Stuffed peppers are a quick and easy meal that is perfect for busy school nights. They are filling, comforting, and can be made ahead of time for an easy weeknight dinner.
This my mom’s version of stuffed peppers – they are out of this world good. In fact, it’s my most favorite food on the planet! Honestly! I can’t wait to teach you how to make these amazing bell peppers stuffed with ground beef, rice, stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cheese and a secret ingredient!
Why I Love This Recipe
The only meal I ever remember being forced to eat was stuffed peppers.
My parents definitely were not food sticklers making my siblings or I sit at the table, crying, until we finished our food.
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My mom really just never made anything “too crazy” that us kids didn’t like! … except stuffed peppers.
I don’t know why, but one particular night, my mom forced me to eat my stuffed pepper, like the actual green pepper! GROSS!!!
I just remember whining as if my life depended on it.
Fast forward many years. What’s my most favorite dish that my mom makes?
You guessed it! Stuffed peppers! … and she hardly ever makes them! Funny how the tables have turned!
She probably hasn’t made them in 15 years for me! So over the years, I’ve asked her how to make them … and each time she tells me it’s different! HAHA! My mom doesn’t measure when she cooks, so recalling recipes or being able to tell someone how to make something is very difficult! (She actually hates cooking!)
I’ve attempted making stuffed peppers three times on this blog in the past:
- Super Spicy Stuffed Green Peppers (made in 2011)
- Stuffed Peppers Recipe (made in 2011)
- Risotto (kindof) Stuffed Peppers (made in 2012)
Now, in 2023, I was ready to tackle the recipe again, and this time, I can say that these stuffed peppers were the most like my mom’s! … she finally remembered a few more of the ingredients! HAHA!!!
Why you’ll love these stuffed peppers:
These stuffed peppers are such a classic, comfort food. No one flavor in the peppers overpowers the others. It’s just a good, wholesome meal that warms you up and fills your belly.
They are really easy to make and does not require a ton of prep or cooking time. You can have these stuffed peppers ready to go in an hour. That’s my kind of meal, especially on busy weeknights because my family has so many obligations that keep us busy.
How To Make Stuffed Peppers
To fully explain how my mom makes her stuffed peppers, I snapped a photo of each step along the way. 1. So my mom and I can remember for next time (haha!) 2. There are a lot of steps…super easy steps…but it’s easier to see them in photos rather than describe what to do!
Make The Meat and Rice Mixture
Step 1: Brown 1lb of ground beef. I use 90% lean ground beef. Season with about 1/4c chili powder and a couple dashes of crushed red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on your likeliness of heat)
Step 2: Add 1 whole can of stewed tomatoes
Step 3: Using kitchen scissors, cut up the stewed tomatoes into small pieces.
Note: this is what my mom said to do! She said that diced tomatoes don’t taste the same (and since I’ve made this recipe multiple times over the years using diced tomatoes…I agree with her! Stewed tomatoes taste different … and better!)
Step 4: Add 1/2 of a can of tomato sauce and stir
Step 5: Cook white rice according to the package instructions. I cooked 2 cups of uncooked rice…this was way too much, but I plan to use the leftover rice for another meal.
Step 6: Add about 1 cup of cooked rice to the meat mixture and stir (I added more than what is shown below)
Par Boil The Green Bell Peppers
Step 7: Cut off the stems of the green bell peppers and scoop out the insides
Step 8: Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Place the bell peppers in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and drain out excess water. (I was lazy and didn’t want to get out my big stock pot, so I used a smaller sauce pan to par boil my peppers in).
I will say, I’ve skipped this step many times when making stuffed peppers, and I always regret it. Par boiling the peppers allows them to soften just a bit, making them more palatable with the meat mixture. It also brings out the amazing flavor of green peppers more!
