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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Baked tender zucchini stuffed with a rich meat sauce and topped with a mound of melty cheese. Stuffed Zucchini is easy to make, and this recipe is one of THE best ways to enjoy zucchini for dinner! 

Taco meat stuffed zucchini in a baking dish.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Garden-fresh zucchini meets the zesty flair of taco flavored ground beef in these delightful Stuffed Zucchini Boats, an accidental creation born out of my neighbor’s garden and my leftovers. As the family debated between tacos and zucchini lasagna, I dreamt of a dish that would unite our cravings while ensuring I didn’t spend the night in the kitchen. The result was this all-in-one meal where veggies combine with hearty meat, and were crowned with melty cheese. Served with a crisp salad and a favorite wine, and you have a dinner winner, proven by my family’s smiles! This dish not only showcases zucchini in its finest form but also promises a hassle-free yet seriously tasty dinner recipe.

Fresh zucchini stuffed with meat and topped with pasta sauce.

Ingredients For Stuffed Zucchini Boats

  • Zucchini: You’ll need to hollow them out to hold the meat mixture.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavor of the zucchini and overall dish.
  • Marinara Sauce: Serves as a base sauce in the baking dish and is also layered over the beef-filled zucchini for added flavor and moisture.
  • Taco Beef and Rice Skillet: This is the main filling for the zucchini boats, offering a rich and flavorful meaty core.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Melted over the top, it gives a gooey, creamy texture and enhances the taste.
  • Fresh Parsley: Used as a garnish, it adds a splash of color and a subtle fresh flavor to the dish.

How To Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats

  1. Start with slicing the zucchini in half, lengthwise. Using the tip of a spoon, scrape out the zucchini flesh. 
  2. Spread some marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange the zucchini boats, flesh-side up, over the pasta sauce, and sprinkle with salt; set aside.
  3. Next, prepare the Taco Beef filling; recipe here 👉 Taco Beef and Rice.
  4. Wipe down the prepared zucchini boats with paper towels and fill them with the prepared beef mixture. No specific amount – just spoon in what the zucchini will hold.
  5. Add a bit more pasta sauce or marinara sauce over zucchini boats and top with cheese.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and mixture is bubbly.
  7. Remove from oven and let stand few minutes before serving. 

Tips For Making Zucchini Boats

  • Zucchini Selection: Choose zucchini that are firm to the touch and medium-sized. This ensures they’re fresh and have enough space for the filling without becoming too cumbersome to eat.
  • Hollowing the Zucchini: Use a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the flesh of the zucchini. Be sure to leave a small border (about 1/4-inch thick) to help the zucchini hold its shape during baking.
  • Utilize the Scooped Flesh: Rather than discarding the scooped-out zucchini flesh, consider dicing it up and adding it to the beef mixture for added texture and nutrition.
  • Leftover Chili: Use leftover meat sauce or my no-beans chili if you don’t want to make the taco beef and rice recipe. You can also use cooked ground or shredded chicken, cooked Italian pork sausage, etc.
  • Even Cooking: To ensure even cooking, try to make sure all the zucchini boats are roughly the same size. If there are larger ones, you might need to give them a few extra minutes in the oven.
  • Make Ahead: You can prepare the zucchini boats (hollowed out and filled) ahead of time and refrigerate. When you’re ready, simply bake them in the oven. This makes it a great dish for meal prep or entertaining.
Lifting out stuffed zucchini boats from baking dish.

What To Serve With Stuffed Zucchini

How To Store Leftovers

  • To refrigerate: Store stuffed zucchini leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • To freeze: Store the zucchini boats in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. If you have to stack the zucchini to fit, use wax paper in between the layers.

More Tasty Zucchini Recipes


Taco meat stuffed zucchini in a baking dish.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Katerina | Diethood
Baked tender zucchini stuffed with a rich meat sauce and topped with a mound of melty cheese.
5 from 15 votes
Servings : 6 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 3 medium zucchini
  • salt
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 1 recipe for Taco Beef and Rice Skillet <- click to get the recipe
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish; set aside.
  • Cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh with the tip of a spoon. Arrange the zucchini boats in the baking dish, flesh-side UP; sprinkle salt over each boat and set aside.
  • Prepare the Taco Beef mixture.
  • Once you've cooked the beef, wipe down the zucchini boats with paper towels. Fill the boats with the prepared beef mixture—no specific amount – just spoon in what the zucchini will hold.
  • Top each zucchini boat with remaining marinara sauce and add cheese on top.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the mixture is bubbly.
  • Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes.
  • Garnish with parsley and serve.


  • Zucchini: Use medium-sized, firm zucchini.
  • Hollowing: Scoop zucchini flesh with a spoon, leaving a 1/4-inch border to retain shape during baking.
  • Repurpose Zucchini Flesh: Dice and add scooped-out flesh to the beef mix for enhanced flavor and nutrition.
  • Alternative Fillings: Swap taco beef with leftover meat sauce, chili, cooked chicken, pork sausage, etc., for variation.
  • Uniform Cooking: Use zucchini boats that are similar in size for even cooking. Larger ones may need extra baking time.
  • Prep Ahead: Assemble zucchini boats in advance, refrigerate, and bake when ready — perfect for meal prep or hosting.


Serving: 1 zucchini boat | Calories: 409 kcal | Carbohydrates: 45 g | Protein: 27 g | Fat: 14 g | Saturated Fat: 5 g | Cholesterol: 62 mg | Sodium: 853 mg | Potassium: 1183 mg | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 9 g | Vitamin A: 675 IU | Vitamin C: 23.3 mg | Calcium: 121 mg | Iron: 1.3 mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian, Mexican/Southwest
Keyword: baked zucchini, easy zucchini recipes, stuffed zucchini, taco beef, zucchini boats
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