How to make the best cheese stuffed zucchini boats recipe. This meatless dinner is healthy and uses Italian seasoning and a variety of cheeses to make an awesome vegetarian meal. It's a simple and easy supper that's keto, whole 30, low carb, and paleo friendly (just leave out the breadcrumbs).
In my neck of the woods, stuffed vegetables usually involve hamburger, tomato sauce and rice, or crab meat.
None of these fillings really thrill me, and I often avoid them.
At the same time, I love veggies, especially when they are fresh from my garden. I love to make them the focal point of a meal.
A few years ago, I came up with this recipe in response to a glut of zucchini and summer squash from said garden. It makes a great vegetarian meal or a tasty side dish alongside something meaty.
This filling is wonderful and would be tasty stuffed inside any number of foods, including bread, tomatoes, other types of squash, mushrooms, and almost anything else. It's so creamy and delicious!
I've also tried this filling with the addition of shredded chicken or pork or ground turkey, ground beef, or Italian sausage. It is also really good with these additions. It's versatile.
What you'll need to make the best cheese stuffed baked zucchini
See printable recipe card at the bottom of the page for all measurements and nutritional information.
- Medium zucchini - If the zucchini is too small, the boats will hold virtually no filling, and then what's the point? But if they're too big, they will be all filling, and you won't have any yummy zucchini flavor. Plus, the skins on the really big ones get really tough and woody.
- Softened cream cheese - Low-fat tastes just as good as the full-fat version in this recipe. If you've forgotten to leave it out to soften, you can microwave it for 30 seconds and then beat it a bit with a rubber spatula.
- Italian seasoning - You can also use a dash of salt and pepper if you want.
- Chopped onion - This gives the filling mixture a sweet flavor. I like to use sweet Vidalia onions, but you can use whatever variety you have.
- Fresh garlic - I love fresh garlic, and there is no substitute for its flavor. Garlic powder and garlic from a jar are cheap substitutes and do not have the same flavor.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese - This makes the filling creamy and gooey and so delicious. You can also add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.
- Italian bread crumbs - These are optional, for a bit of crunch on top of the cheese. It's fine to use gluten-free breadcrumbs or leave them out altogether.
How to Make the Best Cheese Stuffed Zucchini
- Preheat the oven to 350º.
- Cut a medium to large zucchini in half and scoop out the seeds. Discard. Scoop out some flesh to make a shell and place the shells in a baking dish.
- Grate or finely chop the zucchini pulp. Sauté the chopped onion and zucchini pulp in olive oil over medium high heat until soft.
- Mix cream cheese, Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, onion and zucchini, and bread crumbs (if using). Spoon into zucchini shells in the baking pan.
- Bake for about one hour, or until zucchini is tender and filling is hot and melty. Cool slightly before serving.
A note on the breadcrumbs
The breadcrumbs in this recipe do lend the dish a nice Italian flavor, but they are not completely necessary. I used them the first couple of times I made this, but then stopped. I no longer use them and the cheese filling in the stuffed zucchini comes out just as well. Use them if you want to, leave them out if you prefer.
Why is there no marinara sauce?
I really like this recipe with just the cheese filling, but a lot of people think stuffed zucchini needs to have marinara or meat sauce mixed in. I don't recommend mixing it into the filling, but if you really feel like you need it, you can spoon some over the top of the cooked zucchini boats.
Check out these other zucchini dishes while you're here:
- Spicy Sriracha Shrimp with Peanut Zucchini Noodles
- Zucchini Noodles with Garlic, Lemon, & Parmesan
- Chicken Piccata with Zucchini Noodles
- Zucchini Sausage Egg Muffins Recipe (Gluten-Free and Low Carb)
- Zucchini Quiche (Gluten-Free)
- How to Make the Best Grilled Zucchini and Squash