I’ve been making these Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers for many years – before I even went vegan!
They have become a favorite around our house not only because they are hearty and delicious, but because the leftovers are especially great wrapped up in a tortilla! Just reheat in a microwave or on a skillet, add a little avocado and hot sauce, and you’ve got yourself a tasty taco!Jump to Recipe
Getting ready to stuff those peppers!
If you’ve never made stuffed bell peppers before, it all starts with the peppers. You can use red, yellow, green, orange, or a combination of all of them!
Whatever color you choose, you want to find yourself some nice big ones! I get them seasonally at the Farmers Market because there is a booth that has the most gorgeous big homegrown peppers in all the colors – and they’re cheap!
A word on peppers
Have you heard of the dirty dozen?
The dirty dozen is a list of the top 12 conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables that have been found to have the most pesticide residue on them. Bell peppers are on that list, so make sure that you buy organic or can talk to the farmer and find out exactly how they are grown.
If you can’t afford organic, and don’t have a farm to buy from nearby, be sure to wash your peppers very thoroughly with a vegetable wash in order to remove as much pesticide from the surface as possible.
How to pre-cook bell peppers
After washing your peppers thoroughly, cut the tops with the stem off and remove the inner seeds and membrane. Set the tops aside because we will use them later.
You will use one of the following methods to pre-cook the peppers:
- Place the peppers in a steamer basket in a large pot with about 1″ of water. Steam for 10 minutes with the lid on. Remove from the heat and let them sit while you finish preparing the filling.
- Put them in a steamer basket in an Instant Pot and steam for 1 minute on the steam setting.
- Place the bell peppers in a large pot of water and boil for 3 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Arrange in a square baking dish with a little water in the bottom and bake at 375 F degrees for about 15 minutes. Turn them upside down and bake for another 10 minutes or longer if you want them to have a little bit of browning on them. This method takes longer, but I actually like it because it has better flavor and texture (in my humble opinion).
- Put the peppers side by side in a glass baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes.
The Mexican Bell Pepper Stuffing
Bell peppers can be stuffed with a variety of things, but I really like these Vegan Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers. They just tick all the right boxes for me – awesome Mexican flavors, a little bit of spicy heat, some melty cheese…
And they’re dairy-free and gluten free! Perfect!
The rice mixture I am including in this recipe can easily be made with either fresh, frozen, or canned ingredients. Beans, corn, tomatoes, even chili peppers can be obtained year-round in cans. That means this a great dish to make at any time of year!
And it’s super easy!
I recently made some Stuffed Bell Pepper Tacos for my YouTube channel, for which I made a Spanish/Mexican rice in the Instant Pot. The recipe is not too far off from this one because it is very versatile. You can see how I do it by clicking on the video below.
You can use white rice or brown rice, and if you don’t have some of the ingredients, just leave it out or swap it for something else.
Don’t have chilis? Throw in a little chili powder! Don’t have tomatoes? Try using some salsa or tomato paste or even marinara sauce!
How to stuff bell peppers
Some people like to cut their peppers in half and stuff each side, but I prefer the classic method of stuffing the whole darn thing!
I think there is just something so satisfying about cutting into that big fat stuffed pepper and watching all the filling come pouring out!
I like to layer my Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers. I start with a layer of vegan cheese on the bottom, then a generous scoop of refried beans, then some of the filling, then more cheese on top! You can also add a bit of hot sauce if you like!
The recipe makes up to six stuffed peppers, but I usually just make four.
What do I do with the rest of the filling? I just stuff it in-between the peppers, sprinkle a little cheese on top, and let that bake along with the peppers. Then I just serve a little more of that stuffing on the side, because, well, we love it!
Then just bake them in the oven until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. YUM!
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy:
Vegan Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers
This is my family's favorite version of Stuffed Bell Peppers. It is a Mexican-style recipe that can be made vegan or vegetarian according to your preference.
- 4 large bell peppers any color
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1-2 jalapenos or other chili peppers diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can black beans rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels canned or frozen
- 1 cup white or brown rice
- 1 can refried beans optional
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. chili powder optional
- 2 cups vegan cheddar or pepper jack shredded
- water as needed
Get the rice going, whether it is white or brown.
To cook white rice:
Use 1 cup rice to 2 cups boiling water. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring back to a boil. Once it is boiling, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Take off the heat and let sit for a few minutes before using.
To cook brown rice:
Same as white rice but it will take about 40-45 minutes to cook.
Cut the tops from the bell peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. Set the tops aside. They will be going into the rice mixture.
Place the hollowed out peppers into a steamer basket in a large stock pot with about 1" of water. Steam for 10 minutes with the lid on.
While the peppers are steaming, mince one clove of garlic.
Put a small pan on low heat and add a teaspoon of oil. Add the garlic.
Open a can of refried beans and add them to the garlic in the pan.
Cook the beans, stirring frequently. You may need to add a little water to get them to an easily spreadable consistency.
Finely dice the onion, garlic, chili pepper, and tops from the bell peppers.
In a large skillet, add about 1 Tbsp. of oil, the chopped onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions start to soften. Add the minced garlic and chili peppers.
Add the tomatoes, beans, and corn, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tsp. of ground cumin. When the rice is cooked, add 1-2 cups to the mixture, stir well, and cook for about 5 more minutes.
When the peppers are cooked, remove them from the steamer and place them in a small square baking dish.
Place some vegan cheese in the bottom of each of the peppers. Then add a large spoonful of the refried beans, then some of the rice mixture until filled. Top with more vegan cheese.
If there is extra rice mixture, place it around the peppers to cook. This stuff is great in tacos or burritos!
Bake at 375 F degrees for 15-20 minutes. If the cheese is not melting or browning as much as you would like, broil at 500 F degrees for about 5 minutes.
Use a serrated "steak" knife and fork to cut the peppers open and chow down! Eat with fresh tortillas or tortilla chips and some sliced avocado and hot sauce.