Stuffed Peppers Through Time and Space

Stuffed peppers didn’t originate with our moms. They go way back. Find out when the trend started and get stuffed pepper ideas from around the world.

Stuffed peppers didn't originate with our moms. They go way back. Find out when the trend started and get stuffed pepper ideas from around the world.

In America, the Classic Stuffed Pepper consists of a bell pepper (usually green for its added bitterness), ground beef, tomatoes, rice and a sprinkle of cheese. You know the ones. I bet your mom used to make them.

So, who started stuffing peppers in the first place? Before your mom, that is.

According to Kitchen Project, there are records of Classic Stuffed Peppers in cookbooks dating from the 1890s. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (say that three times fast then go buy it here) boasts two variations of the dish, including one seasoned with onion juice. Yes. Onion juice?!

Stuffed Peppers probably go further back than the 1890s though. Many cuisines around the world have a traditional stuffed pepper that’s been passed down for generations. Here are a few to check out:

Spain: Pimientos Rellenos de Arroz con Salsa de Tomates — Bell pepper stuffed with Valencia or arborio rice and saffron, then cooked in a tomato sauce

India: Bharawn Shimla Mirch — Bell pepper stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes

Tunisia: Fil Fil Mashsi — Bell pepper stuffed with lamb and rice and sprinkled with nutmeg, saffron and cardamom

Mexico: Chile Rellenos — Poblano pepper stuffed with carnitas meat, kielbasa and topped with cheddar cheese

Denmark: Fyldte Peberfrugter — Bell pepper stuffed with bulgur, mushrooms and kale

Hungary: Toltott Paprika — Bell pepper stuffed with ground meat, rice and paprika. Served with sour cream

United States: Classic Stuffed Peppers — Bell pepper stuffed with ground beef, rice and tomato sauce

Romania: Ardei Umpluti — Bell peppers stuffed with pork and rice and served in a creamy sour cream sauce

Korea: Gochu Jeon — Chili peppers stuffed with tofu

Philippines: Pandak na tao pinalamanan peppers — Bell peppers stuffed with shrimp, pork and water chestnuts

While we’re talking history, have you ever wondered how bell peppers got their name? While Columbus was sailing the ocean blue he came across a kind of pepper that he’d never seen before. He took them back with him noting their bell shape and the name stuck.

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

Lyndsay Burginger

It’s always entertaining when Lyndsay’s in the kitchen. She’s even been known to belt out Broadway show tunes while making dinner (a handy whisk as her microphone, of course). She currently writes for her international food and travel site, Lyndsay's Travel Kitchen . Lyndsay is also on the editorial team at The Cookful.