These Taco Zucchini Boats take a simple zucchini and give it the ultimate flavor upgrade. With ground beef, black beans, cheese, and cilantro, they're easy to make with simple, healthy, and fresh ingredients.
Taco Zucchini Boats
Taco Zucchini Boats are a great recipe for taking zucchini, a notoriously bland vegetable, and elevating it to ultimate flavor levels. They feature ground beef and black beans with lots of southwest flavors such as taco seasoning, taco sauce, and of course some gooey cheese for good measure.
Taco Zucchini Boats are easy to make with simple and fresh ingredients. They make a great healthy family dinner or an excellent make-ahead meal prep lunch option.
How to Hollow Out Zucchini for Boats
You can start by cutting off the stem or you can leave it. Sometimes it helps the zucchini stay a little sturdier as it bakes, so it's up to you.
Halve the zucchini lengthwise and, using a melon baller or metal spoon, hollow out each half, leaving a wall of about ¼-inch on the sides and bottom.
Discard the seeds portion or chop it up and throw it into the filling mixture.
Taco Zucchini Boat Recipe Variations and Topping Ideas
There are several recipe variations you can make to accommodate different diets or preferences.
- This recipe is already naturally gluten free.
- Dairy Free: Simply eliminate the cheese or use a dairy free alternative.
- Vegetarian: You can use a full can of black beans rinsed instead of meat. You can also use 1 cup of cooked quinoa.
- Ground Beef: As mentioned above, you can use black beans or quinoa instead of ground beef. You can also use any other ground meat such as turkey, chicken, or pork.
- Cheese: Use your favorite cheese here! It doesn't have to be cheddar. You can use a Mexican blend, Chihuahua, queso fresco, cotija, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, or even omit it altogether.
- Less waste! Chop up the inside of the zucchini from hollowing out the boats and throw it back into the filling for less waste and more nutrition!
Toppings are possibly the most fun part of any taco experience, and that certainly applies here. Here are some of our favorite toppings.
- Cheese- I don't think more cheese can ever be a bad idea. I love adding a little crumbly cheese such as queso fresco or cotija on top.
- Jalapenos - Add a little heat with fresh or jarred sliced jalapenos.
- Cilantro - Fresh chopped cilantro
- Fresh Vegetables - Chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions, black olives, green onions, or avocado all add a lovely burst of color and freshness.
- Sour cream - Sour cream or crema can add a little extra richness and creaminess.
- Fresh Salsa - this homemade salsa is super easy and quick to make in a blender or food processor, and easy to adjust to your taste and spicy preferences.
- Authentic Guacamole - perhaps my all-time favorite topping, especially this super creamy and homemade version.
- Hot sauce - If you love it hot, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.
Can You Make Taco Zucchini Boats Ahead of Time?
Yes, absolutely. I love making these ahead of time for easy lunches. You can either prep and stuff them up to 3 days ahead of time and bake as needed. Or you can bake them all and then store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, which is what I usually do.
Reheating can make the zucchini a little softer.
Can You Freeze Them?
This is a tricky one. They actually can be frozen. BUT! Because zucchini is primarily water, the thawing process can make them pretty soggy. So thawing and reheating would create kind of a casserole-looking situation.
Alternately, you could prepare the filling and freeze that in individual servings or as a large batch. The filling will thaw very well and then you can stuff it into a fresh zucchini and bake from there.
What to Eat with Taco Zucchini Boats
You can even serve it alongside this easy chicken tortilla soup for a warm winter meal.
More Zucchini Recipes You'll Love
- Vegetarian Bruschetta Zucchini Boats - zucchinis stuffed with flavorful, bright, and fresh tomato bruschetta and quinoa.
- Air Fryer Zucchini Fries - zucchini spears lightly breaded and cooked to golden perfection in the air fryer.
- Zucchini Fritters - Shredded zucchini perfectly seasoned and formed into a patty then pan-fried to crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.
- Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash - a quick and easy side dish with zucchini and squash sauteed with onions and garlic.
- Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup - a simple vegetable-based soup that's a great way to use up fresh zucchini.
Taco Zucchini Boats Video
Taco Zucchini Boats
- 4 medium zucchini sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ yellow onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar (or Mexican blend cheese) divided
- ½ cup red enchilada sauce
- ½ cup canned black beans drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toppings for serving (See notes below)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop centers from zucchini halves, leaving about ¼-inch around the rim.
- Place zucchini in a large baking dish or baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in a 400°F oven for about 15 minutes, until nearly tender.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add ground beef, onions, and garlic. Cook until ground beef is browned and no longer pink and onions are translucent and tender.
- When cooked through, drain excess grease and return to medium heat.
- Stir in chili powder, cumin, half the cheese, enchilada sauce, black beans, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon filling into roasted zucchini boats. Top with remaining cheese.
- Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes, until cheese is melted and zucchini is tender.
- Top with remaining tablespoon of cilantro and your favorite taco toppings before serving.
- Ground Beef: You can use ground turkey, chicken, or pork as well.
- Chop up the center of zucchini and mix it into filling for less waste.
- Enchilada Sauce - You can use your favorite salsa instead
- Toppings - Load up with all your favorite taco toppings like sour cream, fresh avocado or guacamole, onions, fresh cilantro, salsa or pico de gallo, hot sauce, etc.
- Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Reheat on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave.
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