Recipe: Grilled Zucchini Boats with Beef & Cheddar

published Jul 8, 2014
Grilled Zucchini Boats
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(Image credit: Nick Evans)

Whether they come from your grocery store, your garden, or your neighbor’s garden (if you’re lucky!), you will soon be overrun with zucchini. This time of year, zucchini are plentiful and that’s probably an understatement.

These easy grilled zucchini boats stuffed with ground beef, cheddar cheese, and salsa are one of my favorite ways to burn through a big pile of summer zucchini.

(Image credit: Nick Evans)

To prepare the “boats” for this recipe, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then hollow them out with a spoon.

I prefer not to use the insides in the filling for this recipe because I think it really dilutes and waters down the flavors. Trust me there is still plenty of zucchini flavor to go around because the entire shell is made of zucchini! If you don’t want to toss or compost the insides, save them for zucchini bread or another recipe. Zucchini also freezes beautifully!

(Image credit: Nick Evans)

I used a pretty basic ground beef filling for my “boats” and you should feel free to make it your own. I just sautéed some onion and jalapeño over medium heat and then added about a pound of ground beef, plus some cumin and salsa. The salsa really brings everything together.

Once you remove the filling from the heat, stir in a few big handfuls of grated cheese. I say a cup in the recipe, but don’t feel obligated to measure. I won’t tell anyone if you use more, because, you know…cheese.

(Image credit: Nick Evans)

Fill these suckers full and then grill them for 6 to 7 minutes over medium-high heat until the zucchini is cooked, but not soggy. Serve them up with fresh cilantro sprinkled over top.

I can make a meal out of a few of these with some chips and salsa or guacamole, but they are also a really nice summer side dish!

Grilled Zucchini Boats

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4

    medium zucchini, halved and scooped

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1/2

    white onion, diced

  • 1

    jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

  • 1 pound

    ground beef

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1 cup

    grated cheddar cheese

  • Salt and pepper

  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

  2. Halve the zucchini lengthwise and use a small spoon to scoop out seeds in the middle. Be sure to leave about 1/4 inch of flesh around the outside of the zucchini so they have some structure to them.

  3. In a medium or large skillet, warm a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers, and cook until the veggies soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Season the vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper.

  4. Add ground beef and cumin to the pan with the vegetables. Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through. Add the salsa and stir to combine.

  5. After beef is completely cooked through, remove the skillet from heat and stir in cheddar cheese.

  6. Divide the beef filling between the zucchini. Place the zucchini on the grill and let them grill for 6 to 7 minutes until the zucchini are cooked but still have some structure to them. If you cook them too long, they will turn mushy.

  7. Remove the boats from the grill with tongs and garnish with fresh cilantro and maybe an extra sprinkle of grated cheese. Serve these while they are warm!

Recipe Notes

Some people like to add the scooped out zucchini back into the filling. I find that this waters down the filling too much. If you want to save the zucchini filling, you can use it later in a zucchini bread or another recipe.

If you don't have a grill, no worries! These bake beautifully as well. Bake them at 350°F for about 10 minutes.