I’m calling these Fiesta Stuffed Peppers because a fiesta is exactly what happens in your mouth.
Chicken thighs oven-roasted with smoky spicy flavors, then tossed with black beans, corn, jalapeno, onions, quinoa, cheese, and zesty enchilada sauce, all mixed together and stuffed inside a tender pepper – a mouth party is an understatement.
Scott and his fork hovered over the pan and once I heard him mumble “this is what I’m talkin’ about,” I knew I had to share this with you. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner with leftovers for lunch, or for meal-prep on Sunday. Let’s get this party started.
The Key Ingredients
Every year I get a bundle of spices from my mom and this Smoky Paprika Chipotle has been my favorite by far. It’s exactly what the title says – smoky and spicy, but also with subtle hints of garlic. You can find this on Amazon here!
You can make your own spice blend with 2 parts chipotle seasoning with 1 part smoky paprika, oregano, and garlic powder.
Since it was Monday I wanted to cook, but I was also semi-recovering from the weekend so I wasn’t trying to get too fancy with it. I had Scott pick me up some Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce. This stuff never disappoints and perfect for when you want to whip something up quick. I would say these two ingredients were definitely the stars of the dish. I recommend either using both of them, or making your own – as long as it’s along the same lines!
Homemade Enchilada sauce is so easy and only requires a few ingredients, check it out here.
The first step is letting the chicken roast in the oven. I combined the spice blend above with garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper and allowed my chicken thighs to roast for about 30 minutes. You know I’m a thigh girl and I love roasting thighs with skin and bone as it makes the juiciest chicken *ever*. You can easily sub for breasts and use it with or without the skin/bones, it’s just what I recommend.
Roast your chicken the day before or the morning of cooking, to eliminate a good 50-minutes of prep.
You want the chicken to sit about 20-minutes after roasting or until cool to the touch before you begin pulling the meat. Don’t be all brave and dig into hot chicken, trusttttt me.
While the chicken is cooking the rest of the ingredients can get prepped. For the peppers, I cut off the stems and scooped out the seeds and as much of the ribs as I could. You can also cut the pepper in half length-wise with the stem still attached to create a pepper “boat.”
You can stuff with any colored bell pepper you prefer, and you can also stuff with poblabo peppers.
Once that’s done, the quinoa needs to cook (give it ten minutes), vegetables need to be chopped, and the corn/beans need to be drained. I actually used two ears of already-steamed corn that I had from the weekend, so do what is most convenient for you!
Once the chicken is finished roasting, cooled, and chopped up, it’s go time. The onions, garlic, and jalapeno gets sauteed for a few minutes then everything gets added in. The enchilada gets things saucy and the cheese helps to pull everything together. Remember the Scott & fork hover part? Yah, that was now ^^^
The peppers get stuffed, topped with cheese, and finishes cooking in the oven. Lemme just say the hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the peppers to cook, so go ahead and save yourself some filling to munch on.
The key to this recipe is the minimal amount of quinoa. How many times have we had a stuffed pepper that’s stuffed mainly with grains (quinoa or rice) tossed with crumbles of meat and vegetables? I wanted something with substance, that was mixed together and not crumbly, to make each bite truly decadent. The quinoa adds a little “umph” and with the help of the cheese, it all marries together so nicely. It’s almost as rich as a stew and if you wanted to skip the pepper part, I wouldn’t blame you.
Hopefully you catch this post in time to swing by the grocery store for dinner tonight, as your dinner menu is screaming Fiesta. Enjoy!
- 4 chicken thighs, preferably bone-in/skin-on
- 2 tablespoons smoky paprika chipotle*
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 green bell peppers (or color of choice)
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed & minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 15 oz. can corn, drained (or 2 ears steamed corn)
- 15 oz. can black beans, drained
- Shredded chicken from above
- 10 oz. can Old El Paso red enchilada sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese*
- salt and pepper as needed
- olive oil as needed
- Optional garnish: sour cream, avocado, cilantro
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the seasonings together and rub all over the chicken. Be sure to get under the skin. Drizzle with the olive oil, rubbing the oil all over the chicken. Add more seasoning if desired.
- Lay the chicken skin side up in a square baking dish or small roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
- Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Using two forks or your fingers, remove the meat from the bone. Once all meat is removed, roughly chop and set aside until needed. This makes about 2 cups of chicken and can be done the day before.
- Keep the oven set to 350 degrees.
- Add the quinoa, water, and sea salt to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for 10-12 minutes until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside until needed.
- Prep the peppers. Cut the stem-end off the peppers, then use a spoon to scrape out any ribs or seeds. Rinse, dry, and rub the surface of the pepper with olive oil. Set peppers up-right in a baking dish.
- In a large saute pan, heat 3-counts of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot cook the onion and jalapeno until soft and the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 45 seconds. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt.
- Add the quinoa, black beans, corn, chopped chicken, and enchilada sauce. Combine and cook for 3 minutes or until warm.
- Add 1 cup of cheese and mix until melted and combined. Stuff the mix inside each pepper just until the pepper is full. Snug the peppers next to each other, using the peppers as support to stand, in your baking dish. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese.
- Pour 2 cups of water in the baking dish, cover loosely with foil, and bake 30-40 minutes until the peppers are tender. Garnish with diced avocado, cilantro, or sour cream if desired.
- *To make your own chipotle seasoning, combine 2 parts chipotle seasoning to 1 part smoky paprika and oregano.
- *You can also cut off a thin surface of the bottom of the pepper to have them stand easily (optional). You can also use a poblano pepper instead of a bell pepper.
- *I used Sargentos taco cheese.