Ina Garten Stuffed Peppers (Recipe With Tips, Video & Variations)

These Ina Garten stuffed peppers combine a moorish filling of beef and rice with sweetness and a touch of crunch from colorful bell peppers. 

The filling is infused with savory flavors, making the stuffed peppers a great option for a light main meal or even as an appetiser or side dish. They are delicious, quick & easy to make and look great on the plate!

This Ina Garten stuffed peppers recipe is straight forward and only requires a handful of fairly common ingredients.

Once you get comfortable making these original Barefoot Contessa stuffed peppers, you can explore some recipe variations. You could even try Ina Garten stuffed mushrooms.

2 Reasons Why You Will Love Ina Garten Stuffed Peppers

1. Easy to make and impressive to serve

Because they seem difficult or even a little exotic, your guests will be impressed when you serve up beautiful, brightly colored peppers stuffed with delicious goodness.

Dont let the exotic look put you off.

Ina Garten stuffed peppers is a great recipe to start with.

Once you see and know the process, they can be thrown together easily and almost at last minute.

2. More tasty than you imagine with endless variation options

The filling in Ina Garten’s stuffed peppers recipe is very moorish. 

It uses a base of ground beef and rice, flavored with some other common ingredients.

When combined with the sweetness of the peppers, they are easy to eat and you will want to go back for more.

The great thing is stuffed peppers can be made with almost any ingredients – provided you have a few peppers of course.

I listed some popular recipe variations below the main recipe.

My variations list includes some classic flavor combination ideas.

It will give you inspiration for so many dishes.

Making Your Best Ina Garten Stuffed Peppers

Ina Garten is known for her simple, yet delicious and easy to recreate recipes.

Her stuffed peppers are no different.

Take a minute to skim through my tips in the next section.

They are only quick and will get you comfortable with the process.

If you prefer to learn by watching, watch the entire process from end to end in my short video lined below under the recipe. (Its only 2 minutes watch time).

Top 5 Tips To Making The Best Stuffed Peppers

Take a minute to skim through them and you will be ready to make stuffed peppers Ina Garten style, or your own creation.

If you prefer to watch the process first, I have a short video of me making Ina Garten’s stuffed pepper recipe. 

The video is linked below the recipe instructions.

Its than 2 minutes long and will show you what each part of the process looks like.

Now for my tips.

1. The best peppers for making stuffed peppers

Any peppers that are a suitable size and shape can be used for stuffing.

This Ina Garten stuffed peppers recipe calls for bell peppers, specifically the red, orange and yellow ones.

Apart from being mild, I mean not spicy, the orange have a fruity flavor profile. The yellow have a mild sweetness and the red tend to be the sweetest.

The sweeter flavor profile pairs best with the stuffing in Ina’s recipe.

You could use the green but they will have a grassier, bitter flavor. 

Bell peppers are a great option because they are big enough to fit a decent amount of stuffing into, making them a good meal.

You could use sweet long peppers. 

The process would be similar to using bell peppers, however you would need to stuff them longways (rather than from the top like the bell kind).

You could certainly use any other peppers, including smaller spicy ones and treat them as bite sized appetizer or a side with a bit of kick.

2. Slice the bottoms flat – if needed

Stuffed bell peppers are generally stuffed from the top and stood upright in a tray for baking.

If the peppers will not naturally stand upright, simply take a thin slice off the bottom.

Try to take as little as needed for the pepper to stand upright.

Dont be worried if you cut a small hole in the bottom of the pepper. 

The stuffing is thick and will hold together within the pepper. 

You can see this whole process in my video linked below.

If you do cut a larger hole by accident, you can use the piece you cut off to block the hole by putting it on the inside of the pepper.

3. Bake the peppers once before stuffing

Once you have removed the tops, seeds and membranes from the peppers, Ina’s recipe directs for the peppers to be added to a bowl of water and heated in a microwave for 10 minutes before stuffing.

This will soften them so they cook at the same time as the stuffing.

Many people, myself included, find that heating the peppers in water in the microwave leaves them very soft and difficult to stuff without splitting.

Instead, I recommend baking the unstuffed peppers in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 450f.

Covering the peppers with aluminium foil is not necessary for this pre-cook. 

This has the same softening effect without making the peppers difficult to work with. 

You are not looking to cook the peppers entirely at this stage. 

It is just about making them feel a little softer.

They may begin to look a little wrinkled.

If in doubt, you are better to undercook the peppers at this stage, leaving more crunch. 

Avoid pre-cooking much longer than this, otherwise you risk the peppers going soggy or losing their shape for the second cook.

Use the time while the peppers are baking to prepare the stuffing.

4. Do you cook the filling before stuffing peppers

The stuffed peppers will only be baked in the oven for around 25 minutes.

Whether you should cook the filling before stuffing the peppers depends on what is in your filling.

