Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers Recipe

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This Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers recipe is the perfect dinner to serve before you go trick-or-treating on Halloween night!

Whether you are just trying to feed the kids before they run door to door screaming, “Happy Halloween!!“, or trying to feed your guests for a Halloween party dinner, these delicious jack o’lanterns are a great way to go.

A Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Pepper sits on a white plate with it's top resting to the side.

The best part is, you can easily multiply the recipes as needed to fit the number of mouths to feed, and you can feel good about putting a solid meal in those tummies before they start getting filled up with sugary treats. This is a super kid-friendly meal!

What Type Of Knife Works Best?

While a regular chef’s knife will easily take off the tops of most peppers, you’ll need a small knife for the carving of the peppers.

A sharp paring knife will get the job done. Any small paring knife will get the job done, as long as it’s a sharp knife. The sharper the better. A sharp knife is a safe(r) knife!

Vegan Jack O Lantern Stuffed Peppers

If you want these peppers to be vegan, it’s a super easy switch. Simply use a vegan meat substitute and vegan cheese. All the spices and seasonings will stay the same.

A slightly overhead view of a Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Pepper on a white platter. A second pepper sits behind it on the table.

Ingredient Checklist

1 cup black beans – Use dry beans. Pre-soaking is not necessary.

1 tsp. oil – Olive oil works great, but any oil you usually use will work fine.

¾ cup red onion – diced small

5 medium orange bell peppers – One of the orange peppers should be diced for the stuffing, and the other four should stay whole for being stuffed. If you prefer to make monster faces, you can use green peppers instead.

1 tsp. salt – I used pink Himalayan salt. You should use whatever salt you normally cook with.

1 tsp. ground black pepper

3 medium garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 small bay leaves

3 cups water – you can also use chicken broth or beef broth if you prefer. But water is fine.

½ lb. ground beef – or ground chicken breasts, ground chicken, ground turkey, or ground pork. Lean ground beef works best.

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese – You can also use white cheddar cheese. Either will work well.

Dried parsley –  for garnish

A single pepper with the top on, hiding the cheese underneath.

Recipe Notes

If you want to make more peppers but don’t want to use more meat, you can cook some brown rice separately and mix it in with the cooked meat before stuffing the peppers. This will add some whole grains and overall bulk, and fill many more peppers.

Also, if you want this to have more of a “Mexican flare”, you can omit the oregano and add chili powder instead. For this, I would also use the suggestion of white cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella.

If you want it to have more of an “Italian flare”, you can add about 2 tsp. of Italian seasoning and omit the cumin. Also, add a 6 oz. can of tomato paste to the water in the Instant Pot. You can also use a can of tomato sauce if you prefer. But you will end up with more liquid/sauce.

How To Make This Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Pepper Recipe

The ingredients for this Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers Recipe sitting on a white surface in separate, white bowls.

Clean the black beans: rinse them and pick out any stones or bad beans. Once done, set aside. Rinse peppers as well.

The oil warming in an Instant Pot.

Set your Instant Pot to Sauté. Add the olive oil and wait for 5 minutes.

The onions and diced pepper sautéing in the Instant Pot.

Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion, the diced bell pepper, and the salt. Cook and stir for about 5minutes, or until softened.

The spices added to the Instant Pot.

Add the minced garlic and then sprinkle in the pepper, cumin, dried oregano, and bay leaves.  Cook and stir for 1 minute, or until softened.

Adding the beans and water to the Instant Pot.

Add the beans, water, and stir.  

Securing the lid on the Instant Pot.

Cover and make sure to seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow the steam to release naturally and then remove the lid.

Raw ground meat in a white skillet.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef and add salt to taste. (A large nonstick skillet is best, but any skillet will work)

Scrambling the ground meat with a spatula.

Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces and cook until brown.

Adding the beans to the ground meat.

Add the beans over the cooked meat and combine. Make sure to add some broth from the beans to cover the meat. Cook for 15 minutes over high heat and until all the water is consumed. Then, remove the bay leaves and discard them. Let it sit.

Cleaning out the peppers for the Jack-O-Lanterns.

Cut the pepper tops off the bell peppers to form a lid. To make it look like a pumpkin, follow the curves of the upper side of the peppers. Carefully, cut the veins inside of the peppers and remove them along with the seeds using a spoon.

Cutting the Jack-O-Lantern faces into the peppers.

Using a small knife or a cutting tool with a sharp and thin blade, cut the faces on your bell peppers. Avoid knives or cutting tools with wide blades in this process. Fresh bell peppers are very moist and easy to break by hand, for this reason, remove the cut pieces slowly to avoid breaking details in your bell pepper’s faces like teeth.

Filling the peppers with the meat mixture.

When the faces of your bell peppers are cut, it is time to fill them with the bean-meat mixture. Using a spoon, fill each bell pepper with the bean mixture at ⅔ of its capacity.

Topping the pepper filling with cheese.

Then, top your bell peppers with mozzarella cheese. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.

Placing the peppers on a baking pan.

