Protein-Packed Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

updated Jun 23, 2020
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

These weeknight-friendly vegetarian stuffed peppers are packed with protein in the form of black beans and brown rice.


Prep10 minutes

Cook1 hour 10 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

One of the things I get most excited about at the farmers market in the summertime is bell peppers. Unlike the odorless ones we find in the supermarket year-round, local and seasonal bell peppers are bursting with flavor and fragrance. I can smell them from several stalls away, and my eyes light up as soon as I spot the rainbow-colored mounds.

These protein-packed vegetarian stuffed peppers are a delicious way to showcase seasonal bell peppers. They’re weeknight-friendly, made mostly with pantry staples, and feature the Latin flavors of cumin, cilantro, and lime.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

A Vegetarian Weeknight Dinner That’s Packed with Protein

The filling for these peppers starts with brown rice and black beans, both of which are rich in protein. Brown rice is a healthier alternative to white because it’s less processed and has all its edible parts still attached (read: more nutrients!). The bran and germ of rice grains, which are removed from whole brown rice to make white rice, house fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Black beans are an amazing source of plant-based protein. One cup of black beans contains about 15 grams of protein, which is slightly more than what’s found in two eggs. If you don’t have black beans on hand, feel free to substitute with pinto beans.

How to Slice, Stuff, and Serve Your Bell Peppers

I prefer halving the bell peppers lengthwise, rather than leaving them whole and slicing off the tops, because I find they fit more filling this way and it also creates more surface area for cheese. If you have leftover filling, you can use it to make a burrito or quesadilla, or enjoy it by itself in a bowl, topped with avocado and extra cilantro.

These stuffed peppers are best served warm from the oven, topped with sour cream, cilantro, and a fresh squeeze of lime. To make these vegan, simply skip the cheese and serve the cooked peppers with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and guacamole instead.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

These weeknight-friendly vegetarian stuffed peppers are packed with protein in the form of black beans and brown rice.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    small to medium bell peppers

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the peppers

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground pepper, plus more for the peppers

  • 2 tablespoons

    extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • Pinch red pepper flakes

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    fire-roasted diced tomatoes

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cooked brown rice

  • 3/4 cup

    fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 tablespoons

    minced fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

  • 2 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)

  • 3/4 cup

    Mexican shredded cheese blend or shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

  • For serving: sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, and/or lime wedges (optional)


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with oil and set aside.

  2. Trim the stems of the bell peppers, if needed, then halve them lengthwise. Remove the ribs and seeds. Arrange the peppers cut-side up in the prepared baking dish. Season generously with salt and pepper.

  3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and salt and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes, and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer for 3 minutes more.

  4. Stir in the rice, corn, and beans, and cook for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.

  5. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture, pressing down to pack them tightly. Pour 1/2 cup water into the baking dish and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.

  6. Bake until the peppers are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to 400ºF. Sprinkle the cheese on the peppers and continue baking until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The filling can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Let the filling sit out at room temperature while you heat the oven and prepare the peppers.

Storage: Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.