Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers are easy to make, with a delicious filling of seasoned ground beef, rice and tomato sauce. The whole family loves these pressure cooker stuffed peppers!
Stuffed peppers are a classic family dinner favorite. They are well loved because, not only do they taste delicious, but they’re a complete meal in one colorful little package: the fresh bell pepper.
With these Instant Pot stuffed peppers we’re taking some help from our pressure cooker to make this wholesome dinner especially quick and easy. For this recipe, I took some inspiration from my favorite classic Stuffed Peppers recipe, filling these stuffed peppers with the same Italian seasonings and flavors.
You can make this stuffed peppers recipe with ground beef or ground turkey, and white rice or brown rice. For the peppers themselves, use your favorite color of bell pepper or do as I often do and use a mix of colors.
How to Make Stuffed Peppers in an Instant Pot
How to Cook the Rice
You will need to cook the rice before adding it to the stuffed pepper filling. This recipe is a perfect way to use up leftover cooked rice, but if you don’t happen to have leftover rice there are a few easy ways to cook the rice for this recipe: How to Cook Brown Rice, Instant Pot Brown Rice, or Instant Pot White Rice.
You will need 1 cup of cooked rice for this recipe. Depending on the type of rice, it will approximately double or triple in volume as it cooks, so 1/2 cup of uncooked rice will give you about 1 cup of cooked rice. If you’re cooking rice on the stove, you can cook such a small amount. If you are cooking the rice using one of my Instant Pot rice recipes, be sure to cook at least 1 cup of dry rice in a 6 quart pot or 1 1/2 cups in an 8 quart pot.
To Brown the Meat or Not?
My biggest question when developing this recipe was, should you brown the ground beef (or ground turkey) before adding it to the stuffed pepper filling? I tested this recipe two ways: (1) with raw ground beef mixed into the filling (it cooks through when you pressure cook the peppers) and (2) with browning the ground beef before adding it to the stuffed pepper filling.
Both types of stuffed peppers were delicious and flavorful, but I prefer the stuffed pepper filling made with browned ground beef. I like the texture better and enjoy the extra layer of flavor that you get when you brown the meat.
However, I know that when you’re trying to get dinner on the table, convenience is a high priority. For the quickest preparation, you can add uncooked ground beef (or turkey) to the stuffed pepper filling. The peppers will still be delicious, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
You won’t need to pressure cook the stuffed peppers as long if you choose to brown the meat first. You will find cook times for both options in the recipe card at the end of this post.
Quick Tip: If you aren’t going to brown the beef, be sure to use 90% or 93% lean ground beef or the filling may turn out too greasy. If you brown the meat, it’s easy to drain off excess grease so 80% lean works fine.
Preparing the Bell Peppers
To prepare the bell peppers for stuffing, slice off their tops and use your fingers to carefully remove any membranes and seeds from the inside. If the peppers won’t stand up on their own, you can slice a tiny bit off of the bottom to give them a flat surface to stand on. Be careful to not slice too much, though, since you don’t want to cut a hole for the filling to fall through.
Pressure Cook Stuffed Peppers
When you stuff the filling into the bell peppers, don’t pack it in too tightly or it may not cook through. The size of your bell peppers can affect the cook time needed to cook the pepper filling. After cooking, use an instant read thermometer to check that the internal temperature in middle of peppers is at least 165° F. If not, you can pressure cook the peppers for a few minutes more. The Instant Pot will reach pressure much more quickly the second time, since it is already hot.
What to Serve with Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
These stuffed peppers can be a meal on their own, since they contain a vegetable, grain and protein. If you want to serve something on the side, try:
- An Italian salad or green salad to incorporate more veggies into the meal.
- Sliced whole wheat bread with butter.
- Fruit salad is always a hit with the kids.
Instant Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe Tips
- You should be able to fit 4 medium/large peppers in a 6 quart Instant Pot. If you have an 8 quart pot, you can probably fit 5 medium/large peppers. They need to be cooked in a single layer, on top of the metal trivet that comes with most Instant Pot models.
- You may have enough filling to stuff a 5th pepper. You can either cook it separately, or, if you have an 8 quart pot, five peppers should fit. When I tried cooking just one stuffed pepper in my Instant Pot, it needed a longer cook time because the pot came to pressure much more quickly. If you only plan to cook 1 or 2 peppers, I suggest cooking for 20 minutes plus a quick release (for raw meat in the filling). If you brown the meat first, pressure cook for 10 minutes.
- You will only need 1/2 pound of ground beef to make enough filling for 4-5 peppers. If you buy a 1 pound package of ground beef, you can freeze the other half for later, or use it to make a small batch of tacos, 2-3 burgers or Instant Pot spaghetti with a light meat sauce.
Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- 4 or 5 medium-large bell peppers any color*
- ½ pound lean ground beef 93% or 90% lean, or ground turkey
- 1 cup cooked brown rice or cooked white rice
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes drain off most of the juices
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce divided
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup shredded cheese cheddar, mozzarella or a combination, divided
- Slice the tops off of the bell peppers. Use a knife and/or your fingers to remove the membranes and any seeds. If the bell peppers won't stand up on their own, you can slice a tiny bit off of the bottom to make them stand.
- OPTIONAL Step: Brown the ground beef in your Instant Pot using the Saute function (or in a hot skillet on the stove). You can add the onion to the pan to saute along with the beef, if desired. Crumble the beef as it cooks and turn off the heat once the beef has browned. Transfer the meat to a large bowl and wash out the Instant Pot.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef (either browned or uncooked, depending on your preference), cooked rice, onion, diced tomatoes, ¼ cup of the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper and half of the cheese. Stir until everything is mixed together well. Refrigerate the remaining ½ cup cheese to use after the peppers are cooked.
- Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the Instant Pot inner pot (use 1 ½ cups water for an 8 quart pot). Place the metal trivet in the pot.
- Spoon the filling into the prepared bell peppers, filling them just to the top. Do not pack the filling in too tightly or it may not cook through. Set the stuffed peppers on the trivet in the Instant Pot. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce on top of each pepper.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. If you did NOT brown the ground beef, set the pressure cooking time to 16 minutes at high pressure, using the Pressure Cook or Manual button. If you DID brown the ground beef, set the pressure cooking time to 8 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will start counting down.
- When the cook time ends, quick release the pressure by using the handle of a long spoon to carefully turn the steam release valve to the venting position. Wait for all of the steam to escape and then carefully open the Instant Pot lid. Check that the middle of the peppers has reached at least 165° F when measured using an instant read thermometer. If not, you can pressure cook the peppers for a few more minutes.
- Top peppers with the remaining cheese. Put the lid back on the Instant Pot for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve.
- You may have enough filling to stuff 5 bell peppers. If you have an 8 quart Instant Pot, you can probably fit all 5 peppers in at the same time. If you have a 6 quart pot, you can cook the 5th pepper separately. The pot will come to pressure much more quickly if only cooking 1 or 2 peppers, so increase the pressure cook time to 20 minutes at high pressure, followed by a quick release.
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