This healthy stuffed poblano peppers recipe is packed with turkey, black beans, and southwestern flavors for a satisfying, not-too-spicy main dish. Leftovers make a great lunch!
This healthy stuffed poblano peppers recipe has been a long time coming.
Originally I had planned for this dish to yield four servings. When it came time to stuff the four poblanos I had prepped, there was enough filling for five peppers.
So the next time I made it I prepped five peppers. Would you believe the same amount of the same filling ingredients this time around made enough for six peppers? I felt like there was some Strega Nona magic pasta pot kind of magic going on around here.
Thankfully attempt #3 held strong at six peppers, so that’s where we landed. Six stuffed poblano peppers packed with a mix of turkey and other healthy southwestern flavors. This poblano peppers recipe seriously doesn’t taste ‘healthy’ at all.
Are poblano peppers spicy?
Quick answer: Not especially!
Longer answer: The poblano pepper rates between 1,000 and 2,000 units on the Scoville scale (per epicurious). Considering the scale goes up to 3,000,000 (YIKES) and popular jalapeno peppers fall between 3,500 and 8,000 units, you don’t have much to worry about with poblanos.
That said, you’ll still want to remove the seeds and pith before filling, and do so carefully. I highly recommend wearing disposable gloves for this as you’ll be handling six poblano peppers here and burning fingers are no joke. Plus the risk of accidentally touching your eyes with capsaicin on them?
NOOO GOD. NO GOD PLEASE NO. NO. NO. à la Michael Scott on that one.
How to make stuffed poblano peppers
“To pre-roast the poblanos, or not to pre-roast the poblanos, that is the question.”
And as I’ve found, it’s a question that doesn’t have a right or wrong answer.
It all comes down to your tolerance for the poblano pepper skin. Roasting the poblanos before filling them gives you the opportunity to remove the skin, leaving you a slightly-charred and softened pepper vehicle for all this filling goodness. You know that I’m all about how to roast poblano peppers in the oven.
That said, it takes longer to remove the seeds once the peppers are roasted because they’re slippery. And with six peppers to de-seed, the extra time can add up. The poblanos are also very tender, which can lead to tearing. Not a big deal here since they’re just sitting on a baking sheet, but some filling can spill out. Just FYI — a worthwhile trade-off for some of you, maybe not all.
For those that would rather not bother, you don’t have to pre-roast the peppers. After halving them and filling them raw, I find they soften sufficiently during a longer (45-50 minute) cook time. And with all of the elements and textures going on in the filling, I didn’t find the skin to be too bothersome in the finished dish.
If you pre-roast the poblanos (like the photo directly above) you’re front-loading your cook time or can save some time by prepping them ahead. The filling ingredients are fully cooked so they’ll just need 10-15 minutes or so for the cheese to melt and everything to heat.
It really comes down to your preference.
Now let’s talk filling. No matter how you prep the poblanos, you’ll start by browning up ground turkey, then onion and garlic. Season everything with chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper, then add in black beans, corn, and a jar of salsa.
The salsa adds a great flavor and ensures the turkey filling isn’t dry whatsoever. Plus you can use your preferred variety – mild, spicy, low-sodium, etc.
All that’s left is to stir in some fresh cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese (or queso fresco). This filling is ready to roll. Into the poblanos it goes, topped with sharp cheddar and baked until heated and the cheese is melty.
What makes this stuffed poblano peppers recipe healthy?
There are several elements that help keep this poblano pepper recipe on the healthier side of things.
- Ground turkey is used instead of ground beef or chorizo to lower the fat content.
- Black beans add fiber and some heft…
- …and rinsing and draining canned beans removes much of their sodium, too.
- Using strong varieties of cheese means you can use less of it but still have an impact. Crumbled part-skim cotija cheese lends a salty/tangy element, while sharp/extra sharp cheddar brings it on flavor. Many southwestern/Mexican inspired dishes automatically qualify as comfort food due to alllll that cheese, but this stuffed poblano peppers recipe as written yields 1.17 ounces of cheese per portion — just about the one ounce listed serving size on the cheese packaging. And who ever manages to stick to that? 😉
- I highly recommend wearing disposable gloves when handling the raw poblano peppers, seeds, and pith.
Healthy Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- 6 poblano peppers
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 1 16-oz jar salsa
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 oz cotija cheese, crumbled
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Slice each poblano pepper in half lengthwise. Discard the seeds and trim away the white pith. Place each poblano half on a large rimmed baking sheet skin side down. Set aside for now. **Highly recommended to wear disposable gloves when handling peppers.**
- Add ground turkey to a large skillet set over medium heat. Break turkey up into crumbles and cook for 5-6 minutes before adding the diced onion and minced garlic. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until everything is browned and the turkey is fully cooked (no longer pink). Sprinkle chili powder, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and salt over top and stir until the turkey is coated evenly.
- Stir in the black beans, corn, and salsa and stir to combine. Let everything cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro and crumbled cotija cheese.
- Spoon filling into each seeded poblano pepper half, situating them side-by-side on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven. Sprinkle shredded cheddar over top of each poblano, then return to the oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted then serve.
- Follow these instructions on how to roast a poblano pepper.
- Cut a slit through one side of the poblano pepper and carefully remove and discard the seeds and pith. Place poblanos next to one another on a baking sheet.
- Fill each of the six peppers with the turkey filling and top with shredded cheese.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.