Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

These peppers are not like the ones your mother used to make. They are vegetarian and bursting with flavor. Yes, they are cheesy as pictured, but they are also delicious without it. These peppers are simple to make dairy-free or vegan.

The majority of stuffed pepper recipes call for Italian flavors, but I took a different approach. Some of my favorite Mexican ingredients, such as pinto beans, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, lime, chili powder, and cumin, served as my inspiration. I could eat the filling as a side dish since it is that delicious! Although making these peppers takes some time, each step is straightforward.

Slice the peppers in half from the stem end through the base to create delicious stuffed peppers. Then, pre-roast the halves until they are soft and slightly caramelized around the edges where they were sliced. In this manner, their flavor is concentrated and their texture is perfect—not too crisp but yet not crumbly.

While you’re at it, please make additional brown rice for yourself. Then, you’ll be one step closer to having Extra Veggie Fried Rice or one of these other rice-based meals for dinner tomorrow night. Best wishes!

Making Stuffed Peppers

The complete recipe can be found below, but this is the gist of it:

  • The peppers are roasted.
  • Unless you’re using leftover cooked rice, prepare the rice.
  • After the filling has been cooked, add the rice and beans.
  • Add cheese on top after stuffing the peppers.
  • Serve after baking!
  • A excellent dish to prepare in advance is these peppers. Cooking the rice and chopping the peppers will give you a head start. Or totally put them together, cover, and put them in the fridge. Sending this dish along with baking instructions to a friend’s house would be wonderful (about 12 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit).

Also read: Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Green Olives


Roasted peppers

  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved from stem to base, seeds and membranes removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper, for sprinkling

Filling and topping

  • ½ cup long-grain brown rice (or 1 ½ cups cooked rice)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt, to taste
  • 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (1 ½ cups) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) grated part-skim mozzarella or cheddar
  • Optional garnishes: Sliced ripe avocado or guacamole, perhaps a drizzle of cilantro-hemp pesto, red salsa, sour cream or vegan sour cream


  1. To roast the peppers: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the halved peppers in a large 9 by 13-inch baking dish, or on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the peppers and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Use your hands to rub the oil all over both sides of the peppers, then arrange them with the cut sides facing up. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the peppers are a little blistered around the edges and easily pierced through by a fork. Set aside. Leave the oven on for baking the peppers.
  2. In the meantime, cook the rice: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh colander until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the boiling water and continue boiling, uncovered, for 30 minutes (reduce the heat as necessary to prevent overflow). Drain off the remaining cooking water and return the rice to the pot. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they’re lightly squishy, another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Add the cilantro, garlic, chili powder and cumin. While stirring, cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and add the rice, beans, lime juice and about 10 twists of black pepper. Stir to combine, then season with additional salt (I usually add ¼ teaspoon) and black pepper, to taste.
  6. To stuff the peppers, first pour off any excess juice pooled within the peppers. Then stuff each pepper generously with the rice mixture (if the peppers were truly large, you should have just the right amount of filling—if you have extra, save it to serve as a side dish). Top the peppers with the cheese.
  7. Bake at 425 for 12 to 13 minutes, until the cheese is golden in spots. Serve warm with fresh cilantro leaves on top or any other garnishes of your choice. Leftovers keep well in the fridge, covered, for up to 4 days. I believe they would freeze well for several months, but haven’t tried to be sure.