These healthy Southwestern ground turkey and quinoa stuffed zucchini boats that are packed with flavor, high protein, and gluten-free. The perfect under-30-minute weeknight dinner and meal prep lunch!
Southwestern zucchini boats with ground turkey & quinoa
Raise your hand if you love ground turkey recipes! I love cooking with ground turkey: it is easy, affordable, and, when seasoned well, always tastes amazing. So if you are looking for new healthy dinner recipes that include lean ground turkey, you should add these Southwestern stuffed zucchini boats to your rotation along with my favorite, this turkey chili, and these turkey stuffed peppers.
These Southwestern-inspired turkey quinoa stuffed zucchini boats are packed with flavor, taste amazing, and are easy to prepare. Any level cook can make this healthy dinner recipe!
With a great source of protein, carbs, and veggies, these turkey quinoa stuffed zucchini boats are a well-balanced dish that does not skip out on flavor. The oven-roasted zucchini is tender and juicy, the ground turkey is seasoned to perfection, and the melted cheese on top is mouthwatering. You’ll leave the table feeling satisfied and nourished! Plus, your entire family will love this recipe, even your kids.
Stuffed zucchini boats are healthy, nourishing, protein-rich, and gluten-free—the ideal healthy meal prep recipe.
Why you’ll love this gluten-free recipe:
- Zucchini boats are healthy and easy to make.
- They’re stuffed with lean ground turkey, quinoa, and veggies.
- Ready in under 30 minutes.
- High in protein with 39 grams per serving.
- It’s 100% gluten-free stuffed zucchini.
- Easily make this recipe dairy-free.
- Packed with lots of hidden vegetables.
- Perfect weeknight dinner recipe.
- Easy meal prep lunch.
- Try these Mexican turkey stuffed bell peppers next!
Ingredients & substitutions for stuffed zucchini
This is seriously the best-ever turkey-stuffed zucchini boat recipe! You only need a handful of simple ingredients, plus salt & pepper. Here is a list of everything you need so you are prepared:
- Zucchini: First, grab 5 or 6 large zucchinis that will be tender and delicious when baked. You can also use yellow Summer squash
- Extra virgin Olive Oil: To saute your vegetables. You can also use avocado oil.
- Red onion: This adds tons of flavor to your ground turkey stuffing. You can also use white or yellow onion.
- Bell Pepper: I used a red bell pepper to add natural sweetness, but you can also use yellow, orange, or green bell pepper.
- Ground Turkey: We’ll be using 1 pound of ground turkey (94% lean) for the healthy protein source. You can also use 99% lean ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Spices: A blend of chili powder, cumin, and paprika will give your ground turkey filling the best flavor.
- Garlic: Mince 2 garlic cloves for the best flavor for these zucchini boats.
- Roma Tomatoes: For extra juiciness. You can use vine, cherry, or grape tomatoes too.
- Cooked Quinoa: Then, add in 1 cup of cooked quinoa which can be premade or prepared according to package directions.
- Corn: Fresh and frozen corn works for this easy recipe. I like sweet corn for this gluten-free stuffed zucchini.
- Fresh Cilantro: Chopped cilantro gives the squash boats a great fresh flavor.
- Lime: For extra tang, add in the juice of 1 lime.
- Cheese: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of your favorite cheese (either Cheddar or Mexican blend) on top of these boats for the perfect cheesy touch.
Kitchen tools needed
Here is a list of kitchen utensils you will need to make these easy turkey stuffed zucchini boats. Clean-up is so easy.
- Large baking sheet
- Large saute pan
- Spatula or wooden spoon
- Measuring Tools: 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1/3 cup, and 1/2 cup.
How to make healthy ground turkey stuffed zucchini boats
Make these turkey quinoa stuffed zucchini boats in under 30 minutes. First, we will prepare the squash boats; then we will prepare the juicy and flavorful filling, and finally, we will make the stuffed boats. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions so anyone can make it. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
First, preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Next, cut each zucchini or yellow squash in half lengthwise and trim the ends. Using a spoon, scoop the inside out, leaving at least a 1/4-inch thick rim to make them look like a boat.
Once done, place the zucchini boats face-side up, spray them with nonstick spray or drizzle some olive oil on top, and season with salt and pepper. Bake the zucchinis for 10 – 12 minutes, until fork-tender.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick pan with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to medium. Add in the chopped red onion and bell pepper. Stir the vegetables and let them simmer for 3 minutes. Then, create space in the middle of the pan by pushing onions and bell peppers to the side and adding in the ground turkey. Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, breaking up the meat with your spatula as it cooks.
Next, add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and minced garlic. Stir the entire mixture to combine fully. Finally, add the tomatoes, cooked quinoa, corn, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir and let cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the zucchini boats from the oven and spoon the turkey quinoa mixture into each boat evenly. Top the boats with cheddar cheese (optional) and bake them for another 10 – 12 minutes until the filling is warm and the cheese is bubbly.
