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.


woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 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!

  2. I tried these last night!! They were so yummy. Thank you for all your amazing recipes 😉

  3. 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! 🙂

  4. 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!


  5. Rebecca- that works fine! In fact you could make it a whole day ahead of time. (I'm a nap-time cooker too 🙂

  6. Hey ladies, just wondering if I could make this during the day (say nap time) and then just pop it in the oven right before dinner? Would I need to bake it loner? Or, would the peppers get mushy?

  7. 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. ??

  8. 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

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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. 🙂

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. These look absolutely Divine!!!! Can't wait to try them and can't wait for your cookbook!!!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. Amen to the canned corn comment! Thankfully my mother raised me right and always used frozen. I can't stand canned! *shudder*

  18. these look soo good and have so many of my favorite things!I plan to switch the rice out for quinoa though.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. That sounds like a good option! Whenever I try it, I'll be sure to come back and post my results for any other pepper haters. :p

  23. 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)

  24. 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! 🙂

  25. 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.

  26. 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!!

  27. You know I know you don't have it up here yet but I bet these are VERY low in points and may be even lower with brown rice…mostly veggies right?