Zucchini Boats stuffed with scrumptious meat filling, topped with cheese, then baked until zucchini is tender and cheese is golden and bubbly. This is my new go-to low carb dinner. Obsessed!
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Zucchini boats have been on my To-Do list for years and they didn’t disappoint. As soon as my family left on a boys’ trip, I set to test out stuffed zucchini boats because I suspected I would love to have them all to myself. And sure thing, that’s how it went. 🙂
I’ve shared several ‘boat’ and ‘stuffed’ vegetable dishes already on the blog – like Tex mex stuffed spaghetti squash, avocado and egg stuffed spaghetti squash, Instant Pot stuffed peppers (or baked Mexican stuffed peppers), and Turkey stuffed acorn squash. They’re easy to prepare, nutritious, and full of flavor. These stuffed zucchini boats with ground meat are no different!
This is super easy, fun to cook, and a flavorful dinner. You can make boats as healthy or not depending on the type of meat and the amount of cheese you use.
While zucchini boats do not freeze well, they are quick to make and leftovers last for up to 3 days. You can even eat them cold.
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Prep: Cut zucchini in halves and scoop out seeds to make a cavity with a tablespoon. For larger zucchini, I like to use a no-trigger ice cream scoop. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, pour water or broth into large baking dish and arrange zucchini halves in a single layer.
- Filling: Saute veggies with spices first. Then add ground meat and cook until small pieces. Then season with wine, half tomato sauce and cook down a bit.
- Stuff: Divide filling between 6 boats, top with tomato sauce and sprinkle with cheese – all evenly.
- Bake: Bake uncovered on the bottom rack for about 25 minutes for soft yet with firmness zucchini. For very soft shells, bake for 35 minutes but add cheese halfway through baking time to prevent it from drying out.
Full recipe card is below.
Tips and Variations
- Garden zucchini: If you have large footlong garden zucchini, cut them in half to make shorter or bake longer. Squash will work just as well.
- When baking longer: Make sure to add cheese halfway through baking time so it doesn’t dry out.
- Veggies: If you don’t have celery, skip it or add chopped bell pepper or mushrooms.
- Seasonings: Use any combination of Italian flavor dried herbs you have on hand. Even a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon, will make filling “cozy”. I always do that with a meat sauce.
- Wine and broth: Wine added a lot of flavor to the filling. You can use broth or simply skip.
- Ground meat and cheese: I used ground turkey for more lean filling. You can use beef (drain fat after cooking), chicken, or even Italian sausage. I prefer Mozzarella cheese in this recipe, however, cheddar, havarti, provolone or even half amount of Parmesan will work just as well.
Serving and Storing
- Serving: On its own, zucchini boats make easy and delicious low carb dinner. For more hungry family members, serve over some spaghetti or pictured Instant Pot jambalaya. You could also serve with the salad of your choice!
- Storing: First of all, zucchini boats do not freeze well and I don’t recommend making them ahead because the meat isn’t fully cooked. Refrigerate leftovers tightly covered or in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Reheating: Zucchini boats taste great hot or warm. If it is a hot summer day, they taste amazing cold. To reheat, add boats to a baking dish with a splash of water, cover and place in preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes. This way they warm through and do not dry out.
More Zucchini Recipes
- Zucchini lasagna
- Zucchini fritters
- Caprese chicken and zucchini
- Chicken zucchini casserole
- Zucchini quiche
- Zucchini casserole
- Zucchini noodles with chicken, cilantro, and lime
You might also want to browse this list of 30 more zucchini recipes!
- 3 lbs or 3 medium zucchini
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp oregano dried
- 1/2 tsp basil dried
- 1/4 tsp thyme dried
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/4 cup red or white wine
- 14 oz can tomato sauce low sodium
- 1/4 cup broth or water
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- Basil or parsley for garnish
- Prep zucchini by slicing in half and scooping out the seeds and core in the middle with a tablespoon or ice cream/cookie scoop. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, add 1/4 cup broth or water to 9 x 13 baking dish and lay zucchini in it. Set aside.
- Preheat large skillet on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion, celery and garlic, saute for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Then add dried oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper and saute for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add ground turkey and cook for 7 minutes, constantly stirring and breaking into small pieces.
- Add wine and half can of tomato sauce. Stir, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat.
- Divide meat mixture between zucchini boats evenly, spoon remaining tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes uncovered.
- Remove from the oven, garnish with basil or parsley and serve hot, warm or cold. So good either way!
Store: Refrigerate leftovers covered tightly for up to 3 days. I do not recommend to freeze boats before or after cooking. Zucchini doesn't freeze well due to its high water content.
- You can use ground chicken or ground beef (I recommend to drain it).
- Instead of wine, use more broth or skip.
- Instead of celery, you can use bell pepper or skip.
- Dried herbs can be any of Italian flavor, even Italian seasoning.
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