This stuffed peppers with ground beef recipe is such an easy to prepare dish full of Mediterranean flavours. It is the perfect comfort food everyone will love. The sweet and colourful bell peppers are filled with savoury ground beef, onions, zucchini and mix of Mediterranean herbs and spices. It is a tasty, family friendly, easy to make ahead and low carb recipe.
Classic stuffed peppers usually include, apart from beef, ingredients like tomatoes, rice and cheese. However, I decided to omit the latter ones to create a lighter version which nevertheless is delicious and packed with lots of flavour. Ground beef stuffed peppers without rice is a healthy and low carb version of this traditional dish. You can consider serving this spicy Mexican rice or Spanish rice with chorizo recipe as an alternative side dish.
Which ingredients to use
This stuffed pepper ingredients list contains basic everyday products and spices which are easy to source or which most people often already have at home.
- Bell peppers: I prefer to use red bell peppers for this recipe since they are nicer and sweeter than the green ones. The orange and yellow peppers are also fine and will create a nice rainbow of colours.
- Beef: Use lean ground beef or minced beef which is then flavoured with your favourite spice mix.
- Garlic and onion: For that extra depth of flavour
- Zucchini: Adding zucchini gives this dish extra vegetables and an additional Mediterranean flare. Fry the zucchini first together with the onions and garlic to bring out the delicious flavours.
- Olive oil: Use olive oil for frying the meat and vegetables in the pan and to add extra flavour to the bell peppers while baking in the oven.
- Seasonings: In addition to Mediterranean aromatics like oregano and thyme, use paprika and cumin powder as well as salt and pepper. Add chilli flakes or cayenne pepper if you want to make this dish extra spicy.
How to make stuffed peppers
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Mince stuffed peppers is one of those recipes with seemingly countless variations on how to prepare it. Apart from the obvious bell peppers and minced meat, the other ingredients can vary. For instance, various other recipes add rice, cheese and tomatoes or different spice blends. I like to make stuffed peppers without rice inside but to rather serve the rice as a side dish. Anyway, here is how I prepare my recipe of baked stuffed peppers in the oven with minced meat.
- Prepare the bell peppers: Slice off the top of the bell peppers and keep the tops separate for later. Now remove all the seeds and the membranes from the inside and place each pepper upright in a baking or oven dish. Make sure the size of the dish is small enough so all the peppers can stay upright while in the oven.
- Pre-bake the bell peppers: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (or 200 degrees C). Drizzle some olive oil over and in the peppers (not too much, about 2 tablespoons), put the tops back on the peppers and place in the middle of the oven. Leave to roast for 15 minutes.
- Make the filling: While the peppers are pre-baking you can start preparing the filling. Mince the garlic and chop the onion and zucchini finely. No need to peel the zucchini. Heat some olive oil in a skillet or pan on medium heat and sauté the onions, garlic and zucchini for a few minutes. Add the minced meat to the pan and break it up while cooking with a fork or spatula. Keep doing this until the ground beef is browned and just cooked. Meanwhile season with cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Assemble and bake the peppers: Take the unfilled peppers out of the oven. If there is any liquid inside the peppers you can remove it by turning them upside down and placing them back in the dish with the cut side up. Fill each pepper to the rim with the filling and place the tops back on. Put the dish back in the oven and leave to roast for 30 to 45 minutes until the peppers are tender and soft. Check by slicing a sharp knife through one of the peppers then remove from the oven if they are to your liking.
What to serve with stuffed peppers
This stuffed bell pepper recipe already contains meat and vegetables and can be served as a dish all on its own. However, since there is no rice added you can consider serving plain rice or any other rice dish as a side, like this Spanish rice with chorizo, Mexican rice or South African yellow rice. You can also add extra vegetables with this French ratatouille dish, shaved fennel salad or any green salad with honey mustard dressing. Serve with crunchy baguette, ciabatta or Spanish tomato bread.
Before serving, garnish with salt and pepper and fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, oregano or basil.
Frequently asked questions
In principle you don’t have to pre-bake the peppers, especially not if you like the peppers to still to be slightly crunchy and not too soft. I would however recommend for this recipe to pre-bake them because they will come out of the oven nicely soft, sweet and tender. Also, as the filling is pre-cooked and not the peppers you will have to leave them in the oven longer and so the filling will become very dry.
Any colour of bell pepper can be used for this recipe. I personally prefer the red, orange and yellow ones since they are sweet. You can use the green peppers but keep in mind that they have a slightly more bitter and zingy taste.
Yes, this dish can perfectly be made in advance. Just prepare according to the recipe, leave to cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Warm in the oven before serving.
When you have leftovers or if you made a large batch you can store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days, or you can freeze this dish, either in a batch or individually for up to 3 months. Re-heat in the microwave or the oven.
Stuffed peppers with ground beef
- 4 large bell peppers any colour or combination of colours
- 1 pound (or 450 grams) ground beef
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups (or 1 pound) zucchini (courgette) finely diced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- pepper and salt to taste
- fresh thyme for garnish
Prepare the bell peppers
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (or 200 degrees C.).
- Slice off the top of each bell pepper and remove the seeds and membrane. Place the tops and the bell peppers with cut side up in a large baking dish. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over and in the peppers. Place the dish in the middle of the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Make the filling
- When the peppers are roasting, prepare the filling. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet or pan over medium heat and sauté the onions, garlic and zucchini for 3 to 4 minutes until softened.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet and break it up with a spatula or fork while cooking until the ground beef is lightly browned. Season with paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff and roast the peppers
- Take the empty peppers out of the oven and remove any excess liquid from the inside of the peppers by turning them upside down. Place the peppers back in the baking dish with the cut side up.
- Spoon the filling into the pre-roasted peppers until the top. Place the tops back on to the peppers and put back in the oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes until soft and tender. Test with a knife if they have the required softness to your liking.
- Remove from the oven and serve on a plate garnished with fresh thyme leaves.
- Cooking time: The total cooking time of the peppers will depend on your oven and on how soft and tender you would like the peppers to be.
- Bell peppers: Select larger bell peppers in order to hold more filling.
- Spicy or not: This recipe has lots of flavour but is not spicy. Consider adding cayenne pepper or chilli flakes when frying the ground beef for some extra heat.