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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!

overhead shot of zucchini boats in baking dish

Zucchini Boats

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.

I still might need to sneak it into zucchini brownies or chocolate marble zucchini bread for my kids to eat their veggies, but they do like taco night.

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!

overhead shot of zucchini boats on white plate

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients

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!
zucchini boats with shredded cheese in pan reay for baking

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Step Two: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook zucchini halves for 1 minute then set them aside.
zucchini sliced & prepped to make taco boats
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
zucchini filling in pan for taco boats

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.

FAQs

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?

Loaded Zucchini Skins

Baked Zucchini Fries

Chocolate Zucchini Drop Cookies

Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Click here for my entire collection of zucchini recipes.

zucchini taco boats in baking dish

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white plate with zucchini boats and sour cream & salsa
4.60 from 45 votes

Zucchini Boat Turkey Tacos

Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Low calorie, low carb, low fat but high flavor Zucchini Boat Turkey Tacos |

Ingredients
 

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • ½ cup salsa plus more for serving
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ small onion minced
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup or so shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • sour cream optional for serving

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of salsa into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.
  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise then with a small spoon or melon baller (I used my tablespoon measuring spoon), hollow out the zucchini pieces but leave 1/4″ rim. Save 3/4 cup of the zucchini flesh and chop into small pieces.
  • Drop the zucchini halves into the boiling water and cook for one minute. Remove from water and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey, breaking it up while it cooks. When it’s no longer pink, add in the spices and mix well.
  • Add in the chopped onion, reserved zucchini, tomato sauce, and water. Stir it up then cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, arrange the boiled zucchini halves into the bottom of the 9×13 dish.
  • Once the meat mixture is done, spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats evenly. Press down so the filling stays in the boats.
  • Top each half with a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes until the zucchini is fully cooked and the cheese is melted.
  • Serve with sour cream and more salsa.

Notes

Slightly adapted from Skinnytaste

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 1141mg | Potassium: 1104mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1186IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 148mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

 With meals like this, you can afford to have some of our delicious Chocolate Brownies for dessert!

Originally published July 1, 2014

two zucchini taco boats on white plate with salsa & sour cream



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39 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wow!! My husband and I just tried this!! SO GOOD! And I am dairy free so we omitted the sour cream and cheese and we still really liked it! The meat tasted great and the zucchini was practically flavorless and was a nice texture! Also, we typically eat a lot, and both of us only had 1-2 zucchini’s and it filled us up! Definitely will be making this again!