As one of the first meals I ever figured out how to cook myself, stuffed peppers forever hold a special place in my heart. I felt so proud serving them for a big family dinner at my college sorority house…especially since back then homemade stuffed peppers felt like fine dining compared to our usual meals from the cafeteria (hah!).
As Chris & I continue to add more & more vegetarian & vegan recipes into our weekly rotation, giving classic stuffed peppers a little plant-based makeover felt like something that needed to happen ASAP.
The problem I kept running into, though, is the fact that so many of the vegetarian stuffed peppers recipes I came across were filled with just cheese & rice. I, of course, love a good ol’ cheesy rice situation (I’m a Midwestern gal, after all!), but when it comes to a go-to weeknight dinner recipe, I gravitate towards something that feels a little more balanced – I wanted a slightly healthier stuffed peppers recipe, you know?
So that’s exactly how these easy vegan stuffed peppers came to be!
The star of the show is the vegan stuffed peppers filling. It’s made with rice, but it’s also loaded with veggies – onions, bell peppers, & riced cauliflower – for extra flavor & good-for-you nutrients. Black beans add extra substance, & a handful of chopped walnuts (my secret weapon!) creates satisfying, meaty texture in every single bite.
The filling simmers in a single skillet on the stovetop in 25 minutes or less, then gets spooned into perfectly roasty, toasty halved bell peppers.
You can serve the stuffed peppers as is (they’re delish that way!), but to really take them over the top, I finish them with a heavy drizzle of my cilantro lime cashew crema. Its brightness balances the rich flavor of the filling, plus it adds just the right amount of creaminess (without adding any cheese or dairy). The very best stuffed peppers!
& the very best part? Made in 40 minutes or less start-to-finish, they are perfect any night of the week. I’m pretty sure this healthy stuffed peppers recipe is stuffed peppers perfection. ♡ Read on to learn more about these easy vegan stuffed peppers, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Ingredients you’ll need to make this healthy stuffed peppers recipe
Aside from a couple of things to grab from the fresh produce section at the beginning of the week, these healthy stuffed peppers with rice are made primarily with pantry staple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
The line-up includes… (Note: the full Ingredients List, including measurements, is provided in the Recipe Card, below.)
- bell peppers, of course!
- yellow onion
- cauliflower – buy it already riced, or grate it at home yourself
- walnuts – they add the best meaty texture!
- black beans
- rice – jasmine or basmati work best, or you can also use quinoa
- garlic & tomato paste
- spices: chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika
- veggie stock or broth
I love using a combination of orange & red bell peppers (they’re sweeter than yellow & green), but you can of course use whatever looks best at the store. You’ll need 5 for this recipe – 1 to use in the vegan stuffed peppers filling & 4 for serving.
How do you cut peppers for stuffed peppers?
You can cut peppers for stuffed peppers a couple of different ways:
- Use a chef’s knife to cut off the top of the pepper & its stem, then run a paring knife around the inside of the pepper to detach & remove the seeds from the inside of the pepper. This option creates a cup for the stuffed pepper filling that sits upright for serving.
- Use a chef’s knife to cut the pepper in half lengthwise, leaving the stem intact, then use a paring knife to remove the seeds from each pepper half. This option creates two pepper shells for the stuffed pepper filling that lay on their side for serving.
I prefer option #2 (as you see pictured in this post). Serving in 2 halves makes the stuffed peppers a little bit easier to eat, & creates even more surface area to drizzle with cashew crema (which is never a bad thing in my book!).
How to make this vegan stuffed peppers recipe
These stuffed peppers are so gloriously weeknight-friendly! The vegetarian stuffed peppers filling cooks entirely in a single skillet on the stovetop, while the peppers quickly roast in the oven. Once both components are ready, simply spoon the filling the roasted peppers & serve immediately. So fuss-free!
The basic process goes something like this… (Note: full Recipe Directions are provided in the Recipe Card, below.)
- Prep the healthier stuffed peppers filling: Sweat out the onion & diced bell pepper in a skillet until softened, then add in the rest of the stuffed peppers filling ingredients: aromatics (garlic, spices, tomato paste), cauliflower rice, & chopped walnuts.
- Simmer: Add the rice & veggie stock to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover & simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed by the filling.
- Meanwhile, roast the peppers: Pop the prepped pepper cups or halves on a baking sheet & roast until tender.
- Serve! Spoon the healthier stuffed peppers filling into the roasted peppers.
Dinner’s ready less than 40 minutes later, & with a little bit of meal prep, you can whip them up any night of the week with very minimal hands-on time – kind of ideal, right? Check the Recipe Notes, below, for some meal prep tips!
Other Stuffed Peppers FAQs:
What to serve with stuffed peppers?
