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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Cilantro Lime Shrimp are the best of summer in one bite! These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are loaded with juicy, fiesta seasoned shrimp, sweet corn, crunchy bell peppers, punchy red onions, spicy jalapenos all tossed with fresh lime juice and zesty cilantro. They are quick, easy, tangy, bright, refreshing, guilt-free, low-carb, and a healthier dinner the whole family will love! These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are the ideal use of summer zucchini but can also be made year-round – and you are going to want to make them year-round! I’ve also included lots of fun zucchini boat recipe variations, so read on! v
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings


For the Zucchini

  • 3-4 medium zucchini ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
  • olive oil
  • Freshly cracked salt and pepper

For the Shrimp

  • 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp EACH chili powder, ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp EACH paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

For the Veggies

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini from removed flesh in instructions
  • corn from one ear sweet corn
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded, deveined, minced
  • 1 Roma tomato seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped orange bell pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice or to taste or to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons minced cilantro
  • Cotija cheese optional for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice in half horizontally. Score zucchini 1/4 inches from the edges with a knife then scoop out flesh using a teaspoon or melon baller, leaving 1/4” shell all the way around to create a “boat.” Reserve 1/2 cup chopped flesh to use later and save the rest for another use.
  • Place zucchini boats in baking dish and coat well with the olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly cracked salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake zucchini for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add all of the Shrimp Ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Let sit while you chop your veggies.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes per side, just until opaque and cooked through. Remove to a plate and chop off tails once cool enough to handle.
  • To the now empty pan (don’t clean), heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, corn, zucchini and jalapenos and cook for 2 minutes. Add bell peppers, tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes or until veggies reach desired crisp tenderness. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds.
  • Add shrimp back to pan along with lime juice and cilantro. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • Divide shrimp mixture between zucchini boats and garnish with Cotija cheese and additional cilantro if desired. Serve immediately.



Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!

Recipe Tips

  • Score zucchini.  I like to score the zucchini first before I scoop out the flesh.  This creates a nice barrier of protective flesh and a nice path for the scooper.
  • Don’t scoop too much. Leave a nice boarder around the zucchini otherwise the boat will become too flimsy and won’t be able to hold the filling.
  • Be gentle.  A small measuring spoon or melon baller works great to scoop out the inside of the zucchini.  The first couple scoops will take a little finessing so be careful not to press too hard or you can actually break the zucchini.  After you’ve “cracked” into the flesh, you’ll be able to scoop right along your score lines.
  • Even zucchini.  If your zucchini halves don’t lie flat, you can slice a thin portion from the bottom so they lie flat.  The zucchini boats don’t need to be perfect, just flat enough so they will comfortably hold the filling.
  • Zucchini filling.  After you scoop out the zucchini, you will be left with all sorts of sizes.  Make sure to chop it into uniform pieces before adding to the sautéed veggies.
  • Leftover filling.  Some of the zucchini filling will be used in the stuffed zucchini boats but you won’t use all of it. The leftover zucchini can be sautéed with some butter/olive oil and Parmesan or added to pastas, stir fries, soups etc.  It is also delicious fresh in salads, pasta salads, wraps and sandwiches.
  • How to defrost shrimp: The easiest way to defrost shrimp is in the refrigerator overnight BUT if you forget, or need to make this Zucchini Boat recipe NOW, then place the frozen shrimp in a colander then place the colander in a large bowl.  Fill the bowl with cold tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes.   After 10 minutes, replace the water with new cold tap water and submerge the shrimp again.  Let shrimp sit an additional 10- 20 minutes.  If the shrimp isn’t completely defrosted, then repeat.
  • Pat shrimp dry.  Dry shrimp with paper towels so the seasonings will stick better and the shrimp will sear.
  • Cook shrimp with tails on.  I recommend cooking your shrimp with the tails on because the tail shells contain flavor that seeps out and we get more robust shrimp flavor. Once your shrimp is cooked and resting, then remove the tails.  
  • Cook until tender.  The zucchini boat cooking time will depend on the size and thickens of the zucchini. You want to easily be able to pierce it with a fork but you don’t want it overcooked and too soft. 
  • Season to taste.  I like to season the filling with a little extra salt and pepper.  You may also want additional lime juice or cayenne pepper – the end flavor is up to you!
  • Multi-task.  You can have these Stuffed Zucchini Boats on your table in just over 30 minutes IF you multitask.  Prepare the zucchini and pop it in the oven – while it’s in the oven, chop the veggies, cook the shrimp and sauté the veggies – which can all be easily accomplished while the zucchini is roasting. When the zucchini comes out of the oven – just stuff and eat!


Zucchini Boats are pretty quick to make, but if you want to prep some of it advance, you have a few options:
  • Zucchini:  you can prep the zucchini by creating the zucchini boats and either storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator or continuing to bake for 20 minutes (not the full 25).  When ready to serve, continue to bake until tender, that way they are nice and warm.
  • Shrimp:  prep shrimp by either cleaning it or defrosting it, patting dry and tossing it with the spices, and refrigerating. You may also cook it in advance, but freshly cooked shrimp is always best.   
  • Veggies:  You can chop the veggies beforehand and then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  You can also saute them, but this only takes a couple minutes, so I recommend completing this step fresh.
  • Everything:  If you need to prep the Stuffed Zucchini Boats in their entirety, then just take care to store the filling and the zucchini separate containers in the refrigerator.  Assemble when ready to serve and bake until warmed through.