If you've seen zucchini boats on Pinterest but have been too afraid to try them, you NEED to give this recipe a shot. Not only do these Italian stuffed zucchini boats taste even better than they look, but they're super easy to throw together, too! Keep reading to learn how to make one of our favorite healthy, easy dishes!

Italian sausage stuffed zucchini boats, from Shelf Cooking

Wondering what to do with all that zucchini you picked up from the Farmer's market? Well, we've got the ultimate summer recipe! You can stuff your zucchini with just about any combination of meat, veggies, and cheeses, so this meal is shelf cooking royalty!

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Italian stuffed zucchini boats happen to be our family fave, so we're sharing that recipe today, but there are SO many ways to make this dish delish. We'll share six more variations you've got to try, along with tips for using up and storing your leftovers. Who's excited?!


woman making zucchini boats, from Shelf Cooking

We like unfussy cooking around here! The whole point of shelf cooking is to use what you have in stock instead of running to the store every time you try a new recipe. So, if you're reading through the ingredient list of this recipe and realize you're missing a few things, don't let that deter you! Try one of these easy swaps:

  • Italian Sausage – This really comes down to personal preference! We like a little spice, and we happened to have some Italian sausage leftover after making soup. If you don't like sausage, try stuffing your zucchini boats with ground beef or shredded chicken instead. You can also skip the meat and go vegetarian!
  • Grape Tomatoes – If you don't have any fresh tomatoes in the fridge, you can use a can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce. Red peppers are a great option, too.
  • Onion – If you don't have fresh onion, used the diced onions from your spice rack.
  • Zucchini – We had both, so we used a combo of zucchini and summer squash. You can use them interchangeably, so go with what you have!
  • Cheese – We used parmesan and mozzarella in keeping with the Italian theme, but any cheese you have will work just fine!
  • Panko Breadcrumbs – All out of panko? We wrote a whole post about panko breadcrumb substitutes, so check that out!

This one is easy peasy to customize, so seriously, use what you have! You can even veer from the Italian theme and whip up a version of this recipe for Taco Tuesday. Speaking of which, we've got six variations you NEED to try!


hollowed out zucchini and yellow squash, from Shelf Cooking

Okay, these Italian stuffed zucchini boats are a dream, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to this version every time you cook! There are dozens of ways to prepare this dish, and here are six more of our faves:

  • Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats – Mix shredded chicken, buffalo sauce, and softened cream cheese in a bowl. Fill those boats with that mixture. Sprinkle some cheddar on top, bake, and enjoy!
  • Mexican Zucchini Boats – Place all your favorite taco toppings in a zucchini boat and go to town! This Cafe Rio pork recipe would be amazing in a squash boat.
  • Breakfast Zucchini Boats – Fill your zucchini with bacon and eggs and add the cheese of your choice for a yummy way to start the day.
  • Cheeseburger Zucchini Boats – Brown and crumble some ground beef, add your favorite cheese and special sauce, toss in some diced pickles or tomatoes, then top with shredded lettuce after baking.
  • Pizza Zucchini Boats – Stuff all your favorite pizza toppings into your squash and enjoy a guilt-free pizza night! We suggest pepperoni, cheese, and peppers, but you do you, boo!
  • Tuna Melt Zucchini Boats – Low-carb tuna melt, here we come! Make your favorite tuna salad, add it to the zucchini, and sprinkle cheese on top. Easy peasy and delicious!

Don't they all sound amazing?! Now you've got six more meal ideas for your monthly meal plan, and they're all sure to squash the zucchini haters. #YoureWelcome


zucchini boats fresh from oven, from Shelf Cooking

This dish is so versatile that you can make it a one-recipe meal! You've got your meat and veggies all rolled into one, so that takes some pressure off prepping a ton of sides. But if you want to stretch this meal a bit further, try one of these sides:

  • Rice – Brown rice, white rice, yellow rice, or cilantro lime rice? You decide! Mix and match your rice to suit the version of this recipe you're making. You can even mix it with your ingredients to stretch that filling ever further!
  • Salad – Toss any remaining squash on top! If you don't have any dressing in the fridge, make a batch of this homemade vinaigrette.
  • Potatoes – Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, or even baked potatoes pair well with these zucchini boats.
  • Bread – Toss some crescent rolls or leftover dinner rolls in the oven, or make a batch of our rustic bread.
  • Roasted Veggies – Any veggies will do! Broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, or roasted carrots are a nice complement to zucchini.

Now you're all set! But before we get to that recipe, let's talk about leftovers for a quick minute!


What do you do if you end up with leftover zucchini boats? Or leftover filling? We can answer both of those questions!

  • Leftover Filling – You can either use the leftover filling in other dishes or freeze it for later! The filling is great over rice or noodles, or even in an omelet. If you store it in the fridge, it should last 3-4 days. In a freezer-safe container, your zucchini boat filling will last around 2-3 months.
  • Leftover Zucchini Boats – Can you freeze the leftover boats whole? You can try, but it's not something we recommend. The hollowed zucchini might get mushy during the freezing and thawing process. It's best to store your leftover boats in the fridge, then reheat in the oven and eat within 3-4 days.

And that about covers all things zucchini boat, except for the ah-mazing recipe we've been teasing. Are you ready for it?!


We love this lighter take on Italian night! Use a spicier sausage if you like heat, or use a mixture of pork and beef if you'd like. This filling, hearty meal comes together in no time!

Italian sausage stuffed zucchini boats, from Shelf Cooking

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed zucchini is one of the yummiest ways to use up garden produce, and it is much easier to make than it looks. If your shell breaks when you are hollowing it out, no worries! No one will be able to tell once you fill it.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 zucchini/summer squash
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan
  • ½ cup mozzarella
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease or line a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan (if you have tiny zucchini, you may be able to use a 13×9 pan) with parchment paper.
  • Begin by cutting each zucchini in half and scooping out the seeds and flesh with a small spoon—chop and reserve insides.
  • Place hollowed-out zucchini onto a greased baking sheet. Lightly brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • In a medium saute pan over medium heat, break up and brown sausage. Add onions and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in chopped zucchini and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, grape tomatoes, and herbs. Cook one minute longer. Increase heat until almost all liquid is absorbed. Season to taste.
  • Spoon filling evenly into each of the zucchini boats.
  • Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle over the top.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the zucchini. Cook just until a fork easily slips in and out of the zucchini.
  • Serve and enjoy!


You can substitute the grape tomatoes with tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, or even some sundried tomatoes. You can mix up the types of cheese and use shredded chicken or beef in place of Italian sausage. We really love using spicy sausage in this recipe!
Keyword zucchini boats

Doesn't that sound delicious? And we promise it's easier than you think, so give it a try!

Now you know how to make one of our current favorite summer recipes! Make a different variation each week and have some fun with it!

Speaking of variations, we have to know. Which one's your favorite? Are you team Italian or buffalo chicken? Tell us in the comments, or stop by our Shelf Cooking Facebook community and say hi!

Image with text that reads "Italian-stuffed zucchini boats" from Shelf Cooking

Looking for a few more new recipes to try? We think you'll love these!

Chow down!