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Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

March 1, 2022

When your garden is overrun with oversized zucchini, don’t despair! Instead, get excited—it’s time to make Italian stuffed zucchini boats!


Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats with ground chicken, basil, mozzarella and tomato cream sauce

That Huge, Oversized Zucchini? That’s a Good Thing!

Zucchini has a way of taking over the garden and growing to a size that even the most devoted zucchini fan can feel intimidated by. Whether these giant zucchinis are coming out of your own garden or are hand-me-downs from a neighbor—one of our favorite perks of summer—we encourage you to see them as a gift, not a problem! Figuring out what to do with overgrown summer produce is kind of our favorite thing to do, and zucchini is surprisingly versatile. Obviously you can make and freeze zucchini bread, try our zucchini fritters (no really, try them!) but these chicken zucchini boats are something our families look forward to ever summer because they’re just so darn good. Scooped out into a “boat” the zucchini is loaded Italian-seasoned ground chicken, then topped with mozzarella and baked in a creamy tomato sauce to melty, meaty, Italian stuffed zucchini perfection.

zucchini boats, tomato sauce, cream, mozzarella, parmesan, ground chicken and kale for zucchini boats

Everything You’ll Need To Make These Easy Stuffed Zucchini Boats

You’ve probably got the zucchini—people usually turn to zucchini boat recipes when they’ve got some big zucchini that they don’t know how to cook!—but what else goes in zucchini boats? Well, we’ve tried to keep this recipe pantry-focused and basic. Feel free to make a few swaps as needed, too. You could use ground turkey in place of the ground chicken if you’d like (or if it’s what you happen to have), and the fennel seeds and pepper flakes are both optional. For the kale, you could easily use any hearty green—absolutely any kind of kale will work, as will collards, or even mustard greens. Here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious stuffed zucchini boats:

  • Zucchini

  • Ground chicken

  • Fresh garlic

  • Herbs & spices: Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes

  • Tomato paste

  • Crushed tomatoes

  • Heavy cream

  • Parmesan cheese

  • Mozzarella

  • Kale

  • Fresh basil

ground chicken and spices in a cast iron skillet
tomato sauce in a cast iron skillet
tomato sauce in a cast iron skillet with heavy cream, parmesan cheese and kale
creamy tomato sauce in a skillet with zucchini boats

How to Make Zucchini Boats

Italian flavors inspired our simple stuffed zucchini recipe, and like all great rustic Italian recipes, this one couldn’t be simpler. Here’s how to make these easy stuffed zucchini boats:

  1. Scoop out the zucchini to make zucchini boats! By scraping out the seedy part of the zucchini, you’ll remove a lot of the moisture that can sometimes make zucchini recipes soggy. A big metal spoon is a great tool for doing this, or even an ice cream scoop.

  2. Cook the ground chicken. Sauté the ground chicken in olive oil with fresh garlic, salt and herbs until it’s cooked through. Put it in a bowl while you use the same skillet to make the tomato sauce the zucchini boats will bake in.

  3. Make a quick & creamy Italian tomato sauce. Stir together tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. As soon as they’re fragrant, pour in the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for a minute, then stir in heavy cream, some parmesan cheese and kale.

  4. Stuff the zucchini boats! Nestle the scooped-out zucchini boats. Load each boat with the Italian-seasoned ground chicken. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 10 minutes.

  5. Cheese time! Top the chicken-stuffed zucchini boats with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake (uncovered this time) until the cheese is melty and bubbly. Garnish with fresh basil and dig in!

zucchini boats with ground chicken and spices in a creamy tomato sauce in a skillet
zucchini boats with ground chicken, spices and parmesan cheese in a creamy tomato sauce in a skillet
zucchini boats with ground chicken, spices, parmesan cheese and mozzarella in a creamy tomato sauce in a skillet
zucchini boats with ground chicken, spices, parmesan cheese, mozzarella and basil in a creamy tomato sauce in a skillet

Tools You’ll Need

More Zucchini Recipes To Try

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats with creamy tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella cheese with basil


Try this super satisfying stuffed zucchini boat recipe recipe, and let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  40 min
  • Calories: 599


  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, optional
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups kale, ribs removed, torn into small pieces, packed
  • 4 Medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, centers scooped out and discarded
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced


  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large, oven-proof skillet (cast iron or enamel) set over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken, 1/2 of the garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, the fennel seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, stir until combined and cook until the chicken has cooked through and is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Transfer the ground chicken to a bowl or plate.
  3. In the same skillet, still over medium heat, add tomato paste, remaining garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and remaining 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in heavy cream, ¼ cup parmesan cheese and kale, stirring until kale is just wilted, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat.
  6. Carefully nestle the zucchini into the sauce in the skillet. Fill the zucchini boats with the chicken mixture. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, top the chicken with the mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven uncovered for 15 More minutes.
  7. Serve topped with fresh basil.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories599
  • Protein53 g
  • Carbohydrates26 g
  • Total Fat32 g
  • Dietary Fiber7 g
  • Cholesterol171 mg
  • sodium1868 mg
  • Total Sugars10 g

Italian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Questions & Reviews

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  • Tess

    Delicious! This was an easy add for our “go-to” list. The veggies, the savory chicken, the creamy sauce. Checks all the boxes and has pleased many a crowd around our dinner table.

    Thanks Tess! We are so happy you love it!

  • Jarrett

    My wife and I have been cooking a lot of recipes from this site and are huge fans. This one was really, really, really (yes 3 reallys) good. And since it has kale it's automatically healthy! (In my book at least)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you (yes 3 thank you's)! Glad you enjoyed this Jarrett!