These easy Low Carb & Keto Stuffed Zucchini Boats are low in calories and carbs, high in protein, and packed with nutrition and flavor! Made with just a handful of ingredients, they're the perfect family-friendly weeknight meal.
If you're on a low carb diet or keto diet then I've got a great recipe for you! These Low Carb & Keto Stuffed Zucchini Boats are packed with healthy ingredients and Italian flavors.
Zucchini is such a versatile ingredient- you can use it in so many different ways. I make everything from zucchini fritters to zucchini noodle salad, crispy zucchini fries, and kid-friendly zucchini tots. One of my favorites ways to prepare it is to make stuffed zucchini boats.
Your family will love these delicious zucchini boats made with a hearty meat filling and plenty of melty cheese. It's a tasty and satisfying dinner that will fill you up without weighing you down. Plus any leftovers are perfect to pack up for lunch the next day!
What are zucchini boats?
A zucchini boat is basically a fun name for stuffed zucchini. You make zucchini boats by slicing zucchini lengthwise, hollowing out the halves, and stuffing them with various ingredients. They kind of look like boats when they're filled, hence the name.
It's definitely a fun way to prepare zucchini. It's also a great way to get your kids to eat veggies. If you have kids, get them in the kitchen to help you stuff the boats. They'll love it (and they'll be more likely to eat it)!
Since these zucchini boats take a little time to assemble, I usually make them on the weekend when I have some extra time. Then on busy weeknights, I know I have a delicious and nutritious meal ready and waiting in the fridge!
Are zucchini boats healthy?
Yes! These stuffed zucchini boats are healthy. They're low in calories and carbs, high in protein, and packed with nutrients.
Zucchini is a very nutritious vegetable. It's low in calories and is packed with water and fiber. It’s a good source of several beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, especially vitamin C.
Is zucchini keto friendly?
Yes! Zucchini is a low starch vegetable and is an excellent choice if you're on a low carb or keto diet. For 1 cup of chopped zucchini with skin, you will get 3.9 g total carbs, 2.7 g net carbs, 0.4 g fat, and 1.5 g protein per the USDA.
These healthy Low Carb & Keto Stuffed Zucchini Boats have 34 grams of protein and only 9 grams of net carbs per serving. This makes them a nice low carb dinner option.
These easy stuffed zucchini boats are made with just a handful of healthy ingredients.
Here's what you need to make this dish:
- Medium or large zucchini- this is the star ingredient! Choose zucchini that are large enough to be able to stuff easily. Try and select zucchini that are straight with minimal curve (they will be easier to hollow out and stuff).
- Ground turkey or ground beef- I use ground turkey but you can use either one. See the section below for more substitution ideas.
- Marinara sauce- adds so much flavor and saves you from having to make homemade sauce (but if you want to make homemade marinara sauce, you can use my Simple Tomato Sauce recipe). Look for brands of marinara sauce that have no added sugar like Rao's Homemade marinara sauce.
- Cheese- I use a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan
Substitutions and variations
What I love about this dish is that it's endlessly customizable! There are so many different ingredients and flavors you can use to make different types of zucchini boats.
Here are a few ideas:
- You can use other types of ground meat like ground beef or chicken instead of ground turkey. You can even use Italian sausage.
- Instead of Italian flavors, you can make Tex-Mex zucchini boats with chili powder and salsa instead of marinara sauce. You can even make zucchini taco boats with leftover taco meat from taco night! Top them with a dollop of sour cream.
- You can make Buffalo chicken zucchini boats with shredded chicken, hot sauce, and blue cheese
- Try making barbecue chicken zucchini boats with shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, and cheddar cheese
- To add a boost of veggies to this dish, you can add some sautéed bell peppers, mushrooms or spinach
- You can substitute other types of cheese for the mozzarella and parmesan. For a Tex-Mex version, try cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack. To make a creamier meat filling, you can add some cream cheese.
- The first step is to cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle. The best way to do this is to score the inside of the zucchini with a knife first (cut the flesh in a crosshatch pattern).
- Scoop out the flesh with a spoon (you will be adding the flesh to the meat filling). Squeeze out any excess water from the zucchini flesh. You can do this by putting it in a colander and pushing down on it with the back of a spoon. Alternatively, you can put it in a dish towel and wring it out.
- Place the zucchini boats in a large (13x9-inch) baking dish or on a sheet pan, cut side up. Start baking them in the oven while you make the filling.
- Next, make the meat filling. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ground turkey, and reserved zucchini flesh and cook until the turkey is browned. Add the marinara sauce.
- Spoon the filling into the zucchini boats. Top them with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Finally, pop the zucchini boats back in the oven and bake until the zucchini is cooked through and the cheese is melted.
- Choose zucchini that are medium to large. You want them big enough to stuff easily. Also, choose zucchini that are straight rather than curved. They will be easier to hollow out and stuff.
- If the zucchini boats are rolling around a lot, cut a thin slice off the bottom to create a flat surface. This will prevent them from rolling and will make them easier to stuff and bake.
- I like to partially bake my empty zucchini boats while I make the filling and then bake them some more after they're stuffed. I've seen many recipes that skip this step but in my opinion, the zucchini doesn't get tender enough and remains crunchy when you skip this step.
- You can make so many variations of this dish! Use this recipe as a base recipe and substitute your own favorite flavors and ingredients. See the Substitutions and Variations section above for ideas.
These zucchini boats can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. They can be reheated in the oven, microwave or air fryer.
They can be frozen for up to 3 months but keep in mind that zucchini tends to get mushy when frozen.
Another option is to make and freeze just the meat filling ahead of time. Then when you're ready to make the dish, you can defrost the filling, spoon it into fresh zucchini, top with cheese, and bake.
If you're following a low carb diet, you can serve these keto zucchini boats with cauliflower rice or other low carb vegetable dishes like my Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Marcona Almond Pesto or Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus.
More tasty zucchini recipes
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Low Carb & Keto Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 4 medium or large zucchini
- Olive oil spray
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 pound ground turkey (or beef)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ cups Rao's marinara sauce (or other sauce with no added sugar)
- ⅓ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the flesh from the center, leaving a ¼-inch shell around the edges. Save the zucchini flesh in a bowl for later. Arrange the zucchini halves in a large baking dish and spray them with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until slightly softened. Remove from oven.
- While the zucchini is baking, spray a large sauté pan with olive oil. Add the onion and ground turkey. Squeeze as much water as you can from the reserved zucchini flesh and chop it up. Add the chopped zucchini to the pan. Season the mixture with the salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a spoon, until turkey is browned and vegetables are softened. Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer a few minutes longer.
- Spoon the turkey filling into the zucchini halves. Mix the mozzarella and parmesan cheese together in a bowl and sprinkle the mixture on top of the zucchini boats.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the zucchini is cooked through and the cheese is melted. Enjoy!