Easy Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats

A grey circle with KFGrey circle with the letters GF
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Calories
222

These Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats feature all of your favorite enchilada ingredients and bold flavors in a low-carb and gluten-free form! Turn your favorite Tex-Mex food into a healthy, easy weeknight dinner. 

If you love zucchini boats then you need to try my Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats or my Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats.

Ground beef enchilada zucchini boats topped with avocado, tomato and onions

Easy & Healthy Beef Enchiladas

Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats are my new go-to when I’m craving bold Tex-Mex flavors but need something healthier than your standard carb filled Cheesy Beef Enchiladas. These healthy stuffed zucchini boats have all the flavors of your favorite enchiladas without all the carbs. It’s still smothered in sauce and cheese and loaded with all of your favorite toppings, so you won’t even notice the absence of the tortilla.

A white baking dish of stuffed zucchini boats topped with cheese, pickled onions, tomatoes and avocado

I know that replacing a tortilla with a zucchini boat may sound strange but trust me on this one – it works! And it’s gluten-free! I’ve tried a handful of gluten-free enchiladas before and these are by far the most flavorful.

These stuffed zucchini boats are so easy to make too – easier than traditional enchiladas, in my opinion. There’s no need to roll tortillas or worry about them falling apart. Just scoop out the inside of the zucchini, add the meat mixture and you’re good to go. Including baking time, this recipe takes 40 minutes to make. You can even prep it in advance so all you need to do is pop it in the oven!

What You’ll Need

These ground beef enchilada zucchini boats are made with the same ingredients as your favorite enchiladas, except without any tortillas!

  • Spices – The bold flavors in this recipe come from a combination of garlic, cumin, and smoked paprika.
  • Ground beef – Opt for lean ground beef to avoid excess grease and keep the dish healthy.
  • Zucchinis – Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the center to create a “boat”.
  • Red chili sauce – You can also use a canned or homemade enchilada sauce.
  • Cheddar cheese – You can also use Colby Jack, Monterey Jack or a Mexican cheese blend.
  • Fresh cilantro – For garnish at the end.
  • Optional toppings – You can get creative here but I like to top my enchiladas with diced tomatoes, green onions and avocados.

How to Make Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats

These healthy enchilada zucchini boats come together quickly and easily! In well under an hour you can have a healthy, low carb and low calorie dinner ready to go.

Seasoned grounded beef in a skillet with a wooden spoon stirring it
  • Cook the ground beef. Saute the onions then add in the ground beef. Cook until there is no pink left then add in the garlic, paprika, cumin and salt. Stir to combine.
Red enchilada sauce being poured over zucchini boats stuffed with ground beef
  • Prepare the zucchini boats. Place the zucchini boats in the baking dish. Scoop the ground beef mixture into the “boat”. Add the red enchilada sauce then sprinkle with cheese.
Three images of zucchini boats in a baking dish - one with ground beef, the second with cheese and the third with enchilada sauce
  • Bake. Bake the stuffed zucchini boats for 20 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve. Top with any desired toppings and fresh cilantro. Enjoy.
Five enchilada stuffed zucchinis

Tips for Success

Is your mouth watering yet?! Keep these tips in mind for perfect enchilada zucchini boats every time!

  • Use zucchinis in similar size. To ensure that all of your zucchini boats finish cooking at the same time, select zucchinis that are the same size or very similar. Otherwise, one may under up overdone or undercooked.
  • Adjust the spice. You can make these stuffed zucchini boats as spicy or as mild as you like – particularly with the red chili sauce. Some sauces are spicier than others, so give it a taste test before adding it to the recipe and adjust accordingly.
  • Don’t dig out the zucchini too much. The goal is to create a “boat” in the center but you don’t want to dig all the way through, you want to leave a thin layer of zucchini inside to help support the filling. Otherwise, it will fall apart.
Overhead view of enchilada zucchini boats topped with onions, romatoes, and avocados

Zucchini Boat Toppings & Variations

The great thing about these stuffed zucchini boats is just how many variations there are! I love to load mine up with all of my favorite enchilada toppings for extra flavor. You can easily turn these vegetarian or make them even healthier by swapping the ground beef!

  • Add ALL of the toppings. Whatever you love putting on traditional enchiladas, you can load up on this healthy version! Green onions, tomatoes and avocados are my go-to’s but sour cream, guacamole and jalapenos also make great choices.
  • Make it vegetarian. Omit the ground beef and add in some extra ingredients like corn and black beans for a filling vegetarian meal.
  • Swap out the ground beef. You can easily use ground chicken or ground turkey or even diced pieces of chicken or steak.
A spoon scooping a stuffed zucchini boat from a baking dish

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover enchilada zucchini boats should be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can either cover the pan you baked them in tightly with foil or transfer them to an airtight container.

