These Italian-style Zucchini Boats are stuffed with sausage, marinara, and melty mozzarella. Kids love them because they taste like pizza!
Zucchini Boats come in all shapes and sizes…er, strike that. Zucchini Boats come in one shape and size, but they come in all different kinds of flavors! This recipe is my personal favorite, with an Italian-style filling of sausage, marinara, melty mozzarella, and parsley.
It’s kind of like pizza, and if that doesn’t get your kids to eat their veggies, I don’t know what will!
Stuffed Zucchini: A Summer Tradition
We all joke about how if you have a vegetable garden, you’re frantically trying to unload zucchini on unsuspecting neighbors and relatives this time of year, but it’s kind of true. Even if you go to the farmers market on the weekend, they’re practically giving away their zucchini. For me, this means that every summer, I’m bound to make a loaf of zucchini bread and this recipe for Zucchini Boats.
You can make Zucchini Boats with a Tex-Mex inspired filling, or go with a more traditional ground beef, cheese, onions, and breadcrumbs, or even do a meatless version stuffed with quinoa or couscous, but my family always requests this sausage-and-cheese stuffed version. (Bonus: It can totally be made keto-friendly too!)
Easy Zucchini Boat Recipe
Also known as stuffed zucchini, Zucchini Boats get their name because they look like little…zucchini canoes? Kayaks? Well, whatever it is, they look something like a boat! You halve the zucchini lengthwise, then stuff ‘em full of delicious things.
I’ve seen (and tried) Zucchini Boat recipes where the zucchini are quickly boiled in a pot of water to soften them up before stuffing, but you really don’t need that! It makes the zucchini kind of slimy and waterlogged, and they’ll roast to a nice tenderness in the oven anyway. It’s also much easier to stuff them when they have some shape to them.
Ingredients + Variations
Here’s what you’ll need to make Zucchini Boats:
Zucchini – Look for zucchini that are medium in length, but have a little bit of width to them so you have room to fill ‘em up!
Dried Italian seasoning – This makes it easy because it has all the herbs and spices you need!
Salt and pepper
Ground Italian sausage – Any kind you like!
Marinara sauce – Use your favorite brand or homemade.
Mozzarella cheese – You can also use an Italian cheese blend or if you like your Zucchini Boats extra cheesy, throw in a few tablespoons of Parmesan too.
Parsley – You can use fresh basil in addition to or instead of parsley.
How to Make Zucchini Boats
Preheat your oven to 400ºF and coat a rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Prep the Zucchini
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and trim off the stem ends. Use a spoon to scoop out most of the zucchini flesh, leaving about 1/8 to 1/4 inch on the edges. Place the zucchini shells in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle them with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
3. Make the Filling
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high, then cook the sausage for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then pour in the marinara and cook 5 minutes more.
4. Assemble the Zucchini Boats
Divide the sausage mixture among the zucchini shells, then top with the cheese.
Bake the zucchini for about 25 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Sprinkle with the parsley, then serve.
Do you eat the skin on zucchini boats?
Of course! Don’t you always eat the skin on zucchini? Because you’ll season them with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, they won’t be bland and boring.
How do you keep zucchini from getting soggy when making zucchini boats?
Use the method in this recipe. Don’t boil your zucchini first! This is the best way to make sure your zucchini boats are tender without being mushy.
How do you reheat zucchini boats?
I don’t think zucchini does too well in the microwave, so I recommend reheating them in an oven at 350º for about 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size and shape of the zucchini). Of course, you can microwave them instead if you’re in a time crunch.
More Recipes to Help You Use Up Zucchini
Got a lot of zucchini on your hands? Here are some of my favorite ways to use it up!
- 4 medium zucchini
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large rectangular baking with with cooking spray.
- Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then trim off the stem ends. Use a spoon to carefully scoop the flesh out of the zucchinis.
- Sprinkle the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper over the zucchini shells. Arrange the zucchini in the baking dish.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula.
- Season the sausage with salt and pepper.
- Pour the marinara sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer; cook for 5 minutes.
- Spoon the meat mixture evenly into the zucchini shells, then top with the shredded cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted and golden brown.
- Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.