Mexican flavored ground beef taco meat fills these stuffed zucchini boats topped with melted cheese and all the taco toppings for an all-in-one, easy dinner.
Next year I’ll know this: Plant only one zucchini plant instead of three. After years of failure, I finally discovered the secret to the zucchini plant jackpot (create an amazing mix of soil) and it’s paying off over, and over, and over again. And that means my list of zucchini recipes is getting a workout.
It’s recipes like this one and my Mediterranean Zucchini Boats that come to the dinnertime rescue. Filled with my favorite tastes-just-like-Taco-Bell taco meat, then dressed with all the toppings, these hollowed out zucchini act as taco vessels in lieu of the corn or flour taco shells for an easy-to-make, all-in-one dinnertime meal.
And best of all, stuffed zucchini boats will help use up your zucchini stash.
What’s In Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats
This recipe is the perfect example of time-saving batch cooking where one meal is extended to two. Double the recipe for my ground beef tacos meat, then serve round one as regular tacos, and save or freeze the leftover taco meat to use in these zucchini boats later.
Here’s what’s in Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats:
- 3-4 medium zucchini
- Ground beef
- White onion
- Tomato juice
- Yellow corn meal
- Chili powder
- Garlic salt
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or a mix of both
- Toppings like, chopped tomato and onion, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, or olives
How to Hollow Out Zucchini
Like several others, zucchini is actually a fruit masquerading as a vegetable. Loaded with nutrients, it’s totally safe to eat the skin of zucchini boats, and actually helps hold the fleshy vessel together.
How to hollow out zucchini and make into boats:
- Choose medium size zucchini that are firm, unblemished, and ripe. An over ripe zucchini will be floppy and harder to get a clean pulped scoop. Overgrown or extra large zucchini will have a tough skin that tastes bitter, so aim for a medium to large-ish zucchini that has a soft skin.
- Leave the skin on the zucchini. It gives the stuffed vegetable structure and yes, it you should eat the zucchini skin. Like mom says, it’s good for you!
- Cut the zucchini in half from stem to stem, lengthwise. I use a sharp butcher knife to do this in one fell swoop.
- Use a small spoon to scoop the flesh and seeds from the zucchini. If the pulp isn’t too seedy, chop it and add to the stuffing. There’s vitamins in there!
TIP : Cook the Hollowed Out Zucchini Before Filling
One of my zucchini boat pet peeves is cutting into the stuffed zucchini and instead of the knife gliding through, it’s met with a tough wall of zucchini because the zucchini wasn’t cooked long enough because the stuffing gets dried out.
To avoid undercooked zucchini boats, cook the empty zucchini shells before filling.
- Lightly salt the hollowed out zucchini shells, then bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes prior to filling. Or, microwave the zucchini on HIGH in a microwave safe dish with a few tablespoons of water for 5 minutes.
How to Make Zucchini Boats
Hollow out the zucchini to make zucchini boats. Reserve the extra pulp if it isn’t too seedy, chop, and mix in to the taco meat.
Pre-bake the hollowed out zucchini boats at 400°F for 10-15 minutes. This gives the zucchini some catch up cooking time since the filling is already cooked.
Prepare the taco meat, or warm up leftovers. This time around, I thawed then reheated my leftover taco meat from dinner I’d made the week before. Tap the link or see the taco meat recipe listed in the recipe card below.
Mix shredded cheese with the taco meat. This gives the filling an extra melted cheese whiz bang.
Add the filling to the zucchini, but don’t pack it tight. Leave the filling light and loose so it heats all the way through.
How Long to Cook Zucchini Boats
Pre-bake the hollowed out zucchini boats at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, then fill with the stuffing and bake covered with aluminum foil for 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil, top with shredded cheese, and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted on top.
Just like the best tacos, toppings are key. Here’s a few ingredient ideas for dressing yours:
- Chopped tomato
- Chopped onion
- Black olives
- Cotija cheese
- Avocado or guacamole
- Sour cream or Mexican crema
- Salsa or pico de gallo
- Black bean and corn salsa or creamy avocado salsa verde
What to Serve With Taco Zucchini Boats
- Spanish Rice (Mexican Rice)
- Chopped Mexican Kale Salad
- Easy Mexican Coleslaw Recipe
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1/2 white onion , diced
- 2 cloves garlic ,
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoons garlic salt
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoons pepper
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 1/4 cup yellow corn meal
- 3 medium zucchini
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese , or mix with Monterey Jack
- Your favorite taco toppings like chopped tomato, diced onion, olives, sour cream, and avocado.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Add the ground beef to a large skillet over medium high heat and cook until browned, about 10 minutes, breaking into small pieces as it browns. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, kosher salt, and black pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the tomato juice and cornmeal and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the juice has cooked down and the cornmeal softens, stirring occasionally. Add more tomato juice or water if the mixture clumps. Remove the taco meat from the heat, cover, and keep warm.
- Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice in half lengthwise. Use a small metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and hollow out the zucchini. Chop the pulp and add to the taco meat mixture as it cooks, or discard.
- Spray a baking sheet or casserole dish with baking spray and add the zucchini, cut side up. Lightly sprinkle the insides with kosher salt. Bake the zucchini for 10-15 minutes or until they begin to soften. Remove from the oven.
- Gently mix 1 cup of the shredded cheese into the taco mixture. Spoon the taco meat into the zucchini boats, evenly filling and mounding each zucchini half. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender. Remove the foil, then top the zucchini boats with the remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the zucchini is tender. Garnish with taco toppings and serve.
- The taco meat can be made before hand and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months before stuffing the zucchini. Warm the taco meat before stuffing.
More Recipe Ideas
- Spiralized Zucchini, Quinoa and Turkey Sausage Stuffed Peppers
- One-Pot Mexican Shrimp with Orzo and Zucchini
- Easy Shredded Chicken and Zucchini Tacos
- Stuffed Zucchini Hasselback Pepperoni Pizza Style
- Zucchini and Fresh Corn Salad
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