Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers is my family’s Ukrainian recipe made with ground beef or turkey, rice, and simple seasonings then cooked in an array of beautifully coloured bell peppers topped with zesty tomato sauce. Served with their juices, sour cream, and rye bread, this flavourful and healthy meal is the easiest one-pot meal complete and ready in 1 hour!

Sharing recipes I love that have been influenced by my experiences growing up in Ukraine is one of the best things I love about running a blog! If you’re interested in learning more about Ukrainian dishes, start with these Ukrainian baked chicken thighs, breakfast potatoes, and vinegar based coleslaw. All simple, delicious, and made with extra love!

instant pot stuffed pepper with greek yogurt on top

Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers Recipe

My mom and grandma made ground chicken stuffed peppers non-stop from September to October during the bell pepper season while I was growing up. These days, I make them twice as fast, anytime I want throughout the year which makes me appreciate my mom and grandma (and pressure cooker) even more.

I love exploring modern-day twists on old-fashioned recipes exactly the way I’ve done with Instant Pot cabbage rolls and lazy cabbage rolls.

These juicy peppers are filled to the brim with seasoned tender meat and rice and topped with rich tomato sauce then served with cool creamy yogurt or sour cream. The flavourful combination of tomato sauce and tangy yogurt or sour cream is delicious. Every irresistibly delicious pepper comes complete with a vegetable, grain, and protein making it healthy and comforting.

This recipe is easier than traditional recipes because you don’t have to cook the meat ahead of time. You can use pre-cooked rice, or cook it right in the Instant Pot which makes this truly a one-pot meal. The only thing that might be even easier is Instant Pot stuffed pepper soup which is a shortcut version to the original stuffed pepper soup.

It’s a great weeknight meal that you can pull off in under 1 hour, and it makes up to 8 or 9 peppers depending on the size of your pot. This easily serves a crowd and what doesn’t get eaten will make amazing leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

Before making these pressure cooker stuffed peppers, I asked mom what she used to add to her peppers. She laughed and said, “Salt, pepper, and fried onion. We had no other spices.” So here you go, a flavour enhanced, yet simplified, version of my mom’s stuffed peppers in Instant Pot. Enjoy!

Why Stuffed Peppers Instant Pot Recipe Works?

  • It’s got the traditional flavours and feel of this classic comfort dish but with modern conveniences of fast and easy!
  • It’s super yummy, filling, and healthy made with real whole ingredients.
  • A gluten-free complete meal all in one dish.
  • One-pot meals make for easy clean up which is great for busy families on the go!
  • Can easily serve a crowd but the recipe can also be cut in half for a smaller meal.
  • Makes great leftovers, and truth be told, they’re just as good cold!
  • A great money saving meal as most ingredients are in your budget or in your pantry.
  • It’s similar to my Mexican stuffed peppers recipe, which is another family favourite!
Instant Pot Stuffed Pepper cut in half and served with yogurt and pepper

Ingredients for Pressure Cooker Stuffed Peppers

  • Bell peppers: Red, orange and yellow peppers are sweeter, green is more bitter (which I love). Pick large and straight bell peppers, firm to the touch and without soft spots.
  • Ground meat: Ground beef, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb works. Poultry is leaner, so we add a few tablespoons of oil.
  • Rice: White or brown rice works, just different cook times as we have to pre-cook the rice. If you have leftover rice, you can use that.
  • Tomato sauce: Low sodium canned tomato sauce.
  • Onion and simple seasonings: Yellow or white onion. Dried thyme, oregano and basil. Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
stuffed peppers for instant pot

How to Make Stuffed Peppers in Instant Pot

  • Pre-cook rice: Cook 3/4 cup rice with 3/4 cup cold water in Instant Pot while you are prepping peppers. Natural release pressure for 10 mins.
  • Prep peppers: Wash the peppers and then cut the tops off with a paring knife as close to the tail part as possible. Then scoop out seeds with a tablespoon.
  • Make stuffing: Combine pre-cooked rice, ground meat, minced onion, dried oregano, thyme and basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands well.
  • Stuff peppers: Divide stuffing evenly among the hollowed out peppers. They will be pretty full and it is fine as mixture will not double in size.
  • Arrange stuffed peppers in Instant Pot: Add stock, trivet and peppers in layers. 8 quart will fit all 8-9 peppers. For 6 quart, cook in 2 batches or cut recipe in half. Top each pepper generously with tomato sauce on each layer.
  • Pressure cook: Close the lid, set vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook stuffed peppers on High or Manual for 10 minutes. Once cook time is over, you can release pressure using quick release or let it subside on its own. Open the lid and your stuffed peppers are ready to be served.