This healthy stuffed peppers recipe is really flexible – you can serve them as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Personally, I LOVE loading on the toppings (life’s all about the toppings, right?!): cilantro lime cashew crema (vegan, dairy-free), diced avocado/guacamole, thinly sliced jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, jarred salsa, etc. It’s all good!
As far as side dishes go, I love to keep it simple (greens + a squeeze of fresh lime), but if you want a more complete side dish, my Vegan Southwest Pasta Salad would pair perfectly!
Can you freeze stuffed peppers?
Typically, yes, but since these vegetarian stuffed peppers are so weeknight-friendly, I don’t think it’s especially helpful to go through the effort of freezing these peppers. The process of thawing/reheating will take longer than making the recipe from scratch!
If you are looking for some shortcuts to help keep active prep time to a minimum during the week, be sure to check out the Recipe Notes, below, for some meal prep tips!
I really hope you have your hand at making these Easy Vegan Stuffed Peppers soon! They’re so easy to make, & always are such a hit!
If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know by leaving a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡Print
Classic stuffed peppers get a delicious plant-based makeover in this seriously Easy Vegan Stuffed Peppers recipe! Roasted bell peppers are stuffed with a veggie-forward rice filling made of peppers, onions, cauliflower rice, & walnuts, & finished with a drizzle of creamy cilantro lime cashew crema, keeping them totally vegan & dairy-free.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced (orange or red are my favorite)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 heaping cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 2 cups riced cauliflower
- 1/2 cup dry basmati or jasmine rice
- 2 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
- 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise & deseeded (orange or red are my favorite)
- nonstick cooking spray
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
for the cilantro lime cashew crema:
- 1 cup raw cashews (see Recipe Notes, below)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- optional: 1 small jalapeno, deseeded (as desired) & roughly chopped
- 1 large, juicy lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 3/4 cup water
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up and set aside.
- Cook the veggies: Add the olive oil to a large skillet (with lid) over medium heat. Once hot, add in the onion & diced bell pepper. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-5 minutes.
- Toast the aromatics: Add the garlic, spices (chili powder, ground cumin, paprika) & tomato paste to the skillet. Stir to combine, toasting the spices for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Assemble the vegan stuffed peppers filling: Add the walnuts, riced cauliflower, & rice to the skillet, stirring to combine with the onion mixture. Let toast for about 1 minute before adding in the vegetable broth. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add in the black beans. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat & let stand, covered, for 5 additional minutes before fluffing the mixture with a fork.
- Meanwhile, as the filling simmers…
- Roast the peppers: Arrange the halved peppers on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly mist with nonstick cooking spray, then season with a sprinkling of kosher salt & ground black pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes (see Recipe Notes, below).
- Prep the cilantro lime cashew crema: Add all listed ingredients to a high-speed blender, seasoning with 1 teaspoon each kosher salt & ground black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Serve: Carefully & generously spoon the stuffed peppers filling into the roasted peppers. Drizzle the cilantro lime cashew crema over top, & finish with any other toppings as desired (diced avocado or guacamole, thinly sliced jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, etc.). Enjoy!
- Roasting peppers: How long you roast your peppers will depend on how firm or soft you prefer stuffed peppers. We love our stuffed peppers to have a little bit of a bite – 10 minutes is perfect for us. If you prefer a little bit softer, roast for closer to 15 minutes.
- A note on blending cashews: If you have a high-speed blender (Nutribullet, Vitamix, etc.), you shouldn’t run into any achieving a smooth & creamy sauce following the directions above. If you are concerned about the cashews breaking down in your blender, you can soak them overnight at room temperature OR soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes as you work through Steps 1-4 of Recipe Directions. Drain the cashews, then proceed as described. Do NOT prep the cashew crema in a food processor – the blades won’t break the cashews down into the smooth, creamy consistency we’re after here.
- Meal prep: The majority of the prep time involved in this recipe is chopping veggies. Chop all the veggies in advance to get a head start, storing in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. At dinnertime all you have to do is get cooking – so easy!:
- Halve 4 large bell peppers lengthwise & deseed
- Dice 1 yellow onion
- Dice 1 bell pepper
- Finely chop 1 heaping cup walnuts
- optional: roughly chop 1 small jalapeno (deseed as desired)
Keywords: vegan stuffed peppers, vegan recipe, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy, weeknight recipe, Meatless Monday
Other Easy Plant-Based Recipes Perfect for Weeknights:
- More Tex-Mex goodness: Vegan White Chili
- The BEST vegan tacos: Roasted Sweet Potato + Cauliflower Tacos (with Chipotle Cashew Crema!)
- & another goodie: Vegan Quinoa Black Bean Taco Meat
- A 25-minute weeknight wonder: Lemony Basil Creamy Vegan Pasta with Broccoli & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- SO. MUCH. FLAVOR. Sheet Pan Chickpea & Veggie Shawarma
- All PWWB Plant-Based & Vegan Recipes