Stuffed Tomatoes

5 from 1 vote

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Winter SUMMER is coming! Bring on tomato season! 🍅☀️ I love to make sauces, salsas, and soups from sun-ripe tomatoes, but even more than that, I live for stuffing plump tomatoes with the flavors of my childhood: ground meat, oregano, paprika, and garlic. I grew up eating stuffed tomatoes in Greece (where they are called Gemista) and Bulgaria, but you can find variations of this recipe in so many countries, including Italy and France. This is my Bulgarian 🇧🇬 version: juicy, fat tomatoes filled with a savory ground meat and rice mixture, loaded with aromatics, and roasted until tender and bubbling.

Why You’ll Love Stuffed Tomatoes

If you like tomatoes and meaty, rice casseroles, let me introduce you to your next love affair. These are stuffed with ground pork, jasmine rice, sautéed onions, carrots, and garlic, and mild spices. Stuffed tomatoes are endlessly versatile and perfect for a summery lunch or light dinner. They make a stunning presentation with very little work: do reserve the sliced tomato tops; they make the cutest “hats” when baked and served on top of the filling.

Stuffed Tomatoes

How to Prepare Stuffed Tomatoes

🔥 Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).

🍅 Wash the tomatoes, cut off the tops, and scoop out the flesh, saving the tops. Optionally, you can use the flesh in another recipe (such as sauces or my Greek Dakos).

🧅 In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onions, grated carrot, and garlic.

🌿 Add salt, paprika, dry oregano, and washed rice to the pan.

🥩 Remove the pan from heat and add raw minced meat, mixing well.

🍚 Stuff each tomato with the meat and rice mixture, placing them in a baking dish and then adding the tops.

💦 Pour water into the dish with the tomatoes before baking.

♨️ Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.

🍅 Feel free to check if the rice is cooked by removing one tomato top after 45 minutes.

❄️ Once cooked, remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Nonna’s Tip 🍅

Choose tomatoes that are firm and ripe but not overly soft. This ensures they hold their shape well during the stuffing and baking process. Additionally, if the tomatoes are tipping over in the baking dish, you can slice a thin piece off the bottom of each tomato to create a flat base for stability.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Variations and Substitutions for Stuffed Tomatoes

Feel free to get creative and adapt the recipe based on your preferences and dietary needs! Remember if you are changing or adding ingredients you may have to experiment and adjust the quantities.

  1. For a vegan or vegetarian version, skip the meat and use cooked lentils, chickpeas, or crumbled tofu as a protein-rich alternative.
  2. Instead of 🍚 rice, you can use other grains like quinoa, bulgur wheat, or even cooked barley for a different texture.
  3. Experiment with different 🌿 herbs and spices such as basil, parsley, cumin, or coriander to adjust the flavor of the filling for your Stuffed Tomatoes.
  4. Consider mixing grated or crumbled 🧀 cheese such as Parmesan, feta, or mozzarella into the filling mixture before stuffing the tomatoes.

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Common Questions

What can I do with the leftover tomato flesh?

You can use the tomato flesh in soups, and sauces, or try making a Greek Dakos (bruschetta) recipe.

What type of salt do you use?

I use Redmond Real Salt, please note that depending on the salt you use, your dish may be less or more salty. Salt is to taste so please always taste and adjust as you cook.

Can I use a different type of rice?

Yes, you can substitute the rice with other grains like quinoa, bulgur wheat, or even cooked barley. But remember if you are changing or adding ingredients you may have to experiment with cooking times and adjust the quantities.

How do I make a vegetarian version of these Stuffed Tomatoes?

You can skip the meat entirely and use cooked lentils, chickpeas, or crumbled tofu as a vegetarian alternative.

Can I make these stuffed tomatoes ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the stuffed tomatoes up to a day in advance, cover them, and store them in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, place them in the oven as directed.

Can I freeze these stuffed tomatoes for later?

Yes, you can freeze the stuffed tomatoes once they are cooked. Allow them to cool completely, then wrap them individually or store them in an airtight container. To reheat, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then bake them in the oven until heated through.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed tomatoes are endlessly versatile. This is my Bulgarian 🇧🇬 version: juicy, fat tomatoes filled with a savory ground meat and rice mixture, loaded with aromatics, and roasted until tender and bubbling.
5 from 1 vote
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Bulgarian, Italian, Mediterranean
Servings: 12 tomatoes
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 12 medium tomatoes, vine, all the same size
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, or any you like
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dry
  • ½ cup rice (jasmine) , rinsed (100 grams)
  • 450 grams ground pork, any ground meat
  • ¾ cup water


  • Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
  • Wash all the tomatoes, cut the tops and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Make sure you save the tops and place them to the corresponding tomato and feel free to use the tomato flesh for another recipe.
  • Note: you can use the tomato flesh in soups, sauces, or you can even make my Greek Dakos recipe too.
  • In a large pan on the stove, add the oil. Let it heat up on medium heat and sauté the onions and grated carrot. Add in the garlic and make sure you stir in between each ingredient.
  • Add the salt, paprika, and dry oregano (stir). Add in the washed rice (stir).
  • Take the pan off the heat completely or turn off the stove.
  • Add in the raw minced meat and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt on top of the meat (to taste) and mix it really well. Make sure the meat is mixed with the rice and veggies fully.
  • Take a spoon and stuff each tomato to the top with the meat and rice mixture. Proceed until the tomatoes are all stuffed and the filling is all finished. If you have any extra filling left over make sure you have an extra tomato on hand.
  • Arrange into a baking dish, add the tops on top and pour in 3/4 cup water into the dish.
  • Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes or until the rice has fully cooked.
  • You can remove one of the tomato tops after 45 minutes and taste the rice. If it's cooked, remove the tomatoes out of the oven, let them cool slightly and enjoy!



Calories: 133kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 320mg, Potassium: 294mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 1456IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Bulgarian, Italian, Mediterranean
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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