Southwestern stuffed peppers with chicken and quinoa are healthy, hearty, and so delicious! Perfect for a weeknight dinner or enjoy them all week in your lunch.
Why you’ll love it: It’s a protein-packed meal that’s flavorful and filling!
How long it takes: 1 hour 5 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: baking dish, large pot, bowl, knife, tongs
Brightly colored bell peppers, stuffed to the brim with a savory mixture of black beans, quinoa, shredded chicken, corn, tomatoes, and topped with melted cheese, are a filling main dish. There is so much goodness in these stuffed peppers and they abound in nutrition.
If you’re not familiar with quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah) here are some fun facts from good ol’ Wikipedia. Quinoa is a “grain-like” crop, and what you eat are the seeds. A one cup serving contains 4.4 grams of protein and has a balanced set of amino acids, which makes it a complete protein source, uncommon for food from plants.
Quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor and can be used in most dishes where you would normally use rice. It cooks in about 15 minutes.
Another great thing about quinoa is that it is versatile. You can use it to make breakfast pancakes (protein packed!), salads, soups, or dinner! I have lots and lots of recipes on my site that use quinoa.
Or, yes, you could make these southwestern quinoa stuffed peppers which are delicious, filling, and flavorful.
I’ll show you how to make this recipe here. Look for the recipe card below for complete instructions with measurements and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Bell peppers: Any color is fine. Look for peppers that are comparable in size.
- Cooked quinoa
- Black beans: You’ll need a can of beans, rinsed and drained.
- Sweet corn: If you can get fresh, that’s perfect! Canned or frozen works well, too.
- Grape tomatoes: Larger tomatoes are fine, too; just dice them. Actually, a can of diced tomatoes will work. You’ll want to drain those slightly.
- Shredded cooked chicken: Any type of chicken will work if you have some in your freezer or leftover. Rotisserie chicken or even canned chicken is okay. Taco meat is good, too, or no meat at all.
- Freshly chopped cilantro: Parsley is a good substitute if you don’t care for cilantro.
- Taco seasoning: Make your own healthier taco seasoning.
- Mexican blend cheese
How To Make This Recipe
You’ll begin by cutting off the tops of the peppers, removing the seeds and core. You should end up with a nice cup-like”container” which will hold the stuffing.
Next, you’ll blanch the peppers in boiling water. Precooking the peppers tenderizes them so they’ll be easy to cut and eat.
It’s simply a brief stint in boiling water, just three minutes. It is often followed by a dunk in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Fish the peppers out of the water with tongs, and set them upside down to drain out all the water.
Next, mix up the stuffing in a large bowl. Reserve some of the cheese for topping.
Lightly stuff each pepper. It’s okay to mound it up and even let some spill out. We’re not fancy here.
Sprinkle a little cheese on top, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the stuffed peppers are heated through and golden brown.
So good! You don’t really need any sides with this meal because you’ve covered all the bases: protein, grain, vegetables. Hearty, flavorful, satisfying, with plenty of protein. What more can you ask for?
Bell peppers should be precooked before stuffing to ensure that they cook completely and aren’t too crisp to cut into. They can be blanched or steamed.
If you are using ground beef, ground turkey, or sausage, it’s best to brown the meat first. It will add more flavor to the stuffing and you won’t have to worry about cooking the stuffing long enough to make sure the beef is thoroughly cooked.
If you prefer, cover the pan with foil for the first 25 to 30 minutes. Covering the peppers with foil will keep the steam in the pan and the peppers will become more tender. This step is optional; some folks prefer to leave the foil off so the peppers roast and brown a bit more.
Make It Your Own
- Vegetarian: Leave the chicken out. Between the quinoa, beans, and cheese, these stuffed peppers have plenty of protein. Vegan? Omit the cheese or use a vegan cheese.
- Out of black beans? Try pinto beans. I love to cook up a big batch of pinto beans in the Instant Pot and keep them on hand for recipes like this one. If you haven’t tried your Instant Pot for cooking beans, don’t wait! Beans go from dry to delicious in under an hour, no pre-soaking needed.
- Substitute cooked brown rice or white rice for the quinoa.
- Check out the recipes below for more ideas.
Make Ahead Ideas
Since this is a pretty large recipe, making six whole stuffed peppers, you could enjoy a couple for dinner one night, and save the rest for quick and filling lunches.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Store leftovers, individually wrapped if you like, in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to six months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat, unwrap and heat gently in the microwave until heated through. If you’re reheating more than one pepper, put them into a baking dish, cover, and reheat in the oven at 350°F until the peppers are warm all the way through.
To freeze unbaked stuffed peppers: Wrap securely, making sure peppers remain upright. Bake the peppers as directed, adding extra time (about a half hour) if they are frozen. There’s no need to thaw them first.
Here’s a few more recipes you may like:
- Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Peppers (with video)
- Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers (delicious appetizers)
- Stuffed Pepper Casserole
- One Pan Sausage and Rice
- BBQ Bourbon Grilled Chicken stuffed with peppers and onions
- How to Roast Poblano Peppers (you can use the same methods with bell peppers)
- Chile Relleno Soup with Chicken
- Poblano Queso Dip
- 6 bell peppers (any color)
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (see note)
- ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 ear sweet corn, about ½ to ¾ cup (canned or frozen corn is fine, too)
- 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes (see note)
- 2 ½ cups cooked chicken breasts, diced or shredded (see note)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- 1 cup Mexican blend cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Choose a dish that will accommodate 6 filled peppers.
- Prepare peppers: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Wash peppers and cut off tops. Discard seeds and ribs. Submerge peppers in water and boil for 3 minutes. Using tongs or slotted spoon, carefully remove peppers and let cool upside down on wire rack, until you are able to handle them..
- Prepare filling: In a large bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Save ¼ cup of the cheese to sprinkle on top of the peppers.
- Filling the peppers: Set peppers upright in prepared baking dish. Fill peppers with filling, pushing down gently and heaping up slightly on top. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
- Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until browned on top and heated through.
- Serve with additional chopped fresh cilantro, salsa, sour cream, or avocado.
- Not a fan of quinoa? Substitute cooked white or brown rice.
- Any type of tomato can be used. If they are large, dice them. Canned diced tomatoes can be substituted; drain slightly before using.
- Use any kind of chicken you happen to have, including canned chicken. Taco meat or cooked ground beef can be substituted.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.