A fork-and-knife vegetarian main, Southwestern Stuffed Peppers have the smoky and mildly spicy flavors we crave! Stuffed with veggies like zucchini and corn, with brown rice and black beans, the bell peppers are par-cooked, stuffed, and then baked again, creating a tender yet firm texture just right for cutting into with a knife. Vegetarian stuffed bell peppers are hearty, nourishing and freezer friendly. This recipe is vegetarian, easily gluten free and/or vegan.
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Highlights of Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers
The flavors of these Southwestern-style stuffed bell peppers take me right back to my Texas roots. Full of late summer veggies like zucchini, corn and poblano peppers with hearty brown rice and black beans these stuffed peppers are infused with bold spices and are a satisfying veggie main.
This Recipe Is:
- Packed with Veggies
- Hearty and Nourishing
- Make Tasty Leftovers
- Freezer Friendly
If you love Mexican Inspired Recipes, then you’ll enjoy these stuffed bell peppers.
Ingredients You’ll Need
You may be wondering what to put in stuffed peppers. The possibilities are endless! From Italian style stuffed bell peppers to Mexican Stuffed Poblano Peppers, there are many ways to enjoy peppers! This recipe is inspired by bold and smoky Southwestern flavors. Here’s what you’ll need to whip up this vegetarian stuffed bell pepper recipe (see recipe card for details):
- Green Bell Peppers – mild in flavor and savory rather than sweet, a delicious pairing with southwestern flavors.
- Brown Rice – adds earthy flavor, fiber and bulk to the stuffing.
- Red Onion – for flavor, you can sub yellow onions if needed.
- Poblano Pepper – generally have a mild flavor. If you need a substitute, you can use green bell pepper.
- Sweet Corn – use fresh or frozen here. Either will work!
- Zucchini – look for late summer, in season zucchini, firm to the touch.
- Spices – these stuffed peppers are infused with smoky paprika, chili powder, cumin and oregano.
- Fresh Garlic – you’ll need about two plump cloves, minced fine. If you’d like to substitute ground garlic, use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic granules or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes – the canned variety. You’ll have leftovers, so freeze them for later or use them in Mexican Brown Rice.
- Fresh Lime Juice – for a hit of acidity and authentic flavor.
- Cooked Black Beans – use canned or make Black Beans from Scratch. You can also try my Slow Cooker Pinto Beans or canned pintos in this recipe. Choose your favorite!
- Pepper Jack Cheese – adds an overall mild spiciness to this dish. However, you can use Monterey Jack, medium cheddar or a mixture of the two if you prefer a milder stuffed pepper.
- Cilantro – a must in any Southwestern or Mexican style dish. It adds so much flavor!
At a Glance: How to Make Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers with Rice
I first published this recipe back in 2014, but have updated the cooking method to streamline the cooking process and took a few dishes out of the equation for easier clean up (hooray!).
To make the peppers tender, yet keep em’ sturdy enough to stuff, we’re par-cooking them in the oven while the rice cooks. Par-cooking renders the bell peppers easier to cut and softer, but not mushy, to the tooth. While the peppers are roasting, gather and chop the veggies. There’s some overlap during the prep/cooking process.
Equipment: You’ll need a 10-12 inch skillet to saute the veggies, a 3 quart pot for cooking the rice and two bakers, (a 9×13 inch and a smaller, 3×5 inch or loaf pan) to hold five peppers, sliced in-half. In summary, here’s how to make these tasty stuffed bell peppers (see recipe card for details):
- First – cook the rice. We’re cooking the rice like pasta – the easiest method!
- Second – par cook the peppers in the oven. This will leave them tender, yet still sturdy enough to stuff.
- Next – saute’ the onions, poblano, corn, and zucchini. Add the spices, garlic and tomatoes. Off the heat, stir in the beans, cooked rice and cheese.
- Last – stuff the peppers, top with cheese and bake!
How to Freeze Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed peppers freeze and reheat beautifully. Here’s how to do it:
- Allow the peppers to cool completely, then transfer to individual serving containers. Freeze for up to two weeks.
