This Mexican stuffed peppers recipe is a super flavorful, filling, and inexpensive meal that makes great leftovers. They're sure to become a new family favorite!
Why you'll love them
These Mexican-inspired stuffed peppers will always be a favorite in my home. My husband devoured them, and they lasted for three meals for him. Stuffed peppers exist in practically every country's cuisine, everywhere from India to Finland, since they're so affordable and customizable. Because I love ingredients common in Mexican food, I chose to use that as my twist! They're loaded with rice, seasoned ground beef, salsa, and plenty of cheese.
I did some research on how to make stuffed bell peppers the easiest possible way, with fewer steps and less active time. My technique most closely mirrors what The Kitchn (my go-to cooking resource) suggests, and I think you'll be thrilled with the results here. This recipe will make 6 fairly large bell peppers or 8 small-to-medium ones, so they'll make several easy meals or feed a crowd.
What you'll need
- Cooked rice - I generally use jasmine, but any long grain white rice will work. Brown rice would be fine as well.
- Bell peppers - pick ones that are wrinkle free and have no blemishes and can accommodate the filling. Whatever color you prefer is great. Red, yellow, and orange are the sweeter varieties.
- Olive oil - for sautéing
- Onion - our kitchen likes sweet (Vidalia) onions best
- Ground beef - use extra lean ground beef, at least 90%
- Seasoning - my tasty homemade seasoning blend has smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, and chili powder. I use it in a variety of my recipes.
- Salsa - I love Newman's Own and Mrs. Renfro's brands
- Cheese - we're using a shredded Mexican cheese blend
- Wondering what to make with leftover rice? Use it for these easy stuffed peppers! I like making the rice ahead/using leftover rice so that it's good to go when you need it for these peppers, but you can definitely make it fresh right before continuing with the rest of the recipe.
How to make Mexican stuffed peppers
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- If you don't have cooked rice already, make some. Preheat the oven and prep your ingredients, including hollowing out the bell peppers. Place them in a 9x13 baking dish along with a bit of water.
- In a skillet, sauté the onion, chopped pepper tops, and brown the beef along with the seasoning blend and salt & pepper. Take off the heat, and stir in the salsa and half the cheese.
- Stuff the peppers, and bake them covered for 40 minutes. Top with the rest of the cheese, and finish cooking the peppers uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
Substitutions and variations
- Feel free to add some extra ingredients like black beans, corn, or whatever you have in your fridge that you think will work in these stuffed peppers. I think they were basically invented as a way to use up ingredients!
- You can easily turn these into low carb stuffed peppers by replacing the rice with cauliflower rice.
- If you're craving some heat, add in some crushed red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce.
What to serve with stuffed peppers
- They're a great all-in-one meal, but you're welcome to serve them with a side salad. Try mixed greens with my zesty Chipotle Cilantro Lime Ranch Dressing.
- I like adding fresh toppings to these stuffed peppers like avocado slices, fresh cilantro, chopped scallions, and/or a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt along with jalapeño slices.
- If you've got some avocados floating around that need using up and some tortilla chips, try making my Easy Restaurant Style Guacamole for everyone to share.
Leftovers and storage
- These stuffed peppers make wonderful leftovers and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container or up to 3 months in the freezer (thaw in the fridge overnight).
- Microwave leftover stuffed peppers for 3-5 minutes. Microwaves can vary, so check them as needed.
- Or you can reheat stuffed peppers in the oven. Place them in a baking dish, cover it with foil, and warm at 350F until the internal temperature of the peppers reaches 165F. It'll vary based on the size of the peppers and whether they're straight out of the fridge or not, but I'd check them after 20 minutes or so.
I hope you enjoy these stuffed bell peppers with a tasty Tex-Mex twist. Questions? Ask me in the comments below, or leave a review if you made them!
Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- 1 cup cooked rice I used white jasmine rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 6 large bell peppers any color
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) jar salsa use your favorite
- 2 cups Mexican cheese blend, divided shredded
- Salt & pepper to taste
- If you don't have cooked rice, make some (this step can be done a day or two ahead). I usually just do 1/2 cup uncooked rice which ends up making a bit more than you need for this recipe, and then I use the rest for other things.
- Preheat your oven to 400F and move the rack to the middle position. Meanwhile, prep your ingredients. Cut the tops off the peppers as if you were carving a pumpkin (try to do it as evenly as possible so the filling doesn't fall out). Remove any seeds. Chop up the usable stuff from the pepper tops (we will add it to the filling).
- Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish (I used a 9x13 one). Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the dish (this will help the peppers steam to cook them faster).
- Add the oil, onion, and chopped up pepper tops to a skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the beef, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder to the skillet. Cook it until it's browned and cooked though (approx. 8 minutes), stirring occasionally and breaking the beef up with the spoon as you go along. I use the leanest ground beef I can find so I don't need to drain the fat. If yours is fattier, spoon out some of the fat.
- Once the beef is done and most of the liquid has been cooked off, take it off the heat. Add salt & pepper to taste. Stir in the cooked rice, the entire jar of salsa, and 1/2 of the cheese. Spoon the mixture equally into each pepper.
- Cover the baking dish with foil. Place it in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- Take the dish out of the oven. The peppers should be still a little bit firm to the touch (we don't want everything collapsing). Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top. Return the peppers to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Serve immediately. I like to sprinkle a little cilantro over top.
- Try to find bell peppers that are roughly the same size. Also, the ones with 4 "bumps" on the bottom are less likely to fall over, so I look for those.
- I used a bit over a pound of ground beef. Anything in the ballpark is fine.
- For the cheese I bought a pre-shredded spicy Mexican cheese blend with Monterey Jack, cheddar, and mozzarella. You could use cheddar or a Tex-Mex cheese blend if you prefer.
- Feel free to use taco seasoning if you don't want to use the individual spices. Want to add some heat? Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the beef mixture or use a spicy salsa.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.