Unstuffed Bell Peppers

$8.29 recipe / $1.38 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.79 from 74 votes
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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 that’s what I ended up doing! These super simple unstuffed bell peppers are cooked in one skillet to make your (my) life super easy and delicious. #yesplease

Originally posted 8-13-2014, updated 2-4-2021.

Overhead view of unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet with a spoon.

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 using cauli rice and skipping the broth, but you’ll be missing a lot of flavor with that option.

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).

Tips for Making One-Pot Rice Dishes

Even cooking plain rice on the stovetop can be a bit challenging for some 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 conducts heat really evenly 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 thin 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. 

Close up side view of unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet

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

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Unstuffed Bell Peppers

4.79 from 74 votes
All the ingredients and flavor of stuffed bell peppers cooked in one skillet for an easy, free-form bowl meal. It's UNstuffed Bell Peppers!
Close up side view of unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet
Servings 6 1 ⅓ cups each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 2 bell peppers ($1.53)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef ($2.85)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes ($1.00)
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (uncooked) ($0.62)
  • 1 tsp dried basil ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1.5 cups beef broth ($0.07)
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce ($0.26)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.01)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($0.85)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley (optional garnish) ($0.05)

Instructions 

  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion and bell pepper.
  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to a deep skillet. Cook the beef over medium heat until it is fully browned.
  • Add the diced onion, bell pepper, minced garlic, basil, oregano, and pepper to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the onions are soft.
  • Next, add the diced tomatoes (with juices), uncooked rice, and beef broth. Give everything a brief stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, lid still in place, for another five minutes.
  • While the pot is simmering, combine the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Once the rice has rested for 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork, gently folding the ingredients back together (peppers and tomatoes may float to the top while it simmers).
  • Pour the prepared tomato sauce over top, then sprinkled the shredded mozzarella over the sauce. Place the lid back on top and let the heat from the skillet melt the mozzarella. Once melted, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top and serve.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1.33cupsCalories: 320.53kcalCarbohydrates: 35.55gProtein: 15.75gFat: 12.78gSodium: 646.32mgFiber: 3.88g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

A fork lifting some rice and cheese from a bowl of unstuffed bell peppers

How to Make Unstuffed Bell Peppers – Step by Step Photos

browned ground beef with diced onion, bell pepper, and herbs

Mince one clove of garlic and dice a yellow onion and bell pepper. Add ½ lb. ground beef to a deep skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Cook the ground beef over medium heat until it has fully browned. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, garlic, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, and about ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the onions are soft.

Tomatoes, rice, and broth added to the skillet.

Next, add one 15oz. can of diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice, and 1.5 cups beef broth to the skillet. 

Combined ingredients in the skillet

Give everything a brief stir to combine. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the broth to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let it continue to simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest, lid still in place, for an additional 5 minutes.

Worcestershire sauce being added to tomato sauce

While the rice is simmering, prepare the tomato sauce. Combine one 8oz. can of tomato sauce with 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce. Set the sauce aside.

Rice being fluffed with a fork in the skillet

After the rice has rested for five minutes, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork, gently folding the tomatoes and peppers back into the rice.

Cheese being added to the skillet

Pour the prepared tomato sauce over the rice in the skillet, then top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella. Place the lid back on the skillet and let the residual heat melt the cheese.

finished unstuffed bell peppers in the skillet topped with parsley

Top with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve!

Unstuffed Bell Peppers skillet with lid on the side

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  1. Love these! There’s a classic Pittsburgh recipe that makes this into a soup – super cheap and easy stuffed pepper soup.

  2. Made this one in the Instant Pot. Used the Saute function for the meat and veg, then tossed in the other ingredients and cooked with the Rice function. When it was done, I did a 10 minute natural release, topped with the tomato sauce and cheese, then replaced the lid to melt the cheese. It was a big hit in my house, and my husband is now asking me to please make “Pizza Rice” more often. :) I thought it was just a touch bland, so may increase the seasoning next time and/or add some salt. Overall, though, I still enjoyed it. Thanks for another good one, Beth!

    1. Hi did you find it easier in the insta pot? Also I have a pressure cooker instead of insta pot do you think it would be okay it that?

    1. Beans would be a great swap for beef, but you should use canned, drained beans or pre-cooked and drained beans. You shouldn’t add them at the beginning of the recipe, like you would the beef. Sweat the onions until they are softened along with the other ingredients and add the tomatoes and the drained black beans at the same time. Let us know how it turns out! XOXO

  3. I’m trying to stay away from white rice and have only brown rices on hand… could I modify this recipe to make brown rice work? If so, how?

    1. It might be tricky, as brown rice takes about double the time to cook than white rice, which would overcook your other ingredients. If you can find parboiled brown rice I would try that. If not, prep your veg and meat as per instructions and set aside in a separate bowl. In the same pot you made the veggies in, use 2 cups of broth for 1 cup brown rice, and stir in your veggies and other ingredients about 15 minutes in. XOXO