Do you have picky eaters, a dwindling supply of ingredients, and a desire to avoid cooking as much as possible? I have a solution for you: stuffed bell peppers. This is one of my favorite ways to minimize my cooking time and maximize my leftovers for us to either eat all week or freeze for later. It definitely helps fill the hole in my heart that a lack of Tex-Mex during social distancing has left. The best parts are: it’s super easy to make, yields lots of leftovers, and there’s a lot of variety for how to serve it, which is great if you have picky eaters! It also works well with whatever is in your pantry at the time: with a little bit of seasoning, it’s sure to taste good no matter what substitutions you have to make.
I love stuffed bell peppers. My husband however, does not. He is very particular with his bell peppers, and they must be diced very finely for him to consider eating them. Stuffed peppers are off the table for him—he’ll eat the stuffing, but not the pepper itself. So I came up with a solution for when I want to cook stuffed peppers but I don’t want him to waste a bell pepper: make a large batch of the pepper stuffing, which can then be eaten casserole style in a bowl, or wrapped into tortillas like a taco.
Another thing about stuffed bell peppers is that the peppers themselves don’t taste great when you microwave the leftovers. I learned this the hard way the last time I cooked this recipe—the bell peppers got watery and did not taste good after being zapped. I might have had better luck if I heated my stuffed pepper up in the oven, but I’m super lazy and that’s never going to happen so I will stick to making 1 stuffed pepper the night I’m cooking and saving the rest of the stuffing to be eaten casserole or taco style as leftovers.
A Spooky Twist
Summer and I recently made these stuffed bell peppers in October—so we carved little Jack-o-Lantern faces into them to make them extra spooky for Halloween. We used pumpkin carving tools to carve the faces since we had them on hand; if you don’t have carving tools, be very careful if you have to use a knife to carve the little faces. (Pumpkin carving tools are generally made for kids and anywhere between $3 to $7 at your grocery store, usually spotted near the pumpkins during the fall! And here’s an amazon prime link if you just want carving tools delivered straight to your door.)
Carve your Jack-o-Peppers before you cook them in the oven to soften them (cutting into a soft, hot pepper would not be fun!) And then follow the recipe as you normally would. In the end you’ll be left with the most adorable, Halloween-themed meal!
What You’ll Need
- n+1 bell peppers (where n is the number of stuffed peppers you want to make)
- 1 to 1.5 onions
- Spanish rice (I use a package or box because it’s easy)
- fajita meat, like chicken or beef (optional, as this also makes a great vegetarian meal! I use pre-cooked meat because again, I’m lazy. You can also cook/season fresh meat ahead of time.)
- a can of corn
- a can of beans (I use black beans, but pinto work well too)
- olive oil or butter (for sautéing veggies)
- seasoning: taco/fajita, onion, garlic, salt, pepper (whatever in your pantry makes you feel spicy)
- cheese (shredded is best, but if your options are limited like mine were, you can make any kind of cheese work)
- sour cream (optional, for topping)
- tortillas (optional, if you want to make tacos out of the casserole part)
Detailed Step-By-Step With Pictures
Preheat oven to 350.
Cook your Spanish rice according the packaging, and set aside. (It usually takes something like 15-20 minutes to simmer, so you can do this step in parallel with the rest of these instructions.)
Cut the tops off of bell peppers. Remove core and seeds from peppers. Set n bell peppers into your baking dish, where n is the number of stuffed peppers you want to make.
Dice the remaining bell pepper as well as the tops of the set aside bell peppers. Dice your onion.
Heat up oil or butter in a skillet on medium heat. In the meantime, drizzle some olive oil inside your bell peppers. Sprinkle on seasoning: taco, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper are what I use. If you have a preferred Text Mex seasoning combo, use that. Pick up the pepper and roll it around to really coat the inside of the pepper with your oil + seasoning. Put in your baking dish facedown and cook in your preheated oven for about 10 minutes. This is to soften your peppers up. Then remove them to cool.
You skillet should be nice and hot by now. Add onion, and let them sizzle for 3-4 minutes. Add diced bell pepper, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add your seasonings: taco, garlic, onion, salt, pepper. Add chili powder if you want it spicy. I usually add a spoonful of minced garlic instead of garlic powder. Sauté all together for another 1-2 minutes and then remove from heat.
By now your peppers should be nice and soft and cooled. Place the peppers aside. Dump your Spanish rice into the baking dish, as well as your can of corn and your can of beans. Dump your sautéed veggies in the dish as well, and mix everything up. Add some more seasoning if you wish.
Grab the peppers and stuff them with the filling from your baking dish. Move some of the stuffing over so you can nestle the peppers back into your dish.
Cook everything on 350 for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove dish from oven and add cheese. Shredded is obviously best, but you’ve gotta work with what you have, so I made some slices of cheese work wonderfully. Cook with cheese for about 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Optional: top with sour cream. Enjoy a stuffed pepper, or the casserole. Or a little bit of both! You can also put the casserole into a tortilla and make it a taco. Makes a lot of servings, and great leftovers.
I have become one of those people that write an entire blog post and stick the no-nonsense recipe at the bottom. I’m sorry, but I’m not that sorry. Also, if you’re more of a visual learner but you want it in a minute or less, check out the TikTok I made featuring this recipe!
- n+1 bell peppers
- 1-1.5 onions
- 1 package Spanish rice
- 1 package fajita meat, like chicken or beef
- 1 can of corn
- 1 can of beans
- olive oil or butter
- seasoning: taco/fajita, onion, garlic, salt, pepper
- sour cream (optional)
- tortillas (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cook your Spanish rice according the packaging, and set aside.
- Cut the tops off of bell peppers. Remove core and seeds from peppers. Set n bell peppers into your baking dish, where n is the number of stuffed peppers you want to make.
- Dice the remaining bell pepper as well as the tops of the set aside bell peppers. Dice your onion.
- Heat up oil or butter in a skillet on medium heat.
- In the meantime, drizzle olive oil sprinkle seasoning in your bell pepper. Pick up the pepper and roll it around to really coat the inside of the pepper with your oil + seasoning. Put in your baking dish facedown and cook in your preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from baking dish to cool.
- Add onion to heated skillet, and let sizzle for 3-4 minutes.
- Add bell pepper to skillet, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add seasoning to skillet. Sauté all together for another 1-2 minutes and then remove from heat.
- Dump rice, can of corn, can of beans, and sautéed veggies into the baking dish. Mix everything up. Add some more seasoning if desired.
- Stuff bell peppers with the filling from your baking dish. Move some of the stuffing over so you can nestle the peppers back into your dish.
- Cook everything on 350 for 15 minutes.
- Remove dish from oven and add cheese. Cook with cheese for about 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted.
- Optionally top with sour cream. Serve as stuffed pepper, taco casserole, or casserole in a tortilla if you want to make a taco. Enjoy!