Zucchini Boats | Italian Style

When your friend refuses to let you out of her house until you take a minimum of four of her garden zucchini, then you come home to find numbers five and six tucked surreptitiously in your bag, it’s official: The Great Zucchini Sneak has begun. Let’s take this delicious opportunity to use it for one of my favorite summer zucchini recipes, Italian Zucchini Boats.

Healthy Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats – low carb baked zucchini boats stuffed with lean ground turkey sausage, tomatoes, and topped with crispy basil breadcrumbs. An easy, healthy, all-in-one dinner that your whole family will love! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

The sneak happened on Monday night, and, after catching a glimpse of just how many zucchini my friend had crammed inside of her refrigerator, I can’t say I blame her for her, um, generosity.

Plus, now I have another reason to make these Italian-style healthy stuffed zucchini boats!

This is one of the earliest recipes I ever posted on my blog. I first made it when I worked in a corporate office and returned to my desk to find an anonymous pile of zucchini sitting squarely in the center of my chair. It remains one of my favorite summer meals, and a few of my earliest readers still make it too (hi Matt and Amy!).

I’ve updated the post with fresh photos and made a few helpful tweaks to the recipe too.

Whether you’re swimming in squash from your own garden, an anonymous donor, or you simply need a healthy meal idea for dinner tonight, these easy stuffed zucchini boats have you covered.

Healthy Stuffed Zucchini Boats, Italian-style! Lean ground turkey sausage, tomatoes, melty cheese, and crispy basil bread crumb topping. The perfect easy summer dinner recipe. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

Zucchini boats are an affordable, satisfying dish. They elevate the humble zucchini into a special meal.

While there are as many ways to stuff a zucchini as there are squash to hold the filling, I love this particular recipe because it is jam-packed (literally) with the goodness of late summer.

Low carb Easy Zucchini Boats – baked zucchini stuffed with Italian turkey sausage, fresh veggies, and crispy basil breadcrumbs. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

The filling is a tasty combination of Italian flavors and summer produce heroes: fresh basil, tomato, bell peppers, lean Italian turkey sausage, and Parmesan cheese.

The topping is a mix of whole wheat bread crumbs (to make the recipe gluten free, use gluten-free bread in place of the whole grain bread called for below), olive oil, more fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese.

Healthy Low Carb Italian Zucchini Boats – lean turkey sausage, fresh veggies, and a delicious basil Parmesan topping. Our whole family loves this easy dinner recipe! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

The recipe does make what will seem like a lot of bread crumb topping, but trust me, you are going to want it all. As the zucchini bakes, it transforms into a golden, toasty “lid” that I caught myself eating right off the top of the zucchini boats before I’d taken a real bite.

With their combination of lean turkey sausage, veggies both inside and out, and whole grains, these healthy stuffed zucchini boats are an ideal all-in-one dinner. They also reheat beautifully the next day, so you can make a big batch to enjoy a few times throughout the week.

Easy Italian Zucchini Boats – low carb baked zucchini LOADED with flavorful lean ground turkey sausage, tomato, Parmesan, and basil. Delicious, easy, and always a family favorite! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

No need to drop the squash and ditch, because when Stuffed Zucchini is on the menu, you’ll want to keep every precious zucchini for your own table!

If you like these Italian Zucchini Boats, don’t miss these other stellar zucchini recipes:

Healthy Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats – low carb baked zucchini boats stuffed with lean ground turkey sausage, tomatoes, and topped with crispy basil breadcrumbs. An easy, healthy, all-in-one dinner that your whole family will love! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated
4.8 from 5 votes
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Italian Zucchini Boats

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
Healthy Zucchini Boats stuffed with lean Italian turkey sausage and tomatoes, topped with Parmesan breadcrumbs. A quick, easy, and delicious low-carb dinner!


  • 4 zucchini — 5 to 6 inches long
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil — divided
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian turkey sausage — casings removed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper — diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan — plus additional for serving


  1. Place a rack in the upper third of your oven. Preheat to 425 degrees F.
  2. Halve the zucchini lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and discard the seeds. Then, scoop out the soft center flesh to create shallow zucchini “shells,” with walls about 1/2 inch thick, reserving the center flesh. Arrange the zucchini shells in a baking dish. Roughly chop the center flesh and set it aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the sausage, onion, and bell pepper. Using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, break apart the sausage, sautéing it together with the vegetables, until the onions are soft and the sausage is browned and fully cooked, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 additional minute, until tomato paste is broken down and incorporated. Add in the reserved zucchini flesh and heat through for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Taste and add additional salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes as desired.
  5. Toast the bread slices, then tear them into large pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the basil and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Pulse until the bread is broken into large crumbs. Add the Parmesan and pulse just until incorporated, 2 or 3 times.
  6. Fold half of the basil bread crumbs into the sausage mixture. With a small spoon, mound the sausage stuffing into the shells, then sprinkle the tops of the stuffed zucchini with the remaining bread crumbs. Roast in oven until the zucchini is heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • Tip: Grate cheese the easy way! Before starting the recipe, grate an entire wedge of Parmesan cheese right in your food processor. Cut the wedge into chunks, place them in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, then pulse until ground. Measure out and set aside the 1/2 cup needed for the recipe. Store the remainder in your refrigerator for weeks. You'll always have fresh Parm on hand! Then proceed with making the stuffed zucchini, no need to wash the processor bowl in between.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a casserole dish the oven at 350 degrees F until warmed through. If the bread crumbs start to brown too much, loosely tent the dish with foil. I do not recommend freezing this recipe, as the zucchini will likely become mushy.
  • To make the recipe gluten free, use gluten-free bread. To make the recipe dairy free, omit the Parmesan (or try replacing it with nutritional yeast).
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Healthy Low Carb Meal, Italian Zucchini Boats

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 4)) — Calories: 321, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 34mg, Sodium: 541mg, Carbohydrates: 18g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 18g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

And just for fun, here’s the original photo:


This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…


  1. Haha – I need to come to your office and check “unguarded file cabinets” for zucchini!!!
    These zucchini look delish – but I am not quite able to connect to the “food fanatic” site – maybe its my computer…will try later….

