Stuffed Peppers Casserole

5 from 1 vote
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Savory and satisfying, this Stuffed Pepper Casserole features tender bell peppers and ground beef combined with rice in a tangy tomato sauce with plenty of cheddar cheese. Also known as unstuffed peppers, this naturally gluten-free dish is an easy way to reinvent a family favorite.

A serving spoon digs into the casserole dish of unstuffed pepper casserole.

Why You’ll Love This Stuffed Pepper Casserole

  • Cuisine Inspiration: American
  • Primary Cooking Method: Stovetop, Oven
  • Dietary Info: Gluten-free, Dairy-free option
  • Skill Level: Easy

Easy and satisfying, these unstuffed peppers are easily made in advance and this casserole recipe is sure to please. Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Gluten-Free. This stuff pepper casserole recipe is made up of entirely gluten-free ingredients, making it a go-to choice for those on a gluten-free diet.
  • Filling. The combination of ground beef and rice makes this unstuffed pepper casserole into a meal. Add a side salad or slices of gluten-free bread, or enjoy it as a simple meal on its own.
  • Keeps well. You can make this casserole up to 24 hours before you wish to bake and serve it, making it a great option for busy weeknights.
  • Flavorful. I love all of the flavors going on in this dish, from the sharp bite of cheddar cheese to the garlic powder and Italian seasonings and the savory beef in tomato sauce.
A fork digs into a white plate holding unstuffed pepper casserole.

Stuffed Peppers Casserole Ingredients

I’ve outlined all of the ingredients in this unstuffed bell pepper casserole below. You’ll find the full ingredient amounts in the recipe card below this post.

  • Ground Beef: Or substitute ground sausage.
  • Bell Peppers: Red and green bell peppers work well in this recipe.
  • Onion: One small one, diced.
  • Diced Tomatoes: I use a can of tomatoes and reserve half the liquid.
  • Tomato Sauce: Choose your favorite brand of tomato sauce or use homemade sauce.
  • White Rice: Learn how to best cook white rice in this post.
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder and dried oregano.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cheddar Cheese: I love to use very sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe. You can use vegan cheese for a dairy free option.
Ingredients to make Stuffed Peppers Casserole.

How to Make Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Here’s my easy method for unstuffed pepper casserole. The detailed instructions will be in the recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Prepare. Heat the oven and lightly grease a baking dish.
  • Cook the meat. Brown the meat in a large skillet.
  • Add veggies. Stir in the onion and bell peppers and cook until slightly softened.
  • Mix in other ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients and stir everything until combined.
  • Assemble. Spread the beef mixture evenly in the baking dish. Sprinkle the shredded over the top.
  • Bake. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.

Can I Make Unstuffed Bell Pepper Casserole in Advance?

Unstuffed pepper casserole takes well to being made in advance. This is especially helpful when hosting guests or planning for busy weeknights. Simply assemble the casserole, cover it tightly, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking. Before baking the casserole, let it sit on the counter for about 30 minutes so it won’t be so cold when it goes into the oven. If you don’t let it sit on the counter, factor in a little more time for baking to ensure it’s fully cooked through after coming out of the fridge.

A baked white casserole dish topped with orange melted cheddar cheese with a red and a green bell pepper next to it.

Recipe Variations

Make this recipe as written, or try these variation suggestions:

  • Use a different type of rice: You can substitute the white rice with cooked brown rice for a whole grain option. You can also use a long-grain rice variety like basmati or jasmine for a light and fluffy texture.
  • Try different cheeses: While the recipe typically calls for cheddar, feel free to experiment with different cheeses to suit your taste. Monterey Jack, pepper jack, mozzarella, or a combination of cheeses can add a unique twist to the dish. Also feel free to use vegan cheese if you need a dairy free casserole.
  • Swap out the beef: Ground turkey works beautifully in this recipe, or you could make it vegetarian and use a vegetarian meat substitute like Beyond Beef.
  • Add fresh herbs. You can add in fresh thyme, basil, and/or oregano for even more flavor.
About three-quarters of an unstuffed pepper casserole is shown in oval white baking dish.

