Stuffed Zucchini Boats are the perfect way to enjoy your fresh summer zucchini!
Tender zucchini filled with a rich and zesty meat sauce is topped with cheese and baked until tender and bubbly.
Serve this easy dish with a side salad and garlic bread for the perfect family meal!
Of all of the things that grow in my garden, the herbs and the zucchini have to be my absolute favorites (ok, and the tender baby carrots). I have so many zucchini recipes and this one is near the top of the list!
Ingredients for Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Zucchini – You may need only two zucchini if the zucchini is large or 3-4 if they are smaller. Yellow summer squash can also be used in this recipe, you may need to reduce the cooking time by a few minutes.
This filling can also be added to small bell peppers (pre-cook them a minute or two in the microwave first) or even portobello mushrooms if you’d like.
Meat Filling – This recipe starts with a zesty meat sauce. I use beef but Italian sausage (or even ground turkey sausage) is great too! Use your favorite marinara sauce and chop up any veggies you love to add to the sauce.
Optional Additions – Fresh tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, or other fresh vegetables can be added. Try a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a little heat.
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Prepare zucchini by scraping out the flesh in the center to create a ‘boat’.
- Make a quick meat sauce with ground beef or sausage, onion, and marinara sauce or pasta sauce.
- Fill and bake the zucchini until tender. Sprinkle with cheese and bake a little bit longer.
Garnish with fresh herbs if you’d like and serve with crusty bread.
Tips for Making Great Zucchini Boats
- If you prefer softer zucchini or if using garden zucchini that are thicker or large, this recipe can be cooked longer before adding the cheese.
- The core of the zucchini can be chopped and added to the sauce along with the red pepper or it can be added to soups or chilis if desired.
- If adding the zucchini or other vegetables to the sauce, allow them to cook a little bit before adding the marinara sauce so the sauce is not watery.
- Leftover meat sauce or chili can be used in place of the meat sauce in this recipe.
More Ways to Enjoy Fresh Zucchini
- Crispy Oven Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries These easy parmesan zucchini fries are so good you’d never know they’re baked and not fried!
- Parmesan Chicken Foil Packets: Zucchini is the perfect addition to these quick and easy foil packets. We love to serve them over spaghetti!
- Zucchini Brownies If you’ve never had zucchini brownies, you’ve been missing out! They’re so moist topped with a perfect 1 Minute Frosting!
- Zucchini Soup This soup is creamy, flavorful, and freezer friendly!
Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 3 medium zucchini* about 6 ounces each
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
Meat Sauce (or use leftover meat sauce)
- 1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage
- 1 onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 ½ cups pasta sauce or marinara, divided
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Stir in the bell pepper (and any extra zucchini bits if you'd like) and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until it begins to soften.
- Stir in 1 cup pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt & pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
- Slice zucchini lengthwise and use a teaspoon to scrape out the center to create a ½-inch thick shell. Brush with olive oil and season the zucchini with salt & pepper to taste.
- Place the zucchini in a large baking dish. Fill each zucchini with the beef mixture. Top with the remaining ½ cup pasta sauce and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Top with the cheeses and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until the zucchini is soft and the cheese is bubbly.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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I have made this as written and love it. I also make a riff on it. I make the filling, and slice an eggplant vertically so I have long oval slices about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. I grill them, place them in a casserole dish, top with the filling, sauce and cheeses and bake. When I see the small eggplants in the store I might try making eggplant boats instead.
this is absolutely delicious. we can hardly wait until the next time we serve it. a definite go to recipe
These recipes are great, fast, easy and everyone enjoys the results. Will visit this site often.
I made these tonight. One of my favorite easy dinner recipes. Super simple and my husband loved them! They are very filling and were eaten as a meal tonight! My question is, can these be meal prepped or will they be too mushy?
These can be prepped ahead of time, I just wouldn’t recommend freezing them. I am so glad you loved this recipe Tammy!
This was excellent!! Will definitely be making again.
They were delicious
Amazing recipes and so easy.
Pretty good! I think my zucchini was a bit past it’s prime, but overall very enjoyable. We added Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Will also be good tomorrow for leftovers!
I used leftover roast beef instead of ground beef and it turned out delicious. Thank you for your recipes.
This saucy stuffed zucchini looks delicious. Thanks for sharing this stuffed zucchini recipe with all of us. My whole family llove this stuffed zucchini recipe. Even i have a special stuffed zucchini with italian sausage as well.
Just made this tonight due to a huge zucchini in our garden!
The recipe was great, but I had to cook it twice as long
I think next time I’d half-bake the zucchini while making the beef .. so it’s done at the same time :)
Thanks for this recipe. I put the scooped zucchini together with the meat so as not to waste it. Also, I used 4 zucchinis as there were leftover meat. Maybe my zucchinis weren’t that big enough. And half-half ground pork and beef.
My husband loved it. I prepared it as a side dish.
For us beginners, what is done with the olive oil? Put it in the pan before you add the meat or put it in the casserole dish before you add the zucchini?
Apologies for the confusion Christy, the recipe has been updated. In the original version, we cooked the onion in olive oil but found it was easier to save a step and cook it with the beef. I hope that helps!
My daughter gave me two LARGE zucchinis from her garden, so I needed a recipe to cook them. Your Stuffed Zucchini Boats recipe sounds easy and delicious! I’m trying it tonight.
Enjoy it Kathleen, it’s definitely delicious!
are you cooking the inside of the zucchini and adding it to the boat filing
While the recipe doesn’t call for cooking the inside, it can definitely be chopped up and cooked with the bell pepper and sauce.
Tried your zucchini boats and my family loved them ! Used eggplant and ground chicken as was in house. Looking forward to trying more recipes. I live your videos, quick, simple and no fluff for busy working mom. Thank you!
Thank you so much!! So glad your family loved them, Cassidy!
I made these with and Italian meat substitute and they were Fantastic !!! Even more delicious the next day for lunch !!! in fact I am making a bunch tonight tonight for lunches and grab n go snacks !!! Thank You so much for the directions !!!
Looking forward to ur recipes
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These were amazing! I followed the advice of one reviewer and par-baked the zucchini boats first for about 8 mins. I added mushrooms to the sauce, as well as Mike’s hot honey for a little kick and sweetness. I topped everything off with mini marinated mozzarella balls cut into pieces since I had some on-hand. These will definitely be a staple in our household from now on!
That sounds so delicious Diana! Thanks for sharing