- Thaw in the refrigerator. Reheat in a foil-covered baker at 375 Farenheight for about 15-20 minutes. Or, pop em in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes.
Related: Love stuffed peppers? You’ll enjoy these Roasted Stuffed Poblanos with Smoky Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans a go!
Condiments to Share with Stuffed Bell Peppers
Share your favorite Mexican inspired condiments with your stuffed peppers. Here are a few ideas:
- Make it Vegan: omit the cheese (or stir in your favorite shredded vegan cheese) and share the peppers with a creamy condiment such as vegan sour cream, guacamole or Chili Lime Pepita Crema.
- Cheese Please: switch it up by trying Monterey jack, medium cheddar cheese or a combination of the two in place of pepper Jack cheese.
- What Kind of Beans?: enjoy this recipe with black beans or pinto beans. Either are fabulous in this recipe.
- Pro Tip: a #20 cookie scoop makes scooping the filling and transferring it to the bell pepper a snap. I use about 1 1/2 – 2 scoops of filling per pepper.
More Vegetarian Southwestern Recipes to Try
Southwestern Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers with Rice
- 5 Large Green Bell Peppers sliced in half from stem to bottom, seeds and membranes/ribs removed
- 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil + pan spray, I use avocado, olive or coconut oil
- 5 cups (1.2 kilograms) Water
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) Long Grain Brown Rice rinsed through a strainer and drained
- 1 cup (115 grams) Red Onion diced small, about 1/2 an onion
- 3/4 cup (85 grams) Poblano Pepper diced small, about 1 medium pepper
- 1 cup (135 grams) Zucchini diced medium, about 1 small zucchini
- 1 cup (145 grams) Sweet Corn fresh, about 1 ear, or frozen
- 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Smoky Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon Garlic minced, about 2 large cloves
- 1/2 cup (150 grams) Canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes including juice (you can freeze the remaining)
- 1/4 Fresh Squeezed Lime
- 1 3/4 cups (425 grams) Cooked Black Beans drained and rinsed, one can
- 2 cups (8 ounces / 225 grams) Pepper Jack Cheese grated, divided, use Monterey jack for less spicy
- Cilantro chopped fine for serving
- Get Ready: Arrange an oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius). Lightly oil two bakers with pan spray (I use a 9×13 inch baker and a smaller, 7×6 inch baker or loaf pan). Set aside.
- Cook the Rice: Bring the water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Drop in the rinsed rice and cook on a low boil, unlidded, for about 25, or until the rice is tender (cook it like pasta). Drain remaining water, and set the rice aside.
- Par Cook the Peppers: While the rice cooks, place the cut peppers, side by side, flesh side up, in the bakers. Slide the peppers into the oven and cook for about 15-20, just until the peppers are fragrant, a little softer and with a bit of light charring around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside until ready to stuff.
- Make the Stuffing: In a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet add 1 tablespoon oil. Saute' the onion and poblano pepper for about 7 minutes on medium heat, or until softened. A little charring is okay. Add the zucchini and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally for about two minutes, or just until the zucchini is slightly soft. Sprinkle in the cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, salt and minced garlic. Stir to coat the veggies, about one minute. Remove from heat. Add the tomatoes, squeeze in a 1/4 lime juice. Stir. Add the beans, cooked rice and half the cheese. The pan will be full, so carefully fold the ingredients together until evenly distributed.
- Stuff the Peppers: Scoop the stuffing into the peppers. A #20 cookie scoop makes scooping the filling and transferring it to the bell pepper a snap. I use about 1 1/2 – 2 scoops of filling per pepper. Use the back of a spoon to press the filling into each pepper half, mound if needed. Top each pepper with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the peppers are warmed through.
- Remove from oven and serve with your favorite Mexican food condiments like cilantro, lime wedges, Avocado Cream Sauce and Chipotle Red Salsa.To freeze, store in a lidded container, in the freezer for up to two weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Gently reheat at 375 Fahrenheit (190 Celsius), covered for about 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.