Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats are the healthy weeknight meal you’ll want to make again and again. This is a seriously easy recipe that’s full of delicious flavor without all the guilt!

Zucchini boats lined up on a pan.

Zucchini Boats

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Try some of my other tasty zucchini recipes:

I’ll be honest, zucchini isn’t usually my go-to veggie. It’s tasty enough, but squash and I have a spotty relationship. That being said, I think one of the best ways to enjoy zucchini is by making stuffed zucchini boats.

I decided to go with an Italian theme for these (what can I say, we cook what we know!). This is a variation of my Stuffed Peppers Casserole and it is so good! It comes together pretty quickly and easily but I went with more nutritious ingredients to eliminate the guilt.

A straight-on close up shot of the inside of stuffed zucchini boats.

Tips for making Baked Zucchini

  • The easiest way to remove the zucchini seeds is to use a spoon to gently scrape them out.
  • I bake these with the cut side up. Give them a quick spray with olive oil cooking spray and a sprinkle of salt and pepper for even more flavor before they go into the oven the first time.
  • To measure the water, just fill the empty small sauce can half way. This helps get any leftover sauce out of the can and gives you the right amount of water.
  • This is a great way to use leftover rice, but you can always buy one of the microwavable containers of rice, just be sure it’s plain.
  • Be sure to taste the filling before stuffing the zucchini and adjust the seasonings to your taste.

An overhead image of stuffed zucchini on a pan.

How do I prepare zucchini for stuffed zucchini?

The first thing I do is wash the zucchini. Then I cut each zucchini in half length-wise. Using a spoon, I scoop out the seeds from the middle to hollow them out (bring careful not to go all the way through). Then I place them cut-side up on a lines sheet pan. I spray with olive oil cooking spray and season lightly with salt and pepper and preface them so begin the cooking process while I prepare the filling.

Do I have to precook the zucchini?

I would recommend it so that the zucchini isn’t overly crispy and undercooked.

Can I use a different meat?

Absolutely. If turkey isn’t a thing, ground chicken or ground beef works just as well. You could even use Italian sausage, just remove it from the casings if it isn’t already.

Can I use white rice?

Absolutely, just make sure it comes in cooked.

Do you eat the skin on zucchini boats?

Yes! You do not have to peel them.

Can I freeze zucchini boats?

I don’t recommend freezing the actual zucchini as it will thaw to be soggy. But you can always make the filling and freeze that and then thaw when you’re ready to make them.

A forkful of baked zucchini

Ingredients for making Stuffed Zucchini

  • Zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Red pepper
  • Garlic
  • Ground turkey
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • Romano cheese
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato
  • Cooked rice
  • Mozzarella cheese

A close up image of zucchini boats on a pan

Helpful tools:

  1. Sheet pan
  2. Chef’s knife
  3. Cutting board
  4. Large saute pan
  5. Wooden spoon
  6. Measuring cups
  7. Measuring spoons

Stuffed Zucchini on a plate with a fork.

4.92 from 12 votes
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats are the healthy weeknight meal you'll want to make again and again. This is a seriously easy recipe that's full of delicious flavor without all the guilt!
Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats are the healthy weeknight meal you'll want to make again and again. This is a seriously easy recipe that's full of delicious flavor without all the guilt!

Course: Main, Main Course, Main dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: zucchini boats
Servings: 8 zucchini boats
Author: Jessy Freimann, The Life Jolie
  • 4 medium zucchini, cleaned, halved length-wise and seeds scooped out.
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt + additional for precooking the zucchini
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper + additional for precooking the zucchini
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoons Romano cheese
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 4 ounces water (1/2 of the empty tomato sauce can)
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicone liner.

  2. Place zucchini halves cut-side up, onto the pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven and set aside.

  3. While the zucchini bakes, heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

  4. Add onion and peppers to the pan and saute for around 4 minutes to soften.

  5. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more.

  6. Add ground turkey and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon around 3-5 minutes.

  7. Reduce heat to medium and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/ teaspoon pepper, Italian seasoning, Romano cheese, sauce, water and diced tomato. Saute for 5-7 minutes.

  8. Add cooked rice and stir to combine, remove from heat.

  9. Divide mixture between each zucchini boat and sprinkle each with mozzarella cheese.

  10. Bake uncovered for 15 more minutes and serve immediately.

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions! And if you make this please tag me on Instagram with @thelifejolie so I can share it <3

