Get all the delicious comforting flavor you love in classic stuffed peppers with these equally yummy but twice as easy Unstuffed Peppers. Makes a full meal, all in one skillet!
Mr. Gracious has a few favorites that he eats at the firehouse all the time. One of these is stuffed peppers. Now, I'm all for a good stuffed pepper, but they are so involved and time consuming to make.
This led me to the totally delicious decision to make UNstuffed peppers. All of the yummy ingredients you use in stuffed peppers, only they're not stuffed. Get it? UNstuffed peppers.
Unstuffed peppers are packed with ground beef, bell peppers, rice, tangy tomato sauce, and lots of gooey cheese to finish it off. It is ridiculously easy to make. Plus, it's a full meal in one skillet.
Yup. It's that good. And just for you, here's a gratuitous cheese shot.
Do I Have to Use White Rice?
Nope. I prefer it because it has the fastest cook time, clocking it at only 25 minutes.
Here are the cook times for some other options:
- Brown Rice. Preparation instructions are the same, but the cook time needs to be upped to 50 minutes. If your liquid gets low during this time, add another ½ cup of water until the rice is tender and cooked through.
- White Basmati Rice is cooked for the same amount of time as long grain white rice, but it needs to be rinsed first because it is very sticky otherwise. Rinse rice in luke-warm water until it runs clear.
- Quinoa actually has a shorter cook-time at only 15-18 minutes. It also will only need about 1 cup of water. Be sure to rinse quinoa before cooking.
- Instant rice. If you want a much faster cook time, you can use instant rice. Omit the water entirely, and cook for only about 8-10 minutes.
What to Serve with Unstuffed Peppers
Unstuffed peppers is pretty much a meal by itself, with ground beef for protein, rice for carbs, and bell peppers for veggies.
For a side, we'll typically just have a fresh green salad to keep it simple.
More Easy Dinner Recipes You'll Love
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- One Pot Creamy Ham and Pea Tortellini - creamy pasta with ham and peas, all in one skillet!
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff - classic creamy stroganoff, made with fresh ingredients, right in the slow cooker.
- Easy Skirt Steak Fajitas - tangy, flavorful, and the BEST fajitas you'll ever have.
- Maple Mustard Chicken - super easy to make with a delicious tangy-sweet flavor.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 green bell peppers cut into 1" pieces
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce (24 ounces)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup long grain white rice uncooked
- 1 teaspoon steak and burger seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella divided
- In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef with onion and green peppers. Drain and return to skillet.
- Add spaghetti sauce, water, rice, steak seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper to the ground beef mixture. Stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and continue simmering on medium-low heat for about 25 minutes, or until rice is tender. If liquid gets too low, add an additional ½ cup water.
- When rice is tender, stir in cup shredded mozzarella.
- Sprinkle the remaining cup mozzarella on top. Cover and continue cooking until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve warm.
- This recipe is gluten free.
- To make this recipe dairy free, simply omit the cheese or use a dairy-alternative cheese such as Daiya.
- Do not stir while rice is cooking. Stirring releases starches and makes the dish sticky.
- Cover while rice is cooking, or it will take way too long to cook and the liquid will evaporate too quickly.
- To make this dish low carb, use about 2-3 cups riced cauliflower. Omit the water, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- If your liquid is evaporating too fast, turn down the heat a little and add an additional ½ cup water.
- Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a microwave-safe dish.
- Freezer Instructions: After cooking rice, transfer to a freezer container. Top with remaining cheese. Cover and freeze for up to 3-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bake dish at 350°F for 20-30 minutes until cheese on top is melted and dish is heated through.
Update Info: This recipe was originally published in August 2016. It has been updated with new pictures, video, and recipe tips and republished in December 2019.
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Helen at the Lazy Gastronome says
I like the idea of deconstructing the dish - I've always had a hard time eating them as whole peppers! Thanks for sharing on the What’s for Dinner link up and don’t forget to leave a comment at the party – Next week’s features that also leave a comment get pinned and tweeted!
This sounds like a great dinner and so much easier than making making each pepper.
Oh, it's SO easy. And so yummy too!
This is a great comfort food dinner! Thanks for linkin' up with What's Cookin' Wednesday!
Kelly Kimbrough says
I'm not one to cook much in the summer but hallelujah fall is on the way and this looks like a dish we'd love! Thanks so much for sharing on Friday Favorites Linky Party underatexassky.com/friday-favorites-linky-party - I can't wait to try it.
Katherines Corner says
thank you for sharing this yumminess at the Thursday Favorite Things link party. I love stuffed peppers so I know I will love this too. Watch for your feature at the party xo
Oh my this looks good! Will definitely try, and be back for a few more recipes....I'm in a recipe rut and need some new ones.
