Our stuffed bell peppers are a tasty and satisfying recipe that combines rice, lentils, and fragrant spices into a hearty and healthy meal.

The recipe is easy to make with wholesome pantry staples.

It’s excellent as a main meal, a side dish, and for meal prep.

stuffed bell peppers topped with caramelized onions and yogurt

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet. It’s low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

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What are stuffed bell peppers?

stuffed bell peppers with rice and lentils

Stuffed bell peppers are a popular dish in most Mediterranean countries, from Italy to Turkey, from Spain to the coasts of North Africa.

In those countries, bell peppers of any color are sometimes stuffed with rice and meat, and other times are made vegetarian, without meat.

Our peppers recipe is strongly inspired by Mediterranean, Levantine, and Middle-Eastern flavors, and especially from our lentil mujaddara.

Stuffed bell pepper with yogurt

We make a filling that mixes lentils, rice, fresh herbs, and fragrant spices.

When baked in bell peppers, the filling absorbs their juices, and the combination of flavors and textures makes this recipe irresistible.

If you can, serve stuffed bell peppers with caramelized onions and a dollop of our yogurt tahini sauce.

The sweetness of the onions and the cool yogurt make these stuffed peppers a simple yet sophisticated meal.

Stuffed bell peppers video

Ingredients and substitutions for stuffed bell peppers

stuffed bell pepper ingredients

Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Bell peppers

Red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, and green bell pepper are excellent for this recipe.

Rice

We use white long-grain rice. Substitute arborio rice, basmati rice, or short-grain rice for long-grain. You can also substitute wholegrain rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, and buckwheat for rice.

Note that white rice cooks faster; we recommend it for this recipe.

Lentils

Use brown, black, or green lentils. You can use canned lentils or dry lentils that you previously cooked in water until tender.

Here’s our guide on how to cook lentils.

Substitute black beans, chickpeas, or pinto beans for lentils.

If you prefer, you can make this recipe with ground chicken, lean ground beef, ground turkey, or vegan ground meat.

In this case, substitute 10 to 12 ounces of meat for lentils, and fry it with onions and spices before adding the rice.

Tomatoes

We recommend canned diced tomatoes to make a hearty and rustic filling.

Substitute tomato puree, tomato sauce, whole canned peeled tomatoes, or ripe fresh tomatoes you previously diced.

Flavor base

We make a classic flavor base with extra virgin olive oil, white or yellow onion, and garlic. This first step adds a ton of flavor to the dish.

Spices

We use cumin, turmeric, and red pepper flakes or chili powder.

Substitute coriander for cumin and curry powder for turmeric. If you are not into spices, substitute Italian seasoning for cumin and turmeric.

Vegetable broth

To help the rice cook. It’s necessary so that the stuffing won’t get dry as the stuffed bell peppers cook in the oven.

Parsley

We recommend Italian parsley, also known as flat-leaf parsley.

Substitute fresh dill or fresh coriander for parsley. Optionally, you can add a small handful of fresh mint.

Toppings (optional)

stuffed bell pepper topping ideas

Toppings are optional, but they turn these fantastic stuffed peppers into a nutritious and satisfying meal. We recommend:

  • Yogurt tahini sauce adds a refreshing feel and creamy texture to balance the warm spices.
  • Caramelized onions: for a sweet and caramelized flavor boost.
  • Lemon wedges: squeeze fresh lemon juice on the peppers and add freshness and tanginess.

How to make stuffed bell peppers

Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Make the bell pepper filling

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the chopped onion, and fry it on medium heat for three minutes.

Add the rice, pressed garlic, cumin, turmeric, and red pepper flakes and cook while stirring for 60 to 90 seconds.

Rice, turmeric and onion in a white skillet

Stir in vegetable broth, rinsed lentils, and canned tomatoes, then season with salt and black pepper.

lentils and tomatoes in a skillet with rice

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off and stir in finely chopped parsley. Taste and adjust for salt.

Tip: the rice should be half cooked as we finish cooking it in the oven.

Stuffed bell pepper filling in a skillet

Stuff the bell peppers

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Rinse and dry the bell peppers, cut them in half lengthwise, and spoon out the seeds and white membrane.

