Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers

We get loads of requests for meatless meals.  Both from those avoiding meat for dietary reasons, and more commonly for those trying to incorporate meatless meals for budget purposes.  I’m not gonna lie- I like meat.  A lot.  Which is why it takes a really great meatless meal to make me happy and this one fits the bill.  (There’s also an awesome veggie-packed meatless taquito recipe in our cook book.  One of my faves!)

Start with bright, sweet peppers.  You can use red, yellow, or orange.  Just don’t use green.  I know they’re way cheaper, but just don’t do it, okay?  Practice saying no to drugs, and also no to green peppers- for this recipe anyway.  They’re not sweet enough.  I like to buy the packs from Costco that have red, yellow, and orange in them but for this batch I just have red.

Slice off the top of the pepper.  You may also need to trim the bottom so it can stand up.  When you’re buying your peppers take a look at them and try to find ones that are roughly the same shape (shorter and squatty are better than tall and skinny like in the picture below) and with even bottoms. Also, I just want you to know that I am avoiding all sorts of jokes right now involving the words short and squatty, tall and skinny, and even bottoms.  I’ll just leave it to your own imaginations.

Then use a sharp knife to clean out the inside, removing any seeds and membrane (the white stuff.  have I ever mentioned that “membrane” is on the list of words I detest?  Especially when referring to food.)

The peppers get dropped into a pot of salted water.  When making any stuffed pepper, this is a great step to remember.  If you skip the boiling they often end up crunchy on the outside.  These are boiled just enough to soften the bite, but not so much to make them mushy.

Pull those babies out with a pair of tongs (as opposed to say, your hands.  Which is something yours truly would do…)

and let them drain.

This part is sort of ingenious.  I felt like I was breaking all sorts of rules.  You are going to throw your rice into that giant pot of water.  That’s right, living on the wild side people.  No measuring, no perfectly steaming in a lidded pot.  Just boil it in there until it’s cooked and then drain out the water.  Great, right?

While that’s boiling away start your filling.  Saute diced onions, jalapenos (or green chilies) and garlic

add in corn (fresh frozen corn- say no to drugs, green peppers, and canned corn.  Got it?) black beans, green onions and some chipotle chili powder.  And salt and pepper too.

When that’s all warmed through, stir in the rice, a can of tomatoes, some cheese, and cilantro.

See all of the black spots on those tomatoes?  They’re good black spots.  I love “Fire Roasted” tomatoes in recipes like this.  Say yes to fire roasted tomatoes.

Then you just arrange the peppers in a dish- it helps if they’re touching each other so everyone stands up.

Sprinkle some more cheese on top

and a little bit of crushed tortilla chips on top of that.  I used about 1 tortilla chip for each pepper.

Bake ’em in the oven and everything gets warm, the cheese gets melted, and the chips crunch up on top.  They’re super flavorful and very filling!

I served these with a quick Southwest Salad (seriously, I love those salad packs when you need something fast and easy) and some extra tortilla chips for scooping up the filling.



  1. Can't spell 🙂 I love stuffed peppers! Thanks for this recipe this sounds like a great meat free dinner I have a hard time coming up with ideas without meat! And I too love that bagged southwest salad yum!!

  2. Is this a very spicy dish? We like a small amount of kick. I could take more, but the rest of my family rebels. They won't eat it if it's too spicy.

  3. This is probably blasphemy, but I can't stand peppers of any color. Do you think you could do this with portabella mushrooms? I'm thinking you'd have to maybe heat the filling through first since I think mushrooms would cook faster than peppers. Or maybe it just wouldn't work at all. Thoughts? B/c the filling sounds delish, and I feel like I need to try it in something! 🙂

  4. Dixie Mom- love you too 🙂

    Amy- it has a little kick with the jalapeno and the chipotle powder. (My toddlers both ate it, so not too hot) If you're sensitive to heat, just leave out the jalapeno (you could use the green chilies instead, they're mild) and go light on the chipotle powder, like maybe start with 1/4 tsp. You could also just use regular chili powder instead.

    Irish Mama- sounds like your feelings for peppers are like my feelings for mushrooms! lol I would *guess* you would want to brush the mushrooms with a little olive oil and roast them for a few minutes and then add the topping and heat them all through. It would probably be pretty good (ya know, if you like mushrooms, haha)

  5. Hi! It looks delicious. For you can I switch peppers with tomatoes? I like peppers but they don't get well with my digestion. Thanks!

