Stuffed zucchini boats are delicious, easy to make, and just the perfect way to use up an abundance of zucchini. They’re a nutritious low-carb dinner that pairs perfectly with your favorite salad.
These stuffed zucchini boats pack some serious flavor in every bite. They feature a mix of savory ground beef sautéed with onion, garlic and Italian seasoning and then simmered in tomato sauce — we’re talking serious comfort food vibes here.
The ground beef stuffed zucchini boats are low-carb though and super nutritious — the perfect guilt-free dinner that feels like a treat.
Why you’ll love these stuffed zucchini boats
- Super easy to make your own — Switch up the meat, try adding a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a kick, or garnish with fresh basil leaves for an added layer of flavor.
- Balanced flavors and textures — The combination of fresh zucchini with ground beef and melted cheese creates a mouthwatering dish.
- Quick and easy to prepare — The stuffed zucchini boats are super easy to make even at the end of a busy day.
What goes into zucchini boats
Zucchini — Choose medium-sized zucchini that are firm and free of blemishes. The size ensures that they’re not too small to hold the filling but not so large that they take too long to cook.
Olive oil — Olive oil adds richness to the dish and helps to roast the zucchini to perfection.
If you’re looking to reduce the calorie content, use an olive oil spray to lightly coat the zucchini.
Ground beef — This is the protein powerhouse of your stuffed zucchini boats. Opt for lean ground beef to keep the dish lighter.
Ground turkey, chicken, or plant-based meat substitutes also work great in this recipe.
Onion — I like to use yellow onions in this recipe but white or red onions can be great substitutes. You can also stir in some minced garlic if you like.
Passata (tomato sauce) — This brings a smooth, rich tomato base to the filling. You can also use crushed tomatoes or even diced tomatoes (for a chunkier texture) as a substitute. Marinara sauce is another good choice.
Mozzarella — I used low-fat mozzarella in this recipe, but you can, of course, use the regular kind or substitute with cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, or gouda for a different flavor and melt.
How to make stuffed zucchini boats
Wash the zucchini and cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the flesh, leaving about a ¼-inch thick shell. Set the scooped-out flesh aside.
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the ground beef and cook for 4-5 minutes until it’s no longer pink and slightly browned.
Stir in the chopped onion and chopped zucchini flesh and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until the onion becomes soft.
Next, stir in the Italian seasoning and cook for another minute.
Pour the passata into the skillet with the beef mixture and stir to combine. Allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Spoon the beef and passata mixture into each zucchini half.
Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top of the filled zucchini boats.
Place the baking dish into the preheated oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
Allow the zucchini boats to cool slightly before serving.
Leftovers and storage
- Place any leftover Italian stuffed zucchini boats in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Warm the stuffed zucchini boats in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 15-20 minutes, or until they’re heated through and the cheese is melty again. I don’t recommend reheating them in the microwave as it can make the zucchini boats soggy.
- I don’t recommend freezing the zucchini boats because the texture will be mushy when thawed. You can freeze the ground beef sauce separately for up to 1 month.
Recipe notes and tips
- Serve the zucchini boats with a side of green salad, roasted vegetables, or a slice of crusty bread to complete the meal.
- When scooping out the zucchini flesh, be careful not to remove too much; you want to create a sturdy “boat” to hold the filling.
- Stir in some grated Parmesan cheese in the meat mixture before filling the zucchini for extra flavor.
- If you like a little heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the ground beef mixture for an extra kick.
- Substitute the ground beef with a plant-based meat alternative or a mix of finely chopped mushrooms, bell pepper and beans for a vegetarian version.
If you liked this stuffed zucchini boats recipe, you might also like some of my other recipes with zucchini:
- Chunky Zucchini Soup
- Creamy Mushroom Zucchini Pasta
- Chicken Zucchini Pasta
- Italian Zucchini Stew
- Air Fryer Zucchini Fries
- Wash the zucchini and cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the flesh, leaving about a ¼-inch thick shell. Set the scooped-out flesh aside.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the ground beef and cook for 4-5 minutes until it’s no longer pink and slightly browned.
- Stir in the chopped onion and scooped up zucchini flesh and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until the onion becomes soft.
- Next, stir in the Italian seasoning and cook for another minute.
- Pour the passata into the skillet with the beef mixture and stir to combine. Allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Oil a baking dish with the remaining olive oil and arrange the hollowed zucchini halves in it. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and ground black pepper.
- Spoon the beef and passata mixture into each zucchini half.
- Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella evenly over the top of the filled zucchini boats.
- Place the baking dish into the preheated oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
- Allow the zucchini boats to cool slightly before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 253mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.