These stuffed bell peppers are made with layers of ground beef, tomato sauce and then baked with melty mozzarella cream cheese mixture. Serve it as a meal or side dish, these peppers will feed a hungry crowd.
My mom never fails me at eating vegetables, even though I really really hate some kinds of them. Bell peppers. Cilantro. Bitter melon. Oh, I should stop listing them here because the list will go on. Although I used to dislike bell peppers when I was a little, I could not deny that mom’s stuffed bell peppers are so delicious. Every time she makes these peppers, they will be all gone in a moment. That’s why she’s usually served them with extra food like rice or grilled corn. And we absolutely love it.
Growing up, I’ve realized that bell peppers are kind of ‘cool’, I mean they are not as bad as I think they were. Then I started using them more frequently in my meals. Nostalgically, I’ve always missed my mom’s food and want to chronicle them in my daily meal. So I decided to make these stuffed bell peppers with cheese over and over again.
These stuffed peppers make such a great family dinner. They are easy and quick to make, yet delicious and healthy. My mom used to add a layer of egg yolk on top of the ground beef but as much as I love mozzarella cheese, I use them to top the peppers and bake them to perfection. Sorry mom, I just love the cheese so much!
PREPARE THE PEPPERS
Unlike other recipes calling to cut the tops off the peppers, I prefer to cut them in half lengthwise. Carefully remove core, seeds and ribs as much as you can using a paring knife. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish that is large enough to hold them upright.
SAUTEED GROUND BEEF
The filling for these stuffed bell peppers are flexible. I used ground beef as a meat base but ground pork, chicken or turkey can be substituted in its place. To make the beef more flavorful and to be baked faster, I saute it with minced garlic and onion. You will have to heat the butter ( or olive oil) in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the onions, garlic and sauté until lightly golden. Add ground beef, season with salt, pepper and a little bit of soy sauce and honey, then the meat is cooked through, no pink in the meat. You can use the spatula to break up the lumps as needed.
MAKE CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE
I believe this is the part that makes the stuffed bell peppers taste a thousand better. Mix softened cream cheese with granulated sugar, a pinch of salt, parsley and mozzarella cheese in a medium until they are just combined. You can leave out the cream cheese and just use the mozzarella cheese to top off the peppers if you prefer that way, but cream cheese will add more flavor and make a great pair with the ground beef and tomato sauce.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 2 large bell peppers, any color
- 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) honey
- 1 pound (454g) lean ground beef
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely diced onion (1/4 medium onion)
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (4-6 garlic cloves)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) tomato sauce or tomato paste
- 4 ounces (1/2 block/113g) full fat cream cheese
- 1 cup (225g) shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 teaspoons (25g) granulated sugar
- A pinch of salt
- Chopped parsley or oregano or Italian seasonings
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Rinse off the peppers. Carefully remove core, seeds and ribs as much as you can using a paring knife. Place the peppers cut-side up in a baking dish that is large enough to hold them upright.
- In a large skillet, heat the butter (or olive oil) over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and sauté until lightly golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef, season with salt, pepper, soy sauce and honey and cook until no longer pink. During the cooking process, break up the meat with a wooden spatula as needed. Drain any fat.
- Once the beef is done, remove from heat. Set aside.
- Make mozzarella cream cheese mixture: In a medium bowl, whisk together cream cheese, granulated sugar and salt until combined. Add in shredded mozzarella cheese and herbs (parsley, oregano or Italian seasoning) until combined.
- Divide the beef among the bell peppers. Spoon the tomato sauce over the ground beef, divide it evenly for 4 halves of pepper. Let the tomato sauce soak in the ground beef for 2-3 minutes, then evenly add the mozzarella cream cheese mixture on top using a spoon. Sprinkle more mozzarella cheese if desired.
- Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until the mozzarella is melted and beginning to brown.
- Allow the peppers to cool for 5 minutes, garnish with parsley or oregano, if using, and serve hot.
- Store leftover stuffed peppers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days. Reheat before serving.