I Tried the Most Popular Stuffed Peppers Recipe on the Internet and, Um, Whoa

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green, orange, and yellow bell peppers stuffed with meat, cheese and herbs on baking sheet
Credit: Kiersten Hickman

I know stuffed peppers taste great, but I never seem to have the energy to make them. Actually, if I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t found a recipe quite yet that is worth the time it takes to make them. A good stuffed pepper recipe isn’t one of those simple 30-minute weeknight dinners; it needs a good stuffing, a delicious sauce, and a decent amount of time in the oven to get that perfectly soft texture of the pepper and crunchy top of the stuffing.

However, it seems that the internet has a recipe that is worth the time it takes to make stuffed peppers — even on a weeknight. This stuffed pepper recipe (credited to Chef John) is the most popular one on the online. So of course, I had to give it a try myself and see if it really is worthy of being the best of the best.

Get the recipe: Chef John’s Stuffed Peppers

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

How to Make the Internet’s Favorite Stuffed Peppers

To start, prepare 1 cup of dry white rice. While the stovetop method is the most common, there are many other ways you can also cook rice that may be easier for you. If you choose the stovetop method, cook 1 cup of dry white rice with 2 cups of water covered on medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the sauce. Dice 1 small yellow onion. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and slightly translucent. Remove half of the onions into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In that same skillet, add 2 cups of marinara sauce, 1 cup of beef broth, 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Mix to combine, and let the sauce simmer for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a 9×13” casserole dish.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In that medium mixing bowl with the rest of the onions, add 1 pound of lean ground beef, 1/4 pound of hot Italian sausage (casings removed), a 10-ounce can of diced tomatoes, 4 garlic cloves minced, 1/4 cup of chopped Italian parsley, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and 1 pinch of cayenne pepper. Toss to combine. (It may be easier to mix with your hands for this step.) Then mix in your cooked rice and 1 cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Grab 4 to 6 colorful bell peppers of your choice. (I chose a combination of green and orange.) Slice off the tops of the bell peppers so you have a flat opening to stuff them.

Stuff each bell pepper with the rice and meat mixture until they are slightly overflowing at the top. Place each stuffed bell pepper in the casserole dish with the sauce. Once you finish stuffing the peppers, top each of them with extra grated cheese.

Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink and the peppers are tender.

Credit: Kiersten Hickman

My Honest Review

It may have taken me two hours to make, but I promise you that it was worth every second. This stuffed pepper recipe is worth the coveted number one ranking on Google because it really is that good.

At first, I was a bit skeptical of how this recipe was going to go. Typically when I make stuffed peppers, the recipe calls for you to boil the peppers so you can soften them up a bit before stuffing. However, with this recipe, you simply stuff the uncooked pepper and let it sit in the sauce while it cooks. Surprisingly enough, the peppers were just as soft as they are for any other recipe I’ve tried, while being ten times easier to stuff and handle in the first place.

The stuffing was really good as well. In my opinion, you can’t really go wrong when you combine ground beef with Italian sausage and tomatoes, and given that the meat is cooked in the pepper while baking in the oven, it makes the pepper even more fatty and flavorful. Plus, while adding in an entire cup of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese may seem like a lot, it wasn’t; the cheese melted and baked right in, and it tasted absolutely divine.

So no, this certainly isn’t the fastest weeknight dinner recipe to make. But if you have the time and patience to make it, I promise you, it is well worth it.

2 Tips for Making Stuffed Bell Peppers

  1. Try using brown rice. While this recipe does call for long-grain white rice, I decided to use brown rice … simply because that’s what I had in my pantry. It still worked out just as well with the recipe! Just keep in mind that brown rice will take slightly longer to cook during that first step, so be sure to factor that in when timing out your dinner.
  2. Top the pepper with the sauce. With so much of that sauce at the bottom of the pan, there’s no reason you shouldn’t eat that with your pepper! Spoon some of the sauce at the bottom of your plate so when you cut into your pepper, all of that stuffing will soak it up.