Stuffed Zucchini

platter with tomato, cheese, and sausage stuffed zucchini
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Cool: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
  • Yields: 8 pieces
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
157 Calories
7g Fat
22g Carbs
5g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 157
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 158mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Protein 5g
Calcium 94mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Zucchini is readily available throughout the year, but the squash is especially abundant from farmers markets and neighborhood gardens during the summer months. If you've had enough zucchini bread and have run out of creative ideas for your bumper crop, this easy main dish is an excellent option. 

Using turkey or chicken sausage keeps the dish light while a combination of tomatoes, bell peppers, and cheese gives it plenty of flavor and texture. Stuffed zucchini is a versatile dish as well and the recipe is easy to adjust for vegetarian family members—fill the zucchini with extra cheese and breadcrumbs or replace the protein with meat replacement crumbles, cooked pulses, or tempeh.

Serve the zucchini boats with a tossed salad and some crusty bread for a hearty and satisfying meal.  

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini, about 6 or 7 inches in length
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage (turkey, chicken, or pork, removed from casings)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs (about 2 slices bread, pulsed in a food processor)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Optional garnish: chopped basil
  • Optional garnish: chopped parsley
  • Optional garnish: marinara sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

    ingredients for stuffed zucchini
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the soft flesh in the center of each half. The shell should be thick enough to hold the filling, about 1/4-inch. Discard any large seeds and reserve about 1 cup of the scooped flesh.

    scoop out the seeds and some flesh from zucchini
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage, onion, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until the sausage is no longer pink. 

    sauté the sausage with onion and peppers
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Chop the reserved zucchini flesh and add it to the sausage along with the garlic; continue to cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the bread crumbs, chopped tomatoes, about two-thirds to three-quarters of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and the Italian seasoning. Taste and add salt and pepper, and then add the lightly beaten egg. Mix well. 

    add the zucchini to the sausage mixture
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Arrange the zucchini shells in two shallow 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dishes and fill with the sausage stuffing mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Add about 1 cup of hot water to each baking dish.

    stuffed zucchini boats ready to bake
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Bake the stuffed zucchini boats in the preheated oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender and the tops are lightly browned. Remove the zucchini to a platter and garnish with chopped basil, parsley, or a drizzle of marinara sauce if desired.

    stuffed zucchini on a platter
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

How Long Does Fresh Zucchini Last?

  • When stored in the refrigerator crisper, fresh zucchini will last from 1 to 2 weeks. Place unwashed fresh zucchini in a plastic or paper bag, leaving one end open for air circulation. 

Is Zucchini Skin Okay to Eat?

The skin zucchini is thin and tender, so it is fine to eat. Wash the zucchini before you prepare it and don't peel it unless instructed by the recipe.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Refrigerate leftover zucchini boats in airtight containers for up to three days.
  • To reheat, wrap the zucchini boats in foil and place them on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until they register at least 165 F in the center.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of sausage, use ground beef. Brown as directed and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut the baked zucchini boats crosswise into 1-inch slices and serve them as an appetizer with pizza sauce or marinara sauce for dipping.
  • If substituting breakfast sausage, add an extra clove of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil.