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 the same way about hard shell tacos, BTW). So anyway, that’s what I did!

I used the same formula as my Chorizo Sweet Potato Skillet to cook up this awesome Unstuffed Bell Pepper skillet! This one has a little more chopping, but the principle is the same: all the ingredients (including rice) cook together in one skillet to create a super flavorful (and easy!) pilaf-like meal. I topped the skillet with a tomato sauce similar to what would be on a stuffed bell pepper, but if you’re the type to melt cheese on your bell peppers, you could certainly do that, too.

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.

Oh, and I tossed some fresh parsley on top just for the photos, but I wouldn’t say that it’s needed to flavor this dish. It has lots o’ flavor on its own! :)

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!

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

Unstuffed Peppers Skillet - Budget Bytes
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4.74 from 34 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


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


  • 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.


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.

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
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Unstuffed Bell Peppers


Step by Step Photos

Bell Pepper Onion Garlic

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

Browned Beef and Vegetables

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 Herbs

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

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 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.

Fluff Skillet

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

Tomato Sauce

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

Unstuffed Bell Peppers

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.