These delicious stuffed peppers are made without rice. Instead, I use cauliflower in the very flavorful, well-seasoned mixture. You can make them keto too!
These peppers are wonderful. It’s one of those hearty dishes that are truly a pleasure to eat. It’s also pretty and colorful.
But I love making this recipe not just because it is so delicious. This recipe also evokes strong childhood memories for me.
My late grandma Chava used to make amazing stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage leaves (I make cabbage casserole instead).
Sadly, she passed away way too young when I was only twelve years old, so my memories of her are dull and scattered. But some of the sharpest memories are food memories.
Grandma was an amazing cook. She stuffed her vegetables with a mixture of rice, tomatoes, and seasonings. Just like all her dishes, something about the way she seasoned food made it taste wonderful.
Grandma belonged to a different generation. A generation of women who worked hard in the kitchen, cooked without recipes and created masterpieces out of the simplest ingredients.
There were no blogs back then, no fancy grains and high-end oils, yet her food tasted so good, that some flavors linger even after 30 long years.
These days I make my own version of her recipe. It’s nothing like grandma’s, but it is very good.
The ingredients needed for this recipe
Traditionally, you fill the peppers with a mixture of ground beef, rice, and seasonings.
I make these stuffed peppers without rice, using cauliflower rice instead. It’s a delicious and low-carb option that works well to absorb the juices and flavors as the peppers bake in the oven.
Here’s an overview of the ingredients you’ll need (the exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below):
Tomato paste: You can omit this for a keto version.
Minced garlic: Mince it yourself, or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Both work.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Bell peppers: It’s fun to use different colors. But try to ensure they are all about the same size.
Riced cauliflower (uncooked): You can rice it yourself in the food processor, or buy it pre-riced.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this wonderful oil. But if you’d rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Chopped onion: I’m lazy, so I tend to use the food processor for chopping onions.
Lean ground beef: I use an 85/15 mix. Leaner than that will work, but won’t be as flavorful.
Chopped cilantro: If you don’t like cilantro, you can use parsley instead.
Shredded cheese: I like to use sharp cheddar.
What seasonings to use?
I like to give this dish Mexican-inspired flavors and warmth by using chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cilantro.
I also add onion, garlic and tomato paste. The cheese adds wonderful flavor and creaminess. Be sure to use sharp cheddar cheese – it does make a difference.
How to make stuffed peppers without rice
Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Start by mixing the tomato paste with the garlic and the spices.
2. Cook the riced cauliflower, the onion, and the ground beef in olive oil. Stir in the seasoning mixture.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro and the cheese.
4. Stuff the bell peppers with the mixture. Spray them with olive oil.
5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.
Keto stuffed peppers
This recipe as originally written is not a low carb dish, mostly because of the tomato paste.
So if you’re on a keto or very low carb diet, I suggest you omit the tomato paste. In addition, use six medium bell peppers instead of four large ones, dividing this recipe into six servings instead of four. This will considerably lower the carb content.
A serving of this keto version has 14 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber. Still not super low carb and perhaps not something you would choose to eat every day, but manageable on occasion.
Do you need to blanch the peppers?
I don’t think it’s necessary. I bake them in the oven for 30 minutes, which gives them plenty of time to soften without becoming mushy.
If you feel that your peppers are not tender enough after 30 minutes, add 5-10 more minutes to the baking time. Loosely cover the top with foil to prevent the filling from drying out.
What to serve with them?
You don’t really need to serve them with a side dish. They make a complete meal of meat and cheese plus lots of vegetables.
What about leftovers?
Keep leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently, in the microwave on 50% power, or in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.
As long as you reheat them properly so that they are heated through, leftovers taste good. In fact, this is one of those dishes that taste even better the next day.
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- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 (6 oz can) tomato paste (omit for a keto version)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 large bell peppers (6 small peppers for the keto option)
- 1 small cauliflower head, cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (6 oz)
- 1 lb. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a square 8-inch baking dish with olive oil spray.
- In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and paprika. Set aside.
- Remove the tops of the peppers, core and seed them.
- Place the cauliflower in your food processor. Process until it resembles rice.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the riced cauliflower, the onion and the beef and cook, stirring and breaking the beef up as it cooks, until the onion and cauliflower are soft and beef is lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.
- Add the seasoning mixture. Cook 2 more minutes, stirring, until everything is well blended. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and the cheese.
- Fill each bell pepper with 1/4 of the mixture, packing it in, and place the stuffed peppers on the prepared baking dish. Spray them with olive oil.
- Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes, until peppers are tender. Carefully remove from the baking dish into paper towels and let stand 10 minutes before serving.