Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers

There is something about a good classic recipe that never loses its charm. These recipes are family favorites for a good reason, with so many different recipe variations. I make Stuffed Bell Peppers many different ways and I have several variations on my blog already posted.

These Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers have simple ingredients that all come together to create a winning combination. I love adding lots of veggies to create extra dimensions of flavor. Both the beef filling and the sauce have onion, carrots, and celery. The beef is browned first, creating a filling that’s not compact and firm, but very tender. Sauteeing the vegetables adds more flavor than if you would just add them to the filling raw. Adding cheese, tomatoes and fresh herbs give another dimension of flavor. Not only is this a very hearty entree, the presentation is so beautiful.

When I had my second son and finally came back home from the hospital, I asked my Mom to make this for us and it was the perfect dinner for such a happy occasion. I was certainly ready for some good home cooking! It’s the perfect dinner to make your family and friends feel like they are getting an extra special meal.

I also love how practical this recipe is. You can do most of prep work in advance and you can also freeze the stuffed peppers for a completely finished dinner that you just have to reheat later. I often will prep the Beef and Rice stuffing ahead of time, on the weekend, in the evening when the boys are already sleeping, or during naptime, and that way most of the work is done and the rest comes together in no time. 

Ingredients:

Peppers:

6 sweet bell peppers, medium to large, tops removed and seeded

3/4 cup uncooked rice or 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups cooked rice

1-2 Tablespoons butter or oil, divided

1 1/2 of a large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely grated

2 stalks of celery, minced

salt, ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I prefer to use lean ground beef)

1 egg

4 oz. grated cheese (Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, Provolone, Cheddar, etc.), divided

1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes (I like using the canned tomatoes with sweet onion, but you can use any canned diced tomatoes or fresh tomatoes)

2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, divided

Tomato Sauce:

1 Tablespoon butter or oil

1/2 of a large onion

1 stalk of celery, chopped, optional

1 carrot, peeled and grated, optional

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes with onions (you can also use crushed canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes), minus the 1/2 cup that you used for the beef and rice stuffing

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup broth (vegetable broth or chicken broth)

1/4 cup heavy cream or sour cream (additional sour cream for serving, optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Clean the bell peppers, cut the tops off, reserving them, scoop out the seeds and place in a rimmed baking sheet, in the preheated oven, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the peppers soften. Remove from the oven. If the oven temperature was set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, reduce the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the rice on the stovetop until 3/4 way cooked. You can also use 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups leftover rice.

Heat 1-2 Tablespoons butter or oil in a large skillet or deep saute pan. Add 1 1/2 of an onion, (setting aside 1/2 of 1 onion to use for the sauce),  2 stalks of celery, and carrots. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook until tender and slightly golden, 6-8 minutes.

Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook on high heat until no longer pink, another 6-8 minutes. If you are using ground beef that is higher in fat content, brown it separately on a skillet and drain the excess grease.

Mix the cooked rice, beef and vegetable mixture, 4 oz. grated cheese, parsley, egg and 1/2 cup of the diced tomatoes (without the juice). Stuff the peppers with the beef and rice mixture.

In the same skillet that you used to cook the meat and vegetable mixture, heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon butter or oil and add the remaining 1/2 of the onion, carrots, celery and also garlic. To make it simpler, you can omit the celery and carrot. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Cook for about 5-8 minutes.

Pour in the rest of the tomatoes (1 1/2 (14 oz) cans of diced tomatoes). Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the broth  and cream.

Add the fresh parsley, if using. (You can also season with other herbs, fresh or dry.) Blend the sauce in a blender or immersion blender until it’s the consistency that you like, chunky or smooth. (Instead of making your own sauce from scratch, you can also use store-bought tomato sauce instead.)

Pour half of the sauce in the bottom of any rimmed baking dish that will fit the stuffed peppers, placing the peppers in the sauce and then topping them with remaining sauce.

Use the tops of the peppers to cover the stuffed peppers. This is optional, you don’t need to use the tops of the peppers. You can also use another 4 oz of the grated cheese to sprinkle on top of the peppers. Bake in the preheated oven, 400 degrees, until sauce is bubbly, the peppers are cooked all the way through and the cheese is melted, about 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of the peppers.

Serve with more sour cream and spoon some of the tomato sauce over the peppers. You can also garnish with fresh herbs.

Beef and Rice Stuffed Peppers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 6 stuffed peppers
Ingredients
Peppers:
  • 6 sweet bell peppers, medium to large, tops removed and seeded
  • ¾ cup uncooked rice or 2¼ - 2½ cups cooked rice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons butter or oil, divided
  • 1½ of a large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 2 stalks of celery, minced
  • salt, ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ lbs ground beef (I prefer to use lean ground beef)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz. grated cheese (Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, Provolone, Cheddar, etc.), divided
  • ½ cup canned diced tomatoes (I like using the canned tomatoes with sweet onion, but you can use any canned diced tomatoes or fresh tomatoes)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, divided
Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or oil
  • ½ of a large onion
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped, optional
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated, optional
  • 2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes with onions (you can also use crushed canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes), minus the ½ cup that you used for the beef and rice stuffing
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup broth (vegetable broth or chicken broth)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or sour cream (additional sour cream for serving, optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 - 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Clean the bell peppers, cut the tops off, reserving them, scoop out the seeds and place in a rimmed baking sheet, in the preheated oven, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the peppers soften. Remove from the oven. If the oven temperature was set to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, reduce the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Cook the rice on the stovetop until ¾ way cooked. You can also use 2¼ - 2½ cups leftover rice.
  4. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons butter or oil in a large skillet or deep saute pan. Add 1½ of an onion, (setting aside ½ of 1 onion to use for the sauce),  2 stalks of celery, and carrots. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook until tender and slightly golden, 6-8 minutes.
  5. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook on high heat until no longer pink, another 6-8 minutes. If you are using ground beef that is higher in fat content, brown it separately on a skillet and drain the excess grease.
  6. Mix the cooked rice, beef and vegetable mixture, 4 oz. grated cheese, parsley, egg and ½ cup of the diced tomatoes (without the juice). Stuff the peppers with the beef and rice mixture.
  7. In the same skillet that you used to cook the meat and vegetable mixture, heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon butter or oil and add the remaining ½ of the onion, carrots, celery and also garlic. To make it simpler, you can omit the celery and carrot. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Cook for about 6-8 minutes.
  8. Pour in the rest of the tomatoes (1½ (14 oz) cans of diced tomatoes). Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the broth and cream.
  9. Add the fresh parsley. (You can also season with other herbs, fresh or dry.) Blend the sauce in a blender or immersion blender until it's the consistency that you like, chunky or smooth. (Instead of making your own sauce from scratch, you can also use store-bought tomato sauce instead.)
  10. Pour half of the sauce in the bottom of any rimmed baking dish that will fit the stuffed peppers, placing the peppers in the sauce and then topping them with remaining sauce.
  11. Use the tops of the peppers to cover the stuffed peppers. This is optional, you don't need to use the tops of the peppers. You can also use another 4 oz of the grated cheese to sprinkle on top of the peppers.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven, 400 degrees, until sauce is bubbly, the peppers are cooked all the way through and the cheese is melted, about 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of the peppers.
  13. Serve with more sour cream and spoon some of the tomato sauce over the peppers. You can also garnish with fresh herbs.

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