TIP: White rice and brown rice have totally different cook times. White rice needs just 3 minutes and brown rice needs 22.

Tips for Best Stuffed Peppers

  • You can replace rice with uncooked quinoa: The cook time for the pressure cooker stuffed peppers will change to 15 minutes in an 8 quart pot and 20 minutes in a 6 quart Instant Pot, respectively.
  • If using ground turkey: Add a few tablespoons of oil to add moisture as turkey is pretty dry on its own.
  • Dried herbs: Any Italian seasoning blend or a combination of dried herbs will work.
  • 3 quart Instant Pot: It should fit 4 large peppers. Cut recipe for pressure cooker stuffed peppers in half and keep same cooking time.
  • Stacking peppers is fine: There is enough space between peppers for pressure to build up.
  • Choose peppers carefully: I find often when buying a pack of 6 peppers, there is a bad one hiding behind the print on the bag. Touch them and check closely. They should be smooth, no wrinkling, and firm to the touch.
  • Add some cheese: If you would like a bit of melted cheese on your Instant Pot stuffed bell peppers, sprinkle a little on top before serving and let the residual heat melt it. Mozzarella, cheddar, provolone or parmesan are great choices.

Tip: Use a combination of colours if you’d like. All bell peppers are the same, but the colour determines at one point it was taken off the vine. The longer it stays, the riper and sweeter it gets. Green is harvested first, which is why they are much more bitter than their sweeter red counterpart. Orange and yellow are in the middle.

FAQs

Can I skip pre-cooking the rice?

No. I wouldn’t recommend it because once mixed with meat it will be undercooked and peppers and meat overcooked. There is also not enough liquid within the meat mixture to cook the rice completely. I have heard some readers used uncooked instant brown rice but I haven’t tried.

How many peppers can I fit in the Instant Pot?

I have an 8 quart Instant Pot and it’s large enough to cook all 8-9 peppers at once. If yours is a 6 quart pot, cook in 2 batches or cut the recipe in half.

Can I make these stuffed peppers in the oven?

You can! We can take it back to the basics and use the oven. You’ll need a little extra time for the meat to cook through, so you’ll be baking it for 1 hour at which point the peppers will be nice and tender.

As part of my favorite summer Instant Pot recipes, though, using the pressure cooker is a great way to skip heating up the house!

What about a slow cooker, can I use that for stuffed peppers?

This recipe is completely versatile, so by all means use whichever method you prefer. If you don’t yet have an Instant Pot (get one!), you can use a slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours or high for about 3-4 hours.

Can these Instant Pot stuffed bell peppers be made vegetarian?

Yes! You can replace the meat by using finely diced sautéed mushrooms, black or pinto beans, or a combination of both. The cook time will stay the same.

instant pot stuffed peppers on plate with juices and yogurt for topping

Serving Recommendations

  • A whole meal: We serve stuffed peppers with their juices, plain yogurt/sour cream, and rye bread. Toasted whole wheat bread mimics freshly baked rye bread as well. I like to break stuffed peppers on my plate, mix with yogurt and dip bread into the sauce.
  • Simple sides: Stuffed peppers are a meal on their own, however, if we serve it with something it’s usually a refreshing green smoothie, or something just as light as my Mexican bean salad or lettuce salad recipe.
  • Complete your menu: As filling and as satisfying as these are, there’s always room for dessert in my kids’ bellies! I like to finish off a meal with a healthy dose of indulgence. Coconut mango ice cream, Instant Pot peach cobbler, or my no-bake peanut butter pie, are no-brainers!

