Taco zucchini boats are an easy, low-carb alternative to your standard taco dinner. They're ready in 30 minutes or less and made with seasoned ground beef, salsa, pepper jack cheese, and your favorite taco toppings.
Taco zucchini boats make a great weeknight meal because they're ready in about 30 minutes and made with simple ingredients. If you meal prep, zucchini boats are easy to make ahead and reheat throughout the week.
Fresh zucchini are halved and cored, then filled with cooked and seasoned ground beef, onions, and salsa. Topped with melty pepper jack cheese and baked to perfection, this recipe is filled with flavor - the entire family will love it.
Serve taco zucchini boats for a quick weeknight meal. They also make a great meal prep recipe and are easy to store and reheat later. If you like these, check out my cheeseburger zucchini boats.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Zucchini - You'll need about 3 medium sized zucchini (or 4 small zucchini) for this recipe. I used a 9x13 casserole dish, so I looked for zucchini about 9 inches long that would fit perfectly into the pan and fill the space.
- Olive oil - Any neutral cooking oil works.
- Onion - Adds depth of flavor to your beef mixture. Can be omitted if desired. Optionally, you can also add minced garlic for extra flavor.
- Ground beef - Ground beef works well in this recipe, but you're welcome to substitute with your favorite ground meat, like ground bison, ground turkey, or ground pork.
- Salsa - Adds depth of flavor and a little heat to your beef mixture. Use your favorite salsa, from mild to hot, to customize the heat level.
- Taco seasoning - Taco seasoning adds taco flavor to your beef mixture. Feel free to use a homemade seasoning blend or your favorite store bought seasoning.
- Pepper jack cheese - Any melty cheese works here, like monterey jack cheese, pepper jack cheese, or mozzarella. I suggest using freshly shredded cheese, as pre-shredded bagged cheese can add a grainy texture when melted.
- Optional taco toppings- A few fresh toppings help cut the heaviness of the beef filling. I used cubed avocado and cilantro, but lettuce, diced fresh tomato, sour cream, and fresh red onion are also great choices.
Do I need to peel my zucchini?
No, there's no need to peel your zucchini to make zucchini boats. In fact, the skin contains many nutrients and fiber you'd otherwise be missing out on. The skin also helps hold the shape of your boats as they bake.
Can zucchini boats be frozen?
Technically yes, zucchini boats can be frozen. However, zucchini releases quite a bit of water and gets a little soggy after being frozen and thawed.
For best quality, I highly recommend eating your zucchini boats fresh instead of freezing and thawing.
Leftovers and reheating
Leftover zucchini boats keep well for 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. I recommend storing leftover taco zucchini boats without the added fresh toppings (like avocado, lettuce, and sour cream), and instead topping your zucchini boats once they've been reheated.
To reheat, zucchini boats can be microwaved or reheated in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake boats, uncovered, for up to 20 minutes, or until warmed throughout. If frozen, allow to thaw before reheating.
Add your favorite taco toppings to your zucchini boats. Here are a few popular topping ideas:
- Sour cream
- Crumbled cotija cheese
- Cubed avocado
- Fresh cilantro
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped fresh tomatoes
- Diced red onion
- Crumbled tortilla chips
- Pico de gallo
What to serve with zucchini boats
Want to stretch your zucchini boats recipe a little further? Serve one zucchini boat per person along with a side dish or two, like a side salad and some garlic bread. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Side salad
- Garlic bread
- Roasted vegetables
- Steamed cilantro rice
- Corn on the cob
For more ideas, check out my full post: 25 side dishes to serve with zucchini boats
Taco Zucchini Boats
- 3 medium zucchini, about 9-10" long
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 16 ounces ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- ½ cup salsa
- 1 cup freshly grated pepper jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 avocado, cubed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
- Cut the stems off your zucchini, then slice in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scape out some of the flesh from each zucchini half and discard (or save for another recipe). Place into prepared 9x13 pan, cut side up. Optionally, lightly season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add onion and cook until lightly browned around the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned and cooked through (optionally, drain excess grease from the pan at this time). Add taco seasoning, a splash of water, and salsa, stirring to combine. Remove pan from heat.
- Once boats have par-baked, remove from oven and top with beef filling. Sprinkle tops of boats with pepper jack cheese.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until zucchini can easily be pierced through with a fork.
- Top with cubed avocado and cilantro (or your favorite taco toppings) before serving.
- Calories shown are for one boat (or one zucchini half), if your recipe makes six boats. One boat can be served as an entrée along with side dish(es), or two boats can serve as a complete meal on their own.
- Leftover zucchini boats will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, or until warmed throughout.