Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
These stuffed peppers aren’t the kind your mom made. They’re meatless and loaded with fresh flavor. They’re cheesy as shown, yes, but the cheese is actually non-essential. You can easily make these peppers dairy free or vegan.
I was inspired to incorporate some of my favorite Mexican ingredients, including pinto beans, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, lime, chili powder and cumin. The filling is so tasty, I could eat it as a side dish! These peppers are somewhat time consuming, but each element is simple to make.
The trick to making great stuffed peppers is to slice the peppers in half from the stem end down through the base. Then, pre-roast the halves until they’re tender and a bit caramelized at the sliced edges. This way, their flavor is condensed and their texture is just right—not too crisp, but not falling apart.
Please do yourself a favor and cook extra brown rice while you’re at it. Then, you’ll be one step closer to dinner tomorrow night—say, Extra Veggie Fried Rice or any of these rice-based dishes. High five!
How to Make Stuffed Peppers
You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s the gist:
- Roast the peppers.
- Cook the rice (unless you’re using leftover cooked rice).
- Cook the filling, adding the rice and beans at the end.
- Stuff the peppers and top with cheese.
- Bake and serve!
These peppers are a great meal to prepare in advance. You can get a head start by cooking the rice and prepping the peppers. Or assemble them completely, then cover and refrigerate for later. This would be a great dish to drop off at a friend’s house with baking instructions (about 12 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit).
Stuffed Pepper Serving Suggestions
These stuffed peppers are a balanced meal in their own right, featuring whole grains, veggies and beans for additional protein and fiber. Here are a few side dishes that would complement the meal:
- Black Beans (From Scratch!)
- Chunky Avocado Salsa
- Fresh Corn Salsa
- Herbed Avocado Salad
- Mexican Green Salad with Jalapeño-Cilantro Dressing (or a simplified version of it)
More Hearty Mexican-Inspired Recipes
If you enjoy these stuffed peppers, you’ll also appreciate these recipes:
- Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas
- Epic Vegetarian Tacos
- Pinto Posole
- Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole
- Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas
Please let me know how your stuffed peppers turn out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 stuffed peppers 1x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegetarian
These vegetarian stuffed peppers are inspired by my favorite Mexican dishes! This recipe features roasted bell peppers filled with a flavorful combination of pinto beans, brown rice and fresh veggies, topped with melted cheese (optional). This recipe yields 8 stuffed peppers, enough for 4 main dish servings or 8 sides.
- 4 large red bell peppers, halved from stem to base, seeds and membranes removed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper, for sprinkling
Filling and topping
- ½ cup long-grain brown rice (or 1 ½ cups cooked rice)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon fine salt, to taste
- 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 can (1 ½ cups) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated part-skim mozzarella or cheddar
- Optional garnishes: Sliced ripe avocado or guacamole, perhaps a drizzle of cilantro-hemp pesto, red salsa, sour cream or vegan sour cream
- To roast the peppers: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the halved peppers in a large 9 by 13-inch baking dish, or on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the peppers and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Use your hands to rub the oil all over both sides of the peppers, then arrange them with the cut sides facing up. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the peppers are a little blistered around the edges and easily pierced through by a fork. Set aside. Leave the oven on for baking the peppers.
- In the meantime, cook the rice: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh colander until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the boiling water and continue boiling, uncovered, for 30 minutes (reduce the heat as necessary to prevent overflow). Drain off the remaining cooking water and return the rice to the pot. Set aside.
- Prepare the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they’re lightly squishy, another 5 minutes or so.
- Add the cilantro, garlic, chili powder and cumin. While stirring, cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the rice, beans, lime juice and about 10 twists of black pepper. Stir to combine, then season with additional salt (I usually add ¼ teaspoon) and black pepper, to taste.
- To stuff the peppers, first pour off any excess juice pooled within the peppers. Then stuff each pepper generously with the rice mixture (if the peppers were truly large, you should have just the right amount of filling—if you have extra, save it to serve as a side dish). Top the peppers with the cheese.
- Bake at 425 for 12 to 13 minutes, until the cheese is golden in spots. Serve warm with fresh cilantro leaves on top or any other garnishes of your choice. Leftovers keep well in the fridge, covered, for up to 4 days. I believe they would freeze well for several months, but haven’t tried to be sure.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the cheese, and cover the baking dish during its final stint in the oven. I recommend topping the finished peppers with something creamy or saucy, like guacamole, cilantro-hemp pesto or vegan sour cream.
Prepare in advance: This dish is a bit time consuming, though it’s not difficult. You could make the rice in advance, and/or prep the peppers so they are ready to pop in the oven later. You could even assemble the peppers completely and refrigerate, covered, until you’re ready to bake (they will likely need a few extra minutes in the oven to warm through).