Zucchini Boats With Chicken are filled with the flavors of chicken parmesan. Easy and beautiful-looking dinner that everyone in your family or friends will love.
Simple to make ahead, freeze if needed, and reheat in the oven, stovetop, or microwave.
Why We Love This
- These zucchini bats with chicken are great to enjoy for only two people and any leftovers can be placed in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
- Healthy - There are so many variations of stuffed veggies with all sorts of flavors. Many of them are not healthy at all. But these stuffed courgettes are still on the lighter side, and if needed, the top layer of cheese can be left out.
- Practical and budget-friendly - only a few ingredients and most probably you already have half of them. For stuffing, use any leftover chicken from the previous dinner, even better if it comes with various spices or herbs (I used baked chicken tenders with a mix of Italian dried herbs), for boats, two smaller zucchini will be the best here.
- A great candidate for Meal prep - zucchini boats can be baked in advance and chicken filling made a couple of days before too.
- Zucchini. The key with these is making sure you find medium and wider zucchinis, otherwise you won’t be fitting very much filling in them. Trust me you will love this filling so you’re going to want to load them up.
- I used a 9 x 13 baking dish and it fit perfectly with my 2 zucchinis cut in half. I had to trim the ends off slightly. Alternatively smaller and thinner zucchinis will work too, baking time will need to be adjusted though. Read my ''Tips'' section below.
- Choosing cheese. I used both parmesan in the creamy sauce and shredded Colby jack cheese on top. You can omit the parmesan and use only Colby or other melty cheeses on top (think a block of mozzarella but grated by yourself, melts better!).
- Like in my previous times, I used only parmesan in the sauce without a top cheese layer (make this for a low(er) calorie version). It will still taste good as the highlight of this dish is the creamy sauce itself.
- The sauce itself is pretty much typical alfredo sauce minus the butter which means these zucchini boats with chicken are a little bit on the healthier side.
- Chicken - you can use rotisserie chicken or any leftover seasoned chicken like I did. I used baked chicken tenders in Italian spices from last night's dinner for these. This cuts your prep work in half!
- Alternatively, if you have raw boneless chicken breasts, chicken tenders, and legs in your fridge you'll need to dice them and fry them on a pan or bake before (this can also be done 1-2 days in advance). Your next choices are ground beef, pork, or turkey.
- Spices - dried Italian spice mix is the easiest choice here and goes well with all sorts of chicken pasta (especially our favorite chicken broccoli pasta) recipes. does compliment the creamy chicken sauce and tomatoes really well. If you have only dried oregano or basil, that will give a lot of flavors too.
- You can also use fresh garlic cloves instead of powder and another way to give the dish more flavor is to increase the garlic amount. Garlic seems to work the best in creamy sauces so feel free to add 2-3 or more minced garlic cloves after you have sauteed onions.
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down where you'll find the recipe card.
STEP 1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Prepare a greased (avocado oil, olive oil) 9 x 13 baking dish.
STEP 2. Trim off the stem ends from the zucchini and cut them in half, lengthwise.
Use a small spoon to scoop the flesh and seeds out from the center. A fruit baller/fruit scoop or a measuring spoon will make things easier, but be careful not to go overboard and leave some space on the sides of the zucchini.
Divide the zucchini flesh in half as we only need one part for the creamy filling. Place the zucchini flesh in a milk bag or wrap it in a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much water as you can before adding it to the sauce. Chop it up until finely diced.
STEP 3. Place the zucchini on the baking sheet cut-side up. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt, and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until slightly softened. We will bake them again with filling later.
STEP 4. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, saute diced onion until softened. Add tomatoes, chicken, zucchini flesh, Italian spices, and garlic powder.
Saute for 2 minutes more and stir in the cream. Lower the heat, cook for 2-3 minutes, add parmesan and simmer again until the mixture has thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
STEP 5. Remove from heat, by this time zucchinis should be halfway softened and you can start distributing the chicken stuffing evenly among the zucchini boats.
Sprinkle with cheese on top and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Serve these creamy chicken stuffed zucchini boats right away with more parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!
- Don't boil the cream in the skillet, take it to a gentle boil, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the sauce until thickened. This will only take a few minutes after adding the parmesan.
- Don't scoop the zucchini too hard. Zucchinis should be sturdy and resemble a ''boat'' shape with thicker sides to hold up the chicken filling. The best way to remove the flesh is to use a fruit scoop and gently scoop inch by inch carefully not to rupture the edges of the vegetable.
- Mix things up by adding sauces. Although the chicken stuffed zucchinis taste good on their own a great way to enhance the flavor, even more, is to add a drizzle of spicy sauce, pesto, salsa or Pico De Gallo.
- Baking time. Depending on how large zucchini you'll get, the baking time will need to be adjusted. For smaller and thin zucchinis 10 minutes of initial baking without the filling should be enough (you will continue to bake them later with the stuffing). For medium, 15 minutes or more is needed. I do not suggest using large zucchinis as they often tend to be very tough and with thick skin, which you want to avoid for stuffed zucchinis. Most of the commercial varieties of zucchinis are actually safe to eat raw. This being said, the baked zucchini is ready when it is fork-tender but not mushy and still with bright green color.
