Cheesy Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers are an irresistible appetizer of stuffed mini peppers with spicy cream cheese. This healthy, vegetarian appetizer recipe is great for entertaining.
Why you should make these Cream Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Since I've stuffed bell peppers before with hummus, I figured stuffing bell peppers with cheesy mixture would be a pretty good idea... But pretty good doesn't even begin to describe how amazing these are. They are DELICIOUS!
They're also easy to make, like pretty much every recipe I cook, especially if I film a video of it.
What are Cheesy Stuffed Baby Peppers
These cream cheese stuffed peppers are exactly what the name implies. Fill baby bell peppers with a cheesy mixture of cream cheese, cheddar cheese, chopped walnuts, and minced jalapeño. Then the stuffed mini bell pepper halves are baked and enjoyed.
Devour hot or cold, they are an excellent appetizer to serve at parties because they are vegetarian and gluten free. Plus, you can make them ahead of time, and it's always nice to get extra veggies at parties where vegetables are usually lacking.
Why this stuffed mini peppers with cream cheese recipe works
The sweetness from the mini bell peppers and the richness of the cream cheese balances the spicy jalapeño cheese mixture. You get a little crunch from the walnuts for an interesting contract of textures. Sweet and spicy, crunchy and smooth, rich and light -- this appetizer has multiple contrasting qualities that make it better than your boring appetizer.
The best ingredients for the Cream Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers
Bell peppers: For this recipe, baby bell peppers are the best option because you only need to slice them in half and fill. However, if you cannot find mini bell peppers or do not want to use them, simply slice a regular bell pepper into thick slices that will hold the cheese mixture when baked. I recommend using multiple colors so your appetizer is visually pleasing as well.
Cream cheese: The block cream cheese is what I use because it's more budget-friendly, but the cream cheese in the tub will also work. That being said, I alternate between using reduced-fat cream cheese and regular full-fat. I think both taste similar, and I have no preference.
Cheese: Honestly, many types of cheese will work in this recipe. I prefer sharp cheddar for a little extra flavor, but you could use any type of cheddar or mozzarella or even parmesan cheese.
Jalapeño: Before adding the jalapeño, I like to do a little taste to see how spicy it is since the spiciness of jalapeños vary by each pepper. If the jalapeño isn't very spicy, you can add more. Add less if it's very spice. Don't have a jalapeño? You can substitute with 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a pinch. Taste the mixture and add more if needed.
Walnuts: Use raw walnuts in this recipe since you are cooking them in the bell peppers; roasted walnuts might end up being overcooked and have a burned flavor if used in this recipe. Seasoned walnuts will change the flavor of these stuffed bell peppers, so I wouldn't use them. Not a fan of walnuts? You can use pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or skip them altogether.
How to Make Cream Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Making these stuffed baby peppers is incredibly simple, and you can prepare them ahead of time. Here's how to do it:
- Slice the baby bell peppers in half, and remove the seeds and ribs.
- Stir together the softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, and chopped walnuts.
- Fill the mini bell peppers with the cream cheese mixture, and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake, and enjoy!
Tips for Making Cream Cheese Stuffed Peppers
This recipe is pretty straight forward, but a personal preference of mine is to get the cheese in my peppers nice and browned. To do that, I bake them a little longer than needed, for about 25 minutes.
Take them out of the oven earlier if you want, but I love how baking the peppers longer brings out the sweetness of the bell peppers that pairs so well with the spicy jalapeño and the rich walnut-cheese combo. Note that the peppers will be a little softer the longer you bake them.
Make Ahead Tips
To make these ahead of time, you have a few options. The first (and best) option is the slice the peppers and remove the seeds and ribs, and set those aside to use for later. You can also make the cheese mixture in advance. Then assemble and bake right before you're ready to serve.
You can technically prepare and bake these ahead of time, but they don't hold up as well and the peppers get even soften. That's why I prefer to wait to bake right before enjoying.
