Healthy Stuffed Peppers

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I love a prep and bake meal for a weeknight dinner or when I’m hosting guests. I can do all of the prep work beforehand and then just pop it in the oven when it’s time for dinner. These healthy stuffed peppers are the kind of prep and bake meal I can throw together in a pinch for my family or for company.

My easy stuffed bell pepper recipe uses ground turkey, brown rice, black beans, and quinoa for a protein-packed, healthy dinner option. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for stuffed peppers: See text below
  • 3-4 bell peppers
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ¼ cup uncooked quinoa (yields 2 cups cooked)
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice (yields 1 cup cooked)
  • 14 oz. can low-sodium black beans
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese for baking

Tip: Shorten Cook Time by Halving the Peppers

Peppers cut in half

You might notice that I cut my peppers in half lengthwise before I stuff them. I’ve made stuffed peppers both ways, whole and halved, and I prefer the halved version for one main reason.

Halving the peppers cuts baking time in half! There is less filling to warm through, so you’ll have dinner on the table in no time.

When buying your peppers, try to choose symmetrical shapes so that each half will lay flat for you while baking. 

Cooking Instructions

This recipe is quick and easy. The most time-consuming parts are cooking the rice and the quinoa, but if you really want to make it easy, you could buy frozen pre-cooked. 

Step 1 – Clean and Halve the Bell Peppers

Wash and dry your peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds using a small, sharp paring knife. 

I also remove the stems from mine to make then easier to eat, but some people keep the stems for a unique look to the finished dish.

My advice?  If cooking for young children, remove the stems. If cooking for adults – keep them!

Rub the bell peppers with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and get them on a nonstick baking sheet. Set aside.

Step 2 – Cook the Brown Rice

I use a rice cooker for my rice because it’s quick and easy. For brown rice, use a 1:2.5 rice to water ratio. So you’ll use ½ cup dry brown rice and 1 and ¼ cups water.

You can use a simple saucepan on the stove instead, using the same measurements. Just bring your water to a boil and then stir in your rice. Cover and cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes until the rice is tender.

Fluff the rice with a fork and set it aside.

Step 3 – Cook the Quinoa

Start by rinsing your quinoa in a mesh strainer and add it with your water to a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer.

Keep an eye on the pan and adjust the heat to not go over a low simmer. Cook for 10 minutes ,until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork and set aside. 

The quinoa is optional, but I think it adds such a delicious flavor and texture to these stuffed peppers. If you opt-out of quinoa, just make an extra cup of brown rice.

Step 4 – Brown the Ground Turkey and Season

In a nonstick skillet on medium heat, cook the ground turkey with salt and pepper until cooked through and browned. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add your chili powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, and ½ cup of water. Stir to combine, turning the heat to low.

Step 5 – Prepare the Filling

To your skillet with the cooked ground turkey, add the cooked brown rice, cooked quinoa, and black beans that have been rinsed and drained. Stir and taste for salt. 

Once you are happy with the flavor, it’s time to stuff your peppers!

Step 6 – Fill the Peppers and Bake

Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Scoop about ½ cup of filling into each of your bell pepper halves.

Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the peppers are softened, and the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot out of the oven.

Cookware Used

Baking sheet: I used a large non-stick baking sheet to cook my peppers. If you’re worried about the peppers tipping over, you can also use a 13×9 baking dish and nestle them closer together for stability.

Nonstick Skillet: I prefer a 10-inch (25cm) nonstick skillet when I cook ground meat. I like that I can get a nice brown coating on it without having it stick to the bottom of my pan. 

A pan with a lid and pour spout also makes draining grease extra easy!

How to Freeze Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers in a freezer bag ready to be frozen

I made these healthy stuffed peppers as a freezer meal when we were expecting so we would have something ready to throw in the oven on a busy night.

Follow steps 1-5 above, but instead of baking them, place them in a zip-top freezer bag and onto a cutting board. I use the cutting board for stability in my freezer, but you can also slide it off the cutting board into your freezer if you have the space. 

To cook later, just remove the frozen peppers from the freezer bag and place them on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350°F (177°C) oven for about 60 minutes, or until completely warmed through. 

Alternatives and Variations

This is my favorite healthy stuffed pepper recipe because I like how filling it is. There are some other ways to make this dish that I have tried and also enjoyed.

Low GI Stuffed Peppers

To make this dish low GI, omit the brown rice and keep the quinoa. Quinoa is a superfood with a low to medium GI.

Low Carb Stuffed Peppers

To make this dish low carb, replace the rice and quinoa with chopped cauliflower.  (Both rice and quinoa are very high in carbs.)

If you can chop the cauliflower into small enough pieces, it becomes a decent substitute for rice.  (I recommend using a blender or food processor). 

If you do this, you may find it easier to steam the cauliflower rice than use a rice cooker.

You may be tempted to just omit and not replace the rice and quinoa. 

By all means, try this.  Yet, I’ve found that the ground turkey just isn’t as satisfying a filling on its own.

Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef

You can easily make this recipe with ground beef instead of turkey. Just substitute ground beef and follow the directions accordingly.

You can also use ground pork, ground chicken, or shredded beef for a different texture.

Stuffed Green Peppers

One of my favorite alternatives to these healthy stuffed peppers is a version with green peppers. Instead of ground turkey, you’ll cook up some ground Italian sausage and then mix it with marinara sauce.

Cook up some Israeli couscous and mix it into the sauce. Top your stuffed green peppers with mozzarella cheese and bake!

Now It’s Your Turn

For busy parents looking for a healthy stuffed peppers recipe, I hope this fits the bill. It’s quick and easy, and you can also freeze them to serve later.

Give this recipe a try the next time you want to get some vegetables in your weeknight diet, but still want to feel like you’re eating something hearty and comforting.

Print

Healthy Stuffed Peppers

My kids love stuffed peppers, and they are so easy to make.  Don’t be fooled by the simplicity though – there’s so many variations that you can do a different style each time.

My favorite trick is cooking a large batch then freezing them – less work in the week!

  • Author: Beatriz Garcia
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
  • Total Time: 41 minute
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Cuisine: Spanish

Ingredients

Scale
  • 34 bell peppers
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ¼ cup uncooked quinoa (yields 2 cups cooked)
  • ½ cup uncooked brown rice (yields 1 cup cooked)
  • 14 oz. can low-sodium black beans
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese for baking

Instructions

Step 1 – Clean and Halve the Bell Peppers

Wash and dry your peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds.

Rub the bell peppers with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and get them on a nonstick baking sheet. Set aside.

Step 2 – Cook the Brown Rice

A Rice Cooker works well. For brown rice, use a 1:2.5 rice to water ratio.

You can use a simple saucepan on the stove instead. Simmer the rice for 30-40 minutes, until tender.

Fluff the rice with a fork and set it aside.

Step 3 – Cook the Quinoa

Rinse the quinoa.  Simmer it in hot water on low for about 10 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed the water.

Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Step 4 – Brown the Ground Turkey and Season

In a nonstick skillet on medium heat, cook the ground turkey with salt and pepper until cooked through and browned. This will take about 7 to 8 minutes.

Add your chili powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, and ½ cup of water. Stir to combine, turning the heat to low.

Step 5 – Prepare the Filling

To your skillet with the cooked ground turkey, add the cooked brown rice, cooked quinoa, and black beans that have been rinsed and drained. Stir and taste for salt.

Step 6 – Fill the Peppers and Bake

Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Scoop about ½ cup of filling into each of your bell pepper halves.

Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the peppers are softened, and the cheese is bubbly. Serve hot out of the oven.

Tried this Recipe?

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