Add a pinch of salt in each pepper, then fill them with the cooked rice and lentil mixture.

stuffed peppers on a baking tray

Arrange them on a baking dish or rimmed baking tray and bake in the oven at 350°F or 180°C for 40 minutes or until the peppers are fork tender.

If the filling starts to char, cover the peppers with aluminum foil.

Transfer onto a serving platter and serve with a sprinkle of parsley, lemon wedges, caramelized onions (optional), and yogurt tahini sauce (optional).

stuffed bell peppers with rice and lentils

Serving suggestions

Our Mediterranean stuffed bell peppers are an excellent main dish as they contain a balanced amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

They are nutritious, healthy, and fulfilling, and you won’t need much else next to one of these.

We recommend serving them with a topping of caramelized onions and a dollop of Greek-style yogurt (non-dairy yogurt is excellent too). We make a delicious yogurt tahini sauce perfect for these stuffed peppers.

stuffed peppers topped with yogurt and onions

Variations

We tested all these variations, and they all take the same time to cook and follow the exact instructions described in this article.

  • Rice + meat (or vegan meat): Of course, you are free to make this easy stuffed peppers recipe with ground chicken, lean ground beef, ground turkey, or vegan ground meat.

    In this case, substitute 10 to 12 ounces of meat for lentils, and fry it with the onions and spices for 5 minutes before adding the rice and following the recipe.
  • Rice + red lentils: use split red lentils instead of canned lentils.
  • Quinoa + kidney beans + corn: this is a Mexican-inspired variation for stuffed peppers. Hearty, fulfilling, and with a Mexican spin. Here you can replace the parsley with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime on top.
  • Millet + Chickpea: have you ever tried millet? It’s perfect in this recipe. Millet is a super healthy ancient grain cultivated by humans for over 7000 years.

    It’s come back in fashion in the last couple of years, and you can find it in most supermarkets in the grains and legumes section.
  • Buckwheat + chickpea + beans: another delicious ancient grain, buckwheat is the perfect substitute for rice in this recipe. It has a nutty taste and a funny triangular shape. Try it, and we are sure you are going to love it.
  • Cheesy topping: if you want to top the peppers with cheese, we recommend mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, or melty vegan cheese.

    Add it 5 minutes before the peppers are done baking.
Stuffed peppers with ricotta and grains

Tips

  • Taste the filling before stuffing the peppers: we do this to adjust for salt and to ensure that the rice is not overcooked. Try not to overcook the filling by tasting it around the 8-minute mark.
  • Mix things up: change up your grains and your legumes. We tested rice and red lentils, rice + beans + corn, millet + tempeh + chickpea, buckwheat + chickpea. Follow the same cooking instructions. From a nutritional standpoint, try to always use both a grain and a legume in your filling.
  • Use your favorite grain: rice is only one option. You can replace it with most grains. Just keep in mind that if you use whole grains (like brown rice, barley, or oats), you’ll need to cook the filling in the pan for more than just 10 minutes.
  • Can I use green peppers instead? Yes, you can use green, orange, or yellow; they all work here. Red bell peppers are sweeter and are the richest in nutrients.

    That’s because they stay on the vine the longest, giving them time to develop more flavor and a richer nutritional profile.

    For example, did you know they are packed with vitamin A, potassium, and fiber? They also have about three times more vitamin C than oranges.

Questions

Can I make stuffed bell peppers in advance?

Yes, you can make stuffed peppers in advance. They are perfect for meal prep because their flavor is even better if you let them cool down completely.

You can make them up to three days in advance, then store them in the refrigerator or freeze them.

Are stuffed bell peppers healthy?

Yes. These stuffed bell peppers are full of fiber and vitamins, especially C vitamin. They are also packed with plant-based protein from grains and legumes. This is a whole-food, plant-based recipe that is good for you.

Why do you cook the rice first?

We cook the rice first for two reasons. 1) To speed up baking, 2) to develop flavor.

Can I stuff bell peppers with wild rice or wholegrain rice?

Yes, however, you need to adjust the cooking time. With whole grain rice, for example, you’d need to almost entirely cook the rice in the pan first, or else it won’t cook when in the peppers.

Do I need to boil my bell peppers before stuffing them?

There is no need to boil bell peppers before stuffing them. Baking them in the oven with the stuffing is enough to ensure they are fully cooked.