  2. I’d be okay if you gave me a break from zucchini bread! :) I need a savory zucchini recipe – though cheese omelets don’t sound that bad. Gorgeous pics!

  3. Stuffed zucchinis are my favourite but your version sounds much much better than mine. Wow, look at how much deliciousness, I think I might actually like this better than zucchini bread :D

  4. This looks like a fantastic addition to the busy weeknight!!

  5. Hi Erin! We have a zucchini plant growing in our front yard and it has been producing, producing, producing! I’ll have to make these stuffed zucchini…and soon! Thank you for sharing with me! I hope you have a wonderful start to your week.

  6. Yuuum! I love zucchini! It’s a strange thing to say, as I used to hate them as a child (I think it was the slightly ambiguous flavour, the ‘squeaky teeth’ phenomenon and the slight ‘sliminess’). The stuffing for these zucchini sounds wonderful… basil breadcrumbs?! Yes please!!! Heading over to Food Fanatic now! xx

  7. Totally need to stuff me a zucchini asap! Yours look wonderful, Erin.

  8. please feel free to send me extra zucchinis :)

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  10. seriously love you. fun to read, great ideas, makes me wanna cook something. Im a vegan and am trying to get my boyfriend to also be vegan so yummy tofu recipes is where its at….. xoxox thankyou.

    • Hey Briana! Thanks so much for your kind words–totally makes my day! I have a few vegan recipes on here, but otherwise, many of my recipes (especially stir fries and even this stuffed zucchini) can be easily adapted to be vegan. I love tofu myself, but still working on bringing the Mr. around. Maybe I can start sneaking it in without telling him? Thanks again and have a great day!

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  14. Great summer meal!

  15. Lexi @Lexi'scleankitchen Reply

    I am obsessed with Italian turkey sausage! I cannot wait to make these!!

  16. Hi Erin, I am one of your newer followers, joining in from Germany. I have an ingredient related question: What is Italian turkey sausage? I live (comparatively) close to Italy (much closer than the US, anyway), but I never came across one :-) We have a fantastic Italian delicatessen here and I would like to ask them, but I am not sure what to ask for. Is it a smoked kind of sausage, is it like Salsiccia (it’s rather greasy, though, not lean)?
    Thanks so much, this all looks terrific!

    • Hi Sophia! Great question. It’s essentially turkey sausage with Italian spices added. I think you could make your own by adding things like red pepper flakes, Italian herbs, garlic, and fennel seeds. I hope that helps!

  17. WOW those zucchinis are jam-packed with flavor! They look great!

  18. I love the influx of zucchini! So many delicious ways to use it – like this recipe!

  19. I am all aboard for these ;)
    They look fun and delicious.

  20. Perfect for summer! I tried it yesterday and turned out really delicious. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Christine, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you so much for giving it a try and reporting back.

  21. These were wonderful! I made them pretty much exactly as in the recipe, though I found they needed a longer baking time (personal preference, I like my zucchini a bit softer). They are so flavorful, yet not too filling, and really showcased the flavour of the zucchini. I have a mountain of zucchini from my garden, and this recipe is perfect to eat it up! I love your recipes, Erin.

    • Kim, I’m so glad to hear you loved this recipe! Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

  22. Loved these zucchini boats! I had to tweak things because I searched for a recipe last second using the ingredients I had on hand (Diestel Italian ground turkey, one 4 by 6 inch freshly picked zucchini, mushroom spaghetti sauce; had no red pepper, mushrooms, garlic , fresh parsley or breadcrumbs), but it turned out to be delicious  anyway and I will absolutely make this again! Thank you – this is going in my regular rotation for sure. Can’t wait to try it as written next time…

    • Maila, thank you so much for giving this recipe a try and sharing your tweaks! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  23. 4 year old: “I like them! They are cute!”
    1 year old: “mmmmmm”
    Dad/husband: “Oh MAN!!!”

    This was a super tasty and healthy dinner that every.single.person in my family loved – it will become a regular in our summer rotation!! I was able to prep everything the night before and when I got home tonight I put the pre-stuffed zucchini in the oven for 15 minutes and dinner was done by the time I set the table! Thanks for yet another winner, Erin! (ps – don’t tell but I cheated and used store bought breadcrumbs!)

    • Rachel, I am SO THRILLED you all enjoyed this so much! Your comments make my day <3 Thanks so much for sharing this (and your secret is safe with me;-) )

  24. Great tasting. My young adult son even really liked it (“either this is really good or I’m really hungry” & took 2nds) – even better than a cheesesteak styled stuffed zucchini boat I recently made.

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