Stuffed zucchini taco boats are filling, satisfying, and so delicious! Stuffed and baked with a flavorful ground turkey taco filling topped with melted cheese, this low-carb, highly nutritious meal is one the whole family will love!
You wouldn’t believe it now, but when I was a kid, I didn’t like zucchini. Now, I love to find different ways to incorporate zucchini into everyday dishes.
This zucchini taco boat recipe is Tex Mex inspired tacos stuffed with a flavorful filling. I like to say they’re a healthy twist on Taco Tuesday!
Perfect for a low-carb and keto-friendly meal if that’s your thing, but it’s also just a great way to get your veggies in and no one will miss the traditional taco shell.
When fresh zucchini is plentiful, whether from our garden or the local market, we stock up. We like to enjoy them as part of lighter dinners and easy lunches as much as possible while they’re in season!
Why you’ll love these Taco Boats
Tons of flavor – With a taco filling made with seasoned ground turkey in a smoky zesty tomato sauce and then topped with melty cheese, you can’t go wrong!
Highly nutritious – High in fiber with fewer carbs and more nutrients than a tortilla shell, zucchini is a great healthy alternative for taco night even if you’re not looking for a new low-carb or keto recipe!
Easy to make & fun to eat – The entire meal is ready in about 1 hour, including making the filling, scooping out the zucchini, and baking it. Made with simple, fresh, and nutritious ingredients, it’s an easy and fun way to get everyone to eat their veggies. Plus, you get to load up on your favorite toppings.
None of it goes to waste – Sure we’re scooping out the centers, but we’re using the flesh in the filling for more taco goodness!
Equipment you’ll need
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.
- Zucchini – You’ll need about four large zucchini (though large is subjective) cut into halves. I’d recommend having enough for everyone to get one whole zucchini.
- Salsa – I highly recommend making your own salsa (this one is so good!), but jarred works too.
- Ground Turkey – On its own, ground turkey isn’t the most flavorful meat but it is lean, high in protein and is mild in flavor so it can take on all of the delicious seasonings! Any lean ground meat will work (beef or chicken).
- Seasoning – Garlic powder, cumin, salt, chili powder, and paprika for a smoky, slightly spicy, and earthy blend. You can also use your own homemade taco seasoning instead.
- Onion – Minced onion for an aromatic flavor adds not only extra texture but extra taste too.
- Tomato Sauce – Any sauce will do. If you’re concerned about added sugars, make sure to read the label as many commercial sauces contain sugar.
- Water – Just a bit to thin out the sauce as it simmers. For extra flavor, use chicken broth instead.
- Mexican Cheese Blend – The shredded cheese on top is the perfect finishing touch. Once melted and bubbly and golden brown, it is the best!
- Sour Cream – Optional for serving. I’d suggest cheese and salsa, but those are already in the zucchini taco boats!
How to make Turkey Stuffed Taco Boats
This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Step One: Wash your zucchini and cut each one in half lengthwise. With a small spoon or melon baller, scoop out the flesh in the center of the zucchini half to hollow out just enough to leave 1/4” rim. Do not discard the flesh, instead chop up 3/4 cup of it and set it aside.
- Step Two: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook zucchini halves for 1 minute then set them aside.
- Step Three: In a large skillet, cook the ground turkey until no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks. Once browned, mix in the seasoning. Then stir in the chopped onion, reserved zucchini, tomato sauce, and water. Cover and let it simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- Step Four: Spread 1/2 cup of salsa into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and arrange the boiled zucchini halves overtop, hollowed flesh side up. Spoon some of the taco meat mixture into the grooves and press down gently so the filling stays in the taco boats. Top with a sprinkling of cheese.
- Step Five: Cover the pan with foil and bake in a preheated 400F oven for about 30 minutes until the zucchini if fully cooked and the cheese is melted. Enjoy taco boats with a serving of sour cream on the side.
What to serve with Zucchini Boats
These zucchini taco boats are plenty filling all on their own! Other than a topping of sour cream, or crema, and maybe a drizzle of hot sauce, salsa verde, or some green onions, you’re set. If you want to do a light side salad or even a bit of cilantro lime rice on the side you definitely can.
Tips & Suggestions
- I highly recommend making your own salsa to go into these zucchini taco boats. It is so easy and so worth it. It makes this dish that much better and you’ll have plenty left over to eat for days with other things.
- Use a melon baller like this Melon Baller with Two Sizes to scoop seeds out of the middle to make the “boats”.
- Be careful not to scoop out too much. When the walls are too thin they can easily tear and they won’t be able to hold the filling.
- Don’t overcook the zucchini. You want your taco boats soft, not mushy.
- Make sure to spray your pan to prevent them from sticking on the bottom.
- If you prefer to roast your zucchini for a bit in the oven instead of boiling them, feel free. Drizzle with a bit of oil and sprinkle salt then bake for about 20 minutes, until tender.
- Swap the ground turkey and use ground beef, Italian sausage, or ground chicken instead.
- Make the taco boats vegetarian and omit the meat altogether. Use black beans or refried beans and bell pepper in its place.
How to store and reheat leftovers
How to store leftover taco boats
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, keep them stored in an airtight container.
How long will zucchini boats last in the fridge?
For up to 4 days. They make great leftovers to take to work for a simple lunch or to have for a quick dinner on a busy night.
Can I freeze taco boats?
Yes! So I say double or triple the batch as needed and store whatever you don’t use in a freezer-safe container. They will keep fresh and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the fridge overnight.
How to reheat leftovers
As zucchini contains water, they will naturally become softer the longer they sit around. If you’re ok with that, then use the microwave to heat them. If you want to try and regain some of the structure, you can reheat zucchini taco boats in the oven or give the air fryer a shot.
Can I eat the skin on zucchini?
Yes! Always leave the skin on your zucchini boats, not only because they help keep their structure, but because zucchini skin is thin, delicate, and highly nutritious. It’s where so many of the vitamins and minerals hang out.
What size zucchini should I use?
I use medium-sized zucchini. Large enough to hold a good amount of filling but small enough so that people can have a couple of boats each. I just think it looks better on the plate having two halves side by side.
Can I make this zucchini boat recipe in advance?
You can. Make the filling, and cut and scoop the zucchini (or don’t, since it doesn’t take long anyway). Store them separately in the fridge until you’re ready to stuff and bake.
Are yellow zucchini the same as green zucchini?
Just about! Yellow zucchini are slightly sweeter. If you have some, use them. Or a colorful combination of both types!
Need More Zucchini Recipes?
Click here for my entire collection of zucchini recipes.
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With meals like this, you can afford to have some of our delicious Chocolate Brownies for dessert!
Originally published July 1, 2014