Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

BY : PUBLISHED : April 25th, 2022

These baked or air fryer meatless quinoa stuffed peppers are packed with flavor, fiber, and plant-based protein, for a hearty vegan appetizer or main. Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, plus they're meal prep and freezer friendly!

completed Quinoa Stuffed Peppers in a baking tray

Hearty and Delicious Vegan Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed veggies like stuffed tomatoes and these quinoa stuffed peppers are a dream for anyone eating plant-based on a budget. They’re packed with flavor and tons of nutrients but made entirely from pantry and crisper drawer good-for-you ingredients. They’re super versatile, too, meaning you can mix and match ingredients to what you have on hand!

These vegan stuffed peppers are Mexican/Spanish inspired with a hearty tomato, mushroom, and salsa flavored quinoa filling. The salsa helps you avoid a ton of chopping while packing in heaps of flavor (cooking shortcuts for the win!). While simple, this 8-ingredient recipe packs in flavor and can easily be boosted with extra veggies, beans, and even tofu or other plant-based proteins.

Best of all, these meatless stuffed peppers are flavorful enough to impress meat-eaters and vegans alike. If you have any leftovers, they store wonderfully in the fridge or freezer! With low effort prep and an incredibly adaptable recipe, these hearty, filling baked or air fryer stuffed peppers with quinoa are ready to become a new family favorite!

Want to enjoy more stuffed veggies? Why not try Southwest stuffed bell peppers, pesto stuffed sweet peppers, chili cheese stuffed spaghetti squash, or stuffed mushrooms.

The Ingredients

This quinoa stuffed peppers recipe requires just 8 ingredients, plus salt and pepper.

  • Bell peppers: Use large bell peppers for plenty of space to stuff them. We used red, but any color will work.
  • Quinoa: Use white or tri-color quinoa. Make it fresh or use day-old leftovers.
  • Aromatics: Garlic and onion will pack in tons of flavor. Powdered versions will work in a pinch.
  • Mushrooms: Use white or brown mushrooms. The latter have more flavor but usually cost a little extra.
  • Oil: Any neutral oil will work, like olive oil or avocado oil. For extra richness, use vegan butter.
  • Diced tomatoes: We use canned tomatoes. Feel free to use fresh tomatoes during the tomato season.
  • Red salsa: Use any red salsa at any heat level. i.e., this roasted red salsa, tomatillo salsa, or Pico de Gallo, etc.
  • Salt & Black pepper: Added to taste.
ingredients for Quinoa Stuffed Peppers measured out on white surface

What else could I add?

There are plenty of ways to adapt this versatile meatless stuffed peppers recipe, including:

  • Spice: If you want even more heat than your salsa provides, add in a pinch of chili powder, cayenne powder, or red pepper flakes.
  • Beans: For extra fiber and protein, add a can of drained and rinsed beans. White beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, etc. Here are more canned bean recipes to try!
  • Protein: You could mix into tofu ‘minced beef,’ soy curls, or another minced beef alternative in the vegan stuffed peppers. Cook it before combining it with the stuffing.
  • Other vegetables: These meatless stuffed peppers are perfect for clearing out the crisper drawer. Corn, zucchini, spinach/kale, broccoli, peas, artichoke hearts, etc., would work in the filling.
  • Spices: You could also boost the flavor in the stuffing with the addition of smoked paprika, cumin, taco seasoning, etc. Added to taste.
  • Vegan cheese: You could add nutritional yeast to add a nutty, 'cheesy' flavor to the quinoa stuffing. You could also top the quinoa stuffed bell peppers with vegan crumbled feta or a vegan cheese sauce.
  • Nuts/Seeds: Lightly toasted pine nuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, cashews, etc., could be sprinkled over the quinoa stuffed peppers to add crunch and extra nutrients. Check out this Roasted Salt & Pepper Pumpkin Seeds recipe.
  • Lemon juice: Add a splash of lemon juice over the stuffed peppers with quinoa when serving.
  • Parsley or cilantro: To garnish.

How to Make Quinoa Stuffed Peppers?

