How to Make Air-Fryer Stuffed Peppers
These air-fryer stuffed peppers are an easy alternative to the oven-baked version. They're just as delicious, but made in half the time!
Growing up, we ate my mom’s stuffed peppers pretty regularly. I remember enjoying the hearty dish on many winter nights, long after dark—but not before I waited the agonizing 50-ish minutes it took for them to bake. (And that’s not even including the time it took to prep the beefy filling!)
That’s why I was excited to find out that you can make air-fryer stuffed peppers in less than half the time it takes to bake them. Try this new way to prepare the beloved dish, with step-by-step images to guide you as you make stuffed peppers in the air fryer for the first time.
How to Make the Best Air-Fryer Stuffed Peppers
This recipe makes four stuffed pepper halves. Whether it serves two or four people is up to you!
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 small green pepper, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) tomato sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 cup uncooked instant rice
- 2 medium green peppers
- 1/2 pound Velveeta, cubed
- 1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
Step 1: Cook the beef, onion and spices
In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, chopped green pepper, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, then drain.
Step 2: Add tomatoes and simmer
Add water, tomatoes and tomato sauce to the beef mixture. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Add the rice
Stir in the rice and simmer, uncovered, for 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Cut the bell peppers in half
Preheat the air fryer to 325°F. While it’s heating up, cut the bell peppers in half vertically and remove all the seeds.
Step 5: Air fry the halved peppers
Place the halved peppers in a greased air fryer. Cook until almost tender, 4-5 minutes.
Test Kitchen Tip: The best way to grease the air fryer for this recipe is to use cooking spray. Give the bottom of your air fryer a generous spritz, and quickly mist the peppers so they’ll be perfectly charred. (This is one of my favorite air fryer tricks.)
Step 6: Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture
After the peppers have air-fried for a few minutes, take them out and stuff them with the meat and rice mixture.
Step 7: Air fry until heated through
Return the peppers to the air fryer. Cook until heated through and peppers are tender, 10-12 minutes.
Step 8: Make the cheese sauce
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, stir the Velveeta and the diced tomatoes until melted.
Step 9: Serve the cheese sauce over the peppers.
Plate your air-fryer stuffed peppers and drizzle with as much of the warm, melty cheese sauce as you like.
Tips for Making Air-Fryer Stuffed Peppers
How can I make air-fryer stuffed peppers my own?
This air-fryer stuffed peppers recipe is endlessly customizable:
- Swap out the meat: If you want even more flavor, you can use a mixture of pork and beef instead of just beef. If you want to make the recipe a bit lighter, go for ground chicken or turkey instead of ground beef. Keep in mind that your stuffed pepper mixture is prone to dry out more quickly than with beef.
- Switch up the rice: If you don’t have white instant rice, you can use brown instant rice instead. You can also try quinoa, canned black beans or even riced cauliflower.
- Add even more flavor: If you want to make your air-fryer stuffed peppers even cheesier, top with some shredded cheese during the last 5 minutes in the air fryer. For pizza air-fryer stuffed peppers, add diced pepperoni and olives. Otherwise, give your mixture a little kick with diced chiles.
- Use different colored bell peppers: Like other bell pepper recipes, this one works perfectly well with yellow, red or orange peppers instead of green—so feel free to choose your favorite color.
Can I make whole stuffed peppers?
Yes. Some air-fryer stuffed pepper recipes call for a whole bell pepper, instead of halves like ours does. We think stuffed pepper halves work best, but if you want larger portions, you can fill a whole pepper with the meat and rice mixture. Keep in mind that they’ll have an increased cooking time. When the filling mixture reaches 170°, it’s done–although it will likely take much more than 10-12 minutes to get there.
Before you choose to fill up whole peppers, make sure your air fryer can actually fit the height of a whole pepper first! If the whole peppers need help standing up in the air fryer, put them in ramekins to prevent them from falling over and spilling the beef and rice mixture in your air fryer basket.
How should I store air-fryer stuffed peppers?
If you have leftovers, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. When you’re hungry again, toss them back in the air fryer for a few minutes until they’re warmed through.
Can I freeze air-fryer stuffed peppers?
Yes! If you want to prep stuffed peppers for future freezer meals, complete the recipe through step 5 by air frying the empty bell pepper halves for 4-5 minutes. Fill them with the meat mixture, and then put them on a wax paper-lined tray in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, you can move them to a freezer bag or another sealed container for up to 4 months. When you’re ready to eat them, thaw them in the fridge overnight and cook as directed in step 7. Keep in mind that the stuffed peppers may take extra time to heat through. When they hit 170°, they’re ready to eat.