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  • Reply
    March 29, 2020 at 7:07 am Love this recipe. It was so delicious, I wanted to keep eating it.
  • Reply
    May 1, 2020 at 8:41 pm This was sooo good. I used ground beef because that’s what I had at home. My husband and I loved it. Definitely will be making this one again. 😃
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      May 3, 2020 at 9:50 pm I'm so glad you loved it Terri! I bet it was delicious with ground beef!
  • Reply
    June 9, 2020 at 5:07 pm I’ll be making these soon! What are some good sides that you like to make along side these?
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      June 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm Hi Shelby- This would be excellent with a green salad (try my Summer Berry and Burrata Salad for a little extra sweetness) and also my Marinated Vegetable Salad is another good option if you don't want greens. Enjoy!
  • Reply
    July 31, 2020 at 10:51 pm 5 stars. The flavor was so delicious! Our family loved it! We used ground beef instead and also Parmesan as we had that on hand. Will definitely make again!
  • Reply
    Diane Driscoll
    August 4, 2020 at 8:48 pm Tried this recipe tonight. Used my homemade tomato sauce. My husband loved it. I had a very large zuchini and he ate 1 1/2 pieces. Will definitely make again. I used ground beef. Not fond of ground turkey. Very tasty and the zucchini still had a bit of a crunch. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Definitely a keeper
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      August 8, 2020 at 12:57 pm So glad you enjoyed it! I bet it was even more delicious with homemade sauce and ground beef!
  • Reply
    Valeria Allison
    August 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm I made this and it was delicious. I used loose Italian sausage instead. Turned out great!!!
  • Reply
    September 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm I used crumbled cottage cheese instead of ground turkey to make a vegetarian option. It turned out very good. Very easy to make and you can’t go wrong.
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 11:04 pm Thank you for sharing- it sounds like a really tasty substitution!
  • Reply
    Tonja LeBoeuf
    September 13, 2020 at 3:19 pm This is amazing!! We used Sweet Italian Sausage and it turned out amazing! Then we didn’t have to add the Italian seasonings to it. We are making a bunch and freezing them because we love this recipe so much! Thank you for sharing
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 11:02 pm That sounds delicious- good call Tonja! So glad you loved it!
  • Reply
    September 23, 2020 at 8:14 pm Wow, so yummy! Clearing out the garden I found one of those surprise zucchinis, the extra large ones and used it for this recipe. Made it pretty close to the recipe but didn't need extra water. Have been looking for a really good idea to use the big veggies and this is it for sure. Definitely be making it again, thanks so much!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 10:59 pm Woohoo- jackpot find into a great dinner- so glad you loved it!
  • Reply
    Destiny Coleman
    September 24, 2020 at 8:44 pm Delicious delicious delicious this is so good I can barely type this omg
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      October 27, 2020 at 10:58 pm Awwwww this totally made my day, Destiny- thanks for sharing and I'm so glad you loved it!
  • Reply
    Sharon Welshimer
    January 13, 2021 at 7:23 pm Delicious! I used Turkey Italian sausage and fresh grated Parmesan as substitutions. My zucchini must have been smaller, I ended up freezing enough for a second batch of the stuffing for another meal. Either that or it may have been a slightly larger than 1 lb. (18.5 oz.) Turkey Italian sausage package combined with using a half large onion and a half large red pepper -what I had on hand. I used 3 cloves of minced garlic since I had larger stuffing going. Worked out well. Next time I just need to prepare the zucchini and stuff them for a quick meal night.
  • Reply
    January 26, 2021 at 3:23 pm This was SOO good!!! I couldn’t stop eating the filling! I put the zucchini remnants from carving out the boats for extra veggies. This was really unexpectedly crazy delicious, thank you!!!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      January 26, 2021 at 4:20 pm Yay! So glad you loved it! Yes, the filling is dangerously addictive!
  • Reply
    March 22, 2021 at 7:47 pm If you can get a 12 year old to eat it , it’s gotta be good ... Just made a couple changes from what was on hand . Hot Italian sausage,no pepper we are not fans, homemade sauce and brown rice.. Was so good , a side salad what else do you need ??perfect and delicious a definite keeper .. Thanks
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      March 28, 2021 at 8:12 pm Wow- what a compliment- thank you Joan! So glad you loved it- sounds like you made some delicious changes <3
  • Reply
    Colleen Riordan
    March 30, 2021 at 1:22 pm Picky-husband ate a second helping of this one, and 13-year old commented that he really liked the ground turkey! I was glad this made so much so that I can have leftovers for lunch. For the ingredients in this recipe that can be prepped ahead of time, I would also recommend added the rice to the pre-prepped items (unless of course, one were to purchase already cooked rice, which works great too). I cooked my rice as I was cooking everything else, which worked out fine, but it would have been one less thing to juggle by grabbing the pre-cooked rice out of the fridge and tossing it in. Great recipe!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      April 5, 2021 at 1:34 pm Thanks so much Colleen! I'm so glad you loved it <3 I'll go add that to the prep ingredients- thanks so much for the idea! :)
  • Reply
    May 16, 2021 at 8:59 pm So, there were not any "seeds" in the zucchinis... but I guess I still need to scoop out some "zucchini" in order to make a "boat" to put the turkey mixture in. Not sure what to do with the zucchini that I scoop out, maybe cook it up with the turkey?
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      May 23, 2021 at 8:40 pm Yes, you'll want to scoop out some of the center to make a boat. You could probably add it to the mixture if you want to, but I typically dispose of it.
  • Reply
    May 31, 2021 at 12:06 am This was delicious! I used pork mince and used all the internals of the zucchinis plus added some left over grated carrot I had. I also used 3 cups of rice as I wanted to use all my left overs. I had so much left over mixture that I was able to freeze enough for another entire meal!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      June 8, 2021 at 9:08 pm Hi Kelly- that sounds like some seriously great additions, good thinking! So glad you loved it!
  • Reply
    Nadia Robert
    June 16, 2021 at 7:18 pm This recipe was perfect! My whole family enjoyed this dinner! I just substituted Italian sausage and followed everything else as listed in the recipe. Will surely make again and again!
    • Reply
      Jessy Freimann
      July 5, 2021 at 7:15 pm Yay- so glad you loved it Nadia- I bet it was fantastic with sausage!

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