You just need a paring knife to carve jack o’lantern faces into bell peppers to create these Halloween Stuffed Peppers!
Growing up, there was so much excitement surrounding Halloween. Figuring out my costume and the best route for trick-or-treating consumed the weeks before October 31.
Now, I prefer to spend my time crafting a festive menu to celebrate. And these Halloween Stuffed Peppers are the perfect dinner before the trick-or-treaters arrive.
All you need is a small sharp knife (such as a paring knife) to carve the faces into the orange bell peppers.
This particular recipe is Southwestern, but the jack o’lantern technique works with Old Fashioned Stuffed Bell Peppers and Italian Stuffed Peppers, too.
Ingredients for Halloween Stuffed Peppers
- You’ll need 4 large orange bell peppers. Purchase peppers that sit nicely on a countertop, otherwise you can trim a little off the bottom to get a flat surface.
- Ground turkey adds lots of protein. You can use dark or light meat ground turkey.
- The base of the stuffing is rice and corn. Any long grain white rice works well.
- Onion, salsa, jalapeño, and cumin add flavor to the stuffing mixture.
- A Mexican blend cheese completes the peppers.
How to carve jack o’lanterns into bell peppers
You’ll want to carve the peppers before cooking, and even before cutting the top off. Otherwise, they’ll be too soft or flimsy.
I used my sharpest paring knife and it took about 15 minutes to carve four peppers once I had the technique down.
To carve the peppers, use a pen to draw your desired shapes onto the bell peppers. Then, use a paring knife to carve on the outside of the pen markings.
You could also use a pen with edible ink (they’re fun for decorating fondant or confections made with candy melts, too.)
Or if you’re really talented, you could just carve them freehand!
Discard the pieces that you’ve cut out, and the peppers are ready for stuffing!
Cooking the peppers
Place the carved peppers in a microwave safe dish and fill the bottom with a thin layer of water. The water will help the peppers steam—no need to put a lid on the dish.
Microwave the peppers for 4–5 minutes, or until nearly soft. The peppers will lose a little bit of their vibrant color, but that’s ok—they will still be orange!
Filling the peppers
1. While you are carving the peppers, cook the rice according to package directions.
2. Sauté the onion and jalapeño in olive oil, then add the ground turkey and sauté until cooked through.
3. Add the cumin, salt, salsa, cooked rice, corn, and half of the cheese. Stir to combine.
4. Fill the peppers with the stuffing, dividing it evenly among the 4 peppers.
5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, then bake for 5–7 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Serve Halloween Stuffed Peppers sprinkled with fresh cilantro for a pop of color and flavor.
Can I make Halloween Stuffed Peppers ahead of time?
You can make the stuffed peppers up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve them.
When you’re ready to serve, cover with foil and place in a 350°F oven for 20–25 minutes, or until heated through. You can also microwave them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Instead of ground turkey, add one can of rinsed and drained black beans. They fit perfectly with the southwestern flavors. You could also just omit the ground turkey.
Yes! Use 1 pound of ground sirloin (90% lean) instead of the ground turkey.
- Use ground beef instead of ground turkey
- Replace the turkey with a can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
- Add a can of (drained) green chiles for even more Mexican flavor
- Instead of southwestern stuffed peppers, make them into Italian Stuffed Peppers
Side dishes for stuffed peppers
Here are a few side dish ideas!
- A leafy green salad (like this winter fruit salad with pecans and apples)
- Garlic bread (or this Pull Apart Garlic Bread if you’re feeling fancy!)
- Perfectly Crispy Garlic Potatoes
- Roasted Garlic Broccoli
I hope your little (and big) ghouls and goblins enjoy these!
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Halloween (Jack O’Lantern) Stuffed Peppers
- 4 large orange bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ yellow onion chopped
- 1 lb ground turkey (OR one (15oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained)
- 1 jalapeño, diced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling into peppers
- ⅔ cup salsa
- 1½ cups cooked rice (this is approximately ½ cup uncooked)
- ½ cup canned corn, drained
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
- To garnish: chopped cilantro
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Rinse and dry bell peppers. Carve jack o’lantern faces into each bell pepper using a sharp paring knife. I used a pen to draw the shapes first, and then cut on the outside of the markings with the paring knife. If you’re more talented than I am, you could also cut them freehand.
- Cut ½ to ¾ of an inch off the top of each bell pepper. Set aside the tops. Carefully clean the ribs and seeds out of each pepper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place the peppers in a 8×8 inch glass baking dish and replace the top of each pepper. Put ½ inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish and microwave on high for 4–5 minutes, until the peppers are almost tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeño, and turkey (or black beans). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the turkey is cooked through, about 6–7 minutes.
- Add the cumin, salt, salsa, cooked rice, corn, and half of the cheese. Stir to combine. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the mixture is hot throughout.
- Drain the water from the dish with the bell peppers. Divide the rice mixture evenly among the bell peppers. Divide the remaining ½ cup cheese between the tops of the peppers.
- Bake for 5–7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the peppers are warm throughout. Replace the top on each pepper, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.
Stine Mari says
I absolutely love these! So cute. I definitely need to try them out this weekend. Thank you!
Kate Shungu says
Thanks so much, Stine Mari! Hope you enjoy them!