Stuffed peppers filled with ground beef, Mexican-inspired seasonings, black beans, corn, and fire-roasted tomatoes. They make for delicious individual portions loaded with protein and veggies!
Stuffed bell peppers are the perfect way to deliver a complete meal all in one edible bowl. You can fill the large hollow centers with any protein and vegetable combination you can dream up. Once you get the concept down, feel free to experiment with it from there. The recipe is also great for batch cooking or meal prepping for the busy week ahead.
Bell pepper selection
There are so many different types of peppers, but for their size and shape, bell peppers work best. They come in various colors and flavors. Green has a stronger bitter taste, while yellow, orange, and red has a slight sweetness to them. You can cut the tops off to make bowls or split them down the middle to make boats.
The bowl-shape stands up nicely in a skillet, while the bowl-shape is better cooked on a sheet tray. The peppers do not need to be blanched before stuffing as they soften during the roasting process. After baking, use a fork to check if the peppers are tender, if they pierce easily they’re ready.
How to make stuffed peppers
Cut the tops off of the bell peppers so that the bottoms are about 3-inch tall. The width will vary between peppers, but this size ensures that it can fit about ¾ cup of the beef mixture. Use a large spoon to remove the white seeds and membranes, then season the insides with salt and pepper. Arrange the peppers in a greased 12-inch cast iron pan or baking dish.
Make the filling by heating olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, garlic, serrano pepper, and beef. Season with cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Stir in chopped bell pepper, black bean, corn, diced tomatoes, green onions, and cheese. Stuff the peppers and then bake until tender for about 30 minutes. I like to melt some cheese on top before serving.
Adding flavor to the beef filling
Cooking the ground beef in a hot pan first browns the proteins for enhanced flavor before stuffing. It’s then seasoned with ground spices like cumin, paprika, and dried chili peppers. The drying process intensifies the taste of the seasonings, which then transfers to the meat and vegetables.
Chopped serrano peppers add a little heat, but don’t be afraid to add more if you like spicier foods. Ground turkey or chicken can be easily substituted for those looking for a poultry option that has a reduced amount of saturated fat.
Types of stuffing ingredients
The browned meat gets mixed with canned black beans, corn, fire-roasted tomatoes, and green onions. Using canned products make for a quick and convenient filling. However, homemade beans are affordable and easy to make, and corn on the cob can be cooked in just minutes! I also chop up some of the tops of the bell peppers and use them in the stuffing. This reduces waste and it adds extra crunch.
Customize the recipe
Adding white rice or quinoa are other tasty add-ins for a more substantial meal. Give the peppers a European twist by using Italian seasoning, mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, and top with tomato sauce. It’s also easy to make this recipe adhere to the keto diet and low carb friendly by removing the corn and beans. I would then substitute in zucchini, spinach, carrots, or kale.
Make ahead of time
The peppers can be stuffed and then baked when ready to serve. They will last up to 5 days unbaked. You can also bake, cool completely, and then pack them away for meal prep throughout the week!
Make it a complete meal
Select the right kind of ground beef
There are many types of ground beef available at the market. For stuffed peppers, I use an 80-90% lean meat to 10-20% fat ratio. Ground chuck, ground round, or ground sirloin are flavorful options. They will give a good balance of beefy flavors while the fat ensures the meat doesn’t dry out. However, if the meat is too high in fat, the texture will taste greasy.
- 8 large bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil , plus more for greasing pan
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1 cup (135 g) white onion, ¼-inch dice
- 2 teaspoons (3 g) minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) minced serrano pepper, plus slices for garnish
- 1 pound (454 g) lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup (140 g) bell peppers, ¼-inch dice, from the tops of peppers
- 1 cup (160 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (160 g) yellow corn, drained
- 1 cup (411 g) diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
- ¼ cup (32 g) sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
- ¾ cup (88 g) shredded Mexican cheese , Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 375ºF (191ºC).
- Cut the tops off of each bell pepper, leaving about 3-inches of the bottom for stuffing. Remove the membrane and seeds. Chop the top pieces into ¼-inch dice, about 1 cup. Set aside.
- Grease the sides and bottom of a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or casserole baking dish with olive oil. Arrange the peppers inside. Lightly season the insides of the peppers with salt and pepper.
- Chop the onion into a ¼-inch dice. Mince the garlic. Cut the serrano pepper in half, remove the seeds, membrane, and stem, then mince.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot add diced onion, minced garlic, and minced serrano pepper. Saute until onions are tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add in the ground beef, breaking into smaller pieces. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. To season the beef, add the cumin, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and chili powder, stir to combine.
- Add in 1 cup of diced bell peppers, saute for 1 minute. Add in the black beans, corn, tomatoes, and green onion, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat and add in ¾ cup cheese, stir to combine. Taste the beef filling, add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Add about ¾ cup of filling, of enough to fill each bell pepper.
- Bake until the peppers are tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of cheese on top of each one. Bake until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
- Serve stuffed peppers garnished with green onions and thinly sliced serrano peppers.
- Make it Keto or Low Carb: Omit the corn and beans and substitute with zucchini, spinach, carrots, or kale.