Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers
Cuisine: Southwest
Author: Anita Edge
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Flavorful, not too spicy classic stuffed peppers cleverly disguised as Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween
  • 4 large orange bell peppers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup long grain rice
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup diced green chiles
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • optional: 1 15 oz can sliced black olives, white cheese like queso fresco for whites of eyes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring rice, tomatoes, salt, and water to a boil. Cover and cook on low for about 30 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  2. In the meantime, cut tops from the peppers, cutting close to the green stem (about ¼ to ½ inch max) with the knife pointing down. From a side view, the peppers should look intact. Gently pull out excess membrane from the center of each pepper. Then cut out eyes and a mouth for each pepper. Trim the stem of each pepper to remove seeds and excess flesh. Chop and save the cutouts to add to the meat mixture.
  3. Cook the peppers in a large pot of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Fish them out gently with a slotted spoon and set aside upside down on a plate to drain.
  4. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, chopped pieces of bell pepper, and onion until beef is browned.
  5. Once the rice is tender, add the rice mixture and all remaining ingredients - except cheese - to the meat mixture and cook down to eliminate any liquid (should take less than 5 minutes).
  6. Stir in the shredded cheese and black olives if desired, then stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.
  7. If desired, decorate eyes and mouth with pieces of white cheese, black olives, capers, dried tomato, etc.
  8. Place in a 10x6x2 baking dish, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
This is a fun dish to serve at Halloween – and it’s a classic dish that just about everyone loves. I published this 3 years ago and periodically make variations on this. If you want to give each pepper some real personality, be prepared to put time in! On the second pepper, I used feta cheese and capers for the eyes. I’d recommend mozerella or queso fresco as the feta is lumpy. Use your imagination for decorating! I also did not use black olives, which actually are good for both flavor and appearance - slice them and use them for eyeballs. Or chop up lots of them and blend them in for a darker, flavorful filling.
I also used mild green chiles – this is not very spicy. If you want it spicy, increase the tabasco and use medium hot or hot chiles. You can adjust the heat and spices at the stage where the meat mixture is simmering right before stuffing the peppers.
Recipe by Denver Green Chili at https://denvergreenchili.com/recipes/main-courses/beef/jack-o-lantern-stuffed-peppers/