Cooking stuffed peppers at the right temperature is key to getting the flavors to meld and the texture just right. Once you figure out how to bake stuffed peppers at 400℉, you won’t want to stuff anything else!
Stuffed peppers should be covered and baked at 400℉ for 35 minutes, then uncovered and baked another 10 minutes. Stuffed peppers are done then they are fork tender and any cheese on top is melted and browned.
Stuffed peppers are an overlooked favorite that are easy to make and customize for the foodies in your life. They can be made with meat or vegetarian/vegan and can be made gluten-free.
Read on for all the tips you need for delicious stuffed peppers baked just right.
What Ingredients Do I Need for Stuffed Peppers Baked at 400℉?
Stuffed pepper recipes vary greatly, so you can figure out your favorite recipe. Typically, stuffed peppers start with a filling of rice and meat, which goes into any type of bell pepper, and is covered with cheese.
Just looking at the basic ingredient list, you can see that stuffed peppers make a complete meal with protein, carbohydrate, veggies, and dairy. They are an easy, single dish, in addition to being delicious and fun to make and serve!
Here are the basic ingredients for a classic stuffed pepper, taken from Delish.com:
½ c. uncooked rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. Tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef (or other ground meat–up to you)
14.5 oz diced tomatoes
1.5 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
6 bell peppers with cores removed (see below about cutting peppers)
1 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
Freshly chopped parsley
Read also >> How Long To Bake Butternut Squash At 400 (Full Guide)
Read also >> How Long To Bake Chicken Tenders At 375 (Full Guide)
How Do I Make Stuffed Peppers at 400℉?
- Preheat oven to 400℉.
- Cook the rice according to package directions.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet, and saute the onion until it is soft. Add tomato paste and garlic, and cook for around one minute. Add ground beef and cook until browned (no pink) then drain off any excess fat.
- In the skillet, combine beef mixture, rice, diced tomatoes, and oregano, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for around 5 minutes, until liquid begins to reduce.
- Place peppers in a 13×9” baking dish and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Then cover with Monterey Jack cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is melted. (You may want to spray foil with cooking spray so your cheese doensn’t stick to it.)
- Garnish with parsley and serve!
How Do I Cut the Peppers for Stuffed Peppers?
Chefs differ on how to prepare your peppers for stuffed peppers, so you may want to try two different methods and see what works for you. Some chefs cut the tops off the peppers and place the peppers standing in the baking dish.
If you don’t want to cover your peppers with cheese, you can bake with the tops on the peppers, which keeps the filling moist and is a charming way to serve the peppers.
Other cooks like to cut their peppers lengthwise so they don’t waste as much of the pepper. Cut lengthwise, the peppers are less likely to tip over as can be the case with upright stuffed peppers, and they are easier to store in containers.
Both ways work, though cutting off the tops seems to be more common.
Do I Pre-Cook the Peppers in Stuffed Peppers?
Again, cooks differ. One advantage of cooking stuffed peppers at 400℉ is that you don’t have to pre-cook the peppers and you can still get them nice and tender.
If you are super pressed for time, you can pre-cook the peppers while you are making the rice mixture (around 15 minutes) and then you will only have to bake your stuffed peppers for around 15-20 minutes.
Keep in mind it may be difficult to handle and stuff hot pre-cooked peppers.
What Color Peppers Do I Use in Stuffed Peppers?
Whatever you like best! Some cooks like the slight bitterness of green peppers, and they tend to hold up the best when baking.
If you don’t care for green peppers, you can certainly use red, yellow, or orange peppers.
Red, yellow, and orange peppers pack slightly more nutrients than green, so give those a try if you want to maximize nutrition. Or you can go with a variety of peppers and let your guests choose their favorite color.
What Meat Do I Add to Stuffed Peppers?
Stuffed peppers taste great with regular ground beef, but you can certainly mix it up when it comes to meat choices.
Try a meatloaf mixture of pork, beef, and veal.
If you want to make greek-style stuffed peppers, add a little lamb to the mix.
You can also use poultry, like ground turkey or chicken.
For a little extra spice, use a combination of spicy italian sausage and ground beef (depending on how much spice you want!). If you have sweet italian sausage, you can use that all by itself.
It’s totally up to you what meat you use. You can also just finish off any leftover meat you may have waiting to be cooked–stuffed peppers are a great way to use up leftover meat and rice.
What Veggies Can I Add to Stuffed Peppers?
You can saute up any veggies you want in olive oil and add them to the meat and rice mixture. Try spinach, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, eggplant, mushrooms, carrots, or olives.
When adding veggies, just make sure you drain off as much excess liquid as you can before you stuff your peppers. Otherwise you may have runny peppers that don’t hold their shape.
Other Fun Ways to Stuff Peppers
People have certainly started to get creative when it comes to stuffing peppers. You can go Italian style with Italian sausage and mozzarella, parmesan or romano cheese instead of Monterey Jack. Maybe add tomato sauce and chicken cutlet and make a chicken parmesan filling.
