Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers offers all the flavors of stuffed peppers, except it cooks much faster than the traditional dish, and it’s much easier to eat! But the best part is this classic comfort food gets a healthy twist in my version. Keto, low-carb, and THM friendly.

cast iron skillet of unstuffed peppers using ground turkey, colored bell peppers, cauli rice and melted cheese on top.

I’m honored to partner with Produce for Kids to bring you this recipe! All opinions are my own.

Having young kids myself, I know from experience that while every one of them LOVES Stuffed Peppers, they struggle to eat them.

They’re not sure if they should eat the inside first, try to cut it, pick it up and bite it… I’ve seen it all!

Let’s face it, even adults are trying to have good etiquette on this one.

Enter the deconstructed version. Wa-laa! Presto! Pick your magic word, these are SO easy and made in a cast-iron skillet (or any oven proof skillet). Can I get an “Amen” for one-pan meals?!

One of the benefits of using cast-iron is that it transfers well from stove-top to oven. See my top picks for cast-iron pans.

cast iron skillet filled with cooked ground turkey in an Italian sauce with sliced of colored bell peppers and melted cheese.

Low Carb/Keto/THM Unstuffed Peppers

So what makes these healthier?

  1. Instead of rice, we’re using cauliflower rice, which is a non-starchy vegetable that is low fat and low carb. It won’t mess with your blood sugar levels.
  2. We’re subbing out the ground beef for a lean ground turkey. 
  3. If you’re one of my THM (Trim Healthy Mama) friends, I usually eat this as an “S” because of the cheese. But you can make it an “E” by using extra lean turkey and no cheese. You could also use brown rice or quinoa instead of cauliflower rice. Not sure what THM is? Check out my THM journey. 

Is ground turkey better for you?

It depends on what you buy and the fat content

  • Ground Turkey Breast is leaner
  • Standard Ground Turkey, will have light and dark meat mixed in, so your fat content may be closer to ground beef, depending on the percentage of fat. Note that not all fats are bad.

I recommend the mixture because it has great flavor, and, always buy the 93% lean. 

How to make Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

INGREDIENTS:

ingredients for deconstructed stuffed peppers: bell peppers, ground turkey, onions, herbs, garlic, marinara sauce, cheese
  • olive oil- adds flavor and keeps the meat from sticking.
  • onion
  • 93% lean ground turkey– Can use a more fatty or leaner version such as ground turkey breast.
  • garlic– for flavor of course, but did you know that garlic is rich in Vitamin C, B6 and Manganese? It can also fight off sickness.
  • oregano, rosemary, basil, sage, salt- gives it that traditional Italian flavor.
  • diced tomatoes
  • marinara sauce- makes it nice and saucy, you can use any pasta sauce or even pizza sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce- adds savoriness.
  • soy sauce- low sodium is best if you have it.
  • cauliflower rice- for a short cut, buy the already riced cauliflower in the produce section or use frozen. Alternatively, you can chop the florets up in a food processor. 
  • bell peppers- I like a variety of colors, but any color will due.
  • Monterey jack cheese- has a mild flavor with a touch of sweetness. I like to use this one because it doesn’t compete or take away from the flavor of the dish. But, the unstuffed peppers recipe will still work with any cheese.

INSTRUCTIONS

Step One: Cook the onions and turkey

  • Heat a cast-iron skillet or any large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and let it warm for a few seconds.
  • Add the onions and saute’, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ground turkey, breaking up with a spoon or a Mix and Chop tool. Drain if necessary

AFMT PRO-TIP: If you have 15 minutes or so earlier in the day, prep your veggies by getting the chopping done ahead of time. They will keep just fine in the fridge. Measure out your spices, which will keep fine on the counter. 

Step Two: Simmer

  • Add the seasonings, sauce, and tomatoes. Stir well to combine.
  • Add the sliced peppers, mix them in, and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Top everything with cheese and pop it in the oven for a few minutes just to melt the cheese. You can use a broiler, or your oven set to 300°.
a collage of 4 photos showing steps to make unstuffed peppers; 1, browning meat/onions add spices; 2, adding sauce; 3, adding sliced peppers; 4, what it looks like after peppers are simmered.

cast iron skillet filled with low carb unstuffed peppers made with ground turkey and cauli rice and sprinkled with cheese ready to go in the oven.

And dinner is done.

Video

If you’d like to see this recipe in action, check it out over on my youtube channel.

Notes

  1. Drain the meat after browning to cut down on fat and liquid.
  2. Drain the tomatoes, the recipe will create enough liquid on its own.
  3. When simmering, leave the cover off and stir occasionally. Covering it will create more liquid
  4. There still will be plenty of liquid, don’t let that scare you. It’s all juicy and goodness.
overhead view of a cast iron skillet filled with unstuffed peppers made with ground turkey, colored peppers and covered in melted cheese.

Variations

  • Use ground beef instead of ground turkey for a more traditional recipe, you can also use ground chicken.
  • If you don’t have all the individual seasonings, use 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning instead.
  • use pizza sauce instead of marinara sauce
  • You can use regular rice, brown rice, or quinoa if you prefer it over cauliflower rice (in this dish we don’t notice a cauliflower taste). If you do, don’t drain the tomatoes, and cover the skillet so the rice soaks up all the juice. Keep an eye on it as it may need extra liquid (water is fine) and more time.