Making Instant Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers in Advance

Storing: Refrigerate Instant Pot stuffed bell peppers for up to 5 days. I do not recommend freezing cooked or uncooked peppers because the fibers in bell pepper are not strong enough for the freezer. Peppers will almost disintegrate once thawed.

Reheating: To reheat stuffed peppers, place them in a pot with the juices, cover, and cook on low for 10 minutes. The steam will warm them through.

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Pressure Cooker Stuffed Peppers in Instant Pot
instant pot stuffed peppers

Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers

Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers is my family's Ukrainian recipe made with ground beef or turkey, rice, and simple seasonings then cooked in an array of beautifully coloured bell peppers topped with zesty tomato sauce. Served with their juices, sour cream, and rye bread, this flavourful and healthy meal is the easiest one pot meal complete and ready in 1 hour!
5 from 15 votes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 547
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Pressure Up & Down Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients 
 

  • 8-9 medium-large bell peppers
  • 2 lbs any ground meat I used ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice or 2-2 1/2 cups cooked
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp thyme dried
  • 1 tsp basil dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Ground black pepper
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce low sodium
  • 1 cup stock low sodium

Instructions 

  • Cook 3/4 cup rice with 3/4 cup cold water in Instant Pot: white rice – 3 mins and brown rice – 22 mins. Natural release pressure for 10 mins.
  • While rice is cooking, using the paring knife cut around the tail of a pepper and discard seeds using a tablespoon. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add ground meat, cooked rice, onion, oregano, thyme, basil, salt, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper.
  • Using your hand or spatula, mix all ingredients really well.
  • Stuff peppers with mixture diving evenly.
  • To Instant Pot, add trivet and stock.
  • Arrange 1 layer of peppers and top with half of the tomato sauce. Lay remaining peppers and top with remaining sauce.
  • Close the lid, turn release vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cook or Manual on High Pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Release pressure right away by turning the valve to Venting – Quick Release. Or let it subside on its own.
  • Serve with their juices from the bottom of the pot (turkey baster is the best to suck those up), plain yogurt/sour cream and toasted whole grain or rye bread.

Video

Notes

  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. Not recommended to freeze.
  • Make Ahead: Refrigerate stuffed uncooked peppers for up to 2 days and cook when ready.
  • If using ground turkey: Add a few tablespoons of oil to make it more moist.
  • How many peppers can I fit in Instant Pot? 8 quart Instant Pot is large enough to cook all 8-9 peppers. 6 quart, cook in 2 batches.
  • Can I skip pre-cooking rice? No. You can’t use uncooked rice because once mixed with meat it will be undercooked and peppers and meat overcooked. I heard some readers used uncooked instant brown rice but I haven’t tried.
  • You can replace rice with uncooked quinoa: Stuffed peppers cook time will change to 15 minutes in 8 quart and 20 minutes in 6 quart Instant Pot respectively.
  • 3 quart Instant Pot: It should fit 4 large peppers. Cut recipe in half and keep same cooking time.
  • Stacking peppers is fine: There is enough space between peppers for pressure to build up.
See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5peppers | Calories: 547kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 615mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Olena, When I tried to cook the stuffed peppers a little longer (to finish cooking the ground beef)- I forgot to close the vent. Not good, the liquid on the bottom burned turning black with a strong smell of smoke. I was able to salvage the peppers, but when cut open when eating a lot of brown broth covered the plate. After draining the plates and making my old tomato sauce to serve over the rather dry stuffed peppers, the dinner turned out delicious Don’t know when using beef, maybe it should be browned and drained?
    What do you think?
    Marian

    1. Hi Marian. If you cook recipe for 15 mins next time, it should be all fine. Brown sauce and burnt taste we know how to solve the issue. 🙂

  2. My ground beef didn’t cook well. Took the temp after following your recipe and it only registered 120? I am cooking it for 4 more minutes. What do you think? I will let you know how the turn out

    1. Sure, you can cook it longer. I’ve never had this issue but I also never measure its T, just cut and see how it looks.

  3. Can I use green onions? I am not sure how that would taste instead of white onions. Thanks looks delicious.

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