Southwest Chicken Zucchini Boats are filled with flavor as they’re packed with marinated chicken breast, corn, beans, cheese and vegetables. This is a great light summer dinner that’s as much about the fresh zucchini as it is about the mouthwatering filling.
Zucchini boats are one of our favorite ways to use zucchini during zucchini season! We’re in the middle of zucchini season now, so my kitchen has been no stranger to all different kinds of zucchini boats, but especially ones stuffed with flavorful southwest chicken filling.
As much as I adore zucchini, I find myself craving the chicken filling more than anything else. This southwest chicken filling so good in fact, that I tend to make a double batch just so I can save leftover filling to use in other dishes.
Quesadillas are amazing with this filling as well as taquitos, nachos, and topped on a salad. Once you read through the list of ingredients at play in this recipe, it’ll be no surprise why this chicken filling is as good as I say it is.
The chicken itself is marinated with ingredients like fresh lime juice, white wine vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, and SO much more. After it’s marinated for a while, the chicken is mixed with other bold ingredients like jalapeños, shredded pepper jack cheese, seasoned cooked veggies, and black beans. It’s such a delicious filling and mix-in!
- Zucchini – The star of the show! You’ll need about three medium zucchini for this easy recipe.
For the Chicken Marinade:
- Chicken Breasts – Make sure that you buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for the best results.
- Olive Oil – In a pinch, avocado oil will also work.
- White Wine Vinegar – White wine vinegar is preferred, but apple cider vinegar will also provide the necessary tang in this marinade.
- Lime – You’ll need the freshly squeezed juice of one lime.
- Chili Powder – For an even more southwest flair, you can use a hotter Mexican style chili powder.
- Paprika – Smoked paprika works too, if you’d prefer a light smoky flavor.
- Garlic Powder
- Dried Oregano
For The Chicken Filling:
- Yellow Onion – A white onion is a good substitute.
- Red Bell Pepper – I use a red bell pepper because of the vibrant pop of color, and the flavor mixes the best with the other ingredients.
- Yellow Corn – If you use frozen corn, be sure to thaw it before tossing it with everything else.
- Black Beans – Drain and rinse canned black beans first.
- Jalapeño – If you don’t want a lot of added heat, discard of the seeds. If you’re not afraid to break a sweat, leave the seeds in!
- Pepper Jack Cheese – Shredded cheese is preferred, as it will mix the best. You can always get a block and grate it yourself.
- Mexican Cheese – Grab a bag of shredded Mexican cheese top sprinkle over your zucchini boats!
- Cilantro – Remember to rinse your cilantro before using, as sometimes it can have a gritty texture if not washed.
- Sour Cream – Low or full fat will both be perfectly fine.
- Chili Powder
- Lime Juice
How to Prepare the Zucchini for the Boats
Place zucchini in the cutting board and cut off most of the stump. Slice zucchini lengthwise to create two even halves. Try to make the halves as even as possible so cut right in the center.
Then, simply use a melon baller to scoop out just the seeded flesh in the center. (If you don’t have a melon baller, you can use a small spoon.)
How to Make Zucchini Boats
First off, you’ll need to marinate the chicken. Simply combine all of the ingredients in a zip-top bag and give it a gentle shake. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator as you prepare the rest of the steps.
Prepare the zucchini boats by cutting off the stems, halving them, and scooping out the centers. Then, lay them side by side and sprinkle them lightly with salt.
To make the chicken, simply cook them for about 4-6 minutes per side in a pan over medium heat. Once it’s all cooked, remove it from the pan and let it cool.
While the chicken is cooling, toss some onions and peppers into the still hot pan with a little bit of marinade until they’re softened.
Slice the cooled chicken into cubes and add it to a bowl with the cooked vegetables. Add the remaining filling ingredients into the bowl, and stir everything together.
Stuff the boats with the filling. Then, spread the shredded Mexican cheese over the boats.
Bake the boats at 350°F for about 20-30 minutes, and enjoy!
While the flavored sour cream topping is completely optional, we do like the creamy touch that it provides.
Storing and Reheating
Make sure to store any leftovers in the refrigerator and you can use the original baking dish. Do cover the dish with an air-tight lid or plastic wrap. Properly stored, zucchini boats should last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
It’s easy to reheat individual or a couple at the same time in the microwave. Make sure to use microwave-safe dishes and cover the boats with a microwave lid while reheating. If you don’t have a lid, use a wide bowl and turn it upside-down to cover.
Some More Zucchini Recipes:
Italian Beef Zucchini Boats – this recipe features hollowed out zucchini halves stuffed with Italian beef mixture and lots of Mozzarella cheese on top
Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats – scrumptious zucchini boats stuffed with ground beef sautéed with jalapenos, onions and taco seasoning and baked with pepper jack cheese
Zucchini Fritters – these fritters are packed with fresh zucchini, Parmesan cheese, and a some Mozzarella cheese for an extra cheesy bite
Zucchini Bread – this bread is super moist, sweet, and tender bread with a pleasant combination of textures.
Southwest Chicken Zucchini Boats
- 3 medium zucchini
- 0.75 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 lime- juice only
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt to taste
- cooked chicken from above
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1/2 cup sweet yellow corn
- 1/2 cup canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno diced, keep seeds or discard
- 4 oz pepper jack cheese shredded
- 7-8 oz shredded Mexican cheese mix
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp lime juice
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade except for the chicken in a zip-top bag and give it a gentle shake to combine. Add chicken, get as much air out as you can, seal and let it marinate while you prepare zucchini and remaining ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.
To Prepare Zucchini Boats:
- Place zucchini in the cutting board and cut off most of the stem. Slice zucchini lengthwise to create two even halves. Try to make the halves as even as possible so cut right in the center.
- Use a melon baller to scoop out just the seeded flesh in the center. (If you don’t have a melon baller, use a small spoon.)
- Lay hollowed out zucchini halves side by side and season inside the boats with some salt.
- Place them side by side into the baking dish.
- Preheat a medium cooking pan over medium heat and place chicken into the pan. Add a little bit of the marinade and safe a little more to cook the vegetables.
- Cook chicken for 4-6 minutes per side, until completely done.
- Take chicken out of the pan and let it cool on the cutting board until easy to handle.
- While chicken is cooling, add onions and peppers into the same pan as the chicken and add a little bit of the chicken marinade. (Discard remaining marinade.)
- Cook vegetables until softened and transfer them into a mixing bowl.
- Cut chicken into small cubes and add it to the bowl with vegetables. Add corn, beans, diced jalapeno, and shredded pepper jack cheese. Toss everything together to combine.
- Stuff zucchini boats generously with the chicken filling and then spread shredded Mexican cheese over the top of each boat.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft you like the zucchini.
- If you want to drizzle something creamy over the top, mix together sour cream, chili powder, paprika, salt, and lime juice. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag or a small plastic bag and cut off a very small part of the tip.
- Drizzle the seasoned sour cream over cooked zucchini board and sprinkle some cilantro all over.