Taco Zucchini Boats make a wonderful weeknight and weekend dinner! Stuffed zucchini loaded with taco beef sautéed with jalapeños, onions, and taco seasoning. They’re finished with melted pepper jack cheese, fresh toppings, and avocado dressing.
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Stuffed zucchini make a wonderful light dinner. I think it’s pretty much impossible to get overly full from one, but you will definitely be happy and comfortable! My favorite part is that you can stuff zucchini with so many different things. Whether you want to pack it with meats or other veggies, it all tastes great when paired with zucchini.
I like making these taco zucchini boats because the beef has so much flavor. It’s the best combination of fresh, summery zucchini with hearty, savory beef filling. Then it’s all topped off with melted spicy cheese, crisp lettuce, sliced tomatoes and the very best avocado dressing.
The dressing is technically optional… but I highly recommend it because it’s so tasty! If you want to save yourself a little time and work though, you can use sour cream on top instead. No matter how you top off your taco zucchini boats, you’ll love how easy this filling and flavorful this dinner is.
Zucchini – Pick medium to larger zucchini that are about 9-10 inches in length and 1.5-2 inches in thickness. You will want your zucchini to hold a good amount of stuffing.
Ground Beef – You can swap this with ground turkey or chicken if you’d prefer.
Taco Seasoning – If you have any left over, use it to make my favorite Creamy Beef Taco Dip!
Pepper Jack Cheese – I like to top my boats off with this cheese because it adds a little spice. You can swap it with shredded Mexican 4 cheese blend for a tamer flavor.
Avocado Dressing – Creamy Avocado Dressing is the BEST on these zucchini boats! While it only takes a minute or so to whip up, you can use sour cream instead if that’s easier for you.
See the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and instructions.
How to Make Taco Zucchini Boats
PRO TIP: If your zucchini is pretty round, chances are that the “boats” will be “rocking!” To avoid boats tipping over and stuffing spilling, you can cut off a very small slice on the bottom of each zucchini boat to stabilize them.
Sauté the veggies. Sauté the diced onions, tomatoes and jalapeños until fragrant (1).
Cook the ground beef. Add the ground beef and break it up as much as you can. Cover and cook over medium heat until it’s about half way done before stirring in the taco seasoning. Mix well and cook until done (2).
Prepare the boats. Place zucchini boats into lightly greased baking dish (3). Stuff each boat with cooked beef mixture (4).
Bake. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350°F. The timing depends on the size of the zucchini and if you like your zucchini a little crunch or not.
Make them cheesy. Top each zucchini boat with shredded pepper jack cheese (5) and bake until it’s nice and melted (6).
You want to stay away from thin and skinny zucchini if you plan to stuff them. Little ones will not hold much stuffing.
Pick medium to larger zucchini that are about 9-10 inches in length and 1.5-2 inches in thickness. You will want your zucchini to hold a good amount of stuffing. If all you can find is on a smaller side, get a couple extra and stuff them best you can. You can count two stuffed zucchini boats as one serving in that case.
So zucchini does hold quite a bit of liquid naturally, but good news is that it’s mostly in the seeds and pulp. Make sure to scrape out the seed area of the inside the zucchini halves completely.
If you have a little liquid left in the baking dish after baking, not to worry! It will not harm the zucchini boats. Just take out the boats and ignore the liquid. If you wish, you can fit a mesh cooling rack inside the baking dish so the zucchini juices drain down while baking.
No! You do not have to peel the zucchini and I actually do not recommend it. The skin will help retain the shape and structure of the zucchini as it bakes.
Storing and Reheating
Store your leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days and preferably without the toppings.
Reheating is also best without the toppings. Individual boats are just fine to reheat in the microwave, but you can always reheat them in the oven at 350°F until just heated through. Just note that the top of the beef could dry out while reheating and if covered with aluminum foil, it will take a bit longer to heat through.
You can freeze assembled stuffed zucchini. It’s best to freeze baked zucchini, but make sure to cool them completely after baking. Place baked stuffed zucchini into an aluminum baking pan that holds them well and is not too big. Cover tightly with a couple of layers of foil and a layer of plastic wrap to help prevent frostbite. Label and freeze for 2-3 months.
To thaw, simply take the covered zucchini boats out of the freezer and place them in the refrigerator. let them slow-thaw for about 24 hours. Take off the plastic wrap and aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, until completely warmed through.
How to Serve Taco Zucchini Boats
Go with something Mexican-inspired to best compliment the flavors found in the ground beef! Some of my favorite pairings for these zucchini boats include
Enjoy More Zucchini Recipes
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Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats Recipe
- 3 large zucchini
- 1-2 Tbsp vegetable or avocado oil
- 1 lb ground beef 90% or 85% lean so it's still juicy
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1 large tomato diced
- 1 large jalapeno seeded and diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1.25 oz packet of taco seasoning
- Salt to taste if needed
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 cup lettuce finely shredded
- 1/4 cup avocado ranch dressing
- Cut zucchini in half, lengthwise. Using a melon baller (or a spoon), scoop out the seeded flesh of each zucchini half, so there is space to stuff them. (Don't scoop out all the meat, just the softer part packed with seeds.)
- If zucchini halves are not stable, you can slice off a very thin slice at the bottom to stabilize it. (See image in the post.) Set them aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9×13 casserole baking dish.
- Preheat a cooking pan and add some oil.
- Sauté diced onion and jalapeno until softened. Add tomatoes and cook until softened as well. Stir in minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add ground beef and break it up as much as you can. Cover and cook covered, over medium heat, until about half way done.
- Sprinkle taco seasoning over the top and stir very well. Cook, stiffing from time to time, until beef is done. Taste to see if you need to add salt or not. Take off heat.
- Place zucchini boats into the prepared baking pan. Stuff each boat with cooked beef mixture.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the zucchini and if you like your zucchini a little crunch or not.
- Top each zucchini boat with shredded pepper jack cheese and bake a few minutes, until cheese is melted.
- Take them out of the oven and top off each boat with lettuce, tomato, and avocado dressing right before serving.
- Pick medium to larger zucchini that are about 9-10 inches in length and 1.5-2 inches in thickness. You will want your zucchini to hold a good amount of stuffing. If all you can find is on a smaller side, get a couple extra and stuff them best you can. You can count two stuffed zucchini boats as one serving in that case.
- Store your leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days and preferably without the toppings.
- Reheating is also best without the toppings. Individual boats are just fine to reheat in the microwave, but you can always reheat them in the oven at 350°F until just heated through. Just note that the top of the beef could dry out while reheating and if covered with aluminum foil, it will take a bit longer to heat through.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in July, 2015.