  6. Babelgirl- ya, that would actually be really good! You could probably do 8 large tomatoes and since your filling is warm going in, just bake them until the tomatoes are as soft as you want them.

  7. Can I come live with one of y'all?? This is the kind of foods that I LOVE to eat (lots of yummy veggies and it's meatless to boot!) but that my family absolutely DETESTS. Seriously.

    So now with that said…. any possibility this would hold up to being frozen or is it something that's best left to being eaten only when fresh?

    I Bcan't wait to try it!

  8. I found a super easy way to clean out the lovely membranes that is faster and safer (for people like me) than using a knife: just use a melon baller–you can use it to get rid of any unwanted pepper parts in a flash!

  9. Once I read in Cook's Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen) that you could cut your peppers pole to pole and then you do not have to worry about them falling over. They are then laying out flat and much easier to fill too. I tried this and it worked very well.

  10. I am loving that I found you guys! My daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and I find that I can use many of your wonderful recipes as is, or adapt them to a gluten free version. I was wondering if by chance you had ever tried doing any greek gyro meat recipes. I'm on the hunt for a good/easy recipe. There was a restaurant which recently closed down that made the best gyro omelets for breakfast….but it all started with the gyro meat…

    Love you guys!!!!!!! You ROCK!

  11. We make stuffed peppers we usually incorporate whole wheat orzo, let me tell you that really fills you up. I am excited to try this recipe, I love the taste of southwestern food.

  12. These look really good. I try to make 1 vegetarian meal a week, not necessarily to save on the cost of meat (though that has been an added bonus), but mostly just to try and eat healthier, add variety to our meals, and get my husband to eat more veggies. I've seen lots of stuffed bell pepper recipes but most of them call for ground pork or some other meat, so I'm definitely gonna try this as our vegetarian meal sometime soon. 🙂

  13. Creating vegetarian dishes can be a bit challenging but I love the flavor combinations in this dish. Stuffed bell peppers are such a great way to get the vitamins and minerals we all need during the winter!

  14. I just saw this recipe on here this morning, and it just so happened I had red peppers in the fridge waiting to be used. It was delicious. All 4 kids plus my hubby loved them. The recipe as written didn't specify whether to drain the beans or not. I'm assuming from the picture that they're drained. I drained but didn't rinse.
    Anyway, thanks for the great recipe. Loved it!

  15. reposting my question since I wasn't sure any of you saw this?

    any possibility this would hold up to being frozen or is it something that's best left to being eaten only when fresh? NO ONE in my family (except me) will eat something like this so it's not worth it to make it just for one unless I can freeze portions of it

  16. Jen, sorry I missed that! I really don't know because I haven't tried it. However, I don't think the peppers would maintain the same texture after being frozen and thawed. If you try it out, let us know!

    1. I’m wondering if you couldn’t make up the filler and freeze that. Then when ready to use, thaw the filler, and boil the peppers, fill them, top with the extra cheese and bake. ??

  17. OMG this looks/sounds so Yummy! My Mom used to make stuffed peppers and I haven't had them in years. Your recipe looks to die for. I will be trying this out!


  18. I have to be honest…I do not typically like bell peppers but I joined a group that gets produce for a great deal and I keep getting bell peppers! Luckily, I have Our Best Bites to always come through with the perfect recipe right when I need it….I will try these this week! 🙂

  19. i just made it and L.O.V.E.D it! thanks so much for doing a veggie dish that is bursting with all sorts of flavors. i've never bought the fire roasted diced tomatoes. a new favorite for sure! definitely one of my new favorite recipes. i'd make the stuffing and just eat that. it's so good!

  20. Just finished eating and I LOVED this recipe. So quick especially when you have leftover rice in the fridge already and waiting to be mixed in. I loved the crunchy topping!
    I did only use 1 TBS of oil & reduced fat cheese, and when I figured out the points plus for the none-zero ingredients (there werent many) I think it was 6 points for 4 servings and I am stuffed from these stuffed peppers. Cant wait to eat the leftover for lunch.

  21. My Mom used to make stuffed bell peppers when I was little and I always remembered just hating them. They were green bell peppers though and they were stuffed with a terrible Spanish rice mixture. When I saw this recipe, I had to try it! I LOVED these and so did my husband! Thank you! They were delicious!

