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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
- Honey Sriracha Mongolian Beef with Rice Noodles
- Chili Rubbed Flank Steak with Chimichurri on Parsnip Puree
- Beef & Broccoli Stirfry with Cauliflower Rice
- Easy Spicy Kung Pao Beef Noodles
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
- diced tomatoes
- diced green onions
- diced avocado
- Heat a medium large skillet to medium high heat.
- Add olive oil and onions to the pan. Saute until translucent or soft, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the ground beef and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces.
- Add in minced garlic, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and then salt to taste. Stir until combined.
- To a 13″x9″ baking dish, add zucchini boats flesh side up. Scoop the ground beef mixture into the “boat” part of the zucchini.
- Pour the red enchilada sauce over the filled zucchini boats.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
- Cover the baking dish with tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.
- Remove the tin foil from the pan. Bake for another 5 minutes uncovered.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve.
- 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