I’m food crushing on my Mexican Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers! I’ve decided they’re like the perfect dish for this time of year when it’s not quite but almost fall weather and we’re alternating between hot, sunny days and cool crisp ones with a good amount of cold, drizzly wet and gloomy days sprinkled in here and there. Actually, I think there was one day where I started out with the heat on (mostly to dry the house out and take off that chill) and ended up turning on the air! It’s been that crazy.
And while I’m starting to lean towards my familiar fall comfort food, I’m not ready for full-on #hygge and fall/winter nesting! I’m still out there almost every day, walking Chance (my deplorable Larbradorable as I call him) and trying to soak up every ray of sunshine when I can and getting soaked when the weather isn’t cooperating. Since I’m in Minnesota, where there are lots of hunters, you should see me in my orange, hugely oversized so it will fit over everything, even my heavy sweatshirts and other jackets, waterproof jacket. I call it my “Please don’t shoot me, I’m just walking my dog” jacket. Kraig, my son rolls his eyes and is slightly horrified by it. “Really, Mom?” he says.
About Mexican Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers:
But I digress! I gotta say, though, for me, any stuffed pepper has a comfort factor, and this one, filled with mildly spiced, smoky shredded chicken (or turkey works, too) and topped with a bit of cheese, delivers a fresher take on comfort. It’s fast and easy, too – there are a few tricks up my sleeve to get this Mexican Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers on the table in no time!
The shredded chicken filling is just a nod to the Mexican side, flavorful and a little smokey, but not really spicy (but add more chipotle pepper if you want) and it’s oh so delish. Even better? It’s so super easy. You can make the shredded chicken by simmering it on the stove or plunk all the ingredients in the Instant Pot. And while I think the flavors are just amazing as is, there’s something magical that happens when that gorgeous shredded chicken meets these mildly sweet yellow bell peppers.
I actually designed this recipe to make a little extra of the shredded chicken (it’s that good and so versatile) so if you need more than four servings, just fill more peppers. The real reason for the extra shredded chicken is I just toss it in the freezer for an emergency “need something fast night.” Combined with cheese it makes great quesadillas, or I might rinse and toss in can of black beans and/or a little corn or maybe some rice to stretch it and change things up. Then it can be used in bowls, burritos, tacos and so on.
But back to these stuffed peppers? They have a little secret. After they’re stuffed, they cook in the microwave, a little trick I learned from my Stepmom, Pat when I made her Old World Stuffed Peppers. I don’t ever want to go back to baked stuffed peppers, because stuffed bell peppers in the microwave are so superior to those baked in the oven. They turn out with absolutely just the right amount of tender and still stay fresh and delish. Trust me on this! And trust me on the yellow peppers, too! I’m frugal and often turn to green peppers because the colored ones are usually a little pricier, but the milder, sweeter yellows (or maybe the orange ones) are so perfect with the chicken. Kids seem to like them better, too.
Making Mexican Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers:
So this recipe is super fast, especially with the Instant Pot (but doesn’t take that long using the stove) because the peppers are finished in the microwave after being stuffed. There are a couple of ways to make this faster. One is to start out with cooked chicken or turkey, and just heat it up until it shreds, which makes this a perfect recipe to use up leftovers, another is to eliminate the spices and use a taco or fajita seasoning.
But let’s talk about the actual bell peppers. First, they go in the microwave for a quick steam, then they’re stuffed. I suggest having a clean towel or hot pad ready to handle the peppers as you stuff them. They are hot hot hot! Then they’re stuffed, sprinkled with cheese, then wrapped and back they go in the microwave. In my microwave, I use the minimum time to steam and to cook and the peppers are gorgeous; fork-tender but not at all mushy. If you have something like a small cup, something plastic for meal prep or from take-out, put it in the center of the dish on top of the peppers to keep the plastic off the cheese.
Saving Money on Mexican Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers:
I often make this recipe with leftover cooked chicken or turkey – what a fun fresh dish this is for leftover Thanksgiving turkey! I just simmer it less or cut back the time in the Instant Pot. Now this is a great way to transform any chicken or turkey leftovers and that’s always saving money (and time!) If buying chicken, I always use breasts, but if you use thighs they’re going to be just as good or better shredded and cost less too. Either way, know the highs and ls in your area and stock up when it’s at it’s cheapest.