Set the peppers upright on a baking sheet with lined parchment paper, or a large baking dish, and place them inside the oven. The top of each pepper should cook to the side of each pepper. Do not replace the tops or they will pull all your cheese out when you take them off again. Bake at 350 °F for about 25 minutes, or until warmed through and peppers soften.

Cooling the peppers after baking.

Remove the bell peppers from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. To serve, sprinkle dried parsley over the top of the melted mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!

How To Store Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers

Keep these in the fridge, wrapped with plastic wrap, or stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Can You Freeze Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers?

These are not recommended for freezing.

The finished Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers being served on a white platter.

Can You Make Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers Ahead Of Time?

Yes! And here’s how:

  • Prior to baking – If you want to make these ahead and then do the final bake on the day you want to serve them, you can absolutely do that. Just don’t make them any more than 3 days ahead of time. They should be eaten on day 3.
  • After baking – You can fully make the recipe up to 3 days in advance. Simply store in the fridge.

Halloween Dinner

If you are looking to round out your Halloween dinner, I have a few suggestions.

Appetizers – Serve some fruit or crackers with apple butter or pumpkin butter. You could also serve fruit with some peanut butter fruit dip. Mix a little pomegranate juice into it to make it spookier. Whole-grain crackers will pair well with some whipped maple butter with pumpkin spice.

Starter – Start with a green (monster) salad. You can even use a green dressing such as an avocado ranch dressing. Use lettuce such as a Frisée to make your salad truly spooky.

Main Course – The recipe below, of course.

Drinks – Repurpose this Leprechaun lemonade as Monster lemonade!

Dessert – Try coffin bread or candied apples!

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Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers Recipe

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A Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Pepper sits on a white plate with it's top resting to the side.

Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers

A deliciously spooky meal you can enjoy before you dive into all those treats!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 55 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 stuffed peppers
Calories: 358kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black beans (dry – pre soaking unnecessary)
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ¾ cup red onion (diced small)
  • 5 medium orange bell peppers (1 diced, 4 for stuffing)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 3 cups water (or broth/stock – chicken or beef)
  • ½ lb. ground beef (or chicken, turkey or pork)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • dried parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • Clean the black beans: rinse them and pick out any stones or bad beans. Once done, set aside.
    The ingredients for this Jack-O-Lantern Stuffed Peppers Recipe sitting on a white surface in separate, white bowls.
  • Set your Instant Pot to Sauté. Add the olive oil and wait for 5 minutes.
    The oil warming in an Instant Pot.
  • Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion, the diced bell pepper, and the salt. Cook and stir for about 5minutes, or until softened.
    The onions and diced pepper sautéing in the Instant Pot.
  • Add the minced garlic and then sprinkle in the blac, pepper, cumin, dried oregano, and bay leaves.  Cook and stir for 1 minute, or until softened.
    The spices added to the Instant Pot.
  • Add the beans, water, and stir.  
    Adding the beans and water to the Instant Pot.
  • Cover and make sure to seal the Instant Pot. Cook on HIGH pressure for 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow the steam to release naturally and then remove the lid.
    Securing the lid on the Instant Pot.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef and add salt to taste.
    Raw ground meat in a white skillet.
  • Use a spatula to break the meat into small pieces and cook until brown.
    Scrambling the ground meat with a spatula.
  • Add the beans over the cooked meat and combine. Make sure to add some broth from the beans to cover the meat. Cook for 15 minutes over high heat and until all the water is consumed. Then, remove the bay leaves and discard them. Let it sit.
    Adding the beans to the ground meat.
  • Cut the top of the bell peppers to form a lid. To make it look like a pumpkin, follow the curves of the upper side of the peppers. Carefully, cut the veins inside the peppers and remove them along with the seeds using a spoon.
    Cleaning out the peppers for the Jack-O-Lanterns.
  • Using a small knife or a cutting tool with a sharp and thin blade,, cut the faces on your bell peppers. Avoid knives or cutting tools with wide blades in this process. Fresh bell peppers are very moist and easy to break by hand, for this reason, remove the cut pieces slowly to avoid breaking details in your bell pepper's faces like teeth.
    Cutting the Jack-O-Lantern faces into the peppers.
  • When the faces of your bell peppers are cut, it is time to fill them with the bean-meat mixture. Using a spoon, fill each bell pepper with the bean mixture at ⅔ of its capacity.
    Filling the peppers with the meat mixture.
  • Then, top your bell peppers with mozzarella cheese. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
    Topping the pepper filling with cheese.
  • Move your bell peppers to a baking sheet with lined parchment paper and place them inside the oven. Bake at 350 °F for about 25 minutes, or until warmed through and peppers soften.
    Placing the peppers on a baking pan.
  • Remove the bell peppers from the oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. To serve, sprinkle dried parsley over the top of the melted mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!
    Cooling the peppers after baking.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1stuffed pepper | Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 813mg | Potassium: 709mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 4868IU | Vitamin C: 193mg | Calcium: 203mg | Iron: 3mg

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2 Comments

  1. Autumn Brooke says:

    Ok, not only is this super cute, but it sounds really good too!

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