using them as a lid for the peppers. This recipe calls for dicing them and tossing them into the filling — both to bulk up the filling and add a touch of sweetness. Plus, who doesn’t love to see melty cheese on the top of the open-faced peppers?

Tester’s Notes

To ensure soft and tender peppers, we’ve updated this recipe to just cook and steam the peppers all in one go under a blanket of aluminum foil in the oven once they’re stuffed. It takes more baking time than the original recipe, but it’s all hands-off time.

We’ve also bumped up the seasonings to make sure every bite is flavorful and makes you want to go back for more. These stuffed peppers are the perfect one-dish meal!

Christine, April 2018

How To Make Stuffed Peppers

Got leftovers? Stuff 'em in a pepper, top with cheese, and call it a day!

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes


Nutritional Info


  • 8

    medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (about 4 pounds total)

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive or vegetable oil

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, diced

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon

    dried Italian seasoning

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cooked rice

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes, drained

  • 1 cup

    shredded Italian blend cheese (4 ounces)

  • Cooking spray

  • Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)



  1. Heat the oven and prepare the baking dish. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, prepare the peppers and filling.

  2. Prepare the peppers. Use a small knife to cut a wide circle around each bell pepper stem (like when carving a jack-o'-lantern) to remove the tops. Chop the tops and set aside (you'll use them in the filling). Season the inside of each pepper generously with salt and pepper. Place the peppers in 9x13-inch baking dish, wedging them together as needed to fit in one layer; set aside.

  3. Cook the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the ground beef, diced pepper tops, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook on medium-high heat, breaking the meat up with a spatula as it cooks, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice and drained tomatoes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

  4. Stuff the peppers. Evenly divide the mixture among the peppers (use a canning funnel if you have one). Sprinkle the cheese over the peppers. Carefully pour 1 cup of water between the peppers into the baking dish.

  5. Cover and bake until tender. Spray one side of a large sheet with aluminum foil with cooking spray. Place it sprayed-side down over the peppers and cover the baking dish tightly. Bake until the peppers are softened but not mushy and the filling is heated through, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with scallions if desired before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The peppers can be stuffed and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Add 10 minutes baking time.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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