For best results, reheat in the oven – though you can use the microwave in a pinch,

Can I Freeze Zucchini Boats?

Zucchini is one of the few things I recommend not freezing. Since it contains so much water, it becomes very mushy and watery when thawed.

However, you can easily prepare these enchilada stuffed zucchini boats a day or two in advance. Just follow the instructions and then stop just before baking. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and store in the fridge until it’s time to bake.

Other Healthy Beef Recipes

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Five enchilada stuffed zucchinis

Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • total_time Total Time: 40 minutes
  • yield Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • category Category: Dinner
  • method Method: Baked
  • cuisine Cuisine: American

Description

These Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats feature all of your favorite enchilada ingredients and bold flavors in a low-carb and gluten-free form! Tortillas are replaced by zucchini to turn your favorite Tex-Mex food into a healthy, easy weeknight dinner. 

Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 large zucchinis, sliced in half lengthwise and scooped out to create a “boat”
  • 1 1/2 cups frontera red chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

optional toppings:

  • diced tomatoes
  • diced green onions
  • diced avocado

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium large skillet to medium high heat.
  2. Add olive oil and onions to the pan. Saute until translucent or soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in the ground beef and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces.
  4. Add in minced garlic, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and then salt to taste. Stir until combined.
  5. To a 13″x9″ baking dish, add zucchini boats flesh side up. Scoop the ground beef mixture into the “boat” part of the zucchini.
  6. Pour the red enchilada sauce over the filled zucchini boats.
  7. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
  8. Cover the baking dish with tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.
  9. Remove the tin foil from the pan. Bake for another 5 minutes uncovered.
  10. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve.
  11. Add additional toppings for more deliciousness! 🙂

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 boats
  • Calories: 222
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Sodium: 491 mg
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 21 g
  • Cholesterol: 58 mg

Keywords: stuffed zucchini boats, zucchini boats with ground beef, low carb enchiladas

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pinterest image for ground beef enchilada zucchini boats
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Hey There

Krista
Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football!

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43 Responses
  1. Rick

    The recipe looked too simple to warrant all the raves from reviewers, but I gave it a try. Followed the instructions exactly and for toppings I added cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and pico de Gallo. Scrumptious! I still can’t believe how delicious this is …thank you!

    1. Krista

      Thank you for the 5 Stars and for giving this recipe a try! I can’t wait for you to try more of the Zucchini Boat Recipes!

  2. Sam Visser

    Beef has always been my favorite and I love trying new recipes. Thanks for sharing this one. Adding to my list.

  3. Teresa

    I clicked on your zucchini enchilada boats recipe, but what I got was a touch from God I didn’t even know I needed. Thanks for being faithful and sharing.

  4. Ann

    I was just looking for something to make with my hamburger meat. I have also been to the point recently with struggling and just wanting to give up. I have prayed and have asked God to guide me but I still felt so lonely. Then I found these 50 recipes and decided to check it out. I was scrolling along and found yours looked good. I then scrolled to the bottom and then just closed it out and left my phone. I had something tell me to check your recipe. When I was reading I had this chill that covered my body and tears in my eyes. I felt a piece knowing that God does show what you need at the time you need it I can not tell you how much your words helped me today. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Paige

    I found your blog today while searching for recipes, and found so much more. My husband recently deployed and the lyrics in your post describe exactly how I have been feeling. Thank you, I needed that more than you will ever know.

  6. Jen in San Antonio

    Made these tonight and loved the test though next time I plan to partially roast my zucchini while prepping the filling as they were too form for my husband’s taste even after putting them in the oven an extra 7 minutes. And the presentation was lovely. I made a bag of Spanish rice to serve as a side, which my kids ate, skipping the healthy entree. Oh well, win some and lose some. I liked it BETTER than normal enchiladas.

    1. Krista

      Hey Jen! Great idea. I like mine with a little bit of a crunch to the zucchini but I can definitely see cooking them a little longer if you like them cooked a little longer. So glad to hear that you enjoyed the flavor though. Hurray! 🙂

  7. Joe

    I came home from work one day and saw that my wife put a pound of ground beef in the sink to defrost. Painfully, I had to go right back into work for an emergency situation. On my way home at 9:30 PM she asked me to pick up a taco dinner Kit because she was working late herself. For the past two years I have changed my eating habits forever and did not want to eat that taco kit or have the bloated feeling the next day at that. I quickly googled ” simple ground beef recipes”, and saw this beautiful recipe. Instead of stopping at the store to pick up a taco dinner Kit I picked up just a couple ingredients from this recipe that we didn’t already have at the house.
    To make a long story short I ended up getting home a little after 10 PM and the Dish was coming out of the oven at 11:05 PM!
    I have to admit that this recipe is one of the best quick recipes my wife and I have eaten in a long time! AWESOMENESS !!!!