I love to buy my peppers at Aldi, and lately, the colored pepper packages have been two yellow peppers and one red. That’s perfect for this recipe. I’m never at a loss as to how to use a red pepper since I prefer them in some recipes, so it’s nice to have a great use for the yellow ones. If you don’t have an Aldi, watch for sales on the peppers; they’re never cheap, but if you buy them on sale, they last for a week or two in the fridge so they are a great item to pick up an extra or two or three for the following week.
Mexican Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers
There’s something a little magical when this Mexican Shredded Chicken meets these sweet bell peppers. Add a little cheese and wait for the compliments!
This recipe makes a little extra shredded chicken to give you a leg up on another meal; use it in bowls, burritos, tacos, etc. It’s fantastic stretched with a can of black beans and/or corn or a little rice.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 20
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 peppers plus extra chicken 1x
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Mexican or Southwestern
For the spice mix:
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the rest:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 handfuls of chopped kale, about 1/2 cup lightly packed
- 1 14.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with juices (like Rotel)
- 1 1/4 pound (20 ounces) chicken or turkey breast, in 1″ chunks
- 1 chipotle chile from a can of chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped, optional
- 2 bell peppers, yellow and/or orange preferred cut in 1/2 from stem to bottom, cleaned of ribs and seeds (leave stem on)
- 3/4 cup grated cheese; a combo of cheddar and jack is nice
- Lime wedges, for serving
- cilantro, optional, for garnish
Ina small bowl, mix together chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne to taste, salt and black pepper. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, add oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and kale cook, stirring now and then for several minutes until starting to soften. Add the spices and cook, stirring until fragrant, being careful not to burn, about a minute or so. Add in the can of Rotel with juices, the chipotle pepper if using, and chicken. Bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook, stirring now and then until chicken is shreddable, adding in a little water as needed (check about halfway through and again towards the end), about 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover and simmer until liquid is mostly gone. Remove from heat, shred, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
Instant Pot Instructions:
Add oil to Instant Pot and set Instant Pot to Saute, High. Add the onion and kale cook, stirring now and then for several minutes until starting to soften. Add the spices and cook, stirring until fragrant, being careful not to burn, about a minute or so. Add in the can of Rotel with juices, the chipotle pepper if using, and chicken. Seal Instant Pot and Set to Pressure High for 10 minutes. Uncover, set to saute and cook until most of the liquid is gone. Remove liner and shred chicken, taste and adjust seasoning and set aside.
For Both Methods, Prepare and Stuff Peppers:
In the meantime, while chicken cooks, place peppers cut side up in a microwaveable baking dish. Add two tablespoons water and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Vent wrap in one or two places. Cook three to five minutes on high. Drain peppers and set aside. Empty dish, saving is plastic if possible, to use in a few minutes.
Using a clean hot pad or towel, pick up each pepper in turn and stuff, using a slotted spoon for the filling so an excess juices are left behind. Arrange back into the original dish. Sprinkle with cheese. If available, place a small plastic cup in center of dish on top of the peppers, nestled where the peppers meet. Cover with plastic wrap, carefully vent in one or two places, being careful not to cause the plastic wrap to sink and touch the cheese. Cook four to five minutes on high.
Serve sprinkled with cilantro with lime wedges on the side.
Cooked chicken or turkey may be used. Follow directions as is, except simmer just until tender and shreddable, four to five minutes or in the Instant Pot, cook for about three minutes.
This is an extremely versatile recipe; Corn and/or drained and rinsed black beans and/or rice may be added. A quarter cup of roughly chopped cilantro may be subbed for the kale. The amount of filling may vary a bit with any changes.
- Serving Size: 1 pepper
- Calories: 303
- Sugar: 4g
- Sodium: 432mg
- Fat: 37g
- Saturated Fat: 6
- Unsaturated Fat: 5
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 15g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 30g
- Cholesterol: 82mg
Keywords: Chicken, Chicken Breast, Stuffed Peppers, Instant Pot, Rotel, Chipotle, Rotel, Bell Peppers, Leftover Turkey, Kale