Our favorite summer dinner! Stuffed Zucchini Boats are perfect for using up garden fresh zucchini and they are SO tasty! This easy, healthy recipe is packed with lean Italian turkey sausage, veggies and plenty of cheese, and then baked to perfection. This meal always gets rave reviews from family and friends!

stuffed zucchini on a white serving plate

Zucchini is in full swing and these Stuffed Zucchini Boats are on the menu often! We love using this bountiful fruit in everything from pancakes to muffins.

Not only is this zucchini recipe incredibly delicious, but it’s ready to serve in just over 30 minutes, making it perfect for a quick weeknight meal. You could even prep them ahead of time because the leftovers taste amazing!

Made this tonight with spicy Italian sausage….otherwise followed exact recipe. So delicious!!

— Karen

Why you should make this recipe

  • Easy. This dish is so simple to throw together! All you have to do is prep the zucchini, make the filling, bake, and serve!
  • Healthy. Zucchini are one of the best sources of carotenoids and other vitamins, making them a nutritional powerhouse. And this recipe is low in calories and high in protein!
  • Family-friendly. Just refer to these as zucchini ‘boats’ and let the kiddos pick them up and eat them with their hands! They won’t even notice that they’re eating a meal loaded with vegetable goodness.
  • Delicious. This flavor profile is a crowd-pleaser! With flavorful Italian sausage, melty cheese and crispy breadcrumbs, you will be craving zucchini!
stuffed zucchini on a plate with a bite on a fork

Ingredients needed

You don’t need much to make this stuffed zucchini recipe. Zucchini (of course), the filling and some seasonings all come together to create a great dinner! Here’s the lineup:

  • Zucchini. The star of the show! You’ll need 4 medium zucchinis. Make sure they are similar in size for even cooking. You can sub with yellow squash, if desired.
  • Olive oil. To cook the veggies and the turkey sausage.
  • Italian turkey sausage. I like using Italian turkey sausage for tons of delicious flavor, but you can sub with regular ground turkey sausage and then add extra seasoning. I would add about 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.
  • Onion, garlic, basil, salt & pepper. A must for amazing flavor. Add red pepper flakes for a bit of spice.
  • Diced tomatoes. This recipe calls for a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes. You’ll add the tomatoes with the juices.
  • Mozzarella cheese. Can’t go wrong with gooey cheese, but feel free to leave it out to keep this recipe dairy free.
  • Panko breadcrumbs. Adds a nice crispiness to the tops of the zucchini. To keep this meal gluten free, be sure to use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

How do you hollow out zucchini

Before stuffing the zucchini, you need to make room for the delicious Italian sausage filling by scooping the pulp and seeds out of the zucchinis. If a visual of the process helps, check out this YouTube video.

  • Choose medium-sized squash that are firm, unblemished, and ripe. If it’s overripe, it will be mushy and harder to get the pulp scooped out. Extra large zucchini will have a tough skin that tastes bitter, so medium in size with a soft skin is what we want.
  • Leave the skin. It gives the veggie structure and once cooked, you won’t even notice it.
  • Cut in half, lengthwise. This is easy to do with a sharp knife. You can cut the top stem and the bottom off, if you’d like.
  • Use a spoon to scoop the zucchini flesh and seeds. You can discard the flesh and seeds or freeze it and add it to smoothies for an extra nutritional boost.

How to make this recipe

Making this recipe is really easy! There are only two main components: the zucchini and the stuffing. Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

  1. Prep and pre-cook the zucchini. See above for prepping steps. Once the flesh and seeds are scooped out, drizzle each vegetable with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt & pepper and bake cut-side up for about 10 minutes on a baking sheet.
  2. Make the stuffing. Cook the sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once cooked, add the garlic, tomatoes and basil to the mixture and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and mix in the cheese.
  1. Stuff the zucchini. Spoon the filling into each ‘boat’. Top each with extra cheese and a sprinkling of Panko breadcrumbs.
  2. Bake. Place in the oven and bake uncovered for about 10 minutes and until tender and the cheese is melty. Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired and enjoy!

Expert tips

Here are some tips to make sure your dish is awesome every single time:

  • Use similar-sized veggies. For even baking, it’s best if all of the zucchini are the same size.
  • Scooping . Be careful not to scoop the halves too deep. Leave about a 1/4-inch rim. If you go too deep, the filling may fall out of the bottom, while cooking.
  • Pre-cook halves. Don’t forget to cook the squash for about 10 minutes before adding the filling. This will ensure it’s nice and tender.

