Mexican Stuffed Peppers


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Fresh, healthy and big on flavor, these Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers are filled with a cheesy mix of chili powder and cumin-spiced rice and beans, and can be served as a satisfying main dish, or vegetable side dish. 

a stuffed red bell pepper on a white plate

This easy vegetarian recipe has everything: fresh ingredients, pops of color, and lots of mouthwatering flavor. There’s also melted cheddar cheese, we can’t forget about the melted cheddar cheese.

You will love these Mexican stuffed bell peppers because they’re an easy-to-make, healthier version of traditional tacos, but still have a deliciously satisfying, cheesy rice and beans filling. Preparing the peppers is quick and simple, and there’s no need to boil them ahead. Just hollow out the middle, “stuff” with the chili powder-and-cumin-spiced filling, and bake for 15 minutes. Serve as a main dish on meatless Mondays, or as a vegetarian side dish.

What are stuffed bell peppers?

Stuffed bell peppers are made by hollowing out the inside of bell peppers and filling them with healthy, fresh ingredients like herbs, spices, rice, beans, veggies, and meat. So many different cultures have their own wonderful variations of stuffed bell peppers, so you will also find recipes for Italian, Mediterranean, vegetarian, and vegan stuffed peppers.

a raw red bell pepper sliced in half

How to Make

  1. Preheat the oven.
  2. Prep the peppers. Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds, and place them with the hollow side up in a glass baking dish.
  3. Create the pepper filling. Reserve ¼ cup of the grated cheddar cheese, then combine the remaining cheese with the remaining ingredients. 
  4. Stuff the peppers. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice turns crispy and golden, and the peppers soften.
  5. Add the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of cheese over the peppers and continue baking until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes more.
  6. Serve immediately, topped with sour cream (if desired).
stirring rice and black beans in a white mixing bowl


  • Bell peppers – You can use any color bell pepper in this recipe, or a mix of bell peppers. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers will have a more mild taste than green peppers.
  • Cheddar cheese – Mild, medium, and sharp cheddar are all great melting cheeses to top these peppers. Pepper Jack or a Mexican-style cheese blend also work.
  • Rice – Any variety of white or brown rice makes a great pepper filling. Whether you use white or brown rice is totally up to you.
  • Black beans – Tender black beans add some Southwestern flair, and give each forkful a hearty and satisfying bite.
  • Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt – Classic Southwest seasonings. Adjust the amount of chili powder if you like a little more kick.
  • Salsa – Any salsa will work here. You can even try a bright tomatillo salsa verde.
  • Onion – Finely chopped onion adds more flavor to the rice, beans, and cheddar cheese.
  • Cilantro – Vibrant cilantro is a must-add topping.
  • Sour cream – A dollop of creamy sour cream is so lovely on these peppers, especially if you make them a little spicy. 


  • Bell peppers are easy to cook, but if you overcook them they can get a little mushy. Try to keep the cooking time between 15 and 20 minutes to avoid mushy bell peppers.
  • If you’re out of chili powder or cumin, use a traditional taco seasoning in their place. 
  • Make this dish Instagram-worthy by using a rainbow of colorful peppers, instead of just one variety. 
  • Serve with homemade guacamole for a super Southwestern feel.


  • Add protein – If you want to give this recipe a meaty twist, add ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken. Use a large skillet to cook the meat, drain any fat, and then add it to your pepper filling.
  • Substitute rice – If you’re not in the mood for rice, try another starch like quinoa or bulgur. 
  • Make it spicy – Recreate the flavors of your favorite spicy tacos with some diced jalapenos or a little hot sauce.

Store, Reheat, and Prep Mexican Stuffed Peppers Ahead

Making these stuffed peppers ahead is easy. Prep the peppers by cutting them in half and removing the seeds. Then, make your filling mixture. Store the peppers and the rice and beans filling separately, and in airtight containers. Store for up to 1 day in advance.

Leftover Southwestern stuffed peppers can also be frozen and reheated. Simpy store leftover peppers in airtight containers, and when you’re ready to reheat, thaw them in the fridge overnight, then bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F. 

cooked stuffed bell peppers in a clear glass baking dish


Do you have to boil peppers before stuffing them?

The bell peppers in this Mexican stuffed bell pepper recipe cook right in the oven. After baking them for 15 to 20 minutes, they will be soft and tender.

Can you make Mexican stuffed bell peppers without rice?

Mexican stuffed bell peppers are really delicious without rice too. Try replacing rice with ground beef, or your favorite ground meat. If you add a ground protein, just brown the meat on the stove before adding it to the peppers.

Are Mexican stuffed bell peppers healthy?

Mexican stuffed bell peppers are a healthier option when compared to traditional tacos, because all of that delicious taco filling is tucked inside of fresh bell peppers, rather than a tortilla. So you’re basically getting lots of extra nutrients, and one less processed ingredient (the tortilla) when you make a dish like these stuffed peppers. 

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5 from 2 votes

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Fresh, healthy and big on flavor, these Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers are filled with a cheesy mix of chili powder and cumin-spiced rice and beans, and can be served as a satisfying main dish, or vegetable side dish.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Mixing Bowl
  • Baking Dish or Sheet Pan


  • 4 medium bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish, if desired)
  • sour cream, for serving (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Slice the peppers in half (cutting from the stem to the base). Using a spoon, scrape out and discard the core and seeds. Arrange the peppers in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet so that the hollow side is facing upwards. (They can be arranged close enough to be touching.)
  • Set 1/4 cup of the grated cheddar cheese aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup cheese and all of the remaining ingredients, stirring to distribute evenly. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture, packing it gently to compress it inside the peppers.
  • Bake the peppers until the rice starts to turn golden and crisp on the top and the peppers soften, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over the peppers and continue baking until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes more.
  • Serve immediately, topped with sour cream (if desired).


Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 852mg | Potassium: 570mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 4413IU | Vitamin C: 154mg | Calcium: 294mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $6.00
Calories: 340
Keyword: easy dinner, Mexican, tex mex, vegetarian
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Love these! (And we ordered an entire crate of GS cookies from our niece so we really need to make some healthy veggie dinners like this!

  2. Aren’t care packages from home the best? I just got one from my baby sister and it totally made my whole week!

    I’ll admit, I haven’t stuffed anything other than a winter squash in a long time. Thanks for the inspiration, I’ll give some peppers a go!

  3. You made me laugh with the pumpkin story. As I was reading it I was thinking ‘oh wow what a great idea I’m going to try that’ then instantly deflated 🙁 It was a great idea though. Do you think it was what you put in or it just won’t work full stop?

    I have little peppers growing in my garden at the moment and have been thinking they’d be rather nice stuffed. I might just have to give this a go.

    ps had your Pad See Ew last night. It was so good!