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This stuffed zucchini boats recipe has a hearty filling topped with gooey cheese. It’s a tasty dinner idea that pleases everyone!

Zucchini Boats

Got zucchini? Let’s make stuffed Zucchini Boats! We’ll be honest: we’re not huge fans of this green vegetable. But this recipe? This one made us true converts. Hollow out zucchini into shells, then stuff it with sausage, tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Top with some crispy breadcrumbs, bake until golden brown, and wow! These are packed with intensely savory flavor. This recipe makes a zucchini lover out of anyone! You can use either plant-based sausage or regular, depending on your diet (we used plant-based).

Ingredients for zucchini boats

This stuffed zucchini boats recipe is a fun and easy way to turn zucchini into a main dish. It’s loads easier than Zucchini Lasagna with similar flavors, and works for gluten-free and vegetarian diets. Here we used plant-based sausage, which has come a long way in the last few years. It’s not something we eat often, but it’s a great option here: or you can use a homemade version. More on that below! Here’s what you’ll need for zucchini boats:

  • Zucchini
  • Sausage: plant-based sausage, crumbles, or standard Italian sausage (or substitute Vegan Ground Beef)
  • Garlic
  • Fire roasted tomatoes
  • Dried oregano, fennel seeks, salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese (whole milk)
  • Italian panko (or breadcrumbs)
  • Fresh basil or parsley, to garnish
Zucchini Boats

For the sausage: plant-based or regular

The plant-based sausage and crumbles on the market these days are higher quality than in the past. We used to be solidly against the stuff because it felt too processed, but now we eat it occasionally. It’s made of pea protein and has a texture and flavor that’s remarkably similar to meat. Here are a few notes on the sausage component of this recipe:

  • Use any plant-based crumbles or sausage. We like the brands Impossible and Beyond. Sausage is harder to find so you can use any type of crumbles or ground beef. We used Impossible Sausage.
  • Try homemade Vegan Ground Beef. This homemade mixture of mushrooms, walnuts and savory spices remarkably tastes like meat.
  • Or, go for regular Italian sausage. If you’re a meat eater, regular sausage works beautifully. Make sure to drain any extra fat before adding the sauce ingredients.

Tips for making this stuffed zucchini boats recipe

Making stuffed zucchini boats is pretty straightforward, but we’ve got a few tips to help the process. Here’s what to know:

  • Use medium to medium-small zucchini. You don’t want those massive garden zucchini here: they’re much too large.
  • Only cut off the stem end! Don’t cut off both ends or you don’t get the boat shape! I accidentally when on autopilot when preparing this recipe and chopped off both ends. (It still works, it just doesn’t look as nice and filling may drip out then end while baking.)
  • Use fire roasted tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes add the best flavor here: they taste sweet and smoky right out of the can. If you can’t find them, substitute best quality tomatoes with 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika. Or, use 1 ½ cups best quality marinara sauce.
  • Whole milk mozzarella cheese makes a difference. It melts much better than part skim and has a richer flavor. It also melts better when reheating.

Diet variations

This stuffed zucchini boats recipe fits a few different diets: it’s a perfect gluten-free dinner idea with a minor tweak. Here’s what to know:

  • Gluten free: Omit the breadcrumbs or use gluten-free breadcrumbs or panko. (It tastes just as good without the crunchy topping!)
  • Vegetarian: Use plant based sausage, crumbles, or 2 cups Vegan Ground Beef.
Zucchini Boats

Zucchini boats make-ahead & leftovers info

This zucchini boats recipe takes about 45 minutes to make in total, which can make it tricky for a weeknight meal. Here are a few ideas for advanced prep:

  • Make the entire recipe in advance. Make the entire recipe in advance and refrigerate. The day of serving, top with breadcrumbs and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until warmed through and the cheese is melted.
  • Make the filling and hollow out the boats in advance: You can make the entire filling and hollow out the boats 1 day in advance and refrigerate. Then just bake following the instructions below.

More zucchini recipes

Love this oblong green veggie? Here are a few more zucchini recipes to enjoy:

This zucchini boats recipe is…

Gluten-free (sans breadcrumbs) and vegetarian.

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Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Boats

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (2 boats per serving) 1x


This stuffed zucchini boats recipe has a hearty filling topped with gooey cheese. It’s a tasty dinner idea that pleases everyone!


