Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini Boats


5 from 87 votes
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These cheesy stuffed zucchini boats make a quick, easy, and healthy dinner. I love how versatile they are.

Love stuffed vegetables? Try my healthy stuffed peppers, stuffed tomatoes, and stuffed eggplant next.

zucchini boats.

My stuffed zucchini boat recipe is my go-to when I need to use up zucchini AND I have leftovers. Why? Well, once the zucchini is scooped out, you can fill it with literally anything. Today, I’m sharing a simple and healthy turkey filling, but the options are endless!

Table of Contents
  1. Why I love this recipe
  2. Ingredients needed 
  3. How to make zucchini boats
  4. Arman’s recipe tips
  5. Variations
  6. Storage instructions
  7. More zucchini recipes
  8. Zucchini Boats (Recipe Card)

Why I love this recipe

  • Healthy. The zucchini provides fiber and vitamins, the turkey provides lean protein, and the cheese provides healthy fats. I reckon this is balance in a boat.
  • Easy to make. Prepare the filling, add it to the zucchini boats, and bake is all you have to do to make this delicious meal.
  • Low carb. And by accident, too!
  • Easy to customize. Fill it with your favorite sauces, protein, veggies, and cheeses! 
cheesy stuffed zucchini boats.

Ingredients needed 

  • Zucchini. Because we’ll be scooping out the zucchini innards and stuffing them, choose ones on the larger side for ease.  
  • Ground turkey. I typically use lean ground turkey as it’s healthier, but any ground turkey works. Simmer the mixture a little longer to compensate for the extra liquid if you use a higher fat cut.
  • Olive oil. To saute.
  • Garlic and onion. Finely diced.
  • Marinara sauce. Or any Italian tomato sauce. I typically make either my pomodoro sauce or sugo.
  • Spices. Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  • Cheese. I like using a Mexican cheese blend (a mix of cheddar and Colby jack) but any works. 
  • Cilantro or parsley. To serve. 

How to make zucchini boats

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1- Cut the zucchini from the middle lengthwise, and scoop out the zucchini pulp. Chop the pulp and set it aside (we will use it later for the filling!).

Step 2- Cook the filling. Add some oil to a skillet. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. Add marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, and the zucchini innards, and allow everything to simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Step 3- stuff the zucchini boats. Evenly distribute the filling amongst the scooped out zucchini before sprinkling cheese over the top.

Step 4- Bake the zucchini 15-20 minutes or until the cheese melts or gets a slightly golden texture. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

how to make zucchini boats.

What to serve with this

Because this is a veggie-packed and healthy dish, you can literally pair it with anything! From a simple side salad to buttery garlic bread, or some simple carbs French bread pizza, couscous, or basmati rice

We can never go past all kinds of potatoes, including air fryer french fries, air fryer baked potato, and air fryer potato wedges.

Arman’s recipe tips

  • Avoid removing all the pulp from the zucchini so there will be some stability and structure to hold the filling. 
  • If you’d like a softer zucchini boat, you can par-bake them for 10 minutes before adding the filling. 
  • I like to use a melon scoop or a small spoon to scoop the zucchini easily. Larger spoons or knives are prone to cutting through the skin, making them difficult to fill.


There are many delicious flavor variations of zucchini boats that you can enjoy; here are a few:

  • Make them vegetarian. Omit the ground turkey and replace it with chickpeas, navy beans, or lentils.
  • Use other kinds of meat. Ground chicken, ground beef, and even Italian sausage are all fantastic options.
  • Add spices. This version is Italian-inspired, but you can give it another spin by using taco seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or even an Asian spin (like frying the mix in soy sauce and sesame oil!).
  • Change up the vegetables. Add some sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, or even finely chopped spinach to it.
  • Change up the cheese. Parmesan, mozzarella cheese, and harvarti are all fantastic options.
  • Use up leftovers! I’ve filled the zucchini with leftover chili, pasta sauce, and even chopped steak. Once you add cheese on top, it’s perfection.

Storage instructions

To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to five days. 

To freeze: Place cooked zucchini boats in freezer-safe airtight containers and then keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months.

zucchini boats with ground turkey and cheese.

More zucchini recipes

zucchini boats recipe.

Zucchini Boats

5 from 87 votes
These cheesy stuffed zucchini boats make a quick, easy, and healthy dinner. I love how versatile they are. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes



  • 3 large zucchini
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup marinara sauce * See notes
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
  • Slice the zucchinis in half and scoop out the innards of the zucchini, chop it finely, and set that aside. 
  • Heat oil in a non-stick pan and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the onion and cook for a further minute. Add the ground turkey and cook for 4-5 minutes, until no longer pink. Add the marinara sauce and Italian seasoning, along with the remaining chopped zucchini. Simmer everything for 8-10 minutes.
  • Distribute the filling mixture amongst the zucchini boats. Sprinkle generously with the cheese blend and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and lightly golden brown.


* Try my pomodoro sauce or sugo.
TO STORE: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to five days. 
TO FREEZE: You can freeze zucchini boats, but they will become mushy when thawed if not frozen properly. To avoid making them soft, put the cooked zucchini boats in freezer-safe airtight containers and then keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 121kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 14gFat: 5gSodium: 309mgPotassium: 456mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 396IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 100mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 4g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Originally published July 2022, updated June 2023, republished May 2024.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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5 from 87 votes (78 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    The family loved these zucchini boats, even the kids! We are eating healthy and loosing weight and recipes like this one are going a long way to get us there – without our kids revolting. Thanks so much!