Zucchini Taco Boats have all the flavor of tacos with lean ground turkey, peppers, onions, salsa, and cheese. They are a healthy and low carb option for taco night!
If there is one thing I have been loving lately it's stuffed zucchini and these Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats are too good not to share! Tacos are one of my favorite quick and easy meals and filling zucchini with taco meat and topping it all with melted cheese is a no-brainer. It's a perfect way to use up summer zucchini.
Not only is zucchini healthy, but it also makes a great low-carb alternative to things like bread, tortillas, and pasta.
These easy Zucchini Taco Boats are made with a combination of ground turkey, bell peppers, onions, salsa or enchilada sauce, and melted cheese. They are a delicious low-carb alternative to tacos or enchiladas. I promise you won't miss the tortillas!
The key to this recipe really comes down to choosing a salsa or enchilada sauce you really love. It doesn't matter if it is red or green, just that it is flavorful and something you want to eat. If you have trouble finding one that you love, consider making these with homemade pico de gallo, salsa verde, ranchero sauce, or even taco seasoning.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Zucchini: Look for small to medium size zucchini for the best results. Large zucchini will take much longer to cook and tend to be more watery. This recipe also works with yellow squash.
- Ground turkey: Make these zucchini boats with ground turkey, ground beef, ground chicken, or vegetarian crumbles.
- Taco seasoning: Season the ground turkey with taco seasoning. You can also simply add some chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Peppers, onions, and garlic: Adding bell peppers, onions, and garlic is another way to add nutrients and flavor. You could also add drained canned diced tomatoes or diced green chilies.
- Salsa: When making zucchini boats, it is best that they have a sauce or salsa to add some moisture. Use any salsa you like or enchilada sauce if you prefer a smokier flavor. Save some on the side to serve on top of the baked zucchini boats.
- Cheese: Use any cheese you like or leave out the cheese. Cheddar, pepper jack, Monterey jack, and Mexican cheese are all good options that melt well.
How to Make Zucchini Taco Boats
Whenever I post a stuffed zucchini recipe, it always gets the wheels turning and people are inspired to make their own. Here are the basic steps to making your own stuffed zucchini,
- Prep the zucchini: Choose small to medium zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half and use a spoon to hollow out the zucchini. You can keep this hollowed-out section to add back in as stuffing or discard it. Then season the zucchini with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the filling: Decide what you want to use to fill your zucchini. Vegetables and proteins should be cooked before using them as stuffing. Make sure to season the filling with salt, pepper, and any spices you like.
- Choose a sauce: I find that stuffed zucchini comes out best with a sauce so that the filling doesn't get dry. You can use salsa, enchilada sauce, spaghetti sauce, and even things like Italian dressing or teriyaki sauce can work. You just want to add some moisture.
- Add some cheese or breadcrumbs: Although not necessary, most people top their stuffed zucchini with some kind of cheese, breadcrumbs, or both.
- Bake: Place the stuffed zucchini in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until zucchini is tender. Remove the foil and cook for another five minutes to brown the top.
Recipe Ideas and Variations Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Make it vegetarian: Make a vegetarian by substituting black beans for the ground turkey.
- Use a different protein: Try out a different protein with lean ground beef, pork, or chicken. I love using any leftover chicken in this chicken tinga taco recipe for zucchini boats.
- Switch up the salsa: Instead of enchilada sauce, reach for your favorite spicy green or red salsa.
- Use yellow squash: Try swapping out the zucchini for some yellow summer squash for a slightly different flavor.
- Change up the cheese: Swap out the shredded cheddar cheese for mozzarella, pepper jack, or queso fresco.
- Make it spicy: Add some extra heat with diced jalapeno or serrano peppers.
- Add beans and corn: If you aren't eating low carb, bulk up the recipe with some canned beans and corn.
Zucchini Taco Boat Toppings
Just like tacos, these zucchini boats taste even better with all your favorite taco toppings., Here are some favorites:
- Fresh cilantro
- Diced tomatoes
- Green onions
- Sliced black olives
- Shredded lettuce
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Avocado or guacamole
- Queso fresco or queso cotija
How to Freeze Zucchini Boats
In general, zucchini isn't always the best option for freezing since it can get mushy. However, after some experimenting, these stuffed zucchini actually hold up pretty well in the freezer.
The key is making sure the stuffed zucchini has time to fully cool before placing them in the freezer. Once they cool, place them on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 3-4 hours. This will help draw out some of the moisture.
Once they are frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and then in foil. Keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Reheat in the oven or microwave. One note: the zucchini will be less firm when it is frozen. Still delicious but with a slightly mushier texture.
How to prevent the zucchini boats from being hard?
Every time I share a stuffed zucchini recipe, I always get a few questions about how to prevent the zucchini from being hard. The most important thing to prevent this is choosing the right zucchini. Look for a bright green zucchini that is small to medium in size. Large zucchini tend to be drier and also will take a much longer time to cook through.
Additionally, wrapping the baking dish in foil will help to ensure that the zucchini is fully cooked. The foil traps the steam and helps the zucchini cook all the way through.
Another option if you still find your zucchini comes out hard, is to microwave or boil it before stuffing. Simply slice the zucchini in half, remove the center, and microwave or boil for 2-3 minutes until softened.
This is also a good trick if you are short on time. Microwaving or boiling the zucchini means you don't have to cook the stuffed zucchini for nearly as long.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making these stuffed zucchini taco boats.
The easiest way to hollow out a zucchini is with a spoon. Simple cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Then use the spoon to gently scoop out the center.
The best way to reheat zucchini and squash boats is in the oven at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. When reheated in the microwave, the squash can get mushy, especially if they were previously frozen.
Zucchini Taco Boats
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- 4 zucchini
- 3/4 lb 99% lean ground turkey
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup onion, minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 cup salsa (or enchilada sauce)
- 1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
This version of the recipe was made with thick and chunky medium salsa.
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