This healthy gluten free Southwest Stuffed Peppers recipe is made with ground turkey, black beans, and baked in red enchilada sauce.
These Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers are easy to prepare and are hearty enough for a weeknight meal!
It's officially late summer and that means it's time for one of my all-time favorite meals - Stuffed peppers! I wait all year for my garden peppers to show up specifically so I can stuff them.
I love the variety of ingredients that can be used to stuff a pepper and all the flavor combinations available.
One of the most quintessential of all flavors used in stuffed peppers are Southwest ones. Spices like cumin, chili powder, and paprika work magic with these things.
They're kind of deep and earthy and they complement the sweetness of these Southwest Stuffed Peppers perfectly. Brighten them up with some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime and you're in business.
- How To Make Southwest Stuffed Peppers
- Should I Sauté The Meat Before Stuffing Peppers?
- Stuff The Bell Peppers with Filling and Top with Enchilada Sauce
- How Long Does It Take To Bake Stuffed Peppers?
- What To Serve With Stuffed Peppers
- How Long Do These Peppers Last In The Fridge?
- Can I Freeze Stuffed Peppers?
- Southwest Stuffed Peppers with Ground Turkey
How To Make Southwest Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers might seem like an intimidating meal if you've never made them but I assure you it's not. Just follow these steps and you'll be fine.
- Start off by heating the oven to 375 degrees.
- Mince 6 cloves of garlic, 1 white onion, and 1 jalapeno (remove seeds for less heat).
- Chop 3 cups of fresh kale and cut 4 large bell peppers in half. You can use any color bell pepper you like - I went for a variety because it just seemed more fun that way. Remove the seeds, membranes, and stems from the pepper.
- At the end of the chopping you should have 8 bell pepper halves.
Can I Use Another Green If I Don't Like Kale?
Feel free to use spinach, Swiss chard, or any type of hearty greens. You can also leave them out altogether if greens aren't your thing.
Should I Sauté The Meat Before Stuffing Peppers?
It's important to sauté the ground turkey before stuffing the peppers. This will help improve the texture, flavor, and make sure that no bacteria is present in the meat before stuffing.
Sauté the ground turkey with the garlic, onions, and jalapeno.
- Heat a sauté pan to medium and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil.
- Once that's heated add the minced garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often (there is nothing in the world like the smell of garlic and onions sautéed in a pan).
- Now add 1-1 ½ lbs. of ground turkey. Break the turkey apart with a spatula and sauté until browned (about 10 minutes or so).
- As the turkey is cooking add 2 tsp. smoked paprika, 2 tsp. adobo seasoning, 1 tsp. cumin, and ½ tsp. Mexican oregano along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Once the turkey is cooked through add the 3 packed cups of chopped kale. The kale will wilt down as it cooks.
- Add 1 can of black beans or pinto beans (drained and rinsed).
Can I Sub Another Kind Of Meat?
Feel free to sub ground chicken, beef, or venison if you like.
Love turkey? Check out these recipes!
- Mushroom Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs
- Teriyaki Rice Bowls
- Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
- Crockpot Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
- Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs
Stuff The Bell Peppers with Filling and Top with Enchilada Sauce
The ingredient that gives this recipe a little extra kick is red enchilada sauce.
This recipe is gluten free and uses gluten free red enchilada sauce. If purchasing canned enchilada sauce be sure to check the labels as many brands contain gluten.
Old El Paso makes red enchilada sauce that is gluten free but always make sure to check labels!
You can definitely make your own enchilada sauce if you're feeling ambitious (and if you have a good recipe - please, share it with me!) but I went for the canned version to make life a little easier.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pour 2 cups of gluten free red enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch cake pan.
- Take the prepared turkey filling and use it to stuff each of the pepper halves. Try to divide the filling evenly among the peppers. There should be just enough filling to (generously) stuff all of them.
- Cover the cake pan with some foil and pop it in the oven.
