These delicious stuffed peppers are made without rice. Instead, I use cauliflower in the very flavorful, well-seasoned mixture.
While the recipe as written is not low-carb, you can easily make it low-carb by slightly changing the ingredients and portion size.
These peppers are wonderful. They are hearty and bursting with flavor. The combination of peppers, onions, garlic, and spices is phenomenal. It's also such a pretty and colorful dish.
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 very good.
Traditionally, you fill stuffed peppers with a mixture of ground beef, rice, and seasonings.
I make this recipe 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 to make this recipe. 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: I use chili powder, cumin, and paprika. These spices add wonderful warmth and flavor to the dish.
Bell peppers: It's fun to use different colors. 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.
Making stuffed peppers without rice is actually quite easy. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by mixing the tomato paste with the garlic and the spices.
Next, you cook the riced cauliflower, the onion, and the ground beef in olive oil. Stir in the seasoning mixture.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro and the cheese.
Place the bell peppers in a baking dish and stuff them with the mixture. Spray them with olive oil, then bake them for about 30 minutes at 350°F.
Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
Yes. The meat should be cooked before using it to fill the peppers. According to the USDA, ground beef should be fully cooked to an internal temperature of 160ºF.
You probably didn't use enough seasonings. Use plenty of onions, garlic, and dried spices such as paprika and cumin for the best results.
Variations and subtitutions
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- You can add a handful of spinach leaves to the beef mixture. Not too much though, as they tend to release water.
- Insteasd of cheddar, try using shredded provolone. Crumbled feta is also good.
- Use different types of ground meat, such as lamb, chicken, or turkey.
- You can make a keto version of this recipe. I elaborate on it in the next paragraph.
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.
You don't really need to serve these peppers with a side dish. They make a complete meal of meat and cheese plus lots of vegetables.
However, if you wish, you can add a simple side such as sauteed kale or roasted vegetables. You can roast the vegetables in the same oven as the peppers, slightly increasing the cooking time.
Keep the 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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Stuffed Peppers without Rice
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 (6 oz can) tomato paste (omit for a keto version)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ 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 (a small cauliflower head is 4 inches in diameter and weighs about 9 oz)
- 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 your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a square 8-inch baking dish with olive oil.
- 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. You should get about 2 - 2.5 cups of riced cauliflower.
- 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 the 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 ¼ of the mixture, packing it in, and place the stuffed peppers on the prepared baking dish. Spray them with olive oil.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the peppers are tender. Carefully remove them from the baking dish into paper towels and let them stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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