Easy Ground Beef Enchilada Zucchini Boats

Grey circle with the letters GFA grey circle with KF
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
40 mins

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.

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.

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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

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


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. 



  • 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


  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! 🙂


  • 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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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 @ Joyful Healthy Eats

      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 @ Joyful Healthy Eats

      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 @ Joyful Healthy Eats

      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!

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