Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers are an easy make ahead dinner! And they are a great way to use up leftovers. They can easily be popped into the oven or the slow cooker. Slow cookers make them one step easier — thanks to the longer cooking time there is no need to parboil or precook the peppers.
We’ve included a traditional recipe below, but truthfully stuffed peppers are even easier if you plan ahead to use leftovers. A favorite method is to make a batch of Sloppy Joes one night and reserve half the sauce for stuffed peppers later in the week. Or mix leftover taco meat with rice, beans, salsa, and cilantro to make a great Southwestern Stuffed Pepper.
Almost any combination of flavors, meats, or sauces will work. And you can try different starches: rice, bulgar, couscous, or quinoa.
If you are really strapped for time, you can even pick up already prepared stuffed peppers at Costco (about $20) and cook them in the slow cooker.
2 cups cooked rice
6 bell peppers (green, red, yellow, or orange)
1/2 cup finely chopped bell peppers (use the leftover tops for this)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (+ more for garnish)
1 Tb. dried thyme/basil/oregano (Italian seasonings)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces tomato sauce
Cheese for top (parmesan or mozzarella)
Cook rice if needed.
Cut tops of bell peppers off (save them) and remove and discard the stems. Scoop out the seeds and as much of the membrane as you can. Finely chop the bell pepper tops and set aside.
In a large saute pan or skillet, brown the meat, drain and set aside. In the same pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and chopped bell pepper tops and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the meat, garlic, parmesan, parsley, dried herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat. Add the rice and tomato sauce and stir well. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Pour enough water into the slow cooker to just cover the bottom. Stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture and place in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 3-4 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours, or until the peppers are tender and the filling is heated through.
Right before serving, open the slow cooker and top the peppers with cheese. Recover and let cook a few more minutes until cheese melts. Use a slotted spoon to lift the peppers from the slow cooker. Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.
If using leftovers from another recipe, make adjustments as needed. For example, if using Sloppy Joe meat sauce, just mix it with the rice and diced bell pepper tops (no need to saute), then stuff your peppers, and follow the rest of the recipe — easy!
If you need to cut down on prep time, you can use frozen rice or quinoa. This option is not as budget-friendly as cooking your own.
If your slow cooker is a tad too big to hold the peppers upright or if the peppers are awkward shapes, just ball up some parchment paper to help keep the peppers in place.
Want to cook just 2-3 peppers? You can put a smaller dish into the slow cooker to hold the peppers upright. Learn about this and slow cooker safety.
Note: If you want to cook these in a regular oven, then before stuffing, parboil the peppers in a large pot of boiling water, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels. Stuff, cover with cheese, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.