Filling The Peppers
Step 9: Pour 1/4 of the remaining can of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. (I used my 9×9 dish because I only was cooking 4 peppers). Use a spoon and spread the sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish
Step 10: Grate about 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Now this is where I differed from how my mom always made stuffed peppers. She ALWAYS used Velveeta cheese in the block form, but I didn’t have any on hand. Velveeta has amazing melting capabilities (think of the macaroni and cheese box with the liquid cheese!) Because I didn’t have Velveeta, I used cheddar. Use whatever kind of cheese you prefer!
Step 11: Add about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese to the meat mixture and stir to incorporate
Step 12: Place the par boiled green bell peppers into the baking dish and fill with the meat mixture. Spoon the remaining meat mixture (if any) around the base of bell peppers in the tomato sauce
Step 13: Top each pepper with a generous amount of cheese
Step 14: Time for the secret ingredient! Don’t skip this step!
Besides using Velveeta cheese, my mom’s most signature ingredient on her stuffed peppers were Bac’n Pieces (we call then bacon bits). While my husband has qualms about using these (I literally only use them for stuffed peppers!), they truly elevate these stuffed peppers to the next level. I don’t know how, but they do! Don’t skip this step!!! I promise, if you do, you will regret it!
Top each cheesy pepper with a couple of shakes of the bacon bits.
Step 15: Drizzle the remaining 1/4 can of tomato sauce all over the top of the peppers. Again, this is another step you do not want to skip! If you accidentally used too much of the sauce in the meat mixture or on the bottom of the baking dish and don’t have enough now, get another can. Really. This little bit of tomato sauce seals the most amazing flavor into these peppers, so you don’t want to skip this step!
Step 16: Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes … or until the cheese is gooey and melty! Because the peppers are par boiled (already slightly softened) and the meat mixture is hot, these peppers don’t need a ton of time baking
Then the very next step is to DIG IN!
My family doesn’t OVERLY love stuffed peppers the way I do…so…sad for them and great for me! I honestly can eat 2 full stuffed peppers in one meal and have zero regret! …and this is one of the only meals that I will eat reheated! (I have an aversion to leftovers, lol!)
Cook With Me Video!
The most surefire way to tell if your peppers are cooked to perfection is when they start to wrinkle. This means that the pepper is tender but still firm enough to need a fork and knife to cut it. These pictures below are exactly how you want them to look!
Oh man. I am literally drooling over these photos! These were the best stuffed peppers I have ever made and they tasted just like my mom’s! I am so proud to finally have mastered her recipe!
Stuffed Pepper Filling Variations
While you are not limited to only filling your peppers with what I’ve explained above, you can use:
- ground turkey or venison instead of beef
- orzo noodles instead of rice
- pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar
I hope you give this recipe a try and then come back and give it a 5 star rating!
Mom’s Classic Stuffed Peppers with Rice
- Brown 1lb of ground beef. I use 90% lean ground beef. Season with chili powder and crushed red pepper flakes
- Add 1 whole can of stewed tomatoes. Using kitchen scissors, cut up the stewed tomatoes into small pieces.
- Add 1/2 of a can of tomato sauce and stir
- Cook white rice according to the package instructions.
- Add about 1 cup of cooked rice to the meat mixture and stir
Par Boil The Green Bell Peppers
- Cut off the stems of the green bell peppers and scoop out the insides
- Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Place the bell peppers in the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and drain out excess water.
Fill The Peppers
- Pour 1/4 of the remaining can of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Use a spoon and spread the sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish
- Grate about 1 cup of cheddar cheese
- Add about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese to the meat mixture and stir to incorporate
- Place the par boiled green bell peppers into the baking dish and fill with the meat mixture. Spoon the remaining meat mixture (if any) around the base of bell peppers in the tomato sauce
- Top each pepper with a generous amount of cheese
- Top each cheesy pepper with a couple of shakes of the Bac'n Pieces
- Drizzle the remaining 1/4 can of tomato sauce all over the top of the peppers
- Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes … or until the cheese is gooey and melty!