- Customize. If creamy chicken with tomatoes sounds too boring for you, substitute the tomatoes with sun-dried tomatoes, add crispy bacon, chorizo to the sauce, white button mushrooms (champignons), or finely diced red bell peppers. Breadcrumbs are another popular ingredient in stuffings however I do not feel it is needed in the recipe at all.
- Double up the sauce. Make a double batch of the sauce with or without the chicken and tomatoes and add to the baking dish if you like the zucchinis ''swimming in the sauce''. The leftover sauce can be served with your choice of side dish such as rice, lentils, mashed potatoes.
Freezing and Storing Instructions
Make ahead. The creamy chicken stuffing can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept sealed in a food container in the fridge.
It is best to use fresh zucchini(or yellow squash, any squash really!) whenever possible. Although it will be fine as well to bake the zucchinis without the stuffing in the morning, refrigerate and add the filling in the evening and bake again.
Freezing. These chicken stuffed zucchinis can be frozen for up to 2-3 months, however, I don't recommend freezing them at all. The reason is simple, the texture of zucchini will not be the same as when freshly cooked.
It may become very soft and watery due to its high content of water. Also, the creamy sauce may lose its creaminess.
But if you really need to freeze this, I'd recommend freezing only the chicken stuffing and using fresh zucchini boats.
To maintain the creamy chicken sauce, thaw it first in the fridge overnight or use the correct setting in the microwave.
Once thawed, transfer to heated skillet with olive oil, add more heavy cream or milk and simmer on low until thickened and creamy as you'd like it to be.
Storing. Baked chicken stuffed zucchinis will keep in the fridge well for 2-3 days. Reheat in the oven at 400 F for 10-15 minutes, I'd also add some extra cheese on top before baking.
Although these zucchinis boats with chicken are good on their own, and perfect for a dinner for two, for a much more fulfilling dinner I'd suggest preparing some tasty side dishes or simple salads:
There are a few reasons why zucchinis taste bitter. The main reason is environmental, how they are grown, cold or heat, the plant nutrient used and etc. It is a common occurrence in both zucchinis and cucumbers but mostly still rare. It is best to avoid eating bitter zucchini due to digestional problems later.
For scooping up the zucchini you'll need to wash, pat dry with a kitchen towel, and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop the flesh and seeds out from the center of each zucchini. A fruit baller/fruit scoop or a measuring spoon will make things easier if you have one. If you need to use the zucchini half later for stuffing and baking, but be careful not to go overboard with scooping out the flesh, there should be some space left on the sides of each zucchini boat.
You can freeze cooked stuffed zucchinis by wrapping them in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 2-3 months. To serve, thaw and then bake
in the oven until warm or microwave using the correct setting until warm. However, I wouldn't recommend freezing the stuffed zucchini at all as the texture of the zucchini will change and not be as fresh as it would initially.
The whole uncooked frozen zucchini does not freeze well. It will get mushy and it is very hard to cook anything flavorful with it. The reason is simple, zucchini has about 90% of water content. The best way to go about freezing zucchini is to grate it with skin on, squeeze the excess water out and then freeze it. Thaw, squeeze the excess water again, and use it in homemade zucchini bread, muffins, and sauces.
Thank you so much for reading about these zucchini boats with chicken recipe. Please feel free to comment with any questions you may have! I love reading your feedback.
Easy One-Pot Dinner Recipes
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Zucchini Boats With Chicken
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 1 ½ cup pre-cooked chicken cut into cubes or shredded
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium onion finely diced
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 7 cherry/plum tomatoes cut in half
- ½ cup parmesan
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup Colby jack cheese or Sharp Cheddar grated
- Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Prepare a greased (avocado oil, olive oil) 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Trim off the stem ends from the zucchini and cut them in half, lengthwise.
- Use a small spoon to scoop the flesh and seeds out from the center. A fruit baller/fruit scoop or a measuring spoon will make things easier, but be careful not to go overboard and leave some space on the sides of the zucchini.
- Divide the zucchini flesh in half as we only need one part for the creamy filling. Place the zucchini flesh in a milk bag or wrap it in a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much water as you can before adding it to the sauce. Chop it up until finely diced.
- Place the zucchini on the baking sheet cut-side up. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, until slightly softened. We will bake them again with filling later.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, saute diced onion until softened. Add tomatoes, chicken, zucchini flesh, Italian spices, garlic powder.
- Saute for 2 minutes more and stir in the cream. Lower the heat, cook for 2-3 minutes, add parmesan and simmer again until the mixture has thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Remove from heat, by this time zucchinis should be halfway softened and you can start distributing the chicken stuffing evenly among the zucchini boats. Just make sure to go over the zucchini boats with a kitchen paper towel to remove the excess water/oil.
- Sprinkle with cheese on top and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
- Serve these creamy chicken stuffed zucchini boats right away with more parmesan and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!
My daughter shared her chicken stuffed zucchini over on her gluten-free recipe site a while ago and it has been a reader's favorite ever since.