Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers are a favorite in our family. My boys absolutely love them. Since it’s such a healthy and satisfying meal, I had to try to make it in the Instant Pot and I loved the results, especially since the peppers cook so quickly and I can cook everything in one appliance. Any time I can reduce the amount of dishes I have to wash, I am a happy girl.

My secret to really tender stuffed peppers that are also flavorful is to use A LOT of vegetables in the meat mixture. The vegetables really add so many dimensions of flavor and give make the filling really juicy. I also add a good amount of water for the rice to soak up so it doesn’t take all the moisture out of the meat mixture, leaving very dense and dry stuffed peppers.

The accompanying tomato sauce also has some added veggies for an extra layer of flavor, as well as a splash of cream to mellow out the acidity and fresh herbs to make it all taste fresh and bright. 

Ingredients:

5 medium bell peppers (any color, except green)

1/2 Tablespoon olive oil

1 lb ground chicken

1/2 – 3/4 lb ground pork

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1/2 cup long grain white rice, uncooked

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 cup water

1/2 Tablespoon dry herbs or a seasoning mix (a combination of anything you like, parsley, basil, oregano, granulated garlic, onion, etc.)

Sauce:

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups tomato sauce or tomato ragu (or 1 (14.5 oz) can)

3/4 cup water

1/2 Tablespoon dry herbs or a seasoning mix (a combination of anything you like, parsley, basil, oregano, granulated garlic, onion, etc.)

1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, etc.)

To serve: sour cream, as a garnish, optional

Instructions:

Prep the bell peppers by cutting off the tops and scooping out the seeds. Finely chop the tops of the peppers and use them in the stuffing and the sauce. I’m all about utilizing every part of an ingredient – more flavor, less waste.

If you are using larger bell peppers, it will take a bit longer for the rice to cook all the way through. Here’s a trick I like to use. Put the rice in a bowl and pour boiling water over it and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes, then drain the water before adding the rice to the meat mixture.

Using the “Saute” mode on the Instant Pot, adjust the heat to “More”. Add the olive oil and when the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, and the bell pepper tops, seasoning with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Remove 3/4 of the vegetables to a large bowl and cool until barely warm. This will be for the meat filling and the remaining vegetables will be for the sauce.

I’ll be honest. I like adding more vegetables (double the amount) to my meat mixture and sauce. I think it gives much more flavor and makes the meat mixture more tender and not as dense, however, it will also work out with 1 onion and 2 celery stalks.

Sometimes, I also add other vegetables, like finely chopped or shredded zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, etc. I love the flavor it gives the final dish. It’s completely up to you.

Meanwhile, add the minced garlic to the Instant Pot, continuing to sauté for another minute. Pour in the tomato sauce and the water. You can use a can of tomato sauce, it will be a little bit less than 2 cups, but in order for you not to have to open another can, one will work out just fine. If you are using a bigger jar or are using homemade sauce, use 2 cups.

Season the sauce to taste with salt and ground black pepper, as well as 1/2 Tablespoon of your favorite dry herbs (Italian seasoning, dry thyme, oregano, parsley, granulated garlic, granulated onion, etc.) Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Turn off the Instant Pot.

Meanwhile, the first part of the vegetables should have cooled off by now. Add the ground chicken and ground pork to the large bowl.

You can use any ground meat that you like, so ground turkey and ground beef will work just as well in this recipe too.

Add the rice, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper, the dry herbs and the water. Mix to combine. Fill the bell peppers with the meat mixture. (If your peppers are smaller, you may have some meat mixture left over. You can freeze it to use another time or form meatballs and cook them right alongside the stuffed peppers.)

Place the bell peppers in the Instant Pot, nestling them into the sauce. (If you’re using larger bell peppers, only 4 may fit.)Pour some of the sauce over the stuffed peppers. Cover the Instant Pot with the lid. Turn the valve to “Sealing”. Turn on the “Manual” mode, high pressure, for 10 minutes. If your peppers are bigger, you may need to cook them longer, up to 15 minutes.

Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 3-5 minutes, then release the pressure manually. Take out the stuffed peppers with a large slotted spoon and place on a serving plate. Pour in the heavy cream to the sauce and add the fresh herbs, mix to combine. Serve the stuffed peppers with the sauce and sour cream.

Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 5 medium bell peppers (any color, except green)
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ½ - ¾ lb ground pork
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • ½ cup long grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ Tablespoon dry herbs or a seasoning mix (a combination of anything you like, parsley, basil, oregano, granulated garlic, onion, etc.)
Sauce:
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or tomato ragu (or 1 (14.5 oz) can)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ Tablespoon dry herbs or a seasoning mix (a combination of anything you like, parsley, basil, oregano, granulated garlic, onion, etc.)
  • ¼ - ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, etc.)
To serve: sour cream, as a garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Prep the bell peppers by cutting off the tops and scooping out the seeds. Finely chop the tops of the peppers and use them in the stuffing and the sauce. I'm all about utilizing every part of an ingredient - more flavor, less waste.
  2. If you are using larger bell peppers, it will take a bit longer for the rice to cook all the way through. Here's a trick I like to use. Put the rice in a bowl and pour boiling water over it and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes, then drain the water before adding the rice to the meat mixture.
  3. Using the "Saute" mode on the Instant Pot, adjust the heat to "More". Add the olive oil and when the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, and the bell pepper tops, seasoning with about ¼ teaspoon salt and ground black pepper. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Remove ¾ of the vegetables to a large bowl and cool until barely warm. This will be for the meat filling and the remaining vegetables will be for the sauce.
  4. Sometimes, I also add other vegetables, like finely chopped or shredded zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, etc. I love the flavor it gives the final dish. It's completely up to you.
  5. Meanwhile, add the minced garlic to the Instant Pot, continuing to sauté for another minute. Pour in the tomato sauce and the water. You can use a can of tomato sauce, it will be a little bit less than 2 cups, but in order for you not to have to open another can, one will work out just fine. If you are using a bigger jar or are using homemade sauce, use 2 cups.
  6. Season the sauce to taste with salt and ground black pepper, as well as ½ Tablespoon of your favorite dry herbs (Italian seasoning, dry thyme, oregano, parsley, granulated garlic, granulated onion, etc.) Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Turn off the Instant Pot.
  7. Meanwhile, the first part of the vegetables should have cooled off by now. Add the ground chicken and ground pork to the large bowl.
  8. You can use any ground meat that you like, so ground turkey and ground beef will work just as well in this recipe too.
  9. Add the rice, 1¼ teaspoons of salt, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, the dry herbs and the water. Mix to combine. Fill the bell peppers with the meat mixture. (If your peppers are smaller, you may have some meat mixture left over. You can freeze it to use another time or form meatballs and cook them right alongside the stuffed peppers.)
  10. Place the bell peppers in the Instant Pot, nestling them into the sauce. Pour some of the sauce over the stuffed peppers. Cover the Instant Pot with the lid. Turn the valve to "Sealing". Turn on the "Manual" mode, high pressure, for 10 minutes. If your peppers are bigger, you may need to cook them longer, up to 15 minutes.
  11. Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 5 minutes, then release the pressure manually.
  12. Take out the stuffed peppers with a large slotted spoon and place on a serving plate. Pour in the heavy cream to the sauce and add the fresh herbs, mixing to combine. Serve the stuffed peppers with the sauce and sour cream.
Notes
Stuffed Peppers freeze really well. You can freeze them assembled, uncooked, in an airtight container or a freezer ziplock bag and then cook. You can cook them in the Instant Pot right out of the freezer. Take them out of the container/bag, (make the sauce then or prep it beforehand and pour it in). The time should be only a bit longer than when the peppers aren't frozen, since it will take longer for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, so you only need to add a few more minutes to the cooking time.

You can also freeze the cooked bell peppers. Freeze them in an airtight container or a freezer ziplock bag, for 3-6 months. When reheating, you can thaw the peppers first in the refrigerator, and then reheat until warmed all the way through. You can also reheat them, stating in a cold oven and heating to 400 degrees, until the peppers are heated all the way through.

Stuffed Peppers freeze really well. You can freeze them assembled, uncooked, in an airtight container or a freezer ziplock bag and then cook. You can cook them in the Instant Pot right out of the freezer. Take them out of the container/bag, (make the sauce then or prep it beforehand and pour it in). The time should be only a bit longer than when the peppers aren’t frozen, since it will take longer for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, so you only need to add a few more minutes to the cooking time.

You can also freeze the cooked bell peppers. Freeze them in an airtight container or a freezer ziplock bag, for 3-6 months. When reheating, you can thaw the peppers first in the refrigerator, and then reheat until warmed all the way through. You can also reheat them, stating in a cold oven and heating to 400 degrees, until the peppers are heated all the way through.

If you don’t want to use the Instant Pot, you can use this exact recipe and make everything on the stovetop. Use leftover rice or partially cook the rice before adding it to the meat mixture. After filling the peppers with the meat mixture, cook them in a large dutch oven on the stovetop, on low heat for about 30-40 minutes, or in the oven, 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-45 minutes.

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