Buffalo Chickpea Zucchini Boats

published Jul 28, 2022
Buffalo Chickpea Zucchini Boats Recipe
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Buffalo chickpea zucchini boats on platter
Credit: Photo: Kelly Marshall; Food Stylist: Kat Boytsova

I’m a big fan of edible vessels (I mean, who doesn’t love a bread bowl?), so I was quick to hop aboard the zucchini boat trend. They’ve become a summery staple in my veggie-loving household, where I like to fill the zucchini with a variety of plant-based proteins. Lentils are great, as are crumbled plant-based sausages, but my current favorite filling is saucy Buffalo chickpeas. They’re tangy, spicy, and buttery all at once — a perfect contrast to the sweet, mild zucchini. Plus, I’ll take any excuse to drizzle dinner with ranch (although you can opt for blue cheese, if that’s more your style). 

Serve them as a vegetarian main, or alongside whatever protein’s coming off the grill this summer. No matter how you eat them, they’re guaranteed to liven up dinnertime. 

Credit: Photo: Kelly Marshall; Food Stylist: Kat Boytsova

3 Tips for the Best-Ever Zucchini Boats 

  1. Start with small zucchini. Small zucchini are more flavorful and less watery than large ones, which means you don’t have to salt them and wait for them to drain (a common step in many zucchini boat recipes). They’re also easier to hollow out. If you don’t want to waste the flesh — although with small zucchini, it’s really just seeds — you can stir it into oatmeal, or freeze for smoothies.
  2. Season them generously. While the filling deserves most of your attention, don’t forget to season your squash! Here, you’ll brush both the wells and the backs with a flavorful mix of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, making sure to get it into every nook and cranny. 
  3. Cook until just tender. The best veggie vessels are tender, never soggy. The hollowed-out zucchini only needs a quick five-minute head-start before you add the filling, which guarantees the squash will be perfectly cooked by the time the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  4. Protect your boats. Adding half the cheese to the boats before you spoon in the chickpeas creates a barrier between the squash and the sauce.

Buffalo Chickpea Zucchini Boats Recipe

Prep time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 18 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    medium zucchini or elongated summer squash (about 2 pounds total)

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 3 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can


  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/3 cup

    hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot

  • 1/4 cup

    ranch or blue cheese dressing


  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Cut 4 medium zucchini in half lengthwise, no need to trim the ends. Using a small spoon or melon baller, carefully scoop out the flesh of the zucchini, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell to form zucchini boats (discard the flesh or freeze for smoothies). Wipe off any excess moisture on the zucchini with paper towels and place cut-side up to a rimmed baking sheet.

  3. Thinly slice 3 medium scallions, keeping the white and light green parts separate from the dark green parts. Grate 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3/4 cup). Drain and rinse 1 can chickpeas.

  4. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Brush into the wells of the zucchini boats, flip the boats so they’re cut-side down, and brush onto the backs. Bake on the lower rack until the zucchini are slightly tender, about 5 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the scallion white and light green parts, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and 1/3 cup hot sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is bubbling and thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat.

  6. Flip the zucchini cut-side up and immediately sprinkle half the cheese into the boats. Spoon the chickpeas into the boats, packing them in tightly (2 to 3 tablespoons per boat). Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

  7. Bake on the upper rack until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the zucchini is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drizzle with 1/4 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing and top with the scallion greens

Recipe Notes

Vegan: Vegan butter, vegan cheese, and vegan dressing can be substituted if desired.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.