Flavor variations

These are fabulous as-is, but feel free to customize the ingredients to your tastes and use what you have available. Here’s some options:

  • Protein. You can sub the Italian turkey sausage for pork sausage or any ground meat. If using a higher fat meat, be sure to drain the excess grease before adding the tomatoes to the pan.
  • Vegetables. When sautéing the meat and tomatoes, feel free to add other veggies to the mix, such as red bell pepper, spinach, or even broccoli.
  • Cheese. We love using mozzarella cheese for this recipe, but any favorite cheese variety will work. Grated parmesan cheese, fontina or provolone are all great choices.
  • Taco boats. Use taco seasoning to flavor ground beef, leave out the basil and use a Mexican cheese blend.
    stuffed zucchini cut in half and on a white plate

Frequently asked questions

Why is my baked zucchini soggy?

If it turns out mushy or soggy, it’s probably the result of overcooking. Once you add the filling, it should only need to bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Do you leave the skin on zucchini when you cook it?

There’s no need to peel zucchini! Just be sure that it has been washed and dried before starting the recipe. The skin actually have a lot of nutritional benefits! However, sometimes larger zucchini have tougher skins with a slightly bitter taste, which is why medium-sized veggies are recommended.

Is stuffed zucchini healthy?

According to Healthline, zucchini is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is also low calorie, low carb and high in fiber. Stuffing them with a healthy filling, like high-protein lean turkey sausage and tomatoes makes for a great well-balanced, satisfying meal!

Serving suggestions

Stuffed zucchini boats are great on their own, but you can also serve them with a variety of side dishes! We love them served with my favorite Italian salad and crusty garlic bread! They’re great with a side of pasta too! You could also whip up a simple green salad. Just toss mixed greens with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Feel free to add toppings to your salad such as red onion, cherry tomatoes, and croutons. Here are a few of our other favorite sides:

Storing and reheating leftovers

  • Leftovers. Store leftover stuffed zucchini boats in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. The flavors intensify over time and these taste even better the next day, making them great for meal prep!
  • To reheat. Simply place your zucchini boat on a plate and microwave it until they’re heated through. You could also rewarm these in the oven at 350ºF for about 8-10 minutes.
  • Freezing. We don’t recommend freezing these. The zucchini gets mushy once thawed. However, if you just want to freeze the meat filling mixture (without cheese), that totally works. Place the completely cooled filling into a freezer-safe bag or container, leaving space for the sauce to expand once it’s frozen. Freeze for 2-3 months.
  • Defrost. Thaw the filling in the refrigerator, overnight, and then reheat on the stovetop over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cheese as directed and follow the remaining steps in the recipe.
zucchini stuffed with Italian turkey sausage and mozzarella

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

Zucchini stuffed with meat, tomato and cheese on a white serving plate.
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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Our favorite summer dinner! Stuffed Zucchini Boats are perfect for using up garden fresh zucchini and they are SO tasty! This easy, healthy recipe is packed with lean Italian turkey sausage, veggies and plenty of cheese, and then baked to perfection. This meal always gets rave reviews from family and friends!
Author: Kim


  • 4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound lean Italian turkey (or chicken) sausage
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes , (I like to use fire roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • fresh basil for garnish, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop the seeds and some of the very soft flesh, but not all of the flesh out of each zucchini (see this video for a visual), then drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then put on a baking sheet cut-side up and bake for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Heat about 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the sausage and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until the sausage is crumbly and fully cooked, and the onion is translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil, and salt to the sausage. Mix well. Let the flavors come together over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes.
  • Turn off the stove and add 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese to the sausage filling. Toss together so it’s incorporated well.
  • Take the zucchini out of the oven, and fill each zucchini with the sausage/cheese mixture. Top each zucchini boat with an extra sprinkling of cheese, and about 1 teaspoon of panko breadcrumbs.
  • Return to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes or until zucchini is tender and cheese is melted. Serve immediately and enjoy!


Storing leftovers: Store leftover stuffed zucchini boats in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply place your zucchini boat on a plate and microwave them until they’re heated through. You could also rewarm them in the oven at 350ºF for about 8-10 minutes.
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing zucchini boats. The zucchini gets mushy once thawed. However, if you just want to freeze the meat filling mixture, that totally works.
Serving: 1zucchini half, Calories: 164kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 784mg, Potassium: 504mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 409IU, Vitamin C: 41mg, Calcium: 164mg, Iron: 7mg

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