These delicious turkey stuffed peppers are filled with a tasty combination of lean ground turkey, healthy brown rice, tomato sauce, seasonings and melty cheese.

a white casserole dish with stuffed peppers in it topped with melted fontina cheese

The Best Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

I adore stuffed peppers and this being the case I’ve shared a number of them here at Healthy Seasonal Recipes, from our Low Carb Mexican Stuffed Peppers and these Italian-inspired Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers to these Quinoa Turkey Mexican Stuffed Peppers. We have covered some ground!

I am back with another healthy stuffed pepper recipe because stuffed vegetables are the perfect comfort food meal when you want to eat healthy. Besides, family-approved vegetable-forward recipes are my jam! This turkey stuffed pepper recipe is classic-tasting but healthier because it is made with whole-grain brown rice and the lean goodness of ground turkey meat!

Ingredients For Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

the ingredients for the stuffed peppers with text labels for each one
  • Bell Peppers: For these ground turkey stuffed peppers we’ll use six medium to large peppers. While everyone can agree peppers are good for you, not everyone agrees on which color of pepper tastes best. And since not everyone loves green bell peppers you can choose any color you like or a blend of colors! Look for six that are relatively similar in size and seem like they can stand up on end.
  • Ground Turkey: The star of this recipe (besides the peppers) is our ground turkey instead of red meat. Look for lean turkey that is at least 90% lean. There is plenty of sauce to go around so you do not need any higher fat blends. 95% or 99% also works if you like the leanest available grind.
  • Cooked Brown Rice: To make this recipe super easy, we used packaged cooked brown rice. If you are not familiar with it, it comes in 2 cup pouches and is shelf stable and sold with rice in large supermarkets and grocery stores. These packages are designed to be microwaved, but you can use the rice in recipes just as you would leftover rice. Just make sure to break up the rice before you open the package. It will blend into the meat and sauce more easily if you break it up first. You can also use homemade cooked brown rice.
  • Tomato Sauce: Canned tomato sauce is perfect for the filling because of its thinner consistency (and inexpensive price.) The flavors blend as the rice absorbs the sauce. You can also use 2 cups of jarred pasta sauce or marinara sauce if you happen to have that on hand.
  • Seasonings and Kitchen Staples: You’ll need a little extra-virgin olive oil to cook the ground turkey for this healthy stuffed pepper recipe, but any cooking oil will do. For seasoning we used a blend of paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and black pepper.
  • Fresh Basil: The flavor of fresh basil really peps up the taste of the bell pepper filling.
  • Shredded Cheese: To finish off the turkey stuffed peppers I melted on some shredded cheese. I used the pre-shredded Italian Cheese blend or Pizza Cheese from the dairy case, but you can hand grate fontina which is an excellent melting cheese. You can also shave even more fat and calories from this dish by using a reduced fat cheese, though they do not melt as well.

How To Make Turkey Stuffed Peppers

I tested this recipe four times and after trial and error, I found they worked best and had the best texture if the hollowed-out bell peppers were baked first before adding the filling. This allows them to get nice and tender. Meanwhile, the easy turkey filling cooks in a skillet. Then they’re stuffed, topped with cheese and baked again.

prep the peppers and chop the tops then set them in a casserole dish (cut-side-down)

Step 1: Prep Peppers

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. To prep the peppers, first cut the tops off and discard stems and seeds. If they can’t stand up, you may need to trim a sliver off the bottom of the peppers. Next, finely dice the pepper tops which will go into the filling in step 3. 

Step 2: Precook Peppers in The Oven

Place the hollowed-out bell peppers, cut side down, in large baking dish. Add in about a quarter inch of water to keep them moist, then cover them with foil. Bake the baking dish of peppers until they’re tender, about 50 minutes. Once they are tender, remove the foil and drain away the liquid. Flip them over with tongs.

TO MICROWAVE: You can also do this step in the microwave (if your microwave is large enough to accommodate the baking dish.) Place them in the baking dish as directed but cover them with a layer of parchment and plastic wrap (instead of foil) and then microwave them on high for 5 minutes. Let them sit in the boiling hot water, covered for 10 minutes longer to continue softening.

the browned turkey filling with spices and diced peppers, and then with the sauce, rice and basil about to be stirred into it

Step 3: Make Ground Turkey Filling

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and diced pepper tops. Cook, breaking up with a spatula until the turkey is just crumbled into pieces. Sprinkle with paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook, crumbling the turkey with a wooden spoon until the turkey is no-longer pink and the pepper pieces are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. 

Step 4: Add Rice and Sauce To Stuffing Mixture

Stir in the cooked rice, tomato sauce and basil if using until thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat.

the peppers with the filling and the peppers being topped with cheese (before they're baked)

Step 5: Stuff Peppers with Turkey

When the peppers are done, reheat the turkey mixture, if necessary, until bubbling hot. Spoon turkey filling into the peppers (photo 5a) and top with cheese (photo 5b).

the peppers right after they come out of the oven and the cheese is melted on top

Step 6: Bake Stuffed Peppers with Cheese on Top

Bake uncovered until cheese is melted and the peppers are hot, 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, microwave on high until the peppers are hot all the way through and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

the stuffed peppers from overhead with melted cheese on top and basil garnish

Serving Suggestions For Healthy Stuffed Peppers

These healthy stuffed peppers go with all sorts of side dishes to make it a complete meal. Serve them as a lunch or dinner. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Variations on This Ground Turkey Stuffed Pepper Recipe

This healthy dinner recipe is versatile. You can mix up some of the ingredients to make it customized to your taste preferences.

