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Air fryer stuffed peppers are prefect for a busy weeknight dinner. Plus, you don’t have to turn on the oven on a hot day.
This air fryer stuffed peppers is a delicious, healthy dinner idea. Stuffed peppers are filled with ground beef, rice, and spinach and topped with cheese.
🤯 Can You Air Fry Stuffed Peppers?
You absolutely can! In fact, we highly recommend it. The flavors are wonderful and the peppers cook to perfection every time. The hot air circulation in an air fryer does a marvelous job of cooking everything evenly.
People have questions! And we have answers. Here’s what you want to know about air frying stuffed peppers.
How Do You Prevent Stuffed Peppers From Getting Soggy?
So there are two schools of thought on this one.
- Blanch your peppers first, and then salt them heavily on both sides before stuffing them. In theory, the salt will absorb any extra liquid.
- Instead of blanching, use par-boiled rice and allow that to soak up the remainder of any liquid that comes out during cooking.
The air fryer provides a different cooking environment where the fast moving hot air dissipates much of any excess liquid. So it really isn’t a major concern. The only reason you may want to blanch your peppers is if you are concerned about them not cooking completely in that amount of time. But your peppers would have to be pretty thick for that to happen.
Do You Need To Cook The Rice First?
You do!! Some folks will use instant rice and let the liquids from the cooking process cook the rice. But in an air fryer, that doesn’t work as well. So you’ll definitely want to pre-cook your rice!
Do You Have To Cook The Meat Before Stuffing Peppers?
Normally, if you bake them in an oven, you can go either way. But with an air fryer, you’ll want to simply brown your meat. And of course, make sure you check the finished peppers with a meat thermometer to make sure the center reaches at least 165 degrees F.
Should You Cover Stuffed Peppers While Cooking?
In an oven, it’s a possibility. But in an air fryer, it’s not necessary. They aren’t in the air fryer long enough to really burn them.
Should I Blanch Bell Peppers Before Stuffing Them?
⏱ How Do You Make These Stuffed Peppers In Advance?
If you want to prep these ahead of time, you can do everything but cook them in the air fryer. Get your peppers stuffed and topped with cheese, then put them into an airtight container where they can stand upright, cover them well and set them immediately into the fridge. (Never leave these out because the meat is only browned, not fully cooked!) You can keep them like this for up to 2 days.
🔥 Can You Char Peppers In An Air Fryer?
Technically, yes. It will never work as well as simply charring them on the stovetop, but it can be done. The trick is to rotate them often. However, this can end up being pretty time consuming and frankly, a hassle. It’s easier just to do it on the stove. Air fryers are great, but they can’t do everything!
🥫 What Types Of Sauce Can You Use On Stuffed Bell Peppers?
Most people will use a tomato-based sauce such as marinara, spaghetti sauce or any other version of bottled tomato sauce you want to use. Basically, you just want to pick a sauce you enjoy the most and use that.
You can also use white sauce in your stuffed peppers. A quick, homemade Alfredo sauce is never a bad choice. But if you use a thicker sauce, you may want to either fully cook the meat before stuffing, or cook the peppers a little longer in the air fryer. A thicker sauce can sometimes slow down the cooking just a tad with a recipe like this.
🍱 What To Serve With Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are a versatile dish. They are also pretty much a complete meal in themselves. You’ve got veggies (the pepper), carbs (rice) and protein (meat) as well as fats (cheese). But if you really want to serve them with something extra, try a green salad, or add a fruit salad for dessert. Appetizers are also a great way to round out the meal without having an actual side dish to serve with the peppers.
🧪 Delicious Variations
Stuffed peppers are incredibly versatile. You can change almost any ingredient (except the peppers, obviously) and still have them turn out great!
- Meats: Alternate meats by substituting lean ground beef, lamb, pork or even ground chicken.
- Rice: Try other grains like quinoa or barley.
- Cheese: Other cheeses can bring new flavors as well. Try cheddar, or get even more creative by adding Greek seasoning and some feta cheese.
- Spices: You can really mix this up with the spices. You can flavor the filling with Greek, Tuscan, Indian, Italian, or even German spices or mixes.
- Sauces: Try different varieties of tomato-based sauces (pasta sauces). You could even use a good pizza sauce. White sauces can also be used if they are just slightly thinned out with a bit of milk or water.
Some basic ideas could be:
- Mexican – Use taco seasoning and add corn to the filling.
- Italian – Use Italian seasoning and add olives or green beans to the filling
- Indian – Use curry seasonings and fresh herbs. Maybe even mix in some lentils.
- Pizza – Mix in chopped pepperoni and add any of your favorite pizza toppings to the stuffing.
