Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

These Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a healthy and fresh dinner option to enjoy all summer long! Piled high with ground beef or an optional vegetarian filling, this customizable meal will please everyone around your dinner table — even the picky little kids!Stuffed Zucchini Boats are an easy healthy dinner recipe with ground beef or vegetarian with beans!

Before you run off and assume that your finicky offspring (or husband) would NEVER enjoy this stuffed zucchini, hear me out! The vegetables are mild, and the familiar Italian flavors appeal to just about every palate. Plus, if you tell a kid that he’s eating a “boat,” it’s sure to pique his interest!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats can be made with beef or vegan for a great way to use up summer zucchini!

Tips for Making these Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats Family-Friendly:

  • Pick your filling! I have included a recipe that uses ground beef, but you can substitute with ground chicken or ground turkey. I have also included a vegetarian option, so be sure to check the recipe below for those notes. There’s a way to adapt this meal for almost anyone.
  • Serve it with another familiar side dish. For instance, I pair the stuffed zucchini boats with a side of pasta and marinara sauce. That way I know that the boys can fill up on pasta, even if they don’t devour the zucchini boats. Since there’s less pressure and less focus on the zucchini, I find that it makes the kids more adventurous. They can taste one bite, without fear that it’s their only option for dinner. Even though they were skeptical at first, all 3 of my boys ended up eating a decent amount of their zucchini…in addition to the pasta. You never know how they’ll react until you offer it, right?

Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a healthy dinner for summer!

For the Vegetarian or Vegan Stuffed Zucchini, I have a few additional tips:

  • You can use just about any type of bean that you enjoy. I stuffed my zucchini boats with chickpeas, but white beans would also be delicious.
  • If you want a vegan meal, just omit the Parmesan cheese.

Talk about a plate full of colorful veggies!These vegan stuffed zucchini boats are an easy plant based dinner!

If you’re intimidated by the prep time involved in stuffing a zucchini, let me assure you: this is not difficult! I resisted homemade zucchini boats for years because I just assumed that they were way too time-consuming for my kitchen. Wrong!

As usual, I’ve managed to make this process as quick and easy as possible.

Bake these easy stuffed zucchini boats with ground beef for a healthy dinner!

While some stuffed zucchini recipes call for roasting the hollow zucchini before stuffing, I find that the pre-baking is not necessary at all. The vegetable becomes nice and tender (but not too soft) with just 20 minutes in the oven, so you can cut out that extra step!

A plate of satisfying and healthy stuffed zucchini boats is an easy dinner recipe for busy nights!

For quick prep, I also suggest using a melon baller to scoop out the inside of the zucchini. If you don’t have one, it’s fine — just use a sharp teaspoon. However, the small end of this inexpensive tool makes the process so fast — with just one swipe down the center, you can remove all of the pulp!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats are an easy and healthy make ahead dinner!

To avoid the last-minute dinner rush, try preparing the meal in advance. If you have time on the weekend or the night before, you can sauté the meat and vegetables ahead of time.

You can even prepare the entire dish in advance, cover it with plastic wrap, and bake it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. Work ahead to eliminate the stress!Use up your summer zucchini or squash with this easy stuffed zucchini boats recipe!

Whether you serve Stuffed Zucchini with ground beef, or opt for a light and fresh vegan stuffed zucchini dinner, I hope that this simple recipe offers a new way to enjoy summer’s fresh vegetables — with as little effort as possible!Try these easy and healthy stuffed zucchini for a vegetarian dinner or a meal that's made with ground beef!

And if you need some other fresh ways to enjoy zucchini this summer, I’ve got you covered:

Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 263.6 kcal
These Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats are a healthy and fresh dinner option to enjoy all summer long!


  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I used 96% extra lean) see note below for vegetarian option
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Halve the zucchini lengthwise. Hollow out the zucchini by scooping out the pulp, reserving the shells. I like to use the small end of a melon baller for this, but a teaspoon also works fine. Finely chop the pulp and set it aside to use later.
  • Pour tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (or a similar size large dish). Arrange zucchini shells in the dish. Set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved zucchini pulp, beef, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until beef is no longer pink (about 8 minutes). Drain skillet. Stir in basil.
  • In a separate bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Pile the beef mixture into the zucchini shells in the prepared dish.*
  • Sprinkle the top of each zucchini half with about 2 teaspoons of the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown on top.


VEGETARIAN OPTION: Omit beef. Sautee vegetables in the skillet, as instructed. When vegetables are soft, stir in 1 can (about 1.75 cups) drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, as well as the chopped basil. Use this vegetarian filling to stuff the zucchini shells and proceed with recipe above. Baking instructions remain the same.
FOR A VEGAN OPTION: Use beans as described above and omit the Parmesan breadcrumbs on top.
*You will probably only need about ½ of the meat mixture to stuff the zucchini. If you have extra meat mixture leftover, you can freezer or refrigerate it for later use. For instance, stir the leftover meat mixture into a jar of marinara sauce and serve over pasta. Or use the leftover meat filling to stuff baked potatoes, another batch of zucchini, or even bell peppers. Wrap the beef and vegetables in tortillas, add cheese, and serve as tacos!


Serving: 2zucchini halves stuffed with beef fillingCalories: 263.6kcalCarbohydrates: 22.4gProtein: 15.3gFat: 13.5gSaturated Fat: 5.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.7gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.5gCholesterol: 45.2mgSodium: 894.6mgPotassium: 1082.4mgFiber: 5.1gSugar: 8.4g
Keyword: ground beef, healthy dinner, vegetarian, zucchini
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. This was a good, basic recipe I used as a guide before tweaking to personalize to my tastes. First, after halving the zucchini I microwaved them for a few minutes to pre-cook them a bit. I browned the sausage, using Italian sausage I had removed from the casings. To that I added chopped red and yellow bell pepper, onion and the garlic, more than called for, and some fresh herbs. I did chop the zucchini pulp and added that too. I used no bread crumbs or other filler. I mixed up the mozzarella and Parmesan, added some to the sausage mixture and reserved some to sprinkle over the top. Rather than spaghetti sauce I used a good quality marinara, much less than 32 ounces, as I didn’t want the zucchini swimming in sauce. I baked this, uncovered, for just over half an hour. I served Hubs his over a bed of rice and left my low-carb version as is. Delicious.

  2. Yummm! These look so perfect – and I can’t believe I’ve never thought of cooking them with sauce like this! I need to try them soon

  3. I made these for dinner a few nights ago and they were a hit with the whole family! I followed your recipe exactly but omitted the bread crumbs and they were still delicious. This was my first time making zucchini boats and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were. We also thought they make for the perfect summer meal – hearty enough to fill you up after a day spent playing in the sun yet not too heavy to eat in the evening heat. Thanks for another great recipe!

    p.s. the leftover meat mixture worked great the next morning in an egg scramble!

    1. Awesome! I’m so glad that you enjoyed them, Lauren! And I love the idea of using the extra meat in an egg scramble. Thanks so much for that suggestion!

  4. I love this idea, and how healthy it is compared to other recipes! You have a great suggestion of pairing it with other familiar foods, a trick that I will start implementing! Can’t wait to make.
    Do you have any ideas for the scooped out zucchini? I was thinking of mashing it and using it for zucchini bread, but would love other ideas.

    1. Hi, Brie! Hmmm…I would maybe saute the zucchini and add it to a pasta sauce, or just dice it and cook it with butter, garlic and salt in a skillet and use it as a side dish! 🙂