Want a healthier alternative to nachos that will also boost your veggie intake? Try mini pepper nachos! With refried beans, ground chicken, and chili spices, you get all of the flavors in your favorite snack. There’s even a melty, gooey cheese blanket involved! With this recipe, you can make air fryer stuffed mini peppers or oven bake them. Now everyone can enjoy this low calorie and lower carb alternative to loaded nachos!
Air fryer taco-stuffed mini bell peppers? Um, yes please! You won’t be able to resist this decadent-looking entrée that makes a delicious and healthy meal.
If you are looking for a fun way to cram more veggies into your family’s diet, these air fryer bell pepper nachos are a winner. Hey, most people aren’t meeting the recommendations for veggies. I say if you’re working on increasing your vegetable intake, why not make it enjoyable?
It’s true that these air fryer mini peppers aren’t “real” nachos, and I’m not saying they’ll fool you. However, after stuffing the sweet mini peppers with taco fillings, they might work to satisfy your nacho cravings. (And if only corn chip nachos will do, check out my air fryer nachos recipe!)
I originally posted this one as an oven recipe. Later I realized these Mexican stuffed mini peppers might be a great air fryer recipe too.
I really hit the nail on the head with this one! With the air fryer, you’ll get melty, browned cheese and roasted mini peppers at the same time. It’s my new favorite way to cook taco stuffed mini peppers!
Why make this mini peppers air fryer recipe? Here are some reasons for ya:
- Packed with antioxidant vitamins: This recipe is an excellent source of both vitamin C and vitamin A. If you’re looking for a low carb way to get more vitamin C into your diet, baby peppers are a top pick!
- Essential minerals: The peppers are also a super source of potassium; you’re getting over 700 mg with this recipe. Meanwhile, the beans offer some iron (the absorption of which is enhanced by vitamin C). These air fryer pepper nachos are also an excellent source of calcium. (Thank you, toasty cheese blanket!)
- Fiber: If you aren’t getting the recommended amount of fiber in your diet, this mini pepper recipe can help. You’re getting over 11 grams of fiber with each serving of these air fryer peppers!
- Protein: Thanks to the chicken, beans, and cheese, this air fryer recipe gives you over 35 grams of protein per serving. That should help to keep you full until your next meal!
- Low carb: One serving of these mini bell pepper nachos has under 25 grams of net carbs. (And if unless you're using a low carb diet for weight loss or diabetes control, I wouldn’t worry about the carbs anyway. The carbs here are entirely of the healthier “slow carb” variety.) This recipe is also gluten free.
- Crowd pleasing: It doesn’t matter how nutritious a food is if it tastes yucky. Healthy dishes need to taste great if we expect the family to eat them! Luckily, these air fryer stuffed mini peppers are SO DARN DELICIOUS. My family always looks forward to dinner on the evenings I make these!
You can enjoy ¼ of these air fryer stuffed mini peppers for only 453 calories. Mini bell pepper nachos work well as an under 500 calorie dinner idea!
What do you need to make this mini sweet peppers air fryer recipe? Here’s the roundup:
- Olive oil
- Chopped onion
- Chopped jalapeno pepper
- Lean ground chicken
- Mini bell peppers
- Fat-free refried beans
- Chili powder (taco seasoning can also be used)
- Light Mexican cheese blend (shredded cheese)
- Finely chopped cilantro
I recommend choosing refried beans and salsa that don’t contain added sugar or added oil. There’s really no reason to sweeten the beans or the salsa in this savory dish. Smooth textured salsas will incorporate into the pepper filling easier, but it’s fine to use a chunky salsa if that’s what you have.
Aside from the ingredients listed above, you are also welcome to add any of your other favorite nacho toppings. Sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and pickled jalapenos would be some yummy options. Add these toppings after you’ve baked or air fried the loaded “nachos.”
You can use an air fryer or an oven to make this recipe. I used a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven to make the mini peppers. If you have a Ninja Foodi, Philips, or another air fryer, you may need to adjust the cooking times I’ve provided.
If you have a smaller air fryer with an air fryer basket, you may need to cook the peppers in multiple batches. It’s important not to crowd the mini peppers as they air fry.
Aside from an air fryer, you will also need a cast iron skillet to cook the chicken, onion, and jalapeno. If you’ll be making the peppers in the oven instead of an air fryer, you will need a large roasting pan.
How to Air Fry Mini Peppers
It’s time to make mini peppers in the air fryer! Start by preparing all of the ingredients.
Chop the onion and jalapeno. Cut the tops off of the sweet mini peppers, slice them in half lengthwise, and remove all of their seeds.
Next, heat the olive oil over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the onion, jalapeno, and ground chicken to the skillet. Flip and break up the chicken with a spatula as it cooks. It will take 10-15 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the refried beans, salsa, chili powder, and salt. Make sure the various ingredients are evenly combined throughout the mixture.
Lay the sliced mini sweet peppers out on your air fryer trays or roasting pan with the cut sides facing up. Put the peppers in a single layer. It’s fine if their sides are touching- I like to really pack them in there!
Stuff the mini pepper halves with the chicken and bean mixture. Really pack the filling in there- I was able to use it all.
Don’t worry too much about overstuffing the peppers; these mini pepper nachos are supposed to be a little messy. You can always use a few more pepper halves if you feel the peppers are getting overstuffed.