    1. Krista

      Ok, that is seriously awesome! Thank you so much for sharing Joe and way to go on not doing the taco kit and sticking to your eating habits!

  8. Lisa

    It’s so crazy how God just hit me in the face right now. My husband and I have been going through a lot lately and my family at home is struggling and I’ve been doing the same thing. I came on this website not knowing what it was and it made everything just fit, with what was going on in my life right now. I feel so blessed I know this was a sign from God!

  9. Tiffany Williams

    Man oh man did I need to hear this! At first I thought to myself am I still on the right link and then it hit me God is good! The last couple of weeks have been tough but I can see clearly now he’s not gonna let anything hurt me and and I’m very lucky and blessed he’s got my back! Thank you! As for the recipe I don’t have enough zucchini on hand but I’ll definitely make it in the future!

    1. Krista

      ok, that just made my day! Love that you questioned the link too! With God there are no accidents, even those valleys build us up and make us stronger! Thank you so much for sharing Tiffany!

  10. Carole

    That saying could not have come at a better time,says so much. I tried to copy it, but it said there were 32 pages, is there a way just to copy the saying ? The recipe sounds good, going to try that.Thanks much, Carole

    1. Krista

      Ohh… Yeah if you google “lyrics for Just Be Held” it should pop up. I’m so glad the words encouraged you Carole. 🙂 And I hope you give that recipe a try!

  11. Rebekah Y

    I just made these last night for dinner. They were so delicious!! I totally forgot to add avocado, tomato, and green onions for the top though. Everyone was too busy scarfing them down. I put them with a side of plain white rice since I could only find smaller sized zucchini. It worked out perfectly with it since it ended up getting all mixed up and made it so everyone could soak up all the yummy sauce on their plates. We’ll definitely be making this again!! 🙂

    1. Krista

      Yeah!!! So glad to hear it Rebekah! It really is good without the toppings… i’m just an avocado addict so I put it on top of anything I can. 🙂 hehe Love the addition with the rice to soak everything up. Genius!

  12. Rachel

    I started out this day searching for a recipe to cook for my family tonight and I found this also I got to experience a miracle while reading this woman’s testemony. Struggling with my own doubts. God has touched me and I love him

    1. Krista

      ohhhh… thank you so much Rachel! That is such a huge encouragement. Glad sharing my story can help, that’s my heart! I wish more of us would share our stories!

  13. M Pieslak

    Funny. ..I’ve made these before by ‘winging it’ but thought today is look up an official recipe. However, the words before just resonate in my soul! Casting Crowns sing some of the best music….they’re one of my favorite bands…and that song had been speaking to me in volumes lately! I just have to try this😊

    1. Krista

      Ohh… so glad to hear it! I’m glad you decided to look up a recipe and fell upon my page. This comment totally made my day! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  14. Karin

    Just made these last night and they were a hit. We noticed, though, there is no oven temp in the recipe. We baked them at 350 and it took much longer than 30 minutes. So what is the temp we should have cooked them at?

    1. Krista

      Hey Karin! Thank you so much for the catch. Yes I did bake it at 350 degrees, but I like the zucchini crunchy. All you’re really looking for it to let the flavors cook together and melt the cheese because the meat is already cooked. Hope that helps!

  15. David

    Really great recipe! I used ground turkey instead of beef and pineapple salsa instead of enchilada sauce, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Amazing flavor, will definitely be putting this one into regular rotation.

  16. Linda

    Your sharing about your recent spiritual challenges was so timely. Your story and the song lyrics brought tears to my eyes. I felt the Lord’s love and encouragement at a time when I’ve been battling similar feelings that you’ve had. I also look forward to trying out the recipe – it looks delicious. You have truly provided food for my soul AND body today. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    1. Krista

      Oh… Linda you totally just made my day. So glad that the Lord spoke to you just sharing my story! God is soo good. Glad you pulled up my post on the day you needed it! Hugs to you sweet Linda! You are not alone!

      1. Kristone

        It is so wonderful when you open up a recipe and find something so much more wonderful. God’s story unfolding. Thank you for sharing.

  17. taylor @ Food Faith Fitness

    ooooh!!! I love the zucchini boat idea here! They look so tasty 🙂 I really need to try this, what a perfect and healthy set to a delicious usual dish! Kicks it up a notch I’d say!

    1. Martin Wierzba

      Hello Krista! Beef really disagrees with my stomach, but this recipe looks so healthy! Could you please tell me a good substitute and maybe a vegan option as well for my mother? I would be very grateful! Hope you’re feeling better!

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