  1. Meat based fillings.
    • If your filling contains raw meat, chicken or fish for example I recommend you cook the filling before stuffing.
    • In Ina Garten’s stuffed peppers recipe, the beef is combined and cooked with the other filling ingredients before being stuffed into the peppers.
    • Raw meats are not likely to cook through during the quick baking process, especially if they are stuffed into large bell peppers.
    • I do not recommend increasing the cooking time to cook the meat. You are likely to overcook and ruin your peppers.
    • Cooking the meat component with the other ingredients is the best way to combine the flavors in any case.
  2. Fillings other than meat
    • Whether you pre-cook other, non-meat based, fillings or not will depend on your ingredients and what flavor and texture you are going for.
    • Rice will not cook in the pepper and will need to be cooked beforehand – you dont want crunchy uncooked rice.
    • Vegetables can be added uncooked and will give you a crunchier texture. 
    • Some ingredients like cream cheeses or tomato can be added uncooked but may produce better results if heated and mixed through.
    • Ultimately this will depend on your filling ingredients.
    • Generally speaking, pre-cooking your ingredients will allow you to combine your flavors better.

5. Make sure you filling is not too watery

The filling needs to be thick and moist, but not too watery.

It should be moist enough that you could almost form it into balls, or patties without leaving a pool of liquid in the bowl.

An overly watery filling will lead to soggy, floppy peppers.

Worst case scenario your filling will run out of your peppers leaving the inside dry and unappealing. 

To manage this, make sure you simmer excess liquid away during the cooking process. 

You can see what a good moisture level looks like in my video below.

Stuffed Pepper Recipe Variations

As long as you follow my tips above, the options for stuffing peppers are almost endless.

All you need is a few peppers and some other basic ingredients.

Below is a list of 5 other popular stuffed pepper recipe ideas to give you inspiration.

You could also explore some Ina Garten stuffing recipes if you need any more inspiration for stuffing ideas.

  • Make them Italian
    • Peppers are a common feature in Italian cooking.
    • Make the stuffing with an Italian touch, adding classic Italian ingredients like:
    • Herbs – basil, thyme, oregano, flat leaf parsley.
    • Cheese – Mozzarella, mascarpone, ricotta, gorgonzola, parmigiano reggiano, parmesan.
    • Meats – Italian sausage meat, parma ham, mortadella.
    • Definitely try Ina Garten’s sausage and peppers recipe if you want to explore this classic flavor combination.
  • Go Mexican
    • Mexican cuisine is world renown for its love of hot peppers, more so than sweet bell peppers. 
    • However, combining ingredients to stuff into a dish is something the mexican cuisine amongst the best in the world – especially if you like a touch of spice.
    • Consider a filling which includes black beans, fresh corn, fresh cilantro, hot peppers.
  • Mediterranean Greek style
    • The mediterranean diet is considered to be amongst the healthiest in the world.
    • Greek food is not only part of the mediterranean cuisine, its also delicious and fresh.
    • Consider adding any of the following to your stuffing
    • For distinctly Greek stuffed peppers, consider adding: ground lamb, seafood like calamari or octopus, feta cheese, olives, garlic, red onion, dill.
  • Vegetarian
    • Mushrooms are a great substitute for any meat based ingredient. 
    • You can add lentils which are also an excellent source of protein.
  • Vegan
    • Similar to the vegetarian option, making vegan stuffed peppers does not need to be difficult.
    • Swap out any non-vegan based ingredients for options like mushrooms, lentils, cauliflower or beans. 
    • Add extra texture using nuts and seeds. Walnuts will be a good choice.
    • Try a diary free cheese for a creamy texture.

Ina Garten Stuffed Peppers

Recipe by Barbara HuntCourse: Ina GartenDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time





Ina Garten stuffed peppers recipe. Combine a moorish stuffing of beef and rice with sweetness and a touch of crunch from colorful bell peppers. Surprise your guests with this exotic looking delight.


  • 6 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound of ground beef

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 large tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup white wine (I use Pinot Grigio) (Substitute: white vinegar)

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)

  • 2 cups shredded cheese


  • Prepare the peppers
  • Preheat oven 450f. Check if the peppers stand upright by themselves. Trim the bottom if they dont.
  • Slice the tops off each pepper (about ½ inch from the top). Remove and discard the stem. Dice the pepper tops and set aside.
  • Remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers.
  • Place peppers in a baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes then remove and let cool. (Oven can be turned off at this point)
  • Prepare the stuffing
  • Cook the rice. Use your preferred method. I recommend either a rice cooker or the evaporation method. Set aside once cooked.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned (8-10 mins). Transfer the cooked beef from the frying pan.
  • Using the same pan. Reduce heat to medium. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Gradually add the stuffing ingredients:
    – the reserved chopped peppers and onions. Cook until soft. (5 mins)
    – garlic, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook until fragrant. (3 mins).
    – chopped tomatoes. Cook and stir occasionally until falling apart. (5 mins)
    – tomato paste, stir until fully combined.
    – white wine. Cook until the mixture is reduced and thickened. (5 mins) 
    – the broth and bring to a boil.
  • Remove from the heat. Combine the cooked beef and rice with the stuffing ingredients. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper (as needed to your taste).
  • Stuff and bake the peppers
  • Preheat oven 450f. Spoon the stuffing into the peppers until full. Press firmly, but gently so as not to split the peppers. Add more stuffing on top to form a mound.
  • Stand the stuffed peppers in a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes (450f).
  • Top the peppers with the shredded cheese. Continue baking until the cheese is melted and browned in spots. (about 10 mins).
  • Serve white hot.
Barbara Hunt


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