Classic Stuffed Peppers Like Momma Used to Make

There are a bazzillion recipes for stuffed peppers out there, every variation imaginable. But sometimes you just want the mom-style comfort of the classic. Here it is. Beef, rice, tomato sauce, cheese, good.

Traditional Stuffed Peppers, with tips for making them quicker than ever!

OK, so I’ll just tell you straight out that I was never a fan of traditional stuffed peppers. I liked how they tasted. Sure. But they were a pain in the ass to make.

You have to cook rice, cook beef, mix it together. Then hollow out the peppers, put it all in there and then wait for, like, ever until the peppers are cooked and softened and everything is heated through. Instead of all that, I developed a quicker way to make peppers (basically, I cut them in half rather than keeping them whole and then make a filling out of raw meat, seasonings and cheese. The meat cooks through with no problem in the shallow pepper boat. Find out more about that method here).

But if you’re craving classic stuffed peppers, then you need to do it the long way. There are a few short cuts though.

Stuffed Pepper Shortcuts

  1. Use leftover rice. Or even buy pre-cooked rice. It’s not delicious by itself but mixed into the pepper stuffing, you won’t know the difference.
  2. Get out a big skillet for cooking the beef. The meat will have more space so it will cook more quickly. It will also brown better, rather than steaming.
  3. Pre-boil the peppers. It sounds like a pain. And it kind of is. But it cuts the baking time of the stuffed peppers down by a good 20 minutes. That’s a big deal any night.
  4. Cut peppers in half rather than coring them. I’ve got a step-by-step article for doing this over here. Or check out these Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers, which also use the halved pepper method.

O.K., now you know what to do. Go do it. Can’t wait to find out what you think!



Classic Stuffed Peppers

There are a bazzillion recipes for stuffed peppers out there, every variation imaginable. But sometimes you just want the mom-style comfort of the classic. Here it is. Beef, rice, tomato sauce, cheese, good.

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 large bell peppers
  • 2  and 1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the beef, salt, pepper and garlic.  Cook stirring occasionally until beef is cooked through, 6-7 minutes. Drain the fat and discard. Stir in cooked rice and 2 cups of the tomato sauce.
  3. Cut a thin slice from stem end of each pepper to remove the top. Remove seeds and membrane. If your pepper is wobbly, cut a thin slice from the bottom so it stands erect.
  4. (Optional Step) In 4 qt. Dutch oven, place peppers open-side-up and fill them with water (to avoid floating). Fill the pot around the peppers with water and bring to a boil on high. Bring temperature down to medium-low and let simmer 3 minutes. Remove from pot and place in ice bath. Drain.
  5. Stuff Peppers with beef mixture and place in a 9×13″ baking dish.
  6. If you pre-cooked your peppers: Bake 25 minutes.  If you did not pre-cook your peppers:Bake 40-45 minutes.  To test if peppers are ready: Stick with toothpick near the top of the pepper. If it slides through the skin easily, then you’re good to go. After the baking time is complete, add remaining 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce on each pepper. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 5 minutes longer, until peppers are tender and cheese is melted.

Video by Leigh Olson. Article, recipe and photos by Christine Pittman.

This post originally appeared in October, 2015 and was revised and republished in August, 2018.

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Senior Editor and Owner of The Cookful and of COOKtheSTORY and of the podcast Time Management Insider. Her sites reach over 2 million readers per month, which means that things can get a bit crazy. She's constantly writing, taking pictures, editing, recording, interviewing, managing contributors, and, oh yeah, cooking. To say that she wears many hats is an understatement - there are many hats, and also many shirts, shoes, pants, and even the odd cape!