For many of us, stuffed peppers are a nice childhood memory. I know I loved my mother’s recipe and I enjoy sharing the experience with my own family. There’s something about the taste and flavor of the dish that speaks about a nice family dinner, with everyone happily chatting about their day.
Now, I’m an adventurer, so I didn’t keep my mother’s exact recipe. I actually improved it by adjusting the mixture and adding a topping of delicious melted cheese. But the best improvement made when I added my Instant Pot into the mix.
Why is the Instant Pot Better?
There are several details that transform this classic recipe into a culinary delight when you cook it in an Instant Pot.
First, there is the cooking of the peppers. We all know how easy it is to over or undercook them! But in an Instant Pot they are just right – not too hard and not too soft; just tender enough. It’s not easy to achieve a beautiful texture of cooked pepper, but I think that the technique of steam cooking in the instant pot and then broiling them in the oven really works.
Second, when you do them the traditional way, you need to place them in a pan, in the oven. This means heating up the house and constant supervision in an already hot kitchen. If you leave them in the oven for too long, you might end up with burnt pepper edges, but if you don’t let them cook enough, the result may be a bit ‘raw’.
The Instant Pot is extremely easy since you know exactly how long to cook the peppers for and you don’t run the risk of burning anything.
Step By Step
With this recipe, I managed to take step-by-step photos, so you get to see how I prepare the entire meal. I also hope it will be easier for you guys to follow my instructions.
As always, you can get the regular recipe at the bottom of the page.
Preparing the Peppers
Everything starts with washing and cleaning the peppers.
To prepare them, I carefully remove the top and the seeds and membranes inside, so the pepper looks like a deep bowl. You can use a sharp knife to remove the top, but for the seeds and insides, it’s best to use your hands.
Once this step is done, wash the peppers inside and outside and set them aside on a clean paper towel to dry.
How to Choose the Peppers?
First, it’s important to select healthy bell peppers with a strong base (they should be able to stand up on their own). They should be big enough to fit the mixture inside, but you also need to consider the size of your pot. For instance, I can only fit about 6 or 7 medium-sized peppers in my pot (it’s a 6-qt design). So, it depends on how many peppers you plan on cooking.
Of course, you can always do more than one batch.
When it comes to the color of the peppers, I like to mix things up. I use red, yellow, green and orange peppers because they look great and even taste different. For instance, green ones are a bit zestier and less sweet than the other colors. However, if you only have red peppers, that’s still fine.
Should I pre-cook the peppers?
I’ve seen other people using pre-cooked peppers (usually steamed). They do this to avoid getting crispy stuffed peppers, which tends to happen when you cook them in the oven. Still, in the Instant Pot, the peppers will also get steamed during cooking, so there’s no need to pre-cook them.
In fact, it’s best that you add them raw, so they won’t lose texture and get too cooked in the pressure cooker.
Preparing the Mixture
The regular recipe calls for the ground meat, rice, and onion to be mixed before any cooking can happen. However, I like to add a step to this procedure and brown the ground beef using the Saute option of the Instant Pot.
Once the meat is prepared, I get it out of the pot and mix it with rice, onion and all the remaining spices in a bowl. You can do a quick test for salt and pepper, to make sure you’ve got it right, and then move to the next step – stuffing the peppers.
I like to use a spoon that fits inside the peppers without damaging the walls (do a test before you add the mixture). It’s OK to gently press the stuffing inside, but avoid overstuffing (you may end up with hardened, uncooked mixture).
Fill each pepper to the brim, but keep in mind that the rice will get bigger during cooking.
Once I finish stuffing the peppers, I add water in the Instant Pot (which I cleaned), add the trivet inside, and then place the peppers upward (the side with the stuffing needs to be at the top so it won’t spill in the pot).
As you can see from my photo, I would’ve had room for two more 🙂
After cooking, I like to add some cheese at the top (cheddar and/or mozzarella works best) and I put the peppers in the oven just for a few minutes.
- The taste for this stuffed pepper is defined by a classic Italian spice combination. But if you want something different, substitute the Italian spice for Mexican ones. You’ll get Tex-Mex stuffed peppers.
- You can prepare a large batch of stuffed peppers and then put in the freezer the ones that don’t fit in the pot (instead of cooking them all). This way, whenever you’re craving stuffed peppers, you just cook the frozen ones and you’re done!
- You can also freeze cooked stuffed peppers and only reheat them in the microwave or oven when you’re ready to have some. They’ll keep their integrity and taste.
- If you’re looking for a vegetarian (or just lighter) version of this dish, check out my Instant Pot Couscous Stuffed Peppers recipe.
I like to serve them with some nice, steamed broccoli, but this is not the norm. Just let your imagination run free and improvise your side dish (or get rid of it completely).
Other food combinations that work nicely with stuffed peppers are salads (Cesar, tomato, or some kale), cheesy garlic breadsticks, or plain toast.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup canned tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 6 bell peppers
- 1 onion minced
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp thyme powder
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp paprika
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Wash the peppers, cut off their tops and deseed them carefully.
- Pour olive oil into your Instant Pot and press “Sauté”:
- Add ground beef and cook for 2 minutes, until meat browns slightly.
- Place your browned beef into a large bowl and add cooked rice, minced onion, whisked egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, thyme, Italian seasoning, paprika, tomato sauce and salt and pepper.
- Mix well to obtain a homogeneous mixture and stuff the peppers with this it.
- Clean the bottom of the Instant Pot and then add water.
- Place the trivet inside the Instant Pot and then place your stuffed peppers onto the trivet.
- Cook at high pressure for about 5 minutes, depending on the size of your peppers.
- After cooking ends, let the pressure release naturally.
- Carefully take the peppers out and place them on a baking tin.
- Spread with shredded mozzarella and put in the oven.
- Bake in grilling mode (180°c or 350°f) for a couple of minutes, until cheese melts.
- Serve hot.