Southwestern ground turkey and quinoa stuffed zucchini boats that are healthy, gluten free, and filling, Made with simple ingredients, these flavorful zucchini boats are so easy to make and are the perfect healthy lunch, dinner, and meal prep recipe. Your kids will love them!
Southwestern zucchini boats with ground turkey & quinoa
Raise your hand if you love ground turkey recipes! Personally, I love cooking with ground turkey: it is easy, affordable, and, when seasoned well, always tastes amazing. So if you are looking for some new healthy dinner recipes that include lean ground turkey, you should add these Southwestern stuffed zucchini boats to your rotation.
These Southwestern inspired turkey quinoa zucchini boats are packed with flavor, taste amazing, and are so 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 are a well-balanced dish that does not skip out on flavor. The 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, and high protein. Make these gluten free stuffed zucchini boats for your next lunch, dinner, or meal prep!
Is zucchini healthy?
Yes! Zucchini is absolutely healthy. The team healthy is relative to each person, but I consider this seasonal vegetable to be delicious, healthy, and very nourishing! It will leave you feeling good and full of energy. Plus, they are low in carbs for my keto friends and are gluten free and grain free for my paleo friends.
Ingredients in Southwestern zucchini boats with ground turkey
I love creating recipes that use minimal and simple ingredients. For this gluten free stuffed zucchini recipe, you will need 8 easy ingredients and a handful of kitchen pantry staples. One bite of these zucchini boats and you’ll be in love with this healthy dinner recipe!
- Zucchini: First, grab 5 or 6 large zucchinis that will be tender and delicious when baked.
- Extra virgin Olive Oil: Next, you’ll need 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to saute your vegetables.
- Red onion: Add in 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion will add tons of flavor to your ground turkey stuffing.
- Red bell pepper: Chop up 1 large red bell pepper to add natural sweetness and more veggies.
- Ground turkey: We’ll be using 1 pound of ground turkey (94% lean) for the healthy protein source. I do not recommend 99% lean.
- Spices: 1+ 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder, 3/4 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of 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: Add in 3 – 4 diced roma tomatoes for extra juiciness.
- Cooked quinoa: Then, add in 1 cup of cooked quinoa which can be premade or prepared according to package directions.
- Corn: Next, add 1 cup of fresh or frozen corn. I like sweet corn for this gluten free stuffed zucchini.
- Fresh cilantro: Plus, 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro which gives the squash boats a great fresh flavor.
- Lime: For extra tang, add in the juice of 1 lime. 1 juiced lime will give this dish the perfect southwestern taste.
- Cheese: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of your favorite cheese (either Cheddar or Mexican blend) on top of these boats for the perfect cheesy touch.
Ingredient substitution suggestions
If you don’t love an ingredient or two, no worries! Here is a list of the very best substitutes you can use to customize this stuffed zucchini recipe to your liking:
- Zucchini: Instead of zucchini, you can use yellow squash. Squash boats are delicious!
- Quinoa: If quinoa isn’t your favorite, you can use another healthy grain like brown rice, vegetable rice (like THIS brand), or orzo. If you are Paleo or Keto, just leave it out.
- Ground turkey: This recipe also works well with ground chicken and ground beef. Just sub out and prepare the recipe the same way.
- Red bell pepper: I love the sweetness of red bell pepper, but if you don’t have one on hand, use a yellow or orange bell pepper.
- Red onion: If you don’t have red onion substitute it with yellow or white onion.
- Make it Dairy Free: If you are dairy free, leave out the cheese or substitute with a dairy free alternative.
- Make is Paleo: Substitute the cheese for a dairy-free alternative and swap the quinoa for a grain free vegetable-based rice. Don’t worry this is already a gluten free stuffed zucchini.
How to make healthy stuffed zucchini boats with ground turkey
With a few simple steps, you can make the turkey quinoa stuffed zucchini boats really easily. 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 is how to make turkey quinoa zucchini boats in three easy steps:
First, start by preheating your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Next, carefully cut each zucchini or yellow squash in half lengthwise and trim off 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 they are 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 non-stick 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 add in the ground turkey. Cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, breaking up the meat with your spatula as it cooks.
Next, add in the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and minced garlic. Stir the entire mixture to fully combine. Finally, 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 the zucchini boats from the oven and evenly spoon the turkey quinoa mixture into each boat. 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 with salsa, guacamole, Greek yogurt, or sour cream and enjoy your Southwestern zucchini boats with ground turkey!
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 Southwersten ground turkey.
- How to make a zucchini boat. The best way to remove the inside of the zucchini is to cut them in half then using 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, but otherwise, I highly recommend it!
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 the Mexican cheese, use shredded mozzarella or parmesan. Instead of the cilantro, use fresh parsley.
Fequently 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.
Can I make this recipe dairy free and paleo
Yes! If you are dairy free, then just leave off the cheese. If you are paleo, then leave off the cheese and swap the quinoa for a grain free alternative like vegetable rice!
Perfect meal prep zucchini recipe
This recipe is great 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, simply pop them into the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes, or until they are warm.
Can I freeze ground turkey zucchini boats?
You can absolutely freeze the zucchini stuffing. All you have to do is 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 with 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
Any remaining Southwestern zucchini boats with ground turkey boats can be stored in the refrigerator in tupperware for up to 5 days. When you are ready to eat either reheat them in the oven at 350°F for 5 – 10 minutes or microwave them for 1 – 2 minutes.
Check these other healthy ground turkey recipes out!
Need some more healthier ground turkey recipes for lunch and dinner? Here are some of my favorite Healthful Blondie recipes to try out….
- Healthy Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs
- Turkey Ranchero Lettuce Cups
- Healthy Pineapple Teriyaki Turkey Burgers
- Mexican Turkey Kale Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Best Ever Healthy Turkey Chili
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 Zucchini Boats with Ground Turkey
- 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 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. Everything counts to keep my dream afloat; thank you for supporting Healthful Blondie!
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