Ingredient substitutions: Red pepper flakes can be used in place of the jalapeños in a pinch. Any chopped nuts and some seeds like pumpkin or sunflower seeds could be substituted for the walnuts.
Allergy friendly: These are naturally gluten-free, egg-free, and soy-free. To make these nut-free, use pumpkin seeds or skip the nut/seed altogether. If you want these to be dairy-free, use dairy-free cream cheese and cheddar cheese.
Flavor alternatives: Adding some chopped fresh herbs to the cheese mixture would be delicious. I think basil, parsley, cilantro or thyme would work well here. If you're not a fan of spicy foods, leave out the jalapeños.
Store these in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I try to keep them in one layer or add a piece of foil, wax paper or parchment between the layers. I'll also wrap the extras in the foil or parchment I used to bake them on.
Serve cold or at room temperature because they are delicious either way. Or you can heat them in a 350*F oven for about 10 minutes (from the refrigerator) or 20 minutes (from the freezer) until they are warmed through.
Cost of the recipe
- 12 ounces Baby bell peppers: $4
- 8 ounces Cream cheese: $1.90
- 2 ounces Cheddar cheese: $0.75
- 1 Jalapeño: $0.50
- 1 ounce Walnuts: $0.60
TOTAL COST: $7.75 (based on prices from San Diego Whole Foods in 2019)
Cost per serving: $0.97
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze cream cheese stuffed baby peppers?
Yes, you can freeze the cream cheese stuffed baby peppers. I recommend freezing before baking so they hold up better. Assemble and freeze in an airtight container for up to one month.
When ready to serve, remove from freezer and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until cooked through and cheese has melted and is slightly browned. This will take about 30-40 minutes, but check on them as they are baking since cook times vary especially when frozen.
Nutrition benefits of Cheesy Stuffed Baby Peppers
These cream cheese stuffed peppers offer more vitamins, fiber, and protein than your average party appetizer or snack.
Bell peppers are such a versatile veggie, and they can be enjoyed year round. The colorful baby peppers are high in Vitamin C, A, B6, and Folate. They are also a good source of fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Jalapeños have capsaicin which has been shown to have cancer-fighting and antibiotic properties as well as lower LDL cholesterol levels.
High in calcium and protein, cheese adds flavor and fat to the cheese stuffed bell peppers which helps you absorb the nutrients from the bell peppers and jalapeño. Plus, the fat makes these more satisfying.
Walnuts also have fat in them to help absorb the vitamins, and some of that fat is omega-3 fatty acids which help promote brain, heart, and skin health.
What to serve with this dish
Since this is an appetizer, serve with other appetizers like Cauliflower Tater Tots or Pineapple Salsa for more produce and/or with drinks like Jalapeño Margaritas to keep with the spicy theme. These are also great as a veggie-filled snack with some protein.
I have seriously been craving these since I made them a few weeks ago. There are so many reasons these stuffed baby peppers make the ideal appetizer.
First of all, the stuffed peppers are incredibly tasty. They are easy to prepare and only need five ingredients. You can make a bunch at a time, so they are great for entertaining. Plus, they can be made ahead of time if needed.
Served fresh from the oven or at room temperature, everyone will love these.
MORE CHEESY APPETIZER RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE:
- Mexican Cream Cheese Appetizer
- Cold Veggie Pizza
- Hummus Stuffed Peppers
- Greek Dip
- Spinach and Crab Dip
Cheesy Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers
- 12 ounces baby bell peppers
- 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature, reduced fat or regular
- 2 ounces cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 small jalapeno minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/4 cup walnuts chopped (about 1 ounce)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup, if desired.
- Slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise and discard seeds & ribs. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, walnuts and jalapeño until combined.
- Spoon mixture into the bell pepper halves and transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with all the bell peppers. Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on how browned you want the cheese.
- Serve hot or room temperature. Enjoy!
*Inspired by this recipe from The Roasted Root
This post was originally published June 20, 2017. Text, recipe, and photos have been updated.
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