While it may seem that there are many steps for these Mexican-inspired stuffed bell peppers with quinoa, the prep is all super simple and low-fuss.

  • 1) First, you’ll need to cook the quinoa. Follow our instructions here on how to cook quinoa on the stove or in an Instant Pot, meanwhile:
  • 2) Chop the bell peppers in half and remove the ribs and seeds. Then steam them for 5-10 minutes to gently soften (or boil them for 4-5 minutes). Once finished, place them in a 9x12-inch baking dish and preheat the oven to 325F/165C.

You can lightly oil/grease the pan to avoid sticking if preferred.

  • 3) Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, slice the mushrooms, and mince the garlic. Drain the juice from the canned chopped tomatoes, keeping it to one side.
  • 4) Then heat a large skillet over medium heat with the oil/vegan butter.
  • 5) Once hot, add the onion and mushrooms and sauté them until slightly browned.
process shot of mushrooms and onions in a black pot
  • 6) Add the drained diced tomatoes, salsa, and garlic, stir well, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
process shot of salsa and garlic cloves added to black pot
  • 7) When the quinoa has finished cooking, set it to one side until the above tomato veg mixture is ready. Then fold the cooked quinoa into the pan.
  • 8) Scoop the mixture into the bell pepper halves. This should use around ¾ of it. Next, mix the remaining filling with the drained tomato juice, and then pour it around and on top of the stuffed bell peppers.

Alternatively, you can save this leftover mixture in the fridge to enjoy it with another meal.

  • 9) Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until tender and bubbly. Enjoy!
completed Quinoa Stuffed Peppers in a baking tray

Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers

When cooking stuffed peppers in an air fryer, it’s better to do it as whole peppers rather than halves (for space).

  1. Keeping the peppers whole, follow steps 1 through 7 above. Then fill the peppers to the top and drizzle inside with a spoonful of the leftover tomato juice.
  2. Transfer them to your air fryer basket (spray it with a bit of oil first), ensuring they aren’t touching. Most air fryers will allow you to cook four of these meatless quinoa stuffed peppers at a time.
  3. Air fry at 360F/180C for 12-14 minutes until tender. Enjoy your air fryer stuffed peppers!

FAQs

Can I substitute the quinoa?

You could also try brown rice or wild rice, couscous, orzo, farro, etc. For a lower-carb option, you could use cauliflower rice.

Can I bake whole stuffed peppers?

You may need to add an extra few minutes to the baking time for whole quinoa stuffed bell peppers.

Do I need to steam the peppers first?

Technically, no. However, we’ve tried these quinoa stuffed peppers with and without this step, and we prefer the more melt-in-the-mouth tenderness you achieve after steaming them. We’ve also found that pre-cooking the peppers helps avoid them becoming soggy. Experiment without this step if preferred, though.

Could I substitute the peppers?

You can stuff several vegetables, including large tomatoes, eggplant, and even zucchini. However, the methods will vary.

Tomatoes: Slice the top off and scoop out the middle (add it to the quinoa stuffing). There’s no need to pre-cook them.
Eggplant: Slice the eggplant in half, score and salt, then bake until tender. Scoop out the middle (add to the stuffing), then fill and bake.
Zucchini: Use small zucchinis and core the center (chop it up and add to the filling). Then stuff with the quinoa filling and bake.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • To enhance the quinoa flavor: Lightly toast it in the pan/skillet until fragrant before cooking it. Also, cook it in vegetable broth rather than salted water.
  • If a pepper won’t lie flat: Use a sharp knife to slice off a very small piece from the bottom to help it stand upright.
  • For smokier bell peppers: Slightly char the peppers under the broiler before stuffing them.
  • Experiment with the filling: The stuffing is super versatile. Experiment with different veggies, seasonings, and even grains, depending on what you have in your pantry and fridge.
completed Quinoa Stuffed Peppers in a baking tray

How to Make Ahead and Store?

You can cook the quinoa filling up to 2 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Then, add it to the peppers and bake when ready.

Once baked, allow the quinoa stuffed peppers to cool, then store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

We recommend reheating the meatless stuffed peppers in a microwave for 2-3 minutes or in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350F/180C.

