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6 Stuffed Zucchini Boats baked in a cast iron pan. The cheese is melty and brown.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats


These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are easy to prepare, and so versatile. Easily, substitute eggplant and/or yellow squash for the zucchini. The zucchini are generously filled with a savory sausage meat sauce, topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, and baked to perfection.


  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage (see notes for substitutions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the sausage and allow to brown.
  3. Once the sausage is almost fully-cooked, add in the minced garlic, onions, crushed red pepper (optional) and Italian seasoning.
  4. Soften the vegetables for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes (salt the tomatoes), or tomato sauce.
  5. Simmer for at least 20 minutes if using fresh tomatoes, and 5-10 minutes if using tomato sauce or marinara.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, cut the ends off of the zucchini. Slice each down the middle, lengthwise.
  7. With a spoon, remove the seed and part of the flesh to create a “boat.” Carefully, so as not to remove too much of the flesh.
  8. Place the hollowed-out zucchini boats into a prepared, oven-safe casserole dish, or cast iron pan. Trim the bottom of each boat if needed to keep steady.
  9. Season the inside of the zucchini boats with salt and black pepper. Add a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese to the bottom of each boat.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  11. Generously fill the boats with the meat sauce. Top each with shredded mozzarella cheese. 
  12. Fill the gaps in the casserole dish with remaining sauce. 
  13. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the zucchini are tender.
  14. Remove the cover and broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
  15. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  16. ENJOY!


  • Choose firm, medium-sized zucchini.
  • Yellow squash or eggplant are great substitutions for the zucchini.
  • Replace the hot Italian sausage with mild sausage, ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • If fresh tomatoes are not available, use tomato sauce or marinara sauce.
  • Simmer the sauce for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
  • To make this dish vegetarian/vegan, leave out the meat and use the flesh in the sauce with a meat alternative. Use vegan cheese.
  • Carefully spoon out just enough flesh to create a boat. 
  • Use the flesh in the sauce, or use to make zucchini bread.
  • Adjust the bake time to your preference.
  • If needed, trim the bottom of the zucchini boat to keep upright/steady in the casserole dish.
  • see post for additional tips and notes.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American

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