Zucchini Boats Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 35 min. Bake: 25 min.
Stuffed zucchini boats are quick, easy and low-carb, making them the perfect vessel (literally) for your garden's summer bounty.

Updated: May 13, 2024

Calling all zucchini lovers! When your garden is overflowing with an abundant crop of this summer vegetable, zucchini bread and zoodles will always get rave reviews. But when you want some more variety, stuffed zucchini boats are one of those easy zucchini recipes that can be endlessly customized.

Just about any zucchini variety can be stuffed with your favorite fillings—from standard green zucchini and yellow summer squash to more exotic varieties like Summer Green Tiger, Black Beauty and Cocozelle. Zucchini boats are a quick, low-carb dinner option, which pack a ton of vitamins, as well as manganese, potassium, folate and plenty of dietary fiber.

And while we love to make this zucchini boats recipe during peak summer squash season, it’s one you can enjoy any time of the year with fresh zucchini from your local farmers market or grocery store.

Ingredients for Stuffed Zucchini Boats

  • Zucchini: The oblong shape and mild flavor of zucchini make it the perfect vessel for fillings, sauces and spices. Home garden-grown zucchini are always preferred, but year-round zucchini from the store are fine, too.
  • Ground beef: Ground beef packs protein into every bite and gives the zucchini boats big beefy flavor. We prefer 80/20 ground beef, but use whatever ratio of lean meat to fat you prefer.
  • Vegetables: This recipe calls for a blend of chopped onions, mushrooms and peppers. What’s great about zucchini boats, though, is that you can easily use any combination of vegetables you love.
  • Ketchup: This condiment adds moisture and helps bind the filling together while imparting sweet tomato flavor. If you really want to keep it low-carb, look for a no-sugar ketchup.
  • Cheese: Everything is better with cheese! A generous sprinkle of cheddar cheese may convince even the pickiest eaters to take a bite of these stuffed zucchini boats.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the zucchini

Overhead shot of scoop out pulp of zucchini; wooden background;TMB Studio

Trim off the ends of each zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving the shells about 1/2-inch thick. Finely chop the flesh and set it aside.

Step 2: Cook the filling

Overhead shot of skillet; cooked beef, zucchini pulp, onion, mushrooms and peppers over medium heat; until meat in no longer pink; induction stove; wooden background;TMB Studio

In a skillet, cook the ground beef, zucchini flesh, onion, mushrooms and peppers over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink. Drain off any excess liquid or fat, and remove the skillet from the heat.

Close shot of remove skillet from heat; added 1/2 cup cheese, ketchup, salt and pepper; mix well; spatula; wooden background;TMB Studio

Add 1/2 cup of cheese, the ketchup, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Step 3: Stuff and bake

Overhead shot of spoon into zucchini sheels; placed in a greased baking dish; wooden background;TMB Studio

Spoon the filling into the zucchini shells and arrange them in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish.

Overhead shot of sprinkled with remaining cheese; red baking dish; wooden background;TMB Studio

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350ºF until the zucchini boats are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Overhead shot of Zucchini Boats; sauce; salt shaker; plates; napkin; glass drinks; wooden background;TMB Studio

Garnish the zucchini boats with minced parsley and serve them with marinara sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • Mix up the meat: Try this zucchini boat recipe with ground chicken, ground turkey or your favorite sweet or spicy Italian sausage.
  • Make them vegetarian: For vegetarian zucchini boats, omit the ground beef and instead use tempeh or another plant-based meat alternative. You can also use 1-1/2 cups of cooked quinoa, farro or brown rice as a substitute for the meat.
  • Switch the sauce: Not a fan of ketchup? Opt for marinara sauce, pizza sauce or a dollop of your favorite pesto.
  • Change up the cheese: Try making stuffed zucchini boats with your favorite cheese. The best melting cheeses include Swiss, Gruyere, Gouda, mozzarella, Colby, pepper jack or Monterey Jack.
  • Try an international flavor profile: Zucchini boats can be adapted to the flavors of other cuisines. Stuff them with the filling from these Asian lettuce wraps, or cook some Mexican skillet rice and use it as a filling.
  • Stuff a different squash: While zucchini may be our favorite squash to stuff, you can make spaghetti squash boats and stuffed acorn squash, too.

How to Store Zucchini Boats

Zucchini boats can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three to four days, either baked or unbaked. Seal them in an air-tight container. To reheat the zucchini boats, bake them in a 350° oven until the squash is tender and the the filling is heated through.

Can you freeze zucchini boats?

We do not recommend freezing zucchini boats. Freezing zucchini generally results in a mushy texture, due to its high water content. Once thawed, previously frozen zucchini tends to get soggy and lose its shape. However, if this textural change does not bother you, you can experiment with freezing zucchini boats. They should be enjoyed within three to four months once frozen.

Zucchini Boats Tips

Overhead shot of Zucchini Boats served with marinara sauce and drink; salt shaker; spoon; bowl; table cloth; wooden background;TMB Studio

What size zucchini is best for stuffed zucchini boats?

While it might be tempting to snag the biggest squash possible for stuffed zucchini boats, it’s not the best option. As a zucchini grows, it gets tougher, it holds more water, and its flavor becomes increasingly bland. Instead, opt for a small to medium zucchini. They will have a sweeter flavor and a more tender texture that will yield a much more satisfying end result. Save the big ones for zucchini patties or zucchini bread.

What other ways can you cook stuffed zucchini boats?

In addition to baking, you can make zucchini boats in an air fryer or on the grill. For air-fryer stuffed zucchini, stuff the zucchini with the cooked filling, preheat the air fryer to 350°, and place them on a greased tray in the air-fryer basket. Cook them for eight minutes, top them with cheese, and cook them about five minutes more until the zucchini is tender. For grilled zucchini boats, grill them over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes.

What can you serve with zucchini boats?

Enjoy your fleet of zucchini boats with a green salad made with other garden produce. Additionally, a batch of fluffy Italian rice or quinoa is a great way to incorporate wholesome grains into the menu. You might also consider baking up this easy Dutch-oven bread for some satisfying carbohydrates.

Watch how to Make Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats

Prep Time 35 min
Cook Time 25 min
Yield 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini (about 8 inches)
  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: minced fresh parsley and marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Trim the ends off zucchini. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/2-in. shells. Finely chop pulp.
  2. In a skillet, cook beef, zucchini pulp, onion, mushrooms and peppers over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from the heat. Add 1/2 cup cheese, ketchup, salt and pepper; mix well. Spoon into the zucchini shells. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 350° until zucchini is tender, 25-30 minutes. If desired, garnish with minced parsley and serve with marinara sauce.

Nutrition Facts

1 stuffed zucchini half: 312 calories, 20g fat (9g saturated fat), 81mg cholesterol, 337mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 2g fiber), 24g protein.