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FoodZucchini Boats - Budget Bytes

Zucchini Boats – Budget Bytes

I love recipes that seem fancy but are surprisingly easy to make like these stuffed Zucchini Boats! They’re one of my favorite ways to use up all of the zucchini that I purchase from the store or the local farmers market during the summertime. It’s the perfect weeknight recipe for meat and veggie lovers and it’s very easy to customize. And since zucchini has a fairly neutral flavor, the Italian-inspired flavors of this dish really get to shine. So if you’re looking for something new to add to your dinner rotation this week, these delicious zucchini boats definitely will not disappoint!

Overhead close up view of Zucchini boats on parchment paper.Overhead close up view of Zucchini boats on parchment paper.

There are several ways to make zucchini boats, but I decided to stuff my zucchini with Italian-inspired flavors like Italian sausage, a good quality marinara sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Here’s everything that you need:

  • Zucchini: I like to purchase zucchini that are roughly the same size and length. I also try to steer clear of ginormous and extremely large zucchini as those tend to have an even higher water content than the regular sized zucchini.
  • Italian Sausage: Italian sausage is pre-seasoned with herbs and spices which adds lots of flavor to the filling. You can also use ground beef, ground turkey or even Italian turkey sausage instead.
  • Aromatics: Onion and garlic adds another layer of flavor to the sausage filling.
  • Seasoning: A simple mix of Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to add more flavor to the jarred marinara sauce and the rest of the sausage mixture.
  • Marinara sauce: I like the convenience of buying a good quality jar of marinara sauce. It’s crushed tomatoes with extra herbs & spices combined all in one jar!
  • Breadcrumbs: Just a few breadcrumbs helps add body and texture to the filling and helps soak up some of the extra moisture from the zucchini flesh.
  • Shredded Mozzarella: Mozzarella is sprinkled on top for a gooey finish to these tasty and delicious zucchini boats!

Recipe Tips and Variations!

  1. Pre-bake the hollowed out zucchini boats prior to adding the filling. This gives the zucchini a few extra minutes to soften and can be done while the sausage mixture is cooking to save on time. Once the filling is added, the zucchini boats only have to bake a few more minutes before they are perfectly tender. 
  2. If you want to help reduce food waste add some of the scooped out zucchini flesh to the sausage filling. I only added half of the zucchini flesh in order to keep the mixture from getting too watery. You can easily freeze the other half and add it to a green smoothie for breakfast! 
  3. Be careful not to scoop too much of the zucchini flesh. You’ll want to leave a 1/4-1/2“ rim around each one so the zucchini is sturdy enough to hold the filling mixture.
  4. Want to change up the flavor profile? Instead of Italian flavors try Mexican-inspired flavors. Season the ground meat with taco seasoning and salsa, add the filling to the zucchini boats, then top with shredded mexican cheese. Once the boats are done you can top them with some diced tomatoes, cilantro, or avocado. So good!!

Serving Suggestions

These zucchini boats are pretty hearty by themselves, but if you want to serve something with them on the side you could easily add a simple side salad, Caesar salad, or some crusty garlic bread. They would also taste great with seasoned rice on the side.

How to Store Zucchini Boats

I’ll be honest, I love eating leftover zucchini boats. Yes they do get a little soggy after being stored in the fridge, but they still have a little bite to them and all those wonderful flavors from the filling are still there. So if you happen to have any zucchini boats leftover, you can definitely store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. They’ll be perfect for lunch the next day! I wouldn’t recommend freezing zucchini boats as they might be too mushy and watery after thawing.

Overhead view of Zucchini boats on a parchment lined baking sheet.Overhead view of Zucchini boats on a parchment lined baking sheet.


Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats are the perfect mashup for meat and veggie lovers. An easy and fun way to switch up your weeknight dinner routine!

Author: Marsha – Budget Bytes

Overhead close up view of Zucchini boats on parchment paper.Overhead close up view of Zucchini boats on parchment paper.

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • 4 large zucchini (about 2 lbs.) ($3.00)
  • 1.5 Tbsp cooking oil, divided ($0.08)
  • 1 lb. Italian ground sausage ($5.49)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced ($0.42)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced ($0.16)
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning ($0.05)
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided ($0.04)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, divided ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce ($0.97)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs ($0.12)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($1.25)
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash the zucchini well, trim off the top stem, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or a melon baller to remove the flesh from the center of the zucchini halves, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch rim around each. Roughly chop the scooped out zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.

  • Place the scooped out zucchini halves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the insides of the zucchini with 1/2 tablespoon of oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Pre-bake the zucchini in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 remove the zucchini from the oven and set aside.

  • While the zucchini is baking, make the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Brown the Italian sausage.

  • Once the sausage has browned, add the diced onion and minced garlic to the skillet. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

  • Next add the Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, garlic powder, marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, and half of the reserved & chopped zucchini flesh. Stir to combine. Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

  • Next stuff the scooped out zucchini boats with the sausage mixture. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese. Place the zucchini boats back in the oven and back for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sausage mixture is bubbly around the sides. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Serving: 2zucchini boatsCalories: 631kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 28gFat: 49gSodium: 1735mgFiber: 5g

Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.

Overhead view of two Zucchini boats on a plate with a fork picking some up.Overhead view of two Zucchini boats on a plate with a fork picking some up.

How to Make Zucchini Boats – Step by Step Photos

The flesh being scooped out of Zucchini on a cutting board.The flesh being scooped out of Zucchini on a cutting board.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash 4 large zucchini well, trim off the top stem, then slice each one in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or a melon baller to remove the flesh from the center of the zucchini halves, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch rim around each. Roughly chop the scooped out zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.

Zucchini scooped out, cut in half, and seasoned on a parchment lined baking sheet. Zucchini scooped out, cut in half, and seasoned on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place the scooped out zucchini halves on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the insides of the zucchini with ½ tablespoon of olive oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Pre-bake the zucchini in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 remove the zucchini from the oven and set aside.

Browned Italian sausage, diced onion, and minced garlic in a pan.Browned Italian sausage, diced onion, and minced garlic in a pan.

While the zucchini is baking, make the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Brown 1 lb. of Italian sausage. Once the sausage has browned, add 1 diced yellow onion and 2 minced garlic cloves to the skillet. Continue to sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Zucchini flesh, marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, and seasoning added to sausage.Zucchini flesh, marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, and seasoning added to sausage.

Next add 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 3/4 cup marinara sauce, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, and half of the reserved & chopped zucchini flesh. Stir to combine.

Italian sausage mixture for zucchini boats in a saucepan.Italian sausage mixture for zucchini boats in a saucepan.

Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Adding the sausage mixture to the inside of the zucchini boats. Adding the sausage mixture to the inside of the zucchini boats.

Next stuff the scooped out zucchini boats with the sausage mixture. I stuffed each one with about 2-3 Tbsp of the sausage mixture.

Cheese being added on top of the Zucchini Boats.Cheese being added on top of the Zucchini Boats.

Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.

Cooked Zucchini boats on a parchment lined baking sheet.Cooked Zucchini boats on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place the zucchini boats back in the oven and back for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sausage mixture is bubbly around the sides. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, optional, and enjoy!

Two zucchini boats on a serving plate with parsley garnished on top.Two zucchini boats on a serving plate with parsley garnished on top.

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