These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a delicious way to use fresh zucchini as a main dish. Hollowed out zucchini are filled with a savory Italian meat sauce made with beef or ground turkey and topped with melted cheese. This is a great way to get more veggies at dinner!
Italian stuffed zucchini boats are a great way to enjoy an Italian-style dinner without getting weighed down by a big plate of pasta. The savory tomato meat sauce is just like I would make for pasta night, but served in zucchini boats instead.
I love all of the savory Italian flavors in this dish and I love that it’s a little lighter and healthier! The meat filling can be made with ground beef or lean ground turkey and it’s very easy to make. Pop the zucchini boats in the oven topped with cheese and they come out bubbling hot, cheesy and so delicious.
How to Make Zucchini Boats
I like to use medium-sized zucchinis for this recipe. Larger zucchinis tend to be a little stringier and drier, so I would avoid using extra big ones.
Turning them into “boats” to hold the filling is really easy:
- Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise so you have two equal-sized long pieces.
- You will need to scoop out some of the flesh so there is room for the filling. The easiest way to do this is with a spoon. Just scoop it out and discard it or save it to use in another recipe.
- As you’re scooping, be sure to leave a border and don’t scoop all the way to the bottom of the zucchini.
- Place the zucchini halves cut-side up in a 9x13” baking dish coated with cooking spray. If they don’t sit flat and are tipping to one side, you can shave off a small amount on the bottom of the zucchini so it will sit straight.
Easy Zucchini Boat Filling
I love this simple filling and it’s similar to homemade meat sauce, but not as thin. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make it:
- Olive oil
- Ground beef or ground turkey
- Minced garlic
- Diced onion
- Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- Your favorite jarred pasta sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Break up the meat and cook it in the oil, along with the onion and garlic, until it’s no longer pink.
Remove the pan from the heat and drain off any excess fat in the pan. Add the pasta sauce and stir to combine.
Divide the filling evenly among the zucchini. Bake the zucchini boats for 10 to 15 minutes and then sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake them for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Can I make this dish vegetarian?
You can omit the meat and use your favorite meat substitute or you can sauté mushrooms with the onions and garlic instead. The cooking time will vary if you do this.
My zucchini wasn’t cooked all the way through – what happened?
If you used large zucchini you will need to add extra baking time to ensure they cook all the way through.
If you used medium-sized ones and prefer softer cooked zucchini, I recommend covering the baking dish with foil when you bake the boats. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook and become soggy.
Can I make this zucchini boat recipe ahead of time?
You can definitely make the filling ahead! It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days or you can freeze it. Just be sure to thaw it out before using it to make your boats.
I don’t recommend prepping the zucchini ahead. Exposing the flesh will cause it to dry out if it sits too long.
Can I freeze zucchini boats?
Unfortunately, they won’t freeze well so I don’t recommend it. Once you bake them after they’ve been frozen there will be excess water that will make the zucchini soggy. But, like I mentioned, you can definitely freeze the filling and assemble the boats later.
What can I serve with zucchini boats?
What I love about this recipe is that you can easily serve them on their own as a complete dinner when you want something light. But you can also add some sides if you want something heartier!
- Serve cooked rice or cauliflower rice on the side.
- You can’t go wrong with some toasted bread or garlic bread!
- A simple salad with greens and your favorite dressing is great, too.
- If you’re craving some carbs add a side of buttered noodles.
- Steamed or roasted vegetables are a delicious side dish, too! Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and potatoes would be delicious.
I hope you love this Italian stuffed zucchini boat recipe as much as we do! It’s an easy dinner that’s a great way to use up lots of zucchini.
Other Dinners You'll Enjoy
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Ground beef or turkey
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1/2 cup Onion diced
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup jarred pasta sauce
- 4 Zucchini medium
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the meat, garlic and onion. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and cook, stirring often, until meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from heat. Drain fat if needed.
- Stir the pasta sauce into the meat mixture.
- Slice zucchini evenly lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the middle of the flesh, leaving a small border with remaining flesh and being careful not to cut all the way through the zucchini.
- Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cut zucchini cut-side up in the pan.
- Fill the zucchini boats with the meat mixture. Top with cheese half way through cooking.
- Bake the zucchini boats until they are golden on top, about 20-25 minutes.
- If you want your Zucchini to be softer cover with foil while you cook. Check carefully so it doesn’t get soggy.
- For extra flavor add a little pasta sauce on top at the end of the cooking process.
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats are the perfect way to enjoy an Italian-style dinner without all the carbs! This dinner recipe is a little lighter and healthier without sacrificing any of the savory Italian flavor! Enjoy!
Mel is an IT guy turned blogger and is discovering his love of cooking and photography. If you ever have Fantasy Football questions, he's your guy.