Unstuffed Pepper Skillet

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This Unstuffed Pepper Skillet has all the taste of classic stuffed peppers in a one pan, easy to make recipe. This hearty recipe is nutritious, filling, and tastes amazing.

349 CAL 28g CARBS 15g FAT 28g PROTEIN
1 Comment

This easy deconstructed stuffed pepper skillet is a simple, healthy recipe with tons of flavor. After all, what could be better than flavorful quinoa mixed with chopped peppers, ground beef, and turkey sausage.

Plus, this version of classic stuffed peppers can be on the table in just 45 minutes - it’s much quicker to make than actual stuffed peppers!

So, why deconstruct the stuffed peppers? Well, it actually speeds up cook time for one. You can still get all of the peppery goodness by adding diced peppers instead!

This makes this recipe a simple, one-pan meal with none of the fiddly (and messy) stuffing part but all of the health benefits and flavors. We also love this Tex Mex Turkey Taco Skillet for a one-pan meal.

This take on stuffed peppers is just bursting with flavor, too! There’s plenty of onion, garlic, turkey sausage, oregano, red pepper flakes - and even a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to balance the sweetness of the peppers.

Plus, of course, plenty of parmesan cheese and marinara sauce to stop things drying out. Hungry yet? You should be! 

Unstuffed pepper casserole on tow plates with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

What do I need to make unstuffed peppers?

While it may look like a lot of ingredients on the surface, chances are that you already have most of them - and you can easily buy the ones that you don’t as they’re all common (and cheap)!

You’ll need:

  • Olive oil - you could use another cooking oil, but I absolutely love the flavor and health benefits of olive oil
  • Onion - to start building and layering flavor into the dish
  • Lean ground beef - to add plenty of protein without too much fat. You can also swap in lean ground turkey, chicken, pork, or vegetarian ground meat.
  • Turkey sausage -  for extra flavor in the protein. You could use extra ground beef instead here, but I absolutely love the flavor that turkey sausage brings to the dish. This is about one link of turkey or chicken sausage. Make sure to choose uncooked ground or linked sausage. Just remove the linked sausage from the case.
  • Bell peppers - red ones are my personal favorite, but any color works well here. After all, you can’t have a stuffed pepper skillet without peppers!
  • Garlic - again, to keep layering up subtle flavors so that the finished dish has really deep flavor instead of just being a bit bland!
  • Dried oregano - you could use an Italian herb blend here, but I personally love oregano and the flavor that it brings to the table. It matches perfectly with the peppers and marinara sauce (which is further down on this list)
  • Red pepper flakes - these are sometimes labeled as chili flakes. If you prefer to keep things super mild then you can reduce them - or increase them if you like your food extra spicy!
  • Quinoa - it’s important to add the dry, uncooked quinoa here instead of quinoa that you’ve already cooked. Otherwise, your quinoa will overcook as it simmers in the water and marinara sauce, and you’ll end up with mush instead of perfectly fluffy quinoa.
  • Marinara sauce - both to be absorbed by the quinoa and to stop the skillet from drying out. After all, all of the best stuffed peppers are saucy!
  • Balsamic vinegar - This adds some acidity to the marinara sauce, which can end up being too sweet if you skip this. It’s important to add acidity to your food in order to balance the flavors properly and bring out the best in your ingredients.
  • Parmesan cheese - this adds a little more salt to the dish, as well as a perfectly gooey, melty topping to the skillet. After all, it’s not a stuffed pepper unless it’s topped with plenty of cheese!
  • Fresh parsley - to garnish, strictly optional! Fresh basil is also a delicious addition.

See? Chances are that you have all of that already, and if you don’t then it’s time to add it to your shopping list! I can promise you that it’ll only take one taste of this simple stuffed pepper skillet to get you hooked - you’ll be making it regularly!

For measurements of each ingredient, please scroll down to the recipe card below.

Why is there quinoa instead of rice in this recipe?

Most stuffed pepper recipes use rice instead of quinoa. Personally, I prefer to use quinoa as it’s higher in protein so can even be a good substitute for meat too!