How Long Does It Take To Bake Stuffed Peppers?
- Bake the stuffed peppers for 30 minutes with the foil on and then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
- The foil will help the peppers 'steam' in there and soften and then removing it will allow them to caramelize and sweeten. This will also help the tops get kind of golden.
- After 45 minutes they should be all ready! Remove from the oven and prepare to serve.
- If the peppers are still too firm after 45 minutes feel free to leave them in for another 5-10 minutes until they soften up.
Love stuffed peppers? Check out these recipes!
What To Serve With Stuffed Peppers
To serve, spoon some of the enchilada sauce onto a plate or bowl and set the stuffed peppers on top. Now all we need is a little bit of freshness.
Chop ½ cup or so of fresh cilantro and cut a lime or two into wedges.
Sprinkle a generous amount of queso fresco on top of the peppers. Queso fresco is an un-aged mild-flavored white cheese used a lot in Mexican cooking. It literally means 'fresh cheese'. You can find it at most supermarkets.
If you can't find queso fresco you can use any kind of cheese you like. Simply top them with your cheese of choice and pop it back in the oven to melt if you decide to go the melt-y cheese route.
You can think of these stuffed peppers as kind of a shell-less taco. They contain a lot of those quintessential taco flavors that we all know and love.
These Southwest Stuffed Peppers would be great with some Cheesy Spanish Rice, Kohlrabi Slaw, or Roasted Poblano Avocado Sauce.
Love tacos? Be sure to check out these recipes!
- Sheet Pan Shrimp Tacos
- Cilantro Lime Fish Tacos
- Roasted Veggie Tacos
- Skillet Chipotle Chicken Tacos
- Slow Cooker Barbacoa Tacos
- Air Fryer Fish Tacos
How Long Do These Peppers Last In The Fridge?
These ground turkey stuffed peppers should last 3-4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Be sure to allow the stuffed peppers to cool completely before transferring to the fridge for storage.
Can I Freeze Stuffed Peppers?
Yes! Stuffed peppers make a great freezer meal.
How To Freeze
- Simply prepare this recipe as written (leaving out the Queso fresco cheese and the enchilada sauce),
- Allow the peppers to cool completely when finished cooking, cover, label with the date, and place in the freezer (it’s best to use a freezer-safe casserole dish for this).
How To Thaw
- To reheat simply remove the cover from the pan, pour the enchilada sauce in the bottom, and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.
- Add the cheese and cilantro after they have finished cooking.
Love Southwest flavors? Don't miss these recipes!
- Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
- Southwest Ground Beef Chili
- Southwest Baked Egg Rolls
- Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Looking For More Stuffed Peppers? Don't Miss These!
Healthy Mexican Stuffed Peppers
Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers
Classic Stuffed Peppers
Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers
Southwest Stuffed Peppers with Ground Turkey
- 4 large bell peppers
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 onion any color
- 1 jalapeno remove seeds for less heat
- 1-1 ½ lbs. ground turkey
- 3 packed cups chopped kale
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tsp. adobo seasoning
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. Mexican oregano can sub regular oregano or Italian seasoning
- 2 cups gluten free red enchilada sauce or regular red enchilada sauce if not GF
- ½ cup cilantro
- ½ cup queso fresco
- 2 limes
- kosher salt
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mince 6 cloves garlic, 1 onion, and 1 jalapeno (remove seeds for less heat). Chop 3 cups of kale. Cut 4 large bell peppers in half. Remove the seeds, membranes, and stems from peppers.
- Heat a sauté pan to medium. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Once oil is heated add garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add ground turkey and break apart with spatula. Cook until browned (about 10 minutes or so). Add the following spices as the turkey is cooking: 2 tsp. smoked paprika, 2 tsp. adobo seasoning, 1 tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. Mexican oregano (can sub regular oregano or Italian seasoning), and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add 3 packed cups of chopped kale. Stir and cook until wilted.