Catherine (newest follower of your blogging adventures!) 🙂
I love this idea. I'm always looking for good low carb recipes and I've made stuffed peppers like this with cauliflower rice before and really liked it, but I agree it's a lot of effort. Deconstructing it is brilliant.
Thanks for such a great family friendly skillet meal! I'll be sure to pin it and save.
Veena Azmanov says
A very delicious DInner option, full of flavors and the combination amazing. Definitely a must try dish for sure.
This is such a delicious and filling meal! With 3 boys to feed, I’m happy to say they all cleaned their plates. A total dinner win!
This is so much easier than traditional stuffed peppers and my family like it even better! Thanks!
Lisa | Garlic & Zest says
This is positively the cheesiest, most indulgent un-stuffed pepper dish ever! Is it wrong that I just want to grab a spoon and dig in?
What a great twist on stuffed peppers. Looks super comforting.
This is one of our family's top 5 favorite dishes. It is so warm and comforting and hearty - and it works out perfectly every time!
What a great twist on stuffed peppers. I'm going to try it with quinoa next because I think my family would actually eat quinoa this way!
Yes, I love this recipe with quinoa too!
This sounds like a delicious meal. Perfect for winter!
Made this for supper tonight and it was delicious!
I'm so glad you liked it as much as we do!
Joan LoPresti says
This was so delicious! I used riced cauliflower so I could still serve pasta. Also an easy way to get veggies ! I had extra time so I assembled the ingredients and put them in a casserole dish. Heated in the oven at 350deg. Added a light layer of mozzarella on top. Family loved it! Will definitely make again.
Ooooh. I love the baking idea! Yum!
This was a winner with my family!
Very good recipe! Easy to follow instructions. Will make again!
So glad you liked it 🙂
What steak/burger seasoning did you use?
There are a lot, and you can use any. Some barbecue restaurants even sell them, so you can try to find one from your favorite barbecue joint if you want. Or McCormick is usually a safe bet.
Shana Ellis says
This was delicious and soo quick and easy! I was able to run home after softball lessons and whip this up before my husband and other daughter got home from her softball practice! Can’t wait to try more recipes!
Yes! So glad you guys liked it 🙂
Tiffany Pearson says
Are there any substitutions if you don't have spaghetti sauce?
Tomato sauce or undrained diced tomatoes. I would also probably add some garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning.
Aubrie johnson says
Love this recipe! I was wondering How big is a serving size supposed to be?
Do we need to wash the rice or use dry rice?
Dry rice is fine.
What is the serving size ? Thanks
I made this tonight... and what can I say! It was delish! Definitely making this again! 😁 thanks for the recipe 👩🍳
JoLynne Warkentin says
Is there a recipe for steak and burger seasoning so I don't have to buy special seasoning?
You can use half seasoned salt and half black pepper instead
what size jars of spaghetti? and it doesnt specify the amount of cheese, it just says cup... lol thanks
ummm nevermind. i changed the serving size and i'm obviously blind about the parenthases.. my mistake sorry!
Well that is just a skillet ful of deliciousness! Thank you for sharing the recipe.
made these for dinner last night and my difficult kids loved these! and it was so easy to make!
Oh how fun! You had me at all in one skillet. Such a wonderful combination of flavors. Love all that cheese too.
Aimee Mars says
Oh, I absolutely love this idea and it's a great way for me to actually hide the peppers in the mix since no one in my family likes peppers except me.
Made this for dinner last night and it was so good! The kids gobbled it up. Super easy to make too. Will never stuff peppers again!
Autumn Brooke says
Excellent! Nobody has time to prep and stuff the peppers. I love the simplicity of this recipe.
If I wanted to add black beans to this, would I add at the same time as the dry rice (especially if I use brown rice and am simmering for ~50 minutes)? Any concern the beans would overcook/break open simmering that long…or they should be fine?
Are you using dry beans or canned beans? Dry beans would need more water, depending on the amount, and would need to be cooked probably at least as long as the brown rice. They're usually cooked for an hour or more. The beans would also make that thick black goo (aquafaba) into the skillet. Your best bet would be to use canned beans or pre-cook the beans and then stir them in close to the end, just to heat through.
My family that consists of an older daughter, my husband and myself loved this recipe.
So glad you enjoyed it!
I’ve made this many times and we’ve always enjoyed it. It’s far easier to make than stuffed peppers and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients. Thanks for the recipe!
Has anyone ever cooked rice in 25 minutes?!? Make the rice separately and add…
White rice cooks in about 20 minutes, per package instructions. So 25 minutes should be plenty. If you are having a hard time getting your rice to cook through, it's possible your rice is too old or your heat is too high causing the liquid to evaporate too quickly before the rice could cook. Your best bet to save rice that's not cooking is to lower your heat and add more water, a little at a time and allowing it to come to a simmer, until the rice is cooked through to desired texture.