Stuffed Zucchini Boats

July 27, 2020

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Zucchini Boats stuffed with turkey sausage, tomatoes, herbs, panko and two types of cheese! A delicious recipe that’s perfect for summer.

Image of zucchini boats stuffed with sausage, tomatoes, panko, and cheeses shown in a white baking dish.

When summer rolls around zucchini boats are a must on the dinner menu, especially when we hit mid summer and there is a plethora of zucchini to be used up.

You can only eat so much sautéed zucchini then it’s time to move onto something more exciting like these! They are brimming with fresh Italian flavors and the sausage makes them perfectly filling.

They’re easy to make, the only tedious part is removing the centers to create the boat shapes, but once you get the hang of it it’s a breeze.

They’re definitely worth the extra little bit of effort. This recipe turns bland zucchini into something worthy of dinner praises.

Looking for another great way to use up zucchini? Try my Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread for dessert!

Image of ingredients used to make zucchini boats. Shows sausage, zucchini, onion, parmesan, parsley, garlic, mozzarella, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, panko bread crunbs and olive oil.

Sausage Zucchini Boats Ingredients and Possible Substitutes

  • Zucchini: Look for those even in size, about 8 – 9 oz each. The should be big enough to hollow out and add filling, but not too large or you won’t be able to fit them in the baking dish.
  • Olive oil: Another oil such as avocado oil will work fine here.
  • Italian turkey sausage: Italian pork sausage can be used instead, just drain of excess fat after browning.
  • Garlic: In a pinch 1 tsp granulated garlic will work in this recipe.
  • Yellow onion: Red onion would work here too.
  • Canned diced tomatoes: I like the petite cut for a more uniform size throughout but regular cut will work. Another option is to use 3 fresh roma tomatoes, diced.
  • Italian seasoning: Another option is to use 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried oregano.
  • Panko bread crumbs: Standard dried bread crumbs will work too I just prefer the extra crisp texture of the panko.
  • Mozzarella cheese: Monterey jack could be used in place of mozzarella.
  • Parmesan cheese: Romano cheese will work here as well.
  • Parsley: This ingredient is optional, it can be omitted if you don’t have any. Another option is to use fresh basil or use 2 tsp dried parsley.
    Collage of six images showing steps of making zucchini boats. Shows hollowed out zucchini boats in a baking dish. Browning onion and sausage. Adding panko, seasoning and tomatoes. Filling boats. Topping with cheeses. And shows finished after baking.

How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats

  1. Heat oven, prepare baking dish: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Hollow out zucchini: Using a spoon, scoop centers from zucchini while leaving a 1/4-inch rim on all sides to create boats. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Par-bake: Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes.
  4. Saute onion: Meanwhile heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 3 minutes.
  5. Brown sausage, add garlic: Add sausage in crumbles, cook through, while breaking up meat during cooking. Add garlic during last 1 minute of cooking.
  6. Add mix-ins: Remove from heat stir in tomatoes, 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs and Italian seasoning.
  7. Fill zucchini boats: Sprinkle 1/3 cup parmesan over zucchini boats, then divide filling among the zucchini boats.
  8. Toss topping ingredients, sprinkle over: In a small mixing bowl stir together the mozzarella cheese, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan and remaining 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over zucchini boats.
  9. Bake zucchini boats: Bake in preheated oven until tender, about 10 – 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Tips:

  • Use up all the filling and topping, piling it high if needed.
  • Bake twice, once before filling and once after filling.
  • Pierce through zucchini with a knife to test for tenderness.
  • If you do find they are too big to fit into one baking dish then just use another small baking dish.

Overhead image of stuffed zucchini boats in a road in a white baking dish.

What to Eat with Zucchini Boats

  • I recommend serving with another veggies such as corn on the cob or a side salad.
  • Another tasty option is garlic bread.

How to Reduce Carbs

  • If you are looking to cut out some carbs in this recipe you can omit the panko bread crumbs.
  • If doing so then drain tomatoes well.

Can they be frozen?