  • 4 medium zucchini
  • Olive oil, for rubbing
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, divided
  • 14 to 16 ounces plant based sausage, crumbles, or standard Italian sausage (or substitute 2 cups Vegan Taco Meat)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15-ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes**
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 6 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned panko (or plain panko; omit or use gluten-free breadcrumbs for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil or parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut off the stem ends of the zucchini. Cut them each in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides with a spoon: you’ll want a thin edge around the outside of the boat. (Discard the pulp, or use it in smoothies or for another purpose.) Place the boats on a baking sheet and rub each with a bit of olive oil. Then sprinkle all 8 boats with a heaping ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon oregano and fresh ground black pepper, divided between the boats. 
  3. Place the sausage in a medium skillet and cook according to the package instructions, 2 to 3 minutes for plant-based and 6 to 7 for regular sausage (for regular sausage, drain any excess fat after cooking). Add the garlic to the pan with the sausage and cook 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, fennel seed, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Heat for 1 minute until warmed through. 
  4. Scoop the filling into the zucchini boats. Top with the mozzarella cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle with the panko. 
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes before serving. Leftovers store up to 3 days refrigerated. 


*For plant-based crumbles or sausage, we like Impossible or Beyond (we used Impossible sausage here). For a homemade version, try Vegan Ground Beef.

**Fire roasted tomatoes add the best flavor here: they taste sweet and smoky right out of the can. If you can’t find them, substitute best quality tomatoes with 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika. Or, use 1 ½ cups best quality marinara sauce.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Vegetables
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Zucchini boats, stuffed zucchini boats, zucchini boat recipe, zucchini boat, zucchini boats recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Really delicious. Made this with pattypan. Only had diced tomatoes, so I just cooked it a little longer in the skillet. Chopped up the some zucchini flesh and cooked it with the vegan sausage.

  2. I completely forgot to add the tomatoes to the sausage before filling the zucchini 🤦‍♀️ But they were delicious! My 12 year old said the spices were very yummy, and he’s not an adventurous eater. I did notice that the tomato is necessary to offset the bold flavor of fennel, without them it overpowers the sausage, but next time I’ll add it for sure!

  3. If you’re not a fennel seed lover (like me), is there a viable substitute, or should it just be left out? Thanks!

  4. OMG! These Zucchini Boats are so good. We really enjoyed them. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I found the recipe after your edits were added, and it’s clear now. :) They are baking as I type this! Wanted to thank you for your wonderful recipes. I decided to learn to cook this year and have been making 1-2 of your recipes every week this year, mostly the vegan and vegetarian ones. I appreciate the clear directions and tips. You are teaching me! I love the Friday mailing list recipes.

    1. Wow, thank you so much! This means a lot and we are so excited that you’re able to make a few of our recipes every week. Thank you for doing that and please keep us posted on others you like or any questions you have! Thank you thank you!

  6. What did you do with the flesh that was scooped out of the zucchini? I added it to the tomato/sausage mixture, then cooked it longer to reduce the moisture from cooking the zucchini flesh. Was this what was intended? The flesh is not addressed in the recipe, and I could not throw it away.

    1. We discarded the pulp here — we added a note to the recipe! Thank you for adding this. You can certainly use it in the filling if you like! It doesn’t have a ton of nutritional benefits, so we discarded it. Thanks for the note!

  7. I noticed there was no mention of what to do with the inside of the zucchini that was scooped out. I was thinking of cooking it and including it in the stuffing

  8. Hi! Love your recipes; I just recently joined your site :) This recipe sound so yummy! I’m wondering about the “pulp” scooped out of the zucchinis, I hope it’s used in the recipe.

    1. Thank you so much! The zucchini pulp is not used in the filling here: it doesn’t have a ton of nutritional value so we discard it here. You’re welcome to save to use in smoothies or in other ways!

  9. Is there step 3.5 missing, scoop the frying contents into the boats, then go on to step 4?

    4 zucchini, will give 8 boats, will the ingredients listed fill 8 boats?

    1. Great question: we’ve updated the recipe accordingly to indicate to scoop into the boats! Yes, the filling ingredients fill 8 boats: 2 boats per serving! We’ve clarified that as well.