Storage & make ahead

Make ahead: stuffed peppers are excellent for meal prep. On the second day, they are even tastier. You can bake them up to three days in advance.

Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezer: we recommend freezing stuffed peppers once cooked. Let them cool down completely before doing so. If you have a freezer-safe pot and a large enough freezer, just put a lid on and freeze.

Alternatively, you can place each pepper into single freezer bags. That’s the easiest way to defrost them individually. Thaw in the microwave.

Reheat: microwave is best. Only reheat what you eat.

More stuffed veggie recipes

Stuffed bell peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

By: Nico Pallotta
4.89 from 18 votes
Our stuffed bell peppers are a tasty and satisfying recipe that combines rice, lentils, and fragrant spices into a hearty and healthy meal.
The recipe is easy to make with wholesome pantry staples. It's excellent as a main meal, a side dish, and for meal prep.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 – 6 people
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean

Ingredients

  • 4 medium bell peppers any color
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic pressed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 can (15 oz) lentils drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup parsley chopped

Topping suggestions

Instructions 

MAKE THE BELL PEPPER FILLING

  • Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a skillet, add 1 large onion (chopped) and fry it for 3 minutes.
    Add 1 cup rice, 3 cloves garlic (pressed), ½ teaspoon cumin,½ teaspoon turmeric, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and fry for 60 – 90 seconds while stirring.
    Rice, turmeric and onion in a white skillet
  • Stir in 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 can (15 oz) lentils (drained and rinsed), 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
    lentils and tomatoes in a skillet with rice
  • Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat off, add ½ cup parsley (chopped), taste and adjust for salt. The rice should be half cooked.
    Stuffed bell pepper filling in a skillet

STUFF THE BELL PEPPERS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.
    Cut 4 medium bell peppers in half lengthwise. Spoon out seeds and white membrane.
    Season each pepper with a pinch of salt, then fill them with the rice mixture.
    stuffed peppers on a baking tray
  • Arrange them on a baking tray and bake at 350°F or 180°C for about 30 minutes or until the peppers are fork tender.
    If the filling starts to char, cover the peppers with aluminum foil.
    Transfer onto a serving platter and serve with a sprinkle of parsley, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, caramelized onions (optional), and yogurt tahini sauce(optional).
    stuffed peppers topped with yogurt and onions

Video

Stuffed Bell Peppers with rice and lentils (healthy dinner idea)

Notes

Nutrition information is for 2 halves of stuffed peppers per person, served as a main meal.
 
STORAGE
Make ahead: stuffed peppers are excellent for meal prep. On the second day, they are even tastier. You can bake them up to three days in advance.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer: we recommend freezing stuffed peppers once cooked. Let them cool down completely before doing so. If you have a freezer-safe pot and a large enough freezer, just put a lid on and freeze.
Alternatively, you can place each pepper into single freezer bags. That’s the easiest way to defrost them individually. Thaw in the microwave.
Reheat: microwave is best. Only reheat what you eat.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 535kcal, Carbohydrates: 94g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 1190mg, Dietary Fiber: 24g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 4540IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 178mg, Vitamin E: 4mg, Vitamin K: 140µg, Calcium: 114mg, Folate: 373µg, Iron: 7mg, Manganese: 2mg, Magnesium: 121mg, Zinc: 4mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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6 Comments

  1. My whole family, kids included, loved this recipe! We are incorporating more lentils into our meals and this was perfect, thank you!

    1. Amazing, Jessica! I’m super happy your family enjoyed the peppers.

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment here. All the best,

      Louise

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! I didn’t have canned lentils and realized it too late, so I subbed cauliflower florets. Worked great! Thanks for the delicious meal idea 🙂

    1. Amazing, Rebecca. I’ very happy you felt inspired! Thanks so much much the tip, and for taking time to leave a comment here 🙂
      All the best, Louise

  3. This was very good. I used 2cubes of Not-Chick’n for the vegetable boullion. Topped with feta cheese as that is what I had. I thought it was too much parsley, but it was perfect. thank you.

    1. Fantastic Patricia,
      I’m delighted that you liked the bell peppers – and the parsley 🙂
      Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Kindest,
      Louise