  • Instead of brown rice, use white rice or another cooked grain of your choice. Quinoa or barley are great in stuffed peppers.
  • Try using half ground turkey and half turkey sausage for more flavor.
  • Use 2 teaspoons of ground cumin and 1 tablespoon chili powder instead of paprkia and oregano. Swap in fresh cilantro instead of basil. Sub in pepper jack cheese or another Mexican cheese instead of the Italian cheese.
  • Add extra veggies. Reserve the pepper tops for another use (like veggie quiche or veggie scrambled eggs) and add other diced veggies to the filling (such as zucchini or mushrooms.)
  • If you have fresh diced onion on hand, or minced garlic cloves, you can use them instead of the onion powder and garlic powder. Just add them in with the pepper tops in step 3 to soften them.
  • Adjust the seasoning to your preference. Add a little pinch of red pepper flakes for heat. Sub in Italian seasoning (instead of oregano) or come up with your own creative flavor profile!
  • Swap in 2 cups of cooked Cauliflower Rice in place of the brown rice to make this low carb.
  • The meted cheese on top can be any kind you like. If you happen to love cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese, try them. To make this dairy free use a vegan cheese on top.

Make Ahead, Leftovers, Storage and Reheating

Make Ahead: These are great as a make ahead meal. Follow the instructions through step 5 but omit the cheese on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Bake at 350 degrees F until they are heated through when tested with an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 35 minutes. Then remove the foil and add on the cheese to finish them.

Leftovers and Storage: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days. Keep the healthy stuffed pepeprs covered with plastic wrap or in a sealed container. Reheat them thoroughly until they are steaming hot before serving them.

Freezing: The peppers become watery and mushy when frozen so it is best to undercook the raw bell pepper in step 2 if you are planning to freeze them. Bake only 20 minutes or until they are just starting to soften. Then fill with the rice and turkey filling place in the casserole dish cover and freeze up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Then follow the reheating instructions below.

Reheating: These stuffed peppers reheat beautifully. Just place one on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 2 minutes 30 seconds on 50% power or until steaming hot all the way through. Alternatively, you can reheat in the oven at 350 (covered in foil) for 25 minutes. I like to add a little water in the bottom of the dish when I reheat them to keep the bottoms from burning to the baking dish.

closeup side view of the red, yellow and green stuffed peppers with cheese melted all over them

At Healthy Seasonal Recipes, we specialize in cooking with fresh veggies and creating weeknight meals. Sign up HERE to get more produce-forward dinner ideas for FREE! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought! Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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Healthy stuffed peppers with cheese on top and basil leaves garnishing from overhead in a white casserole dish

Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

These healthy stuffed bell peppers are made with ground turkey instead of beef, but are still hearty and classic tasting. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 large bell peppers, any color
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, leftover or purchased pre-cooked
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil, optional
  • 4 oz shredded Italian Cheese blend, fontina or Pizza cheese (1 cup)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut tops off bell peppers. Discard stems and scoop out seeds. Trim the bottom of the peppers if necessary so they can stand up. Finely dice the pepper tops. 
  2. Place peppers cut side down in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Add ¼ inch water to the bottom of the dish, cover with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake until the peppers are tender, about 50 minutes. {Alternatively cover with a layer of parchment and plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Let sit, covered, 10 minutes.} Remove cover and drain away liquid. Turn cut side up in the baking dish with tongs. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and diced pepper tops. Cook, breaking up with a spatula until the turkey is just crumbled into pieces. Sprinkle with paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook, crumbling the turkey with a wooden spoon until the turkey is no-longer pink and the pepper pieces are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. 
  4. Stir in rice, tomato sauce and basil if using until thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat.
  5. When the peppers are done, reheat the turkey filling, if necessary, until bubbling hot. Spoon turkey filling into the peppers and top with cheese.
  6. Bake uncovered until cheese is melted and the peppers are hot, 8 to 10 minutes. Alternatively microwave on high until the peppers are hot all the way through and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve hot. 

Notes

Meal Prep and Freeze Ahead Instructions: Follow the instructions through step 5 but omit the cheese on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze for one month. If frozen thaw in the refrigerator. Then bake at 350 degrees F until they are heated through when tested with an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 35 minutes. Then remove the foil and add on the cheese to finish them for another 10 minutes or so in the oven.

Leftovers and Storage: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator up to three days. Keep covered with plastic wrap or in a resealable container. Keep cold.

Reheating: To reheat place one on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 2 minutes 30 seconds on 50% power or until steaming hot all the way through. Alternatively, you can reheat in the oven at 350 (covered in foil) for 25 minutes. I like to add a little water to the casserole dish when I reheat them to keep the bottoms from burning to the baking dish.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 pepper
  • Calories: 345
  • Fat: 16 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 30 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 24 grams