Stuffed peppers, as we know them in American cuisine, are made with bell peppers of any color (red, yellow or green), stuffed with minced meat. The meat commonly used in this dish is beef, combined with rice and tomatoes, though there are numerous varieties. You will find stuffed peppers made with chicken, but also those that are made without meat whatsoever. Such vegetarian options often include rice or quinoa. No matter the stuffing, the peppers are almost always covered in melted cheese.
When it comes to methods of preparation, baking is the most commonly used method but you can also make them on the stovetop at a slow simmer, usually covered in tomato sauce until soft.
The first recorded stuffed pepper recipe in the States dates from the 1890’s, but history says that this dish goes much further back in the past, the many cuisines around the world being a proof of it.
So many choices to make! But fear not – if preparing this dish seems like a science, this ultimate guide to stuffed peppers is made just for you!
European Stuffed Peppers
In Spain, this traditional dish is called ‘pimientos rellenos’ and is especially popular in the region of the Basque Country. It is usually made with piquillo peppers, chicken, and fillings like mango cheese and red sauce. Less common varieties include fish!
Baltic Countries opt for ground beef or pork, combined with rice, various veggies, and spices, whereas Balkan countries fill the peppers with meat, rice, herbs, and spices, and often cook them in tomato sauce. However, some Balkan countries replace meat and rice with hard boiled eggs and white cheese, while others serve this dish along with yogurt. The Romanian recipe calls for peppers stuffed with ground pork, rice, onion, spices, and other vegetables, cooked on the stovetop in a sauce made with tomatoes, cream, and spices.
Asian Stuffed Peppers
In India, peppers are stuffed with meat, potatoes, and onions and complemented with exotic spices like turmeric, chili, cilantro, coriander, lemon juice, and salt. Stuffed peppers are then either fried in a pan or baked in the oven.
Another Indian stuffed pepper recipe is made with large green chili peppers, stuffed with flour mix that is spiced and roasted. These stuffed peppers are usually fried and eaten during colder months. Alternatively, in some regions, the chili peppers are dipped in a flour mix and then fried, then served with a sauce, chutney, or rice on the side.
Central and South American Stuffed Pepper Recipes
Mexican people love this dish and have more than one way to prepare it.
‘Chile relleno’ is made with roasted green poblano or pasilla peppers stuffed with queso fresco cheese, sometimes combined with minced meat, covered in an egg-based batter, and fried in a pan. It is served either with a sauce on the side, or in a taco, combined with rice, salsa sauce, and other add-ins.
The other Mexican variety is made with jalapeño peppers stuffed with cheese, sometimes ground meat, and spices, then deep fried in oil.
In Guatemala, pimiento peppers are stuffed with pork and veggies, then, similar to the Mexican version, dipped in egg-based batter and fried. These stuffed peppers are served with tomato sauce on the side or inside of a bread cake.