Stuffed peppers: Cooked or raw rice?

For cooking stuffed bell peppers: Should I cook the rice before hand or blend it raw with sauteed ground beef and hope the baking cooks the rice? And if I saute the meat before hand, won't it dry out? I'm dying for a great stuffed pepper recipe, but mine always come out mushy.

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27 Comments

Niki J. September 22, 2019
I always use this recipe: for each pepper use one sm. can of cream of tomato soup diluted with one can of water each. This year I had an abundance of my home canned stewed tomatoes, so I added a quart jar of them too. Add a little sugar, helps the sauce thicken. Core and seed peppers, blanch at least 3 minutes to remove bitterness. Mix raw burger, raw chopped onion and raw rice. Season a little with seasoning salt & garlic powder. Stuff peppers, not too tightly, and gently drop into soup mix. Make meatballs if you have left over meat mix and simply drop in along side the stuffed peppers. On the stove to, with a lid on, bring to a gentle boil for about 1/2 hr. to 45 mins. Remove the lid, lower the heat and continue to simmer at least another hour. Never fails.
 
Dina August 23, 2017
If you're worried about mushiness, then you want to limit the time the pepper is in the oven. I actually cook my filling completely (basically just saute beef and onions/garlic, add tomato sauce and simmer for awhile), adding already cooked grains at the end (freekah is an awesome substitute for rice if you're looking to up fiber and nutrients). Then I stuff the peppers and top with cheese, and just cook it long enough for the peppers to soften and the cheese to melt, maybe about 20 minutes? You can also microwave the peppers for about 3 minutes to soften them, then stuff and just broil to melt cheese.

Reading through the rest of the comments, it doesn't look like my technique is very traditional! But, I never have mushy peppers.
 
luvcookbooks August 22, 2017
https://food52.com/recipes/6587-stuffed-baked-red-peppers
This is my take on stuffed baked peppers that you could add meat to if you wished. So enjoyed reading through this thread. My mom used raw rice and ground beef to stuff green peppers. We knew da hated them because the green pepper was soggy. I regret that now. Like sweeter red peppers now but love long simmered "soggy" dishes.
 
Robin B. August 21, 2017
raw rice was always used by my mother, and I am thinking she cooked them at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half..would that amount of time sound right? Now if I want to prepare extra shoud I freeze from cooked or leave uncooked in freezer
 
Nancy August 21, 2017
Robin, both from experience and reading the answers so far, you could do it either way. I learned to make the dish with cooked rice because I learned a brown rice recipe and that takes longer. If you are using white rice or only a small amount of rice for the whole recipe (one I just scanned has only 1/2c raw rice for 6 peppers), then use raw rice.
Once you figure out which works better for your cooking schedule or style, keep to that. After two or three times making the same recipe, you will have your quantities of liquid, temp and time set to your preference.
 
Susan W. August 26, 2015
This has been my favorite convo on here. I love the different family histories and methods. I just talked to my mom and she confirmed Yia Yia always made them with raw rice and my mom was the culprit who switched to cooked rice because she preferred her peppers from her garden to keep some crunch.

Queen Sashy, I'm headed to San Diego to visit my mom in a couple of weeks. My mom and I are going to cook up a pot of stuffed veggies from her garden using your recipe. Can't wait.
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
Susan, that is exactly what I do every time I go home, or when my dad comes for a visit!!! My mom passed away last year and he is now the keeper of our family dish. I now realize that nothing compares to the flavors of the dish that we cooked together. I make the same dish at home, and it kind of looks the same, but it is never really the same.
 
Annie S. August 26, 2015
This is off track somewhat but I wanted to share this. I always use rice but I recently had some leftover bulger and I used that. I had forgotten how much I like that. I love your family recipes and traditions. My family had none but my mother loved to cook and embraced all of traditions of our friends and neighbors. Then traditions were created and passed on.
 
Molly W. August 26, 2015
Wow! Bulgur! What a terrific idea, Annie! I'll certainly try that next time, as I seasoned the ground beef with rather Lebanese-style flavors (cinnamon, allspice, dried mint, oregano). Thank you!
 
Molly W. August 26, 2015
Well, CLEARLY this is quite a matter of debate! :-) I'm thrilled to have such a range of responses! I'll have to let you all know how they turn out. I opted for using raw rice and will lower the temperature and raise the liquid accordingly. Thank you all for all your wonderful responses. It's heartwarming to hear of these lovely cooking traditions passed down through generations of Eastern Europeans (and Turks and Greeks!).
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
Ha, ha, ha. Good luck and let us know how it turned out! (And make sure you cover the pot, at least in the beginning.) It just occurred to me that there are so many other regions/countries in the world that stuff their peppers: Spain, Mexico, India, Scandinavians too -- and we have not heard their perspective as yet!!!
 