Why not try adding roasted pine nuts and a little basil?
You can also stuff peppers with cheesesteak filling, taco seasoned meat, or red beans and rice.
If you like a little zest, add some spicy sausage and cayenne pepper to the mix.
You can go greek style, with lamb, oregano, lemon zest, and a little mint. Or add chickpeas, pine nuts, and raisins for a middle-eastern taste.
Do I Have to Use Rice for Stuffed Peppers?
No! You can use any grain you like. Try quinoa, orzo, couscous, or barley for something different. Just cook according to package directions.
Can I Make Stuffed Peppers Vegan and/or Gluten-Free?
You can easily make stuffed peppers vegetarian by omitting the meat or using meat substitutes. For vegan stuffed peppers, omit the cheese as well or use your favorite melting vegan cheese alternative.
You can add chickpeas, beans, pine nuts, roasted nuts, or lentils for protein.
The recipe above is already gluten-free!
How Do I Know If My Stuffed Peppers are Done?
Check and make sure your peppers are tender. You don’t want the peppers to be crunchy, but you don’t want them overcooked and falling apart.
If you are using cheese on top, it should be melted and browned.
You can always place under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese if your peppers are done but your cheese isn’t melted.
Can I Make Stuffed Peppers Ahead of Time?
If you want to make this recipe a day ahead, cook your meat and rice mixture according to the recipe, and prepare your peppers. Store separately in the refrigerator overnight. You will assemble your peppers at the last minute, on the day of cooking.
How Long are Cooked Stuffed Peppers Good For?
Stuffed peppers will last in the fridge for around 3 to 5 days after cooking. Make sure they are in tight containers when storing, or cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Can I Freeze Stuffed Peppers?
Yes! You can apportion them out according to what servings you think you might need, or make an entire extra batch and freeze it for a full dinner later on.
Make sure the peppers are fully cool, and then put them in freezer containers or cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil.
When you are ready to eat your peppers, defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then cover and heat in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom, 350℉ for around 20 minutes.
What to Serve with Stuffed Peppers?
With veggies, rice, meat, and cheese, stuffed peppers are a nice complete meal on their own.
You can serve it along with a really good loaf of bread, or even garlic bread.
Salad is a nice light side dish to complement stuffed peppers, whether a simple green salad or a spinach salad.
You could also highlight the tomato in roasted peppers with a little tomato salad of tomato, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives, and olive oil.
Read also >> How Long to Bake Lasagna at 400℉? (Full Guide)
Read also >> How Long To Cook Meatloaf at 425 (Full Guide)
Stuffed Peppers Nutrition Facts
Nutrition will vary according to what ingredients you stuff your peppers with, but for the most part stuffed peppers can be made into a nutritious meal suitable for a variety of diets.
The Stuffed Peppers recipe above contains 405 calories, 22g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g sugar, 23g fat, 8g saturated fat, and 432mg sodium.
To limit fat and calorie intake, stuffed peppers can be made with lean meats and low fat cheese, or omit the cheese altogether.
Other Tips for Making Stuffed Peppers
- Use whatever you have in the fridge or pantry. You can add canned beans instead of or in addition to meat. Saute up whatever veggies you have and add them in. You may discover an amazing new flavor combination.
- Don’t overcook your peppers. Overcooked peppers will be mushy and will fall apart when you are serving them. Try to cook your peppers so they are tender but still hold their shapes.
- If you don’t have enough peppers, you can also stuff tomatoes! Just hollow them out like you would peppers and stuff and cook them right alongside your peppers.
Stuffed Peppers FAQ
Should stuffed peppers be covered when baking?
Yes, they need to be covered so the peppers and filling don’t dry out while baking. You want to make sure the peppers come out as tender as possible.
Bake covered for 35 minutes or so, and then remove the cover so the cheese on top can melt and brown nicely (around 10 minutes).
How long does it take to soften peppers in the oven?
If you are cooking your peppers ahead of time, or if you just want to roast up some delicious bell peppers, rub the insides with a little bit of olive oil and cook face down on a baking dish for around 15 minutes at 350.
How do I know when my stuffed peppers are done?
If you stick a fork into your pepper, it should be able to pierce the skin but not make the pepper fall apart. If you can’t pierce the skin with a fork, cook a bit longer.
You may need to turn your baking dish during baking so all the peppers cook evenly.
How long does it take to heat up stuffed peppers in the oven?
It will take around 20 minutes at 350℉ if your peppers are defrosted. Make sure you cover with foil while reheating.
You may want to add additional shredded cheese on top before reheating. If so, remove the cover for the last five minutes of baking so the cheese can brown and melt.
As with all recipes, try to buy the freshest ingredients you can find. Make sure your veggies are in good shape and pick out peppers with nice flat bottoms and no soft or mushy parts.
Once you know how long to bake Stuffed Peppers at 400℉ you will nail this recipe every time.
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