Tips for the Best Stuffed Pepper Casserole

I’ve made this recipe many times, and have a few tips and tricks to make it perfectly:
  • Sauté the vegetables. Make sure to sauté the bell peppers and onions before adding them to the casserole. This will add depth and enhance their flavors. It also helps to soften the vegetables and remove any excess moisture.
  • Drain the tomatoes. You can use the entire can without draining the liquid off and it will not affect the recipe. It will, however, have more liquid in the final product. I recommend only draining half of the liquid from the can to control the moisture level and prevent excess liquid. This approach allows you to retain some of the moisture while avoiding an overly watery final product.
  • Use cooked rice. This recipe uses pre-cooked rice, which ensures the rice is perfectly cooked and avoids any potential issues with undercooked or overcooked rice in the casserole. Follow the package directions, or see my post on How to Cook White Rice.
  • Add a kick of heat. If you enjoy spicy flavors, consider adding a dash of hot sauce, red pepper flakes, or diced jalapeños to the casserole. This will give it a subtle heat that balances well with the other flavors.
  • Double the batch. This casserole recipe is great for batch cooking. If you have a larger crowd to feed or want leftovers for future meals, simply double the ingredients and use a larger baking dish. It freezes well too!
  • Leftover transformations: Leftover unstuffed pepper casserole can be used as a filling for tacos, quesadillas, or even stuffed inside a baked potato. Get creative and repurpose the flavors in new ways.
A close up on a spoon holding a bit of unstuffed pepper casserole, with the full casserole seen beneath it and meat and red pepper in the background.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

A bonus of making this unstuffed bell pepper casserole is that leftovers keep well for another dinner or quick lunch. Here’s how to store and reheat any leftovers:

  • Fridge – Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer – Place leftover stuffed pepper casserole in a sealable, freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can portion out individual servings to make reheating easier. Let the casserole thaw in the fridge before reheating.
  • To Reheat in the Oven – To reheat in the oven, preheat your oven to 350°F and place a portion of the casserole in an oven-safe dish or baking pan. Cover the dish with foil to prevent excessive browning or drying out and bake it for 20-25 minutes or until the casserole is heated through. You can remove the foil during the last few minutes to allow the cheese to melt and develop a golden crust.
  • To Reheat in the Microwave: Transfer a single serving of the casserole to a microwave-safe dish. Loosely cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a small vent for steam to escape. Microwave on medium power (50-70%) for 2-3 minutes, or until the casserole is heated throughout. Stir or rotate the dish halfway through to ensure even heating.
A side view of unstuffed pepper casserole with some portions taken out.

What to Serve with Unstuffed Peppers

Add a few sides to round out portions of stuffed pepper casserole into a full meal. I love something simple like sauteed spinach or butter lettuce with avocado and a light red wine vinaigrette dressing for a quick vegetable addition. You can also try these suggestions:

A side view of a plate holding cheddar cheese-topped unstuffed pepper casserole.
5 from 1 vote

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Savory and satisfying, this Stuffed Pepper Casserole features tender bell peppers and ground beef combined with rice in a tangy tomato sauce with plenty of cheddar cheese. Also known as unstuffed peppers, this naturally gluten-free dish is an easy way to reinvent a family favorite.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drain half of the liquid off *See Notes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (about 4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish or a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • In a large skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through. Drain any excess grease.
  • Add the chopped onion, and chopped bell peppers to the skillet with the ground beef and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly softened.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cooked rice, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper to the skillet with the ground beef and vegetables. Stir everything together until well combined.
  • Transfer the beef and rice mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread it in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the beef and rice mixture.
  • Bake the casserole at 375°F for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the mixture is heated through.

Notes

You can use the entire can of tomatoes without draining the liquid off and it will not affect the recipe. It will, however, have more liquid in the final product. I recommend only draining half of the liquid from the can to control the moisture level and prevent excess liquid. This approach allows you to retain some of the moisture while avoiding an overly watery final product.
Nutrition Facts
Stuffed Pepper Casserole
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 284 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Trans Fat 0.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 68mg23%
Sodium 759mg32%
Potassium 630mg18%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 22g44%
Vitamin A 1050IU21%
Vitamin C 55mg67%
Calcium 200mg20%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Disclaimers: Please discuss your individual dietary needs (i.e. gluten free) with a physician. Even when not specified, be sure to verify all ingredients are gluten free, if needed, by reading labels on all packaging and/or confirming with the manufacturer this varies by brand and can change at any time. Nutrition information shown is an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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