- Drain and rinse 1 can of black beans (can sub pinto beans). Add to cooked turkey and kale.
- Add 2 cups gluten free red enchilada sauce (or any red enchilada sauce if not GF) to the bottom of a 9x13 inch cake pan. Add the cooked filling to each of the pepper halves, dividing evenly. Cover the pan with foil and pop the pan in the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes with the foil on. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Chop ½ cup or so of fresh cilantro and cut limes into wedges.
- To serve: Spoon some of the enchilada sauce onto plate or bowl. Add stuffed peppers to the plate or bowl and garnish with queso fresco, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
These are damn good.
Claire @ The Simple, Sweet Life
I LOVE stuffed peppers and I love all the delicious southwestern flavors you've incorporated into this one!
I am loving stuffed pepper recipes right now. We are up to our cake holes in peppers from the garden. Yeah, I can chop one up and put it in things, but I need to use several!
This is the perfect way to use up a bunch of peppers at once! Peppers are definitely one of those things that are best used fresh. I tried freezing them once - no good.
I love the flavors in this dish! Especially the enchilada sauce! I am pinning to make this later!
Thank you - I know, enchilada sauce is so delish!
Elaine @ Dishes Delish
I love stuffed peppers and your version looks fabulous! Absolutely fabulous! I love the southwest flair and can't wait to try your recipe!
Thanks so much, Elaine!
These look AMAZING! Stuffed peppers are one of my all time faves, and this southwest spin looks so delish. Need to try soon!
Thanks, Karly! Hope you enjoy. 🙂
Çitra Kale @Çitra's Home Diary
These look ssoo good. Love stuffed vegetable especially pepper.
Me, too! Thanks so much.
I am a huge fan of stuffed peppers on this looks like it's going to be the next version I try. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Jessica! They were definitely a big hit in this house.
Erin @ The Speckled Palate
I'm a HUGE fan of stuffed peppers, and I love the Southwestern flair of these! My family would adore 'em, too!
Thanks, Erin! I hope the family enjoys. 🙂
Those sounds great!
Neither of us have ever really been a fan of stuffed peppers - but as the peppers from the CSA pile up every September LOL we talk about why... and it seems to be largely that our experience with them is sort of Lowest Common Denominator American. (Strip it down to basics and remove anything with flavor, then overcook. No, neither of our moms ever made them... but a few food services did... LOL) We have eaten some with Eastern European influence, which were not bad at all, but that's not our favorite cuisine. It is enough for us to know that good ones are possible, though!
But this is a whole different animal - and the pepper actually makes sense as a flavor, not just a casing. I'm going to have to try this.
That's true - Peppers are kind of functional and tasty at the same time. Hope you enjoy!
Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
I love the flavor (and color!!) combination you have going on here. These look like a perfect weeknight meal!
I love making stuffed peppers! They are a great way to eat more veggies! These look amazing!
So true - Thanks!
Michelle | The Last Food Blog
Stuffed peppers are one of my favourite things to cook. I love the flavours you have used here and that you cook them in that enchilada sauce, nice twist!
I love cooking stuffed peppers in a sauce of some kind. It gives them a little extra something!
Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite comfort foods! Loved that you make them healthier with turkey and black beans. These look delish!
Definitely comfort food - Thanks!
Lynn | The Road to Honey
These bring back memories of my grandma who frequently would make up batch after batch of stuffed peppers using the peppers plucked directly from her garden. She would of course send us home with enough to feed us for the rest of the week. Interestingly, as an adult, I have made stuffed peppers only a handful of times. I'm really not sure why as they truly make for the best type of food when you are watching your carbs. Yours look lovely btw.
Thank you! They really are best with peppers straight from the garden. I love how stuffed peppers are filling but healthy at the same time.
Loving the gorgeous colors of this dish! I've never been a fan of green peppers (they have an underripe taste to me) but I would love to try this with red, yellow, orange, or purple bell peppers!