  22. These are fabulous! My husband who is also a meat lover kept saying, "Wow. This is an A+ meal. Wow. This is so good!" Score!!! He also asked if it was an ourbestbites and when I said yes, he said, "How on earth do they come up with all this stuff?" Good question! How on earth do you? 🙂

  23. These are SOOOO yummy. I love all things mexican and these satisfied my craving. I made them once with rice and once with quinoa. I think I prefer the quinoa. Thanks for another great recipe.

  24. These are FABULOUS! Even, husband approved! 🙂

    Also – just got your cookbook for my birthday and it is amazing! I absolutely love it! 🙂

  25. I made these for dinner last night (and am eating one for lunch today) and WOW they were delish! I made them with brown rice and I liked the texture that it brought. Thanks again! Y’all make me look awesome!

  26. I made these tonight for dinner, and they were delicious!! My husband is actually on his second pepper right now. I’m pregnant so I’m looking for new ways to get more veggies into my diet, as well as cut back on the grocery budget to help us save some more money before this little one comes, and this did both. Very yummy and fresh flavor. Made some home made guacamole and a salad to go along with it. My husband told me he gave me extra wife points for a yummy dinner. 🙂

    Thanks for the recipe!

  27. I made these least weekend and everyone LOVED them. I mean LOVED them. First they tried to complain because there was no meat but it got very quiet as they started gobbling them up 😉
    I love you guys and all these recipes – i recommend the site to everyone. Everything i’ve ever tried from here has been a hit 🙂

  28. DELICIOUS!! quick and easy and yummy! i used instant brown rice and it didn’t interfere with the cooking time. thanks!! we’ll have this again for sure!

  29. I can’t remember if I commented on this- but I made it again and it is a FAVORITE here at our house! One of the few vegetarian dishes that my hubbie doesn’t ask for the meat! we love this. and I feel so good filling up with all of this yummy healthy stuff. P.S. Jt also had the brilliant idea of drizzling the cilantro lime dressing over the top!! it is soooo good!

  30. I am going to try this recipe tonight. I have loved everything I’ve tried from you all. But….I am going to use green peppers and canned corn. It’s what I have and what I can afford. Some might say “frozen is only a dollar or so more than canned…etc” but every penny counts and it eventually all adds up to a lot. Not to mention how it helps with the food storage I need to rotate! I think it’s important to remember that when times are tough and people are pinching pennies, sometimes we all have to make do with what we have and what we can afford. Also, I don’t have black beans, I have kidney beans, so I’ll be using those instead. Hopefully it will turn out alright 🙂 I’ll let you know!!

  31. so I made these with kidney beans, green peppers, canned corn and cheddar cheese. They were very delicious. I think the tip about boiling the peppers before you bake them is GREAT! I’tried to make these before and they never turned out right, but this time they were a winner.

  32. This is a wonderful recipe. I did have to add extra rice since I got it a little hot with the low end of the chipolte chili powder. I only had 2 red peppers so we used the rest of the filling to make burritos. My husband really enjoyed this too.

  33. Great meal. It was a little spicy for my kids, so I think I’ll tone it down next time. I was also thinking that your recipe for Spanich rice (w/ black beans and corn added) would be FANTASTIC stuffed into peppers.

  34. we do meatless Mondays and it occurs to me that this could be a pretty good freezer meal. I try to plan all of our meals for the month and make most, if not all, of them a double or triple batch so I can freeze them for later. I think it would be best to flash freeze them before cooking, but I would love to hear your input.
    BTW- when planning meals, I come here, go to once a month mom, the smitten kitchen and everyday food exclusively ( i come here first though). My kids love the pizza bites and my husband is a huge fan of the taquitos! I can’t get enough of the thai beef skewers- Oh! and the chili lime steak salad was a huge hit too! I *may have* eaten a lot of the dressing with a spoon. I’m sure these will go over just as well

    1. I’ve never frozen them so I can’t be sure, but yes, I would probably flash freeze before cooking like you suggested. Let me know how it works!