Can you freeze stuffed peppers?

Freezing stuffed peppers is incredibly simple. First, allow them to cool entirely, then wrap them individually in foil or plastic wrap. Flash freeze, then transfer to a large Ziplock/Stasher bag.

Freeze for up to 3 months. Then, allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight before enjoying chilled or reheating.

completed Quinoa Stuffed Peppers in a baking tray

How to Serve?

Stuffed peppers with quinoa are a hearty meal alone. However, there are several side dishes you could choose from, including:

More Vegan Quinoa Recipes

Or browse through our entire list of budget-friendly vegan quinoa recipes!

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Quinoa Stuffed Peppers in a baking tray

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Miranda Rivera
These baked or air fryer meatless quinoa stuffed peppers are packed with flavor, fiber, and plant-based protein, for a hearty vegan appetizer or main. Grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, plus they're meal prep and freezer friendly!
5 from 34 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 367 kcal
METHOD Oven
DIET Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large red bell peppers sliced in half lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 cup of quinoa rinsed
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil or vegan butter
  • 28 ounces of diced tomatoes reserve juice
  • 12 ounces of red salsa
  • 2 garlic cloves pressed

Instructions
 

  • Steam bell pepper halves. Once finished, place in a 9x12' baking dish. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, and simmer for minutes.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onions and mushrooms in oil or vegan butter until slightly browned over medium heat in a skillet. Add drained diced tomatoes, salsa, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  • When quinoa is finished, remove from heat and let sit until the tomato mixture is finished. Fold quinoa into mushroom and tomato mixture. Fill bell pepper halves. You will end up using about half or three-quarters of the mixture.
  • With whatever mixture you have left, add to reserved tomato juice to thin, and pour around and on top of peppers in the baking dish. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

Notes

  • To enhance the quinoa flavor: Lightly toast it in the pan/skillet until fragrant before cooking it. Also, cook it in vegetable broth rather than salted water.
  • If a pepper won’t lie flat: Use a sharp knife to slice off a very piece from the bottom to help it stand upright.
  • For smokier bell peppers: Slightly char the peppers under the broiler before stuffing them.

Nutrition

Calories: 367kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 13gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 1260mgPotassium: 1295mgFiber: 11gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 5782IUVitamin C: 232mgCalcium: 132mgIron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedonaBudget! 🙂

About Miranda Rivera

Cooking vegan meals brings such excitement and richness to my life! The simple things in life are so beautiful to me. I love meeting new people. Welcome to my plant-based journey!

View all posts by Miranda Rivera

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Michelle says

    5 stars
    Excited to add these to my lineup of recipes!

  2. Teodora says

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Everyone in the house loved it!

    • Andrea White says

      So glad to hear that! Love a good stuffed recipe!

  3. Amanda says

    5 stars
    Yum, these look so good!

    • Andrea White says

      So filling and delicious!

  4. Jacqui says

    5 stars
    The perfect week night dinner - these were so good!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! Such a flavorful and nutritious way to end the day!

  5. nancy says

    5 stars
    i made these for dinner tonight and I'm thinking of making it again for tomorrow

    • Andrea White says

      Nice!!! They're the best. So glad you're enjoying them 🙂

  6. Cindy says

    5 stars
    Incredibly delicious and I love how nutritious they are, too!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! Packed with flavor and yummy nutrients!

  7. Janaye says

    5 stars
    These stuffed peppers look soo good! Love the flavours in it!

    • Andrea White says

      Love a good stuffed recipe too! So filling!

  8. Gina H. says

    5 stars
    So yummy! This is a favorite family dish!

    • Andrea White says

      It's an easy one to be loved by everyone!

  9. Tina says

    5 stars
    Love this take on stuffed peppers! Sounds like a great weekend dinner to me!

    • Andrea White says

      Right?! So delicious and packed with nutrition!

  10. nancy says

    5 stars
    perfect veggie meal that is filling and super tasty!

    • Andrea White says

      Yes! So wholesome and tasty!

  11. Andrea White says

    Love how flavorful these stuffed peppers are!

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