Garnish them with fresh cilantro and serve them with salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt, or sour cream and enjoy your Southwestern zucchini boats with ground turkey!
Expert stuffed zucchini boat recipe tips:
Any level cook can make this easy stuffed zucchini recipe. Here are my cooking tips for making the most tender zucchini boats filled with juicy and flavorful Southwestern ground turkey.
- How to make a zucchini boat. The best way to remove the inside of the zucchini is to cut them in half and then use a spoon to scoop everything out.
- Bake the zucchini twice. Rather than stuffing raw zucchini, we are stuffing them once they have baked for 10 minutes. This gets them super tender!
- Taste your filling before stuffing the zucchini. While the filling is on the stove, carefully taste your turkey quinoa stuffing to adjust flavors and spices to your preference.
- Adding cheese on top is my favorite touch. If you are dairy-free, you can skip out or use plant-based cheese; otherwise, I highly recommend it!
- Use ground chicken. If you don’t like or have ground turkey on hand, use ground chicken!
Stuffed zucchini variations:
The options are endless when it comes to stuffed zucchini! Here are some easy and delicious ingredient variations you can try out:
- Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini: Remove the ground turkey and add an additional 1 cup of cooked quinoa to make this a vegetarian recipe!
- Chicken Stuffed Zucchini: Instead of ground turkey, you can use ground chicken, which is another great source of lean protein.
- Italian Stuffed Zucchini: Instead of the spices I used, substitute with 2 teaspoons of dried oregano OR 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning. Instead of Mexican cheese, use shredded mozzarella or parmesan. Instead of the cilantro, use fresh parsley.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use yellow squash instead of zucchini?
Yes! Stuffed yellow squash is delicious too. In fact, I love making stuffed squash just as much as I love making stuffed zucchini.
Are they gluten-free?
Yes, these turkey stuffed zucchini boats are gluten-free.
Can I make this recipe dairy-free?
Yes! If you are dairy-free, just leave off the cheese or substitute it with your favorite plant-based shredded cheese.
Can I use ground chicken?
Yes! You can substitute ground turkey for ground chicken in this zucchini boat recipe.
Can I make them vegetarian?
Just remove the ground turkey and add an additional 1 cup of cooked quinoa to make this a vegetarian stuffed zucchini boat recipe.
Do they keep well for meal prep?
This recipe is excellent for meal prep because you can easily store your ground turkey stuffed zucchini boats in the refrigerator. Just let the boats cool to room temperature, then store them in individual plastic containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. When you are ready to enjoy them, simply pop them into the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes or until they are warm.
Can you freeze ground turkey zucchini boats?
You can freeze the ground turkey stuffing. Simply store it in a freezer-safe container and take it out when you are ready to eat. Reheat the ground turkey quinoa stuffing on the stove, and then continue making your stuffed zucchini.
I do not recommend freezing cooked zucchini. It will not have the same tender texture once defrosted.
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Storing: Add leftover zucchini boats with ground turkey boats to airtight tupperware and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reheating: When you are ready to eat, reheat them in the oven at 350°F for 5 – 10 minutes or microwave them for 1 – 3 minutes.
If you love this recipe, try these next!
- Mexican Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Grilled Turkey Burgers (keto)
- Zucchini Turkey Meatballs
- Turkey Lentil Soup
- Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Southwestern Turkey Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- 5 – 6 large zucchini
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey, 94% lean
- 1 ½ tsp chili powder
- ¾ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 – 4 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup cooked quinoa, prepared according to package directions
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 large lime, juiced
- ¼ cup cheddar of Mexican blend cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Carefully cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and trim off the ends. Then, use a spoon to scoop the inside out, leaving at least a 1/4-inch thick rim. It will look like a boat.
- Place the zucchini boats face-side up, spray with nonstick spray or drizzle some olive oil on top, season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until fork-tender.
- Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick pan with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to medium. Add in the red onion and bell pepper. Stir and let simmer for 3 minutes.
- Create space in the middle of the pan by pushing onions and bell peppers to the side and add in the ground turkey. Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, breaking up the meat with your spatula as it cooks.
- Add in cumin, chili powder, paprika, and minced garlic. Stir to fully combine.
- Add in the tomatoes, cooked quinoa, corn, cilantro, and lime juice. Stir and let cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Taste, adjust seasonings, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove zucchini boats from the oven and evenly spoon turkey quinoa mixture into each boat. Top with cheddar cheese and bake for another 10 – 12 minutes until the filling is warm and the cheese is bubbly.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.
Recipe by Tati Chermayeff / Healthful Blondie + Photos by The Travel Palate
I only recommend products I absolutely love and use myself. In full disclosure, by purchasing a product I recommend, I may receive a small compensation. Thank you for supporting Healthful Blondie!
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