  35. I swear I LOVE LOVE LOVE you gals! Peppers (ok don’t push me – they are green 🙁 ) on sale at Fred Meyer this week 3/$1! I got like 9! 🙂 I thought I would slice and freeze for sautee stuff – then I thought hey.. I have left over rice – some soy chorizo.. I wonder if my FAVORITE blog has a stuffed pepper recipe?? And sure enough.. 🙂

    You never seize to amaze me.. from bridal showers to special treats to healthy wholesome dinners – you NEVER fail. (BTW second a mention above – my soon to be husband will try anything i make if I say its from Best bites 🙂 )

    (And I have 4 cookbooks – I give them away after I make a meal full of your recipes – always a fav!)

  36. I just found your site from a friend who posted one of your recipes on facebook. You both are so funny and I can’t wait to try out your recipes!! Thank so much for the entertainment and I’m sure awesome food!! 🙂

  37. WW POINTS PLUS: I just figured this recipe on eTools for Weight Watchers, and if you make this with only 1 cup of cheese, each stuffed pepper is 8 points plus each- That is when you divide the recipe into 6 servings. If you have only 4 peppers (which I only have:-) then each pepper is 12 points each. I guess that’s assuming I can stuff all the filling into four peppers. Anyway, hope that helps:-)

  38. Um, just made these!! Wow! SO YUMMY!!! I had to substitute in canned corn, regular diced tomatoes, and normal chili powder, and it is still amazing!! I can’t really imagine it being any better, but I’m sure it might be with the right ingredients! Thanks for the amazing recipes!

  39. I love this recipe! Way more than the sum of its parts, and one of the very few vegetarian dishes my family will happily eat! I’m going to try it with quinoa this week – for anyone who’s tried it, did you cook it the same way as for the rice, or did you cook it separately?

  40. So i just happened to stumble across your website when i did a search for “stuffed peppers”. i needed a change from the beef-rice-tomato sauce. So i found this, and made them tonight, and OMG these were BEYOND AWESOME!!!!! WOW!! Unfortunately, they were too spicy for my kids’ taste (so they got spaghetti) but hubby and i loved them. This recipe is a definite keeper. The only thing i added was 1/4 tsp cumin, just cuz i like it. And the filling would be really good to make nachos out of 🙂 Thanks for a great recipe, and a great blog. I’ll be checking back regularly!!


    1. Oh, and my grocery store sells frozen, steamable rice. So i bought the brown rice, threw it in the microwave and just used 1 1/2 cups. Even easier! 🙂

  41. lookin for stuffed bell pepper rec,came across this page,OH MY,laughed alot,loved the frankness and wit,thankyou,breath of big fat fresh air………………………………………..

  42. I was looking for a meatless stuffed pepper recipe and came across this one and thought I had everything to make them….and I did minus the black beans! I was bummed but I made them without the beans and it was still delicious!!! I added tomato sauce to the bottom of the baking dish and absolutely loved this dish will make again! Thanks for the recipe!

  43. I know I have left a comment on this post before, but I just made them tonight and decided I had to leave another one. This is one of our family’s all time favorite meals. My husband recently got home from a deployment to Afghanistan and this was the first meal he requested!!! Thank you for your awesome meals! 🙂

  44. These are so good. It’s one of my very favorite recipes on your website. And, can I just say Merry Christmas to the two ladies who have brought endless amounts of delight to my life? Witty dialogue and delicious recipes . . . you just can’t beat that combination. I love you guys, er, girls.

  45. i’ll be back again . I’m trying to use less meat in my diet and your peppers sounds like a great way to start . i’ll keep in touch. thank you

  46. I love this recipe so much! It is my go to recipe for unexpected company. I make the filling (usually double or tripled recipe) and freeze it in quart zip bags. One quart zip bag is perfect for four peppers. Then I serve it up with fresh avocado, sour cream, and corn bread (Trader Joe’s cornbread mix is my favorite). Thanks for the great recipe!

  47. So here I was thinking I was so smart as I ate Anaheim stuffed peppers tonight when I thought that I should top them with tortilla chips. I googled it and BEHOLD! One of my favorite food blogs has it done and done. =) Just thought I’d let you know. Love your website and that you’ve beaten this mind to the chase =)

  48. Delicious recipe! I’ve made it a million times and love it. I also love how flexible this recipe is. In the summer I usually saute some zucchini as well and then throw in feta cheese. Anyway, I’ve also frozen this before and it works out really well if you DON’T boil the peppers first. If you do, they end up mushy but if you don’t, they are perfect after freezing.

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