Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats

Looking for the best stuffed zucchini recipe? This is it! Learn how to make zucchini boats to use up your garden squash with this flavorful Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats recipe!

Let’s call this a compromise.  Scott has a potent dislike for “mushy vegetables”.  One minute past al-dente and he’s not interested.  Which is why I usually serve them crunchy in salads, char-grilled, lightly sautéed, or oven-roasted.  Never boiled for more than 3-4 minutes – and preferably steamed.  I agree with him for the most part, having had my share of limp-grayish green beans á la the school cafeteria and a few less-than-experienced cooks.  But these Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats actually dabble in both realms.  Tender zucchini stuffed with a savory, pillowy blend of veggies, pork and spice. In my estimation, it’s the best stuffed zucchini recipe.

scooping out the flesh of zucchini with a melon baller.

Best of all – they’re really simple to prep. Heck, most of the work is done in the food processor!  I like that!  

So here’s How To Make Stuffed Zucchini Boats:

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.

  1. Start by scooping the flesh from the zucchini.  I use a melon baller to remove the flesh from the zucchini without damaging the sides – remember you want the zucchini to hold their form.  Transfer the scooped zucchini balls to the Cuisinart or food processor, along with  the onions and pulse to finely chop. Easy.
mix chopped zucchini, onions, canadian bacon and spices in a bowl

2.  Hand chop the tomatoes and the Canadian bacon and add them along with the spices to the vegetable mixture.  Then heat up a skillet with a little olive oil and sweat the veg  for a few minutes. This allows the onions to mellow and lose their sharp bite, as well as making the vegetables more tender and marrying the spice flavors with the filling.

saute vegetable filling and add breadcrumbs in a skillet.

3. Add the soft breadcrumbs and toss to combine.  The stuffing mixture for these easy stuffed zucchini should be moist, but not wet — the breadcrumbs help to maintain that balance.

4. Fill the hollowed out zucchini shells generously with stuffing.  

5. Here’s where it could get temperamental.  If your zucchini don’t want to “sit upright” and instead roll to one side or another, prop them against the side of the baking sheet, or crowd them into a smaller baking dish where they can snuggle against one another without tipping over.  

5. Sprinkle the stuffed zucchini boats with cheese and bake!

fill hollowed out zucchini boats with stuffing and cheese.

The zucchini maintains its structure and cooks without being mushy, while the filling is a soft, beautiful balance of spices and a little smokiness — compliments of Canadian bacon.  

baked Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats on a baking sheet.

These easy stuffed zucchini are so good — and pretty, too!  Don’t you think?  In fact, I think these would be great for a special Mother’s Day dinner!

pan of Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats
Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats on a platter.
Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats with slivered basil.

More vegetable side dishes:

Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.

Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.

We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!

Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats | Garlic + Zest
Print Pin
4.46 from 11 votes

Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats

A special side dish for any Spring or Summer meal!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword zucchini
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6


  • 4 smallish zucchini – about 4″-5″ long
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup onions roughly chopped
  • ½ cup canadian bacon or ham finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • ½ cup tomato finely chopped
  • 1 slice bread I used a dense piece of whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade + extra for serving
  • ¼ cup part-skim mozzarella shredded + extra for sprinkling
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese optional


  • Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Slice the zucchini lengthwise down the middle. Use a melon-baller to carefully scoop the flesh out of the zucchini and transfer to a mini prep food chopper. Pulse several times until the zucchini flesh is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add the onions to the food processor and pulse until they are about the size consistency of the zucchini. Transfer to the same bowl as zucchini and add the minced canadian bacon.
  • Crush the fennel seed either by using a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder, or place a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board, add the fennel to the center and fold the plastic wrap over it. Use a rolling pin or mallet to crush the fennel seed. Add crushed fennel to the zucchini mixture, along with red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt.
  • Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, stir in the zucchini mixture and cook down until it’s given up most of it’s liquid, about 5-6 minutes. Add the chopped tomato and cook a few minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Tear the bread into small chunks and add them to the food processor along with the parsley. Pulse 3-5 times until coarsely chopped and transfer to the zucchini mixture. Add the mozzarella and basil, stir to combine.
  • Lightly coat the interior of each zucchini half with a little olive oil. Spoon filling liberally into each zucchini and arrange on a baking sheet. Take a look at the tray and if you see a zucchini leaning in a particular direction — instead of sitting straight up, prop the zucchini against one of the sides of the sheet pan to hold it erect and prevent it from spilling over in the oven. If most of your zucchini are persnickety – find a shallow casserole dish that will fit them snugly against one another and prevent them from toppling. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with a little mozzarella and parmesan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.


Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 474mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 535IU | Vitamin C: 29.1mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 1mg

Pin it for later!

Looking for an easy stuffed zucchini recipe? Perfect for Spring and Summer dinners, these Stuffed Italian Zucchini Boats make the best stuffed zucchini recipe. #stuffedzucchini #zucchinirecipe #zucchiniboats #zucchiniboat #summersquash #stuffedsquash #howtomakezucchiniboats #canadianbacon #breadcrumbs #cheese #fennel #oregano #redpepperflakes #

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Sounds wonderful and we are loaded with zuk now. Will differently try Love the boat idea for my great grandson

  2. 5 stars
    Looks so colorful and yummy. I always loved the idea of zucchini boats and I now have a recipe to try it out. Thanks for this delicious looking recipe πŸ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    I love stuffed zucchini boats, these look delicous! I always have so many from our garden every year, this will be perfect for using that zucchini!

  4. 5 stars
    Yum! I LOVE stuffed zucchini! I usually just keep mine simple with pasta sauce and cheese, but I love the idea of adding a little extra flavor!

  5. 5 stars
    Stuffed zucchini are delicious! I haven’t tried making these with ham or bacon so putting this recipe on my “to try pretty soon” list πŸ™‚

    1. Well, let me know when you do! They are really tasty!

  6. Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily says:

    IDK why I haven’t made stuffed zuk’s in so long we all love them. Your recipe looks wonderful, all of our favorite flavors going on! Sharing on Simply Healthy Family’s fb page ?

    1. Hey, Thank you! I appreciate that. I’ll check out your page!

  7. Renee Nicole's Kitchen says:

    I am totally anti-mush when it comes to vegetables. I saw a recipe once that said asparagus should be baked for 20 – 25 minutes (I do it 6 – 8 max) and I lost all trust in that cook’s ability. A neat trick to get those zucchini boats to stand upright is to use toothpicks. Stick two of them right in the middle of the zucchini so that they are crisscrossed above the zucchini and form a wide base below them. Just be careful not to twist the toothpicks once inserted or they won’t hold tight!

    1. From the feedback I’ve gotten, I’d say that many of us were plagued way too often with mushy vegetables! I love that toothpick trick! I’m going to try it next time!

  8. These zucchini boats look really tasty! So smart to scoop the zucchini out with a melon ball! My neighbor grows zucchini and I always get tons during the summer months, so I’m thrilled to have a new recipe on hand!

    1. Frankly, the melon baller is the best tool for the job that I’ve found!

  9. I have seen a lot of stuffed foods in my life but I’ve never heard of stuffed zucchini before. This is one recipe I would love to try! Genius!

    1. I think you can pretty much stuff any vegetable — except maybe radishes….

  10. These look great. I’ve only ever seen zucchini boats with hamburger or sausage. Ham/Canadian bacon sounds like a delicious was to change things up! BTW, I love your instructions to let the zucchini snuggle “against one another.” πŸ˜‰

  11. These look SO GOOD! I’ve never had a stuffed zucchini. Putting it on my cooking “bucket list.”

  12. 5 stars
    Yum!!! I love stuffing zucchini! It’s such a fun & healthy way to get in some extra veggies πŸ™‚ I typically just stuff them with sauce and cheese so I definitely need to branch out and try something more like this!

  13. Patricia Conte says:

    What a fun dish! This looks so pretty and colorful and perfect for spring! So many options, too with what to stuff them with — the bacon is a nice touch!

    1. I love stuffed vegetables, it makes them seem more important than a sad bit of broccoli on a plate! LOL!
      My husband will eat anything if I add a little bacon to it.

  14. Our spouses are opposites! My husband loves cooked veggies and I prefer raw. But these stuffed zucchini look delicious. I love when veggies can be the main dish. I love fennel seed, too, so I can’t wait to try this!

    1. Maybe I’m a glutton, Lucy, but I think of this as more of a side dish. Either way – very tasty!

  15. I’m totally with your husband – and you – about mushy vegetables. Yuck! These look perfect, and a great, healthy meal in one neat little package!

    1. Thank you, Tamara! To me, it screams Spring!!!