  • Yes. Though the textures will change a bit zucchini boats can be frozen after baking.
  • Freeze up to 2 months.
  • Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

How to Reheat

  • The easiest way to reheat zucchini boats is in the microwave.
  • Reheat individual servings (1 – 2 boats) in the microwave on a microwave safe plate for about 1 to 2 minutes until heated through.

Two stuffed zucchini boats on a white dinner plate with a fork to the side.

Five More Must Try Zucchini Boat Recipes

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

5 from 4 votes

Hearty and flavorful zucchini boats made with fresh zucchini, turkey sausage, tomatoes, herbs, panko and two types of cheese! A delicious recipe that's perfect for summer.

Servings: 8
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini (about 8 oz each)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. Italian turkey sausage*
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion, (1 small)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drain off 1 - 2 Tbsp liquid
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2/3 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Using a spoon, scoop centers from zucchini while leaving a 1/4-inch rim on all sides to create boats. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 3 minutes.

  5. Add sausage in crumbles, cook through, while breaking up meat during cooking. Add garlic during last 1 minute of cooking.

  6. Remove from heat stir in tomatoes, 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Sprinkle 1/3 cup parmesan over zucchini boats, then divide filling among the zucchini boats.

  8. In a small mixing bowl stir together the mozzarella cheese, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan and remaining 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over zucchini boats.

  9. Bake in preheated oven until tender, about 10 - 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

*Pork or chicken sausage will work great too. Mild or hot can be used according to what you prefer.

Nutrition Facts
Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Amount Per Serving
Calories 272 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 56mg19%
Sodium 625mg27%
Potassium 634mg18%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 688IU14%
Vitamin C 45mg55%
Calcium 334mg33%
Iron 7mg39%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: zucchini boats
Author: Jaclyn

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13 Comments

  • Karen

    Can be made vegetarian by using meatless crumbles instead of sausage.
    I get frozen Wegmans or Quorn meatless crumbles. The crumbles cook up fast. It’s very good!

  • Lauren Behl

    Just a little advice:
    Double this recipe. My family loved these.
    They were gone in the blink of an eye.
    I may try the other flavors,but really loved the Italian inspired recipe

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Happy to know you’re family liked these! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  • Susan

    Hi Jaclyn,
    I made this last night and used 1 large zucchini and it was delicious!!! I used regular bulk Italian sweet sausage and can’t wait to try it with spicy sausage! I think I’ll pregame by large zucchini for 20 minutes last time as my fiancé said he’d like it a little softer next time (but I thought it was fine 👍). I love ALL your recipes and everyone I’ve tried was company worthy.
    THANKS AGAIN for beautiful website.
    Susan

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I’m so happy to hear that Susan! Love to know you enjoyed this recipe and that others have been a success for you! Thanks for your kind words :).

  • Cynthia Matias

    This recipe is a keeper! Super easy to make and oh so good. Plus healthy meal. I made this sent a picture to her and she said looks yummy and to save her one! Just a side note, I didn’t have sweet italian turkey sausage so I used sweet italian chicken sausage came out just as good! If your thinking of making this what are you waiting for? Its Delicious!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Love to know you enjoyed this recipe Cynthia! Thanks for your review!

      • Lauren Behl

        I have not yet made this but I do have a question. There is no mention of what to do with the scooped out zucchini. I would think you could add this back to the filling. Otherwise,it seems somewhat wasteful not to.
        Any thoughts?
        I love your direct way of presenting the recipe,including substitutions. Very helpful.
        As a member of WW,I also appreciate the fact you have included nutritional information.
        Thanks in advance for your consideration.

        • Jaclyn

          Jaclyn Bell

          Sorry for the late reply! I don’t recommend adding the scooped zucchini back as they’d be over-filled. Instead I usually just sauté it, add it to soup or another recipe. I hope you love these!

  • Jo Ellen Pyle

    Made this tonight and it was very good. I could not find the turkey sausage so substituted it with Italian sausage. My husband loved it. I will definitely make this again. Italian without the pasta. :-)

  • Chef Mimi

    These are fabulous. Love the filling and the toppings. I could eat these twice every day!