Now cover the stuffed mini pepper halves with the shredded cheese. If you’ve tightly packed the peppers on the air fryer trays or roasting pan, you can blanket the cheese over the top. There’s no need to fussily place the strands of shredded cheese on each pepper.
Cook Time and Temp
Your air fryer stuffed mini peppers need to air fry for 9 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Air fry one tray of peppers at a time in the top rack position of the air fryer oven. This allows the cheese to get melty and brown, while the peppers get softer but not soggy.
Alternatively, you can cook your mini pepper nachos in the oven instead. Broil them on high for 3 minutes. This will also allow the cheese to melt and brown a bit.
After letting the peppers cool for a few minutes, garnish them with chopped fresh cilantro and serve. Admire that lovely cheese pull as you get the peppers off of the baking tray!
More Mexican Recipes
Craving Mexican food? After making my air fryer mini sweet peppers, try these Mexican-inspired recipes out:
- Pork Shoulder Carnitas Salad
- Huevos Rancheros Savory Oatmeal Breakfast
- Fresh, Homemade Mexican Chorizo Sausage
- Vegan Burrito Bowl with Citrus-Smoked Tofu
- Spicy Beef and Black Bean Taco Salad
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). These protein- and fiber-packed healthy “nachos” are great if you have a weight loss goal. Mini sweet pepper nachos are much lower in calories and carbs than tortilla chips. One serving of these mini peppers stuffed with taco filling offers only 21.3 grams of net carbs per serving.
You’re also ditching the fried food when you skip the chips. In addition, I think you’ll find these air fryer taco stuffed peppers more filling than chips. Try them and see!
(And yes, I know that peppers are botanically fruits. However, they are placed in the vegetable group with other “salad veggies” in the MyPlate model.)
Using light shredded cheese helps to keep this dish at level 1. The oil in full-fat cheese ends up pooling a bit (messy!).
Stick with light cheese to keep your finished dish from getting too greasy. Using lean chicken instead of full fat ground beef or pork helps to cut the grease too.
Confession time: I split this into four servings, but my family of three typically polishes off the entire recipe. It is fine to adjust portions of recipes as needed to fit your individual energy needs. (Teens, young adults, and athletes are some groups that will likely need to beef up all of the level 1 recipes!)
No, mini sweet peppers are not just baby bell peppers (even though I call them that sometimes lol)! Mini peppers are believed to be a hybrid of bell peppers and the wild bird pepper.
To keep stuffed peppers from getting soggy, make sure not to overcook them and don’t add too much fluid to the filling. Air fryer cooking is a great cooking method to prevent watery stuffed peppers. The air fryer’s air flow does a great job with drying the outer surfaces of foods as they cook.
To make air fryer bell pepper nachos keto, you’ll need to replace the refried beans with a different base. Cream cheese stuffed peppers would be a keto friendly option.
Making these air fried bell pepper nachos vegetarian is easy; just skip the ground chicken or replace it with black beans. To make bell pepper nachos vegan, you need to replace both the chicken and the cheese with vegan options. You could try a homemade vegan cheese substitute if you want to avoid ultra-processed vegan “cheeses”.
With these air fryer mini bell peppers, you’re getting plenty of protein, phytonutrient-rich veggies, plus calcium-packed dairy. This mini pepper nacho recipe offers a lot nutritionally, and the nutrients are coming from whole foods. No added sugar or refined flour here! I would consider these mini sweet pepper nachos to be a healthy option (from the standpoint of general nutrition).
Other Quick and Healthy Air Fryer Snacks
If air fryer snack recipes are what you’re after, let me help you out! Check out these other healthy treats that can be made in an air fryer:
- Air Fryer Potato Skins
- Air Fryer Maduros
- Vegan Oyster Mushroom Jerky (Air Fryer Recipe)
- Air Fryer Popcorn
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All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Stuffed Mini Peppers | Mini Pepper Nachos
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
- ½ lb. lean ground chicken (227 grams)
- 1 lb. mini bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeded (454 grams; 18-22 count peppers)
- 15 ounces fat-free refried beans (425 grams; choose one with no added sugar or oil)
- ½ cup smooth-textured salsa with no added sugar or oil (I used salsa especial from Trader Joe's)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 8 ounces light Mexican cheese blend, shredded (227 grams)
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a cast-iron skillet.
- Add the onion, jalapeno, and chicken to the skillet. Occasionally stir and crumble the chicken with a metal spatula as it cooks. It will take 10-15 minutes to thoroughly cook the chicken.
- As the chicken mixture cooks, prepare the mini bell peppers by removing the tops, cutting in half lengthwise, and removing the seeds. Lay the peppers out in a single layer in a large roasting pan or two air fryer trays.
- After the chicken is cooked, stir in the beans, salsa, chili powder, and salt. Make sure the mixture is thoroughly combined.
- Stuff the mini bell pepper halves with the chicken and bean mixture.
- Cover the stuffed pepper halves with the cheese. The peppers should be tightly packed on the pan, so no need to get fussy about carefully covering each pepper. You are making a cheese blanket here!
- Air Fryer Directions: Air fry the peppers for 9 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Air fry one tray of peppers at a time in the top rack position of the air fryer oven (closest to the heating element).
- Oven Directions: Broil the peppers on high for about 3 minutes. The cheese will melt and brown a bit.
- Garnish the finished taco-stuffed mini bell peppers with chopped cilantro. Admire the cheese pull as you remove them from the tray!