Healthy stuffed pepper casserole with ground turkey, brown rice, and cheddar cheese is a go-to meal for weeknights. It’s easy to make, hearty, and tastes great!

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: All the flavor of stuffed peppers in one easy casserole makes this recipe a winner. I also have suggestions for vegan or vegetarian alternatives.

How long it takes: 15 minutes to prep, one and a half hours to bake
Equipment you’ll need: large skillet, 9 x 13 inch baking dish, foil or cover for dish
Servings: 4 generous servings

Stuffed pepper casserole being scooped out of a white casserole dish.
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This casserole is one of my go-to recipes. It’s a perfect meal: easy, nutritious, and satisfying.

We love stuffed peppers. Okay, actually we like stuffed anything. There’s just something kind of cool about stuffing all contained in a neat little package. I kind of go crazy over stuffed butternut squash. It’s so good!

But, I’ll admit, it can be a little bit of a hassle to stuff stuff (ha, get it?). There’s usually a fair amount of prep work involved. For stuffed peppers, you have to blanch the peppers first, drain them, prepare the stuffing, and then carefully put the stuffing into the peppers before you finally “stuff” them in the oven.

That’s the beauty of this stuffed pepper casserole: it’s a “deconstructed” stuffed pepper. The only prep work you have to do is brown the meat and onions. You don’t even have to cook the rice. Just dump everything in a baking dish, cover it and let it bake. You’ll get all the deliciousness of stuffed peppers hassle-free. And that’s why this recipe is one of my weekday go-to recipes. Because hassle-free is good, right?

Hearty, nutritious, low-calorie, gluten-free, and easy to make, stuffed pepper casserole is a winner for sure!

Casserole dish of tomatoes, peppers, rice, and ground turkey.

About This Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Mostly hands off time. This casserole can be prepped in about 15 minutes but it needs to bake for at least an hour and a half, mostly hands off.

That might sound like a long baking time but the beauty of it is you can do anything you want while it bakes. Make a side salad. Sit down, relax! Catch up on emails. Play with your kids. Do some yard work. Whatever you want. Dinner will be ready when you are. 

You probably should stick around the house since the oven is on but other than that you can do whatever your heart desires.

I’ll get you started on the recipe here and talk about some variations you can make.

Ingredient Notes

  • Ground Turkey: I like ground turkey because it’s leaner than ground beef. If you prefer a more traditional stuffed pepper flavor, use lean ground beef instead. Bulk sausage (either pork or turkey) can be substituted as well.
  • Onion: It doesn’t really matter what type of onion you choose. For casseroles, a regular yellow cooking onion is just fine.
  • Bell Peppers: Use any color you like or happen to have. A combination of two or more colors makes a colorful casserole.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Look for a large can of crushed tomatoes. The juicy tomatoes provide the liquid needed to cook the rice. If you only have diced tomatoes, use a large can (28 oz.) or two small cans. For best results, chop them in a food processor to break up the chunks. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.
  • Rice: You’ll need a half cup of uncooked rice. While the recipe calls for brown rice which is more nutritious, feel free to substitute white rice. The casserole won’t take quite as long to bake.
  • Dried Oregano: If you happen to have fresh oregano, feel free to substitute that. You’ll need to add more, about a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. Dried Italian seasoning is a good substitute too.
  • Garlic Powder: Garlic powder (not garlic salt!) adds subtle garlic flavor. If you’re a big garlic fan, feel free to increase the amount or use a couple of cloves of minced fresh garlic. Add it to the pan for the last minute or so, when you brown the meat and onions.
  • Cheese: Sharp cheddar provides plenty of tangy bold flavor which allows you to use less cheese in your casserole (less cheese = less calories). Feel free to use whatever type of cheese you happen to have on hand.
  • Fresh Parsley, optional: Freshly chopped parsley as a garnish adds fresh herbal flavor and a bright pop of color to the casserole.
Overhead view of ingredients needed for recipe.

How To Make Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Let’s get started! Turn your oven on to preheat and spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and onions with a little salt and pepper, breaking up the large chunks of meat so it browns evenly. It will take about ten minutes or so.

Ground meat and onions in a saute pan.

Meanwhile, cut a couple of bell peppers into one inch chunks, more or less. No fancy knife work here, just cut them up into bite-sized pieces, discarding the seeds and stems.

Measure out a half-cup of uncooked rice and open the can of crushed tomatoes. When the meat and onions are ready, put them into the prepared baking dish along with the rice, tomatoes, oregano, and garlic powder.

Ingredients in baking dish.

Stir well and cover the dish tightly with foil.

Stuffed pepper casserole before baking.

Recipe Tip

It’s important to cover the dish because you want to trap the steam inside so that the rice cooks. It’s just like steaming rice on the stovetop in a covered saucepan.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, remove the foil and stir the casserole. Carefully put the foil back on and bake for another fifteen minutes or until the rice is tender. Sometimes it takes a bit longer.

Remove the dish from the oven, uncover it, and sprinkle on the shredded cheese. Put it back in the oven for five minutes or so, or until the cheese melts. Let the casserole set for 10 minutes or so to settle before serving. Garnish it with fresh parsley.

Baked casserole.

FAQs

Should peppers be blanched before stuffing?

Normally, bell peppers are blanched (immersed briefly in boiling water) before stuffing them so that they are tender enough to cut into easily. The beauty of this stuffed pepper casserole is that the peppers do not need to be blanched. Simply cut the bell peppers into bite-sized pieces and cook them along with everything else. They’ll be perfectly tender.

Can you freeze bell peppers?

Yes! If you have an abundance of bell peppers, cut them into bite-sized pieces and freeze them in freezer safe containers for up to four months, to use later in casseroles, soups, stews, or other cooked recipes. This is a perfect idea if you’re wondering what to do with lots of peppers!

Stuffed pepper casserole on a serving spoon.

Make It Your Own

There are lots of ways to make this stuffed pepper casserole your very own creation. Use what you like best or what you happen to have in your fridge.

  • Substitute long grain white rice for the brown rice.
  • Use lean ground beef or bulk sausage (pork or turkey) instead of ground turkey. Mexican chorizo is a good option, too.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: Omit meat and substitute pinto or black beans. A vegan cheese can be subbed in for the cheddar, or the cheese can be omitted.
  • Cheese: Use any type of shredded cheese or omit it if you want to make it non-dairy.
  • Spicy: Poblano peppers can be substituted for the bell peppers.
  • Don’t like bell peppers? Try vegetarian stuffed portobello mushrooms or caprese couscous stuffed tomatoes. Another favorite of ours is pizza stuffed spaghetti squash! We also love “unstuffed” zucchini casserole with rice! Another casserole favorite with rice is porcupine meatballs.

Make-Ahead Ideas

To get a head start on making this casserole, brown the meat and onions up to a day ahead of time. Prep the peppers and shred the cheese. You’ll save about 15 minutes prep time.

The casserole can also be baked, cooled, and frozen for up to one month. Cover tightly and thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

Storage & Reheating Tips

Leftover casserole can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through.

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Free Meal Plan

Interested in a weekly meal plan that includes this recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #4 or Meal Plan #68. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!

More Pepper Recipes

Recipe

Stuffed Pepper Casserole (with variations)

4.54 from 88 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total: 2 hours
Servings: 4 servings
Healthy stuffed pepper casserole with ground turkey, brown rice, and cheddar cheese is a go-to meal for weeknights. It’s easy to make, hearty, and tastes great!
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Ingredients 

  • 16 oz. ground turkey
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large bell peppers (any color), chopped into approx. 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup long grain brown rice (long grain white rice may be substituted; see note)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or another cheese of your choice)
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley for serving, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • In a large skillet, brown ground turkey and onions, seasoning with salt and pepper. (I use a nonstick skillet. If you don’t, you might want to add a teaspoon or two of olive oil.) Cook, breaking up ground turkey, until turkey is cooked through and onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Put into baking dish. Add chopped peppers, tomatoes, rice, oregano, and garlic powder. Stir well to combine. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, remove from oven, uncover and stir. Replace foil, return to oven and bake 15 minutes more or until rice is tender. Remove foil, add cheese, and bake 5 minutes uncovered, or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Notes

Variations
  • Substitute long grain white rice: Prepare as directed. Bake covered for 45 minutes, stir, recover and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Top with cheese and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes.
  • Use lean ground beef or bulk sausage (pork or turkey) instead of ground turkey. After browning, drain off excess grease. 
  • Vegetarian/Vegan: Omit meat and substitute a can (15.5 oz.) of pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained. Use vegan cheese instead of cheddar cheese, or omit cheese.
  • Spicy: Replace the bell peppers with poblano peppers.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 84mg, Sodium: 755mg, Potassium: 1157mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 3244IU, Vitamin C: 125mg, Calcium: 242mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.54 from 88 votes (83 ratings without comment)

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80 Comments

  1. julie says:

    5 stars
    This was great. Made it for some friends. they all loved it. Added a 1/2 cup of veggie broth and an extra can of tomatoes because i was worried the rice wouldn’t cook enough. Will definitely make again. Easier than regular stuffed peppers.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  2. denise says:

    5 stars
    Sounds wonderful. I know my husband would enjoy it. (I’m allergic to bell peppers.)

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Ahh that’s a tough one, I’m so sorry!

  3. Jim says:

    Could I cook the rice the day before, like for pork fried rice, and use this in the casserole. Would the cooking time stay the same? Usually using day old rice is much better in many recipes, in your opinion would it be a waste of time in this casserole?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Cooking time would be drastically shorter, and the amount of liquid needed would probably be less. If you used the same amount, it would end up a little more soupy because the already cooked rice wouldn’t soak up any liquid from the crushed tomatoes. The beauty of this recipe is that you can cook it all in one dish. :)

  4. Peggy Auletto says:

    5 stars
    This casserole was a major hit at home & as a dinner gift to friends! If you haven’t tried it, you must do!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

    2. Julie M. says:

      5 stars
      I don’t have much luck with internet recipes, but this is the one exception! It is a great recipe that I keep coming back to for a few years now. It’s very versatile to swapping ingredients. For instance, I like to swap in quinoa, cooks for 40 mins then 5 more with the cheese. I also sometimes use one can of tomatoes and half a jar of salsa– great added layer of flavor. This is always yummy!

      1. Rachel Gurk says:

        That means so much to me! The success of my recipes is the most important thing to me when it comes to this website. Love the idea of adding some salsa – yum!

      2. Rebecca says:

        Julie, did you use a half cup of uncooked quinoa? Also, did you change the liquid or amount of tomatoes at all? I love the idea of swapping the quinoa for rice.

  5. Emily says:

    5 stars
    This recipe has been a family favorite for a few years now. It’s quick to throw together and a delicious healthy dinner! Highly recommend.
    Yes, the cook time is longer but worth it. I’ve also done it with already made brown rice.
    It’s also delicious over a salad! I’ve skipped out on the rice and cheese when I’m doing a whole 30 and it’s really good too!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad it’s a favorite, that makes me so happy. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review, it means a lot to me!

  6. Wendy says:

    Will leftovers freeze well?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      They should freeze great!

  7. Christine @ myblissfulmess says:

    This was super easy to put together, very filling and delicious! It’s great if you love stuffed peppers, but want to be lazy about it, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I used mozzarella on this because that’s what I had on hand, so I haven’t tried it with the sharp cheddar yet. It was excellent with the mozzarella. Thank you so much for this! And if anyone is a WW like myself, the points worked out to be 4 (Blue), 5 (Green), 2 (Purple). That is just an estimate, you will want to calculate it for yourself using the products and brands you choose.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked this recipe! It is definitely a great no-fuss recipe. And thanks for sharing the helpful WW info!

  8. Susan says:

    My husband and I really enjoyed this casserole! Although cook time is kind of long (we had a good workout in the meantime!), prep is quick and simple. I followed the recipe; however, I only had a pound of ground turkey, I added 1 cup of chopped onions, and one 14 oz. can each of fire roasted tomatoes and diced tomatoes. This dish is flavorful, plentiful, and will most certainly be served again soon in our home. We loved it. Thank you!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! You’re right about the cook time, it’s long…but it’s pretty hands-off, freeing you up to do other things (like a great workout!). Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  9. Katy says:

    Made a version of this tonight and my family LOVED it, we all had seconds. I didn’t have turkey, so I used lean ground beef, as well as an extra pepper and used white rice instead of brown. It is such an easy and yummy recipe to throw together with all pantry staples…. thank you!!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

  10. Danielle Fyvie says:

    Hi, I’m wondering if I could make this with cauliflower rice and if so, how long would you suggest I bake it for? Im thinking about half the time. It looks like a great recipe but I’m on a low carb diet.

    Thanks!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I think that would be delicious! The cauliflower rice won’t absorb liquid like normal rice does. I think what I would do is just saute it all in an oven-safe skillet and then just pop it in the oven to melt the cheese. So do steps 1 & 2, add the peppers and saute until they are slightly softened, and then add the cauliflower rice, tomatoes (you might be able to use a smaller can – 15oz), oregano, garlic powder and keep cooking until the peppers are to the tenderness you like. Then I’d sprinkle it with cheese and pop it in the oven until the cheese melts.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you give it a try!