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Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Stuffed pepper casserole takes this classic comfort food dinner and makes it simpler. You don’t even need to cook the rice for this version! Top it with plenty of grated cheddar and it’s a filling meal you’ll all love. Reheats like a dream!

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an overhead view of a skillet with a scoop of casserole missing and a spoon

Traditional stuffed peppers have been on our dinner rotation for ages. They’re great but they are a lot more work than this version for similar flavors.

There are no peppers to pre-boil and this version doesn’t even require you to cook the rice in advance.

It’s absolutely approachable for weeknights and takes less than 45 minutes to make.

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    What kind of rice is best in unstuffed pepper casserole? 

    Selecting a rice that cooks in 20 minutes is crucial here. Jasmine rice is probably my favorite, but basmati is a great alternative. In either case, make sure to rinse the rice to remove any excess starch. If you skip this step, it is highly likely that your rice will form clumps or your stuffed pepper casserole could get gluey.  

    Whatever you do, steer clear of long-grain rice, wild rice, or any rice with a cook time longer than 20 minutes. You will end up with a chewy, undercooked finished product. 

    If you would like to use cauliflower rice, cook the rice separately and add it to the recipe last. Be careful not to cook it for too long as it will become mushy. Keep in mind that you should reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe if using cauliflower rice. 

    Tip: Use rice that cooks in 20 or less

    For this recipe to be its best, make sure to use a rice that cooks in the right amount of time. Wild rice, and brown rice take too long. Choose basmati or Jasmine for the best results and be sure to rinse it well before using.

    Can I make unstuffed pepper casserole in the slow cooker? 

    I do not suggest making this recipe in the slow cooker. Slow cookers are really good at retaining moisture and you will end up with a soggy, mushy rice.

    a spoon holding a scoop of cooked stuffed pepper casserole topped with cheese

    Can I make this recipe in the Instant Pot? 

    You can make easy unstuffed pepper casserole in the Instant Pot.

    Just brown the beef and saute the veggies using the “saute” setting on the Instant Pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Naturally release the pressure for ten minutes before manually releasing the rest of the pressure.

    Finally, add the cheese and allow it to melt. That’s it! Make sure to add a little extra salt if you choose to go this route. Check out this recipe for inspiration.

    Can I use cooked rice? 

    This is a great recipe to use up leftover cooked rice if you have it on hand. You will have to make some adjustments but it will turn out beautifully.

    Omit the water from the recipe and, when you add the tomatoes, allow the juices to simmer off a bit.

    Both of these steps will help keep the casserole from getting soggy.

    Wait to add the rice until the very end of the cook time and stir it in gently to prevent it from breaking. 

    Can I use quinoa instead of rice? 

    Not a rice person? Quinoa is a great alternative here. Plus it has a ton of extra protein!

    Cook your quinoa (use 1 ¾ cups liquid and 1 cup quinoa) and add it at the end of the cook time.

    As with adding pre-cooked rice, omit the water and let the tomatoes simmer off their juices before continuing with the recipe. 

    How to make stuffed pepper casserole step by step

    Step 1: Cook ground beef with onions until no pink remains; drain.

    a skillet with uncooked beef and onion ready to sautee

    Step 2: Add garlic and spices.

    a skillet of cooked ground beef with garlic and spices added

    Step 3: Add peppers.

    a skillet with diced green and red bell peppers added to cooked ground beef

    Step 4: Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and water.

    a skillet with diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and water being added

    Step 5: Add rinsed and uncooked rice.

    a skillet with stuffed pepper casserole ingredients and a pile of uncooked rice on top

    Step 6: Stir and cover; simmer 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.

    a skillet of stuffed pepper casserole with the rice added and ready to be simmered

    What is the best cheese to add to easy unstuffed pepper casserole? 

    Cheese really pulls this heartwarming unstuffed pepper casserole together.

    I recommend opting for cheddar cheese or, if you’re in the mood for a little zing, pepper jack.

    Another fun addition to this recipe is a jar of salsa. You will have to adjust the liquid a bit, but it adds a nice kick of flavor. 

    Meat options or vegetarian ideas

    One great thing about this recipe is the fact that it’s super versatile, especially when it comes to protein.

    I prefer ground beef but ground turkey or ground chicken work beautifully.

    Not a meat fan? Go ahead and use rinsed, drained black beans instead.

    How to make stuffed pepper casserole in advance

    This delicious unstuffed pepper casserole works well as a make-ahead recipe.

    1. Just leave off the cheese, allow the dish to cool, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
    2. When you are ready to dive in, transfer the prepared casserole to a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
    3. Add a bit of water or tomato juice to the mixture, cover, and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally.
    4. Once the casserole has heated through, add the cheese and cover the pot until it melts. 

    Can stuffed pepper casserole be frozen?

    Casseroles freeze quite nicely. This easy unstuffed pepper casserole is no exception.

    Allow the finished dish to cool to room temperature before covering it tightly with saran wrap or sealing it in an airtight container.

    Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When it comes time to enjoy, transfer the casserole to the refrigerator to thaw overnight before reheating it on the stovetop, covered over low heat. 

    a plate of stuffed pepper casserole on a table with a salad

    What to serve with pepper casserole

    I love that this recipe can be enjoyed as a full meal on its own. It contains carbs, fats, veggies, and protein. It can also be great to serve with a side or two, however. Here are some ideas for you. 

    an overhead view of a skillet with a scoop of casserole missing and a spoon

    Stuffed Pepper Casserole

    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes
    Servings 6 people
    Author Rachel Ballard

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 pound ground beef turkey or chicken `
    • 1 medium red onion
    • 2 teaspoons garlic minced
    • 2 teaspoons cumin
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 teaaspoon black pepper
    • 1 red bell pepper diced into 1/2" pieces
    • 1 green bell pepper diced into 1/2" pieces
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
    • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
    • 1 cup basmati rice rinsed but uncooked
    • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded

    Instructions
     

    • In a 10 inch or larger skillet with high sides, add the ground beef and onion and cook over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any excess grease.
    • Add the garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, bell peppers, water, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and rice to the skillet and stir to combine.
    • Cover with a lid and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook on medium low about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice until the rice is tender.
    • Turn off the heat. Top with cheese and cover with the lid until melted; about 5 minutes.
    • The casserole will thicken as it cools. Serve warm.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cupCalories: 402kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 20gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 571mgPotassium: 375mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 893IUVitamin C: 43mgCalcium: 174mgIron: 2mg
    Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
    Course Main Course
    Cuisine American
    Keyword stuffed pepper casserole, unstuffed pepper casserole

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    About the Author

    Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.