🌿 How To Make Vegan Stuffed Peppers
To make these vegan, you would simply swap the meat for something like:
- Finely chopped portobello mushrooms
- Crumbled tempeh
- Lentils (they should be very soft)
And of course, be sure to use vegan versions of the cheese and sauce.
Extras You Can Add To The Filling
- diced tomatoes
- chopped onion
- chopped green bell peppers
- sautéd mushrooms (sautéd first so they don’t add more liquid to the mixture)
- salsa (in small amounts, just for flavor. You don’t want to add a lot of liquid to this.)
- Italian sausage
- chili powder or cayenne for extra kick
- Cauliflower rice
- Black beans
- Pinto beans (really, any kind of beans!)
🌶 About The Ingredients
3 medium sweet peppers – I used red, yellow and orange. You can do all one color or all green. Use your favorite color.
1 lb. ground turkey – Yes, you can also use the same amount of beef if that’s your preference. You can even mix in some ground pork or lamb if you like.
½ cup cooked brown rice – Brown rice holds up best, but if you don’t like it, white rice will do just fine. However, I would avoid instant rice. Use the regular stuff.
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs – You can use regular or whole wheat. Either will work well here.
¾ cup marinara sauce – To keep things healthy, look for sauce with no added sugars. Otherwise, simply use your favorite marinara.
½ tsp. garlic powder – Or garlic granules
¼ tsp. ground black pepper – Ground white pepper will work in a pinch.
⅛ tsp. salt – We use pink Himalayan salt, but use whatever salt you normally use in the kitchen.
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese – You can use a blend if that’s what you have on hand, but pure parmesan is the best option for flavor.
¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley – This is optional for garnish.
💨🍳How To Make Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers
Prepare the peppers by cutting off the tops. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and throw them away. Wash the peppers and set to the side.
Brown turkey on medium heat in a deep pot on the stove.
Add cooked rice and breadcrumbs and cook for a couple of minutes.
Remove from the heat and add marinara sauce, garlic powdered, black pepper, salt and parmesan cheese. Stir until mixed well.
Stuff peppers with meat mixture.
Preheat your air fryer on 350°F for 5 minutes. Then spray the bottom of the air fryer basket with non-stick cooking spray or use an oil of your choosing in an oil sprayer. (Avocado oil and olive oil work great, though avocado oil is best for higher smoke points.). Set the stuffed peppers inside the basket and cook on 350°F for 8-10 minutes until tender.
Top peppers with mozzarella cheese and cook for 3 minutes.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.
While we love our toaster-oven-style Instant Vortex Pro, a basket-style air fryer will work best here. You can certainly make these in either style of air fryer, but the basket air fryer is more conducive to holding up your peppers (as if they were sitting in a bowl). You can make it work either way though.
️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
Please remember that every air fryer is different. So any recipe time and temp could need slight adjusting for your own appliance. The first time you make these, watch them carefully and be sure to check the internal temperature after cooking. They should reach a minimum of 165 degrees F. in the center before they are ready to eat. Your peppers should also be fully cooked to your liking.
🆒 How To Store Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers
Your best bet is to store them in a bowl with a tight fitting lid. They stand up easier in a bowl. Or, you can cut the peppers in half and lay them flat in a regular food storage container with a lid. These will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
🌡️ Can You Freeze Stuffed Bell Peppers?
You can! If you wrap and pack them really well, they will freeze just fine for up to 4 months.
♨ How To Reheat Stuffed Peppers
From Fridge – You can reheat in the air fryer at 350 F. for about 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your peppers.
From Freezer – Thaw overnight, and then follow the directions above, adjusting the time as needed to get them fully warmed through.
Recipe Supplies For Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers
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To make this, you’ll need an air fryer (preferably basket-style), a good skillet and a spatula to help cook in the skillet.
More Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers Recipe Card
Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers
- 1 Air Fryer
- 3 medium bell peppers (red, yellow or orange work best)
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- ½ cup cooked brown rice
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup marinara sauce
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 3 tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley (for garnish)
- Prepare the peppers by cutting off the tops. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and throw them away. Wash the peppers and set to the side.
- Brown turkey on medium heat in a deep pot on the stove.
- Add brown rice and breadcrumbs and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and add marinara sauce, garlic powdered, black pepper, salt and parmesan cheese. Stir until mixed well.
- Stuff peppers with meat mixture.
- Preheat your air fryer on 350°F for 5 minutes. Then spray the bottom of the basket with non-stick cooking spray. Set the stuffed peppers inside the basket and cook on 350°F for 8-10 minutes until tender.
- Top peppers with mozzarella cheese and cook for 3 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve,