Vegetarian stuffed peppers bursting with a flavorful healthy filling of corn, pinto beans, tomatoes and green chiles, along with rice and cheese. Perfect as a main dish or a side.

Image of vegetarian stuffed peppers filled with beans, rice, cheese, corn, and more.

Colorful vegetarian stuffed peppers will brighten up dreary winter days and get us excited for the upcoming spring days. Think green! red! orange! yellow! Definitely not winter colors, right? 

Eating these stuffed peppers won’t leave you feeling stuffed and lethargic, either. They’re packed with a tasty, slightly spicy filling that is bright and flavorful, reminiscent of summer, and good for you. Along with rice and cheese, you’ll find tender golden corn, chewy pinto beans, red tomatoes, and bright green cilantro, all packaged in a colorful bell pepper shell. And only 216 calories per serving!

Good-bye, winter doldrums! 

Image of a white baking dish pan full of bell peppers that have been stuffed with a delicious vegetarian southwestern filling - beans, cheese, rice, and more!

About these Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Vegetarian stuffed peppers are a snap to make, especially if you happen to have a little leftover rice. I like to cut the peppers in half, top to bottom and stuff the halves. Halves are easier to fill and you can really pile in the “stuffing”, mounding it up, and topping it with a little sprinkle of cheese.

To get things started, blanch the pepper halves first. If you’re not familiar with the term “blanch”, it simply means boil briefly or scald, and then drain. Blanching gets the cooking process started for the peppers so they are nice and tender when you serve them.

Drain the blanched peppers on a wire rack or paper towels, cut side down, so you don’t have a bunch of water pooled inside.

Prepare the stuffing by mixing together white or brown cooked rice, pinto beans (black beans would be good, too), canned corn, canned tomatoes, canned green chiles, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, fresh green onions, and fresh cilantro. Season with cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper as needed. 

Pile the filling into the drained pepper halves, putting them into a baking dish as you go. Sprinkle a little (or a lot) more cheese on top. Pop the stuffed peppers in the oven for 40 minutes until they’re piping hot. So so good!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention possible toppings for these vegetarian stuffed peppers. I love sour cream drizzled over them. Sliced avocado would be wonderful, or additional green onions or cilantro. If you like the heat (why not warm up from the inside out?), top with jalapeño slices.

These are a satisfying meatless main dish, but could be served as a side with tequila lime marinaded chicken.

Image of a white 9x13 baking dish filled with southwestern flavored stuffed bell peppers.

How to make these stuffed peppers your own:

  • Try using a different grain instead of the white rice. Brown rice, of course, but also consider couscous, quinoa, orzo, or bulgur (cracked wheat).
  • Use different veggies or beans in the stuffing. Black beans would be great! You don’t care for corn? Just leave it out. 
  • If you’re looking to use something instead of bell peppers, try large poblano peppers. Or skip the peppers, and put the filling into a greased casserole dish and bake it. You could also do this with any filling that didn’t fit into the peppers. 
  • If you’re feeling the need for a little meat, try this pepper casserole that mimics stuffed peppers and includes ground turkey. 
  • You prefer Italian? Try pepperoni pizza stuffed peppers.

Image of a pretty white baking dish filled with colorful bell peppers that have been stuffed with a variety of southwestern flavors, all vegetarian.

What’s a good side dish with stuffed peppers? 

Vegetarian stuffed peppers contain a protein, grain, and vegetable, making them a pretty complete meal by themselves. If you would like to serve a side dish with them, try oven roasted sweet potatoes or a kale salad with avocado and cumin lime dressing. Fresh fruit would be great, too, especially a colorful citrus salad

Vegetarian meals are good for you, whether it's a lifestyle or just a Meatless Monday kind of thing.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Store leftover peppers, well wrapped, in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. Leftover peppers are really good reheated, making them a perfect lunch the day after. Just microwave them until they are nice and hot and enjoy.

Make ahead tip: if you want to make the stuffed peppers a day ahead, prepare them as directed but don’t bake. Wrap the baking dish with your peppers in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Bake as directed when you’re ready.

To freeze unbaked stuffed peppers, simply wrap the dish well and place in freezer. Thaw the frozen peppers in the fridge a day ahead. When they’re thawed, bake them as directed. 

Close-up image of a colorful stuffed pepper.

Other vegetarian recipes:

Add delicious meatless meals to your menu. Vegetarian meals are good for you, whether it’s a lifestyle or just a Meatless Monday kind of thing. Try:

 

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers - Southwestern

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers - Southwestern

Yield: Serves 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Vegetarian stuffed peppers bursting with a flavorful healthy filling of corn, pinto beans, tomatoes and green chiles, along with rice and cheese. Perfect as a main dish or a side.

Ingredients

  • 4 bell peppers, halved stem to end, seeds removed
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, or 1 ¾ cup, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (4.5 oz) can green chiles
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack, additional cheese for topping, if desired
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cuminToppings (if desired): avocado slices, additional cilantro, sour cream, sliced jalapeno, chopped green onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare large baking dish (9x13) by spraying lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Bring large pot of salted (2 teaspoons) water to boil. Carefully lower bell pepper halves into boiling water. Boil (blanch) peppers 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon or tongs; put on rack, cut sides down, to drain and cool.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in large bowl, stirring well to distribute spices.
  4. When peppers are cool enough to handle, spoon filling into each pepper half, mounding the filling. You may not need all of the filling. Sprinkle additional cheese on top, if desired.
  5. Place filled peppers in preheated oven and bake 40 minutes or until heated through.
  6. Serve with desired toppings.

Notes

  • Use any color bell peppers that you like: green, yellow, orange, red. Or use large poblano peppers.
  • Nutrition information is for one filled pepper half, and does not include optional toppings.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 filled pepper half
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.
Verdict: I love these so much! They have so much flavor and you definitely do not miss the meat.
Husband’s take: Ben likes these too, although, he probably misses the meat. 
Changes I would make: None at all are necessary, but this is a very flexible and forgiving recipe…it’s one that would be a great clean out the fridge kind of meal. Provided you have the peppers, of course…
Difficulty: Easy!