Simple Unstuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are awesome, but I always find them slightly awkward or difficult to eat. Can’t I just throw the ingredients in a bowl and eat it with a fork?! (I feel that way about a lot of food, TBH). So anyway, that’s what I did! These super simple unstuffed bell peppers are cooked in one skillet to make your (my) life super easy and delicious. #yesplease

One Pot Unstuffed Bell Peppers

A skillet full of Unstuffed Bell Peppers on a white and red striped napkin, with a wood spoon scooping out the center.

Tips for Making One-Pot Rice Dishes

Even cooking plain rice on the stove top can be a bit challenging for folks, and when you add in other ingredients it can end up a little more tricky. To make sure your rice cooks thoroughly and evenly, keep these things in mind:

  • Cookware: A really good quality (thick and heavy) skillet is really important for making this recipe work correctly. Heavy cookware transfers heat really well so the sides of your skillet will cook at the same rate as the part that is right above the flame. If it’s a cheap skillet, it might scorch right in the center and leave the outer edges uncooked. If you don’t have a good skillet, a dutch oven or heavy soup pot would also work well.
  • Heat level: Another key to cooking rice is making sure the water in the pot (or skillet) is simmering the whole time, but the heat is not so high that it burns on the bottom. So once you’ve got everything in the pot and have already brought everything up to a boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting that still maintains a light simmer. Since this can vary from stove to stove and the type of cookware you’re using, you’ll need to adjust this based on what you’re hearing and seeing in the pot. Once you get the hang of it, though, it will be easy!
  • Use a burner close in size to the bottom of your pot or skillet. If you’re using a wide bottomed pot or skillet over a very small burner, the outside edges of your pot or skillet may not receive enough heat to simmer and cook the rice through. 

Can I Use Cauliflower Rice Instead of White Rice?

Unfortunately you can not swap out cauliflower rice for the white rice in this recipe. Cauliflower rice releases liquid as it cooks, whereas white rice absorbs it, so you’ll end up with a stuffed bell pepper soup. :) But hey, that actually doesn’t sound so bad! You can also try this and skipping the broth, but you’ll be missing a lot of flavor with that option.

Topping Options

I added some fresh chopped parsley on top of my Unstuffed Bell Peppers for color, but I wouldn’t say that it adds a lot of flavor. So I’d use it if you have it, but don’t go out of your way to purchase it if you don’t. A lot of people like cheese on their stuffed bell peppers, so if you happen to have some cheese on hand you can top the unstuffed bell peppers with cheese and let it melt before serving.

Aaaand one more thing. I actually bought the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and bell peppers at Whole Foods (read: expensive), so I’m sure you may be able to make this one for even less!

Can I Freeze Unstuffed Bell Peppers?

Yes, this recipe freezes great! Make sure to divide the skillet into single serving portions just after cooking, and chill them completely in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer. Once frozen, they’ll keep in the freezer for about three months and can be reheated in the microwave straight from the freezer (use the defrost setting first, then high until heated through).

Love skillet meals? Check out my Chorizo Sweet Potato Skillet, Creamy Chicken and Rice Skillet, or One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Rice.


Unstuffed Peppers Skillet - Budget Bytes
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4.75 from 35 votes

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

All the ingredients and flavor of stuffed bell peppers cooked together in one skillet makes these super simple and easy to eat UNstuffed Bell Peppers!
Total Cost: $8.29 recipe $1.38 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 6 1 1/3 cup each

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.42)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef ($2.25)
  • 2 bell peppers ($1.98)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes ($1.69)
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked) ($0.33)
  • 1 tsp dried basil ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth ($0.20)
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce ($0.99)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.02)

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion and bell peppers. In a heavy skillet, sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft and transparent (2-3 minutes). Add the ground beef and cook until fully brown (5 minutes). Lastly, add the diced bell pepper to the skillet and continue to sauté until they are slightly soft (3-5 minutes).
  • Add the diced tomatoes and their juices to the skillet along with the uncooked rice, basil, oregano, and some freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir the ingredients in the skillet well.
  • Add 1.5 cups of beef broth to the skillet and stir to combine. Place the lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and allow the mixture to come up to a full boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. You should be able to hear the liquid simmering quietly the whole time. If you can't, turn the heat up just slightly until it begins to simmer.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the lid, and check to see if the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. If the rice is still a bit crunchy, return the lid and allow it to continue to cook for 10 minutes more.
  • Once the rice is tender, fluff the mixture with a fork. In a separate bowl, combine the tomato sauce and worcestershire sauce. Pour the tomato sauce over the skillet and serve.

Notes

Using a thick, heavy skillet is very important with this recipe. Thin or poorly made skillets don't conduct heat well and may not cook the rice evenly.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 264kcalCarbohydrates: 35.1gProtein: 11.57gFat: 8.6gSodium: 554.32mgFiber: 3.88g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A black ceramic bowl full of Unstuffed Bell Peppers on a white and red napkin with parsley on the side

 

How to Make Unstuffed Bell Peppers – Step by Step Photos

Bell Pepper Onion and Garlic on a cutting board

First, mince one clove of garlic and dice one onion, and two bell peppers.

Browned Beef and Vegetables in the skillet

Sauté the onion and garlic with 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once the onions are soft and transparent, add the ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned. Lastly, add the diced bell peppers and sauté a few minutes more, or until they begin to soften. Make sure to use a thick, heavy skillet for this dish because even cooking is crucial to the outcome. The skillet also needs to have a tight fitting lid. If you don’t have a skillet that fits this description, you can also do it in a dutch oven or heavy soup pot.

Rice Tomatoes and Herbs added to the skillet

Add one cup of uncooked white rice, one 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes, 1 tsp each of basil and oregano, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir these ingredients together well. Side note: you can’t directly substitute brown rice for the white rice in the recipe. Brown rice requires more liquid and a longer cooking time.

Beef Broth added to the skillet and everything stirred, wooden spoon on the side

Finally, add one cup of beef broth. Place the lid on top of the skillet, turn the heat up to high, and allow it to come to a full boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. It must be simmering the whole time, so if it goes quiet and you can’t hear the gentle simmer, turn the heat up just a tad. This is where the heavy skillet comes into play. A thin or poorly made skillet will be very hot in the center and not hot on the outer edges of the skillet, causing it to scorch in the middle and leave the rice crunchy on the outer edges.

Simmered unstuffed bell pepper skillet

After 30 minutes of simmering, the rice should be tender and most of the liquid will have been absorbed. If it’s not (like if the heat was too low and it stopped simmering, or you have a poorly made skillet), put the lid back on top and let it simmer for ten more minutes.

skillet after being fluffed with a fork

If the rice IS fully cooked, use a fork to fluff the mixture up a bit.

Tomato Sauce mixed with Worcestershire sauce

To make the tomato sauce topping, stir together one 8-oz. can of plain tomato sauce with one teaspoon of worcestershire sauce.

Close up of the skillet full of Unstuffed Bell Peppers with fresh parsley on the side

Pour the sauce over top and EAT! (I added some parsley for visual/photographic effect, not for flavor).

SO much easier than trying to disassemble an actual stuffed pepper. No knife required here.