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!

stuffed zucchini boats with baked cheese in a pan

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.

filling stuffed zucchini boats with baked cheese in a pan

How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats

  1. Prepare zucchini by scraping out the flesh in the center to create a ‘boat’.
  2. Make a quick meat sauce with ground beef or sausage, onion, and marinara sauce or pasta sauce.
  3. 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.

serving stuffed zucchini boats with baked cheese in a pan

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

casserole dish of cheesy Stuffed Zucchini Boats
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Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Tender zucchini boats are filled with a rich meat sauce, topped with cheese, and baked until bubbly.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 boats
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Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.

Sauce

  • 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.

Zucchini

  • 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.

Notes

You may need only two zucchini if the zucchini is large or 3 if they are smaller.
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 to the sauce, allow it to cook 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.
4.99 from 135 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 444 | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 582mg | Potassium: 898mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1595IU | Vitamin C: 62.1mg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 3.8mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
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Stuffed Zucchini Boats before and after cooking with a title
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About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Comments

  1. Love this recipe. So easy to change up meats and flavorings. I have taco boats going right now for my lunch!5 stars

    1. This recipe makes 6 boats. So one serving is equal to one zucchini boat or half a zucchini that has been stuffed. Hope that helps!