Freezing and Storing

These Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

If you have leftovers and would like to freeze it, place it in a freezer safe bag or container, label it, and keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

To reheat, thaw completely, and heat in a skillet on the stove, over medium heat.

Or place in an oven safe dish, cover loosely and and reheat in a preheated 300° oven for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

cast iron skillet with ground turkey, cauli rice, colored bell peppers and melted cheese

What to serve with unstuffed peppers recipe

Sometimes I get stuck on the side dishes when I have an all-inclusive meal where the veggies and protein are all mixed together. So, here are some options:

  • Great over sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, lettuce boats, or coleslaw (without the dressing). If you’re following THM, then be mindful of your fuel!
  • Mixed green salad with pears and/or apples.
  • Fruit Salad or sliced fruit with a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese on top
  • Bread – I personally watch the carbs, but my kids don’t need to, so I typically have a whole grain bread or quick dinner roll for them if needed.
  • More veggies! Because it can’t hurt right?
  • Asparagus
  • See more Side Dishes

More Easy One Pan Dinners

More Low Carb Recipes

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๐Ÿ“‹ Recipe

cast iron skillet of unstuffed peppers using ground turkey, colored bell peppers, cauli rice and melted cheese on top.

Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

Unstuffed peppers made with ground turkey and cauliflower rice. It’s so much easier to eat than stuffed peppers! This healthy recipe is low carb and made in a skillet. Yay for one pan dinners!
5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 246kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Real Sweet ® onion chopped
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey 93% lean
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes drained
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups riced cauliflower
  • 1 green bell pepper sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Warm Olive oil in a cast iron skillet or large oven proof skillet on medium high heat.
  • Add onions and saute’ until just tender.
  • Add ground turkey, and brown, breaking up as it cooks
  • When the meat is browned, drain off the fat and return to the stove. Add in garlic, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage and salt, stir to combine.
  • Add diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and marinara sauce and stir to mix. 
  • Add the riced cauliflower and simmer 5 minutes. Then add the bell peppers and simmer another 10 minutes or so. When the peppers are just tender, top with shredded cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 5-10 minutes.

Notes

  1. Drain the meat after browning to cut down on fat and liquid.
  2. Drain the tomatoes, the recipe will create enough liquid on its own.
  3. When simmering, leave the cover off and stir occasionally. Covering it will create more liquid
  4. There still will be plenty of liquid, don’t let that scare you. It’s all juicy and goodness.
  5. Use ground beef instead of ground turkey for a more traditional recipe, you can also use ground chicken.
  6. If you don’t have all the individual seasonings, use 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning instead.
  7. use pizza sauce instead of marinara sauce
  8. You can use regular rice, brown rice, or quinoa if you prefer it over cauliflower rice (in this dish we don’t notice a cauliflower taste). If you do use rice, don’t drain the tomatoes, and cover the skillet so the rice soaks up all the juice. Keep an eye on it as it may need extra liquid (water is fine) and more time.

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 876mg | Potassium: 632mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1465IU | Vitamin C: 83.2mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 1.9mg
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Update Notes: This post was originally published on August 26, 2016, but was updated with some more information, step by step instructions, and updated notes and tips in January of 2021.

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16 Comments

  1. So glad you loved it! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ Bonus for leftovers!! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป Thanks for taking the time to rate it and comment on it.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this tonight- sooo good!
    Even my kids like it. Was enough to have some for next couple of lunches.

  3. Lynn, You were ahead of the times with that cauli rice! We love it too and use it in lots of things. This dish is pure comfort!

  4. I can’t even tell you how long it has been since I’ve had a stuffed bell pepper! These look so delicious and I’m anxious to put them on the menu. And I’m all about cauliflower rice! We made that switch years ago and thrilled to have another cauliflower rice recipe in my repertoire!

  5. Andrea, I’m so happy you loved it. Thanks for sharing how you added the cauli rice and sweet potato combo, great idea. And thank you so much for rating the recipe and sharing your feedback! Bon Apetit’!!

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is amaaaazing! Iโ€™m the kind of person that doesnโ€™t feel satisfied until Iโ€™ve had some kind pasta or grain in a meal so the rices cauliflower made me nervous. Not the case! Since you mentioned it went well with sweet potatoes, I actually found a frozen riced cauliflower and sweet potato. It all blended so well that I did not miss the rice! Very flavorful and will definitely make again!

  7. Heather, Thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m so happy you all enjoyed it. I love your adaptions, it sounds incredible.

  8. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I ended up using half chorizo and half ground turkey, along with adding different kinds of peppers instead of all Bell. And instead of the monterey jack we used extra sharp cheddar for a little more punch of flavor! My 4 boys LOVED it and the entire 9×13 was devoured. Thank you for your recipe!

  9. It is truly one of our favorites! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and I love the potatoes idea, I bet that was so delicious!!

  10. 5 stars
    Absolutely loved this dish! First time I ate it with cauliflower rice, but next day I used Red Skin potatoes and it beefed it up! My mom loved it too. I was raving about this dish at work too! I love ground turkey and trying to eat healthy with two kids is hard at times!