Kristen W. August 26, 2015
Curious now, since I've never tried it with raw, do you add any liquid to the rice mixture before cooking, or is the liquid released from the meat/veg enough to cook the rice?
 
Susan W. August 26, 2015
I was just about to ask the same thing. My Grandmother was Greek and my Grandfather Turkish, but I think they used cooked rice. I'm going to have to ask my mom if she knows.
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
Yes, you need to make sure that the peppers (or veggies) are sitting in the liquid about 1/3 or halfway through. And you will need to reduce the oven temperature, since it will take longer time to cook. A while ago I posted a recipe for a dish of stuffed veggies, here is the link, maybe you will find it helpful https://food52.com/recipes/23293-the-summer-pot-of-joy (A note: temperatures and cooking times will depend on the oven, the quantity of peppers and the type of dish you are using, so use them mainly as rough guides and keep an eye.) Hope this helps...
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
Suzan, I think I will need to elaborate on my previous answer :) I was born in a “once upon a time country” called Yugoslavia (it included today’s Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Montenegro). Most of the food had strong influences from the south (Greek and Turkey) and north (Hungary), and stuffed cabbage and stuffed vegetables are considered the staple food. In season, folks make it at least once a week. Also, I have traveled quite a bit in the region, especially Greece, and cooked with many Greek cooks. My observation is that most cooks make the dish with uncooked rice. That is the traditional, old-fashioned way of doing it. But I have seen versions with cooked rice, I think that they became more popular as people got busier and tried to accelerate cooking process. So come to think about it – the answer to the question is that both approaches will work. It is not that one is correct and the other is not, it is just that the dishes will taste different. The reason I prefer uncooked rice approach, is that the longer bake in the oven brings out a particular sweetness in the peppers that is quite magnificent, which might be difficult to do with the speedier roast.
 
Susan W. August 26, 2015
Queen Sashy, my Grandparents were born in the very late 1800s or early 1900s. They did not have birth certificates. They both came from Greece through Ellis Island, although my Pappou was born in Turkey. They were definitely not part of a fast moving group. :) Hardworking, but not fast moving. I have a feeling I may have switched over to using cooked rice as a way to use up leftover rice. My mom was born here in 1926, so she also probably used raw rice when she made them.
 
bigpan August 25, 2015
I always used cooked as the peppers cook faster than raw rice would
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
Bigpan you are right, but you may want to try it with raw rice, because the flavor will be different. It is more of a slow simmer type flavor, when the peppers kind of begin to melt as opposed to just being roasted. It is a whole lot of goodness.
 

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QueenSashy August 24, 2015
The traditional stuffed peppers from the Balkans and Turkey are always made with raw rice. As inpatskitchen pointed out, you simmer the onions and add the meat until it becomes pinkish and mix it with rice. It is the slow simmer in the oven that does the rest of the cooking. You just need to make sure that there is enough liquid for rice to absorb.
 
Bevi August 26, 2015
I was taught to use raw rice by a Hungarian cook.
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
... same here. It is very typical for the cuisine of the region. But one thing I forgot to mention, this requires somewhat lower oven temperature than when using cook rice.
 
QueenSashy August 26, 2015
... meant to type cooked rice -- the beauty of answering questions on iPhone
 
Panfusine August 24, 2015
Cooked rice, always..
 
Susan W. August 24, 2015
I use cooked rice too. I rinse my rice well, toast it in ghee (or whatever you'd like), and after it's cooked, I spread it out to cool.
 
Kristen W. August 24, 2015
Actually thinking about it, I usually use day-old leftover cooked rice for stuffed peppers, so that helps a lot with combating mushiness. I think that's why it works out for me.
 
Kristen W. August 24, 2015
I always use cooked rice and it turns out fine. Just make sure your rice isn't overcooked to begin with. You can toast it first, pilaf-style, if you want, to help combat mushiness. And yes, drain your cooked meat before stuffing so the rice doesn't absorb to much of the meat's juices once it's cooked. I like to cook my rice in stock to boost the flavor so it doesn't entirely depend on juices from the meat for savoriness.
 
inpatskitchen August 24, 2015
I semi sauté the ground beef (just until it loses that pink color) with onion and then drain a bit if needed before adding the rest of the ingredients including raw rice.
 
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