Looking for a tried and true keto stuffed peppers recipe? You’re in luck. Making stuffed bell peppers without rice, breadcrumbs, or starchy fillers automatically lowers the high carb count found in traditional recipes, helping to make the meal keto-friendly. The Italian-style flavors are a time-tested favorite, delivering perfectly seasoned meat and ooey-gooey melted cheese every time.
The dish is easy to whip up, and you can even make it ahead of time. The recipe delivers delicious keto comfort food that provides a satisfying family dinner, lunch leftovers, or meal prep solution. It’s also incredibly versatile so that you can switch up the ingredients for a variety of exciting new flavor combos.
Keto stuffed bell peppers are a great way to add colorful, healthy vegetables to your diet. Non-starchy keto vegetables like bell peppers contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber necessary for well-balanced nutrition. Even the pickiest of eaters will love this recipe!
- Bell peppers (green, red, orange, or yellow)
- Ground beef
- Tomato paste
- Italian seasoning
- Cauliflower rice
- Mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil (optional)
Bell peppers: You can make keto-friendly stuffed peppers with any color or combination of peppers you choose. Green bell peppers are the lowest in carbs, so that’s always a popular choice for the keto crowd. Still, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers can be suitable options if your macros allow–they have a natural sweetness to them, while the green peppers tend to be slightly bitter.
Tomato paste: A small amount of tomato paste diluted with water delivers a strong tomato flavor without the added sugars found in commercial sauces or extra carbs from the whole fruit, helping keep the carbs low. You can certainly use fresh or canned diced tomatoes and their juices. Just know the final carb count will be slightly higher.
Cauliflower rice: Instead of using rice, finely chopped cauliflower gives a similar texture to the grain-based recipes. Use fresh or frozen riced cauliflower to make stuffed bell peppers without rice, or choose a different low-carb veggie.
Cheese: Using cubed cheese leaves epic pockets of melty cheese. However, you can top the stuffed peppers with grated cheese or slices if you prefer. Mozzarella or mild cheddar cheeses are fantastic for melting. If you have dairy-related dietary restrictions, leave the cheese out for a dairy-free version of the dish.
👩🍳 How to Make
Preparing the bell peppers
To prepare the bell peppers, slice the stemmed tops off. Scoop the seeds and ribs out and discard, leaving hollow bell pepper shells. Alternatively, you can cut the peppers in half lengthwise to make smaller portions.
To ensure the peppers end up tender enough to pierce with a fork, they need to be cooked briefly before stuffing. A microwave comes in handy to keep this step quick. Fill a deep microwave-safe dish with ½-inch of water and place the peppers hollow-side down. Microwave for 5-6 minutes.
If you don’t have access to a microwave, pre-bake peppers cut-side down in an oven at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes. If grilling, you can opt to pre-grill the peppers on an oiled grill over medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes.
You can stuff the bell peppers without cooking them first, but they tend to retain their crunchy texture.
Preparing the filling
The meat mixture filling comes together on the stovetop, but the peppers are baked or grilled after stuffing.
To make the filling, brown ground beef in a pan over medium heat, breaking it down into smaller pieces as it cooks. Discard excess fat that cooks off.
Add onion to the pan and cook until soft. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant. Mix in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, pepper, salt, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then drop to a simmer until water cooks off and a thicker sauce develops. Remove pan from heat and stir in riced cauliflower.
Allow the meat mixture to cool, then mix in cubed cheese. Fill the bell pepper shells with the meat and cheese mixture, about ¼-cup each, then place them upright in a casserole dish (for oven) or cast-iron skillet (for the grill).
Bake in a preheated oven covered in foil at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes or grill over indirect heat at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the bell peppers are fork-tender and the cheese has melted. Garnish with fresh basil and enjoy!
🗓️ Make Ahead Tips
The filling mixture can be prepared in advance and stored refrigerated in an airtight container but cut bell peppers only stay fresh for 2-3 days. If making the recipe ahead, plan to cook and eat within the 2-3 day time frame.
Stuff the peppers and store refrigerated until the day you plan to bake or grill them. Take the peppers out of the fridge and allow them to warm to room temperature before baking or grilling.
🍽️ Recipe Adaptations
The possibilities are endless when it comes to ingredient swaps and variations on the recipe. Here are some suggestions to experiment with!
Flavors: Instead of Italian-style flavors, consider using keto taco meat for a Mexican-style stuffed pepper.
Breakfast: Crack an egg in it for breakfast stuffed peppers.
Meat: Instead of ground beef, consider using different ground meats, like pork or chicken. Shredded beef, chicken, or pulled pork would all be fantastic. Mini meatloaf peppers are another fun idea to consider!