This recipe includes both meat and quinoa, but the meat content is less than 1 lb because it simply isn’t necessary here. Quinoa is also high in other nutrients including magnesium, iron, and B vitamins. It contains more fiber than white rice, too.

However, the main reason I use quinoa in this recipe is that it cooks faster than rice and can cook in the skillet alongside the other ingredients - making this a one-pot meal!

Lower Carb or Lower Calorie Substitutions

To make this dish lower in carbs, you can omit the water (and simmering) and stir in cauliflower rice instead. Allow it to cook in the skillet to taste - some people prefer it softer than others, so it’s important that you adapt the method to suit your own preferences.

You could even use zucchini noodles chopped into short pieces in place of quinoa or cauliflower rice here - the texture may not be the same, but the final result will still be delicious! It would turn out almost like a Mexican spaghetti bolognese - which sounds pretty tasty to me!

You can use ground chicken or turkey instead of ground beef as a lower-calorie alternative, but providing you use the leanest ground beef available, this may not make a massive difference to the final calorie count.

How do I make this simple dinner recipe?

This recipe really is ridiculously easy! In only 5 steps and 45 minutes total (around half of which is just leaving it alone to simmer) you can have this delicious dinner done.

  1. Heat your large skillet up and add oil. Cook the onion until soft.
  2. Add the sausage and beef and cook until browned (there should be no pink bits remaining)
  3. Add the chopped peppers, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Add the quinoa and mix it through, then add water.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and cook until the quinoa is cooked through.
  5. Stir in the marinara sauce and balsamic. Top with parmesan and cover to let it melt. Serve immediately.

For the full details of how to make this recipe, please scroll down to the recipe card.

Stuffed peppers and ground beef with quinoa in a cast iron skillet with Parmesan cheese on top.

What should I serve with these unstuffed peppers?

Personally, I actually serve this dish alone most of the time as it has quite a lot of vegetables and the quinoa and meat help to keep you full for plenty of time. However, if I was going to serve anything with this skillet dinner then it would be a simple kale caesar salad or a quick green salad with some balsamic vinaigrette.

You could also serve some homemade baked tortilla chips on the side and use the unstuffed peppers as a sort of nacho-style topping for them! It’s a brilliant way to enjoy a healthy, balanced version of nachos for a dinner that you don’t need to feel guilty about!

What should I do with the leftover stuffed pepper skillet?

This recipe serves 4-6 people, so there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll have leftovers - especially if you’re feeding a smaller group!

How to Store Leftovers

You can store the cooked stuffed pepper skillet in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or, you can freeze it for up to 4 months.

I usually reheat mine in the microwave. Defrost first (ideally overnight in the fridge) and then microwave until piping hot throughout. You may need to add a little water or marinara sauce to prevent it from drying out as the quinoa will absorb more liquid as it reheats.

More Stuffed Pepper Recipes

The Recipe
Unstuffed pepper skillet with ground beef, turkey sausage, quinoa, and bel peppers in a cast iron skillet topped with Parmesan cheese.

Unstuffed Pepper Skillet

349 CAL 28g CARBS 15g FAT 28g PROTEIN
1 Comment
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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 lb lean ground turkey sausage (or 1 link, removed from casing)
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (any color)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley (for garnish, or basil)

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Heat a large (10-12”) skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes.

Ground beef, turkey sausage, and onions cooked in a skillet.

Add the peppers, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Stir to combine. Add the quinoa and stir once more. Add water to the skillet. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer covered until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Cooked ground beef with diced bell peppers, onions, quinoa, and spices in a skillet.

When quinoa is done, remove the lid and stir in marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar. Top with the parmesan. Turn heat to low and cover skillet. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

Marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar in a skillet with ingredients for unstuffed peppers.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 349
Calories from Fat 106
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
Saturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 67mg
Sodium 1307mg
Total Carbohydrate 28g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 7g
Protein 28g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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1 Comment
On Unstuffed Pepper Skillet
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October 23, 2023 - 16:26
Add a Rating:
This is the best unstuffed pepper skillet recipe I’ve made. I did add a can of diced tomatoes, and additional vinegar and marinara. The vinegar really notches up the flavor.
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