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.
Why you’ll love it: Stuffed peppers are a healthy dinner choice and are very versatile. You’ll love the southwest vibe of these peppers.
How long it takes: 1 hour
Equipment you’ll need: large pot for blanching peppers, baking dish
Servings: 8 (one stuffed pepper half)
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 323 calories per serving!
Good-bye, winter doldrums!
About these 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 are 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 is wonderful, or additional green onions or cilantro. If you like the heat (why not warm up from the inside out?), top with jalapeño slices.
Stuffed peppers are a satisfying meatless main dish but could be served as a side with tequila lime marinaded chicken.
Make It Your Own
- Substitute a different grain. Brown rice can be substituted for white rice, but also consider couscous, quinoa, orzo, or bulgur (cracked wheat).
- Use different veggies or beans in the stuffing. Black beans are great! You don’t care for corn? Just leave it out.
- Sub in poblano peppers. Poblanos have a little more kick than bell peppers. Look for large poblano peppers that will be able to hold stuffing.
- Make a casserole instead. Skip stuffing 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.
- Add meat. Add ground beef or turkey or try this pepper casserole that mimics stuffed peppers and includes ground turkey. Prep is a little easier, too.
- Make it Italian! Try pepperoni pizza stuffed peppers.
- Don’t care for peppers? Try stuffed butternut squash or stuffed portobello mushrooms.
What To Serve 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 is great, too, especially a colorful citrus salad.
Make them a day ahead. If you want to make the stuffed peppers a day ahead, prepare them but don’t bake them. Wrap the baking dish with your stuffed peppers in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Bake as directed when you’re ready.
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.
Storage & 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.
- 4 bell peppers, halved stem to end, seeds removed
- 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
- 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained (1 ¾ cup)
- 1 can (15 oz.) corn, drained
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can (4.5 oz.) chopped 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 (see note)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Toppings (if desired): avocado slices, additional cilantro, sour cream, sliced jalapeno, chopped green onion
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare large baking dish (9×13) by spraying lightly with nonstick spray.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring well to distribute spices.
- 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.
- Place filled peppers in preheated oven and bake 40 minutes or until heated through.
- Serve with desired toppings.
- Use any color bell peppers that you like: green, yellow, orange, red, or large poblano peppers.
- Instead of adding chili powder and cumin, you could add 2 ½ teaspoons of southwest spice blend.
- Nutrition information is for one filled pepper half, and does not include optional toppings.
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.