Rice: Cauliflower is used to make stuffed peppers without rice, but other veggies would fit the bill. Chopped zucchini, mushrooms, or eggplant would make a tasty substitute or addition to the dish. Riced cabbage, broccoli, or parsnip would also be keto-friendly. Konjac-based shirataki rice is high in fiber and low in carbs, making it a suitable swap for keto recipes like this.
📦 Storage and Freezing
You can store leftover stuffed peppers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 to 5 days.
The peppers can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Consider storing peppers in batches for family meals or freezing peppers individually for single-serving meals.
🥗 Nutrition Information
The final nutrition information will vary based on the type and size of bell peppers you choose and, of course, ingredient variation. The recipe uses medium-sized peppers, about 2 ½ inch diameter x 2 ¾ inch length, weighing approximately 119 grams.
A serving size for this recipe is one topless stuffed pepper or two stuffed halves. Use whichever option is best to fit your macros and goals for the day.
The carbs in keto stuffed peppers are listed from least to greatest:
Stuffed green bell peppers: 9.2g total carbs and only 6.3g net carbs per serving.
Stuffed red bell peppers: 16.3g total carbs and 10.8g net carbs per serving.
Stuffed yellow bell peppers: 16.7g total carbs and 12.6g net carbs per serving.
The nutrition label in the interactive recipe card below represents the data for green bell peppers.
In addition to being low in carbs, the recipe is also a tremendous source of micronutrients, especially vitamin C! The ingredients provide B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc. Keto can be delicious and nutritious!
Yes, bell peppers are low in carbohydrates and suitable for a ketogenic diet.
The carbs are often too high to work for a keto diet in recipes that use rice, breadcrumbs, and other high-carb ingredients. However, carbs in stuffed peppers without rice are much lower, only 6.3g net carbs per serving when using green peppers.
Green bell peppers are lowest in carbs.
You can blanch or quickly boil the peppers if you prefer instead of microwaving, pre-baking, or pre-grilling. To do this, place the peppers in boiling water for up to 2 minutes, then set them in an ice bath to prevent overcooking. The goal of the pre-cook is to shorten the total time the peppers take to become tender, so the filling doesn’t dry out.
Green bell peppers have 2.9g net carbs per 100g. [4.6g total carbs - 1.7g fiber = 2.9g net carbs]
Red bell peppers have 3.9g net carbs per 100g. [6.0g total carbs - 2.1g fiber = 3.9g net carbs]
Yellow bell peppers have 6.2g net carbs per 100g. [6.3g total carbs - 0.9g fiber = 6.2g net carbs]
Low-carb vegetables make excellent rice substitutes in stuffed peppers. Cauliflower rice, hearts of palm, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, or parsnip are just a few ideas. Fibrous shirataki rice made with konjac flour is also an acceptable replacement.
- 6 bell peppers medium, green, red, or yellow
- 1 ½ lbs ground beef
- ½ onion medium, diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup cauliflower rice fresh or frozen
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese cubed (plus optional: grated or sliced topping)
- 1 tsp fresh basil chopped, to garnish
Bell pepper preparation
- Slice the stemmed tops off of each bell pepper. As an alternative, halve the peppers lengthwise to make smaller portions. Hollow the bell peppers by scooping out the seeds and ribs. Discard the seeds and ribs, and store tops for use in other meals.
- Pre-cook peppers using a microwave for the quickest option. Place peppers cut side down in a deep, microwave-safe dish. Fill the bottom of the container with ½-inch of water. Microwave for 5-6 minutes. Note: other pre-cook options include blanching, baking, or grilling and may require cook time adjustment for the final dish. To blanch, boil peppers for 2 minutes and place in an ice bath. In the oven, place cut-side down in a casserole dish with the bottom covered in water and top with foil; bake for 20 minutes at 425F. For the grill, place directly on oiled grates over medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- If baking, preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare the grill if grilling.
- Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat and break it down into smaller pieces as it cooks. Discard the excess fat and moisture that cooks off.
- Add onion to the pan and cook until soft. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, Italian seasoning, peppers, salt, and water to the pan and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then drop to a simmer until water cooks off. Remove the pan from heat to allow the mixture to cool.
- Stir in cauliflower rice. When the mixture has cooled, add in cheese cubes and mix well.
- Fill the bell pepper shells with the meat and cheese mixture, about ¼ cup each. Place the peppers cut-side up in a casserole dish for baking or cast-iron pan for grilling.
- Cover casserole dish in foil and place in preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 425F, or until the peppers are tender enough to pierce with a fork. If grilling, place the cast-iron pan on the grill over indirect heat and cook for 30-40 minutes.
- Top the cooked peppers with fresh basil to serve.
Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published cookbook author.