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Stuffed zucchini on a baking sheet.

Stuffed Zucchini

Transform one of the most prolific summer vegetables into a healthy dinner recipe: Stuffed Zucchini. Filled with ground beef, rice, and plenty of cheese, this zucchini recipe makes it fun to eat your veggies.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings (2 halves each)
Calories 506kcal



  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and flesh from the zucchini halves, ensuring to not pierce the sides of the zucchini and leaving a 1/4-inch thick wall. Finely chop the zucchini flesh.
  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add chopped zucchini and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes, breaking up any large clumps. Stir in tomato sauce, parsley, and cooked rice, bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper).
  • Place zucchini halves cut side-up on the prepared baking sheet. Evenly divide the beef mixture between the zucchini shells. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoon each mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  • Bake until golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 15 to 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.


  1. Zucchini: Try to buy zucchini that are evenly sized. If you can only find zucchini that are lop-sided, don’t worry. Just trim off a thin layer of the bottom with a sharp knife to make them stand up. If you can't find or don't love zucchini, try this same technique with yellow squash.
  2. Ground beef: I prefer 80% fat and 20% lean for the best flavor, but choose your personal preference of fat content. (See "Recipe FAQs" for alternative protein options.)
  3. Cooked rice: Steam a package of instant rice in the microwave or on the stovetop. Or try my Baked Rice or Homemade Brown Rice if you have time.
  4. Yield: My Stuffed Zucchini recipe makes 8 halves total, four servings of two stuffed halves each. Each portion includes 4 ounces of beef and 1/4 cup of rice, which I find to make for a filling yet healthy dinner idea.
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  6. Make ahead: Up to 2 or 3 days in advance, make the filling and stuff the zucchini, but don’t sprinkle on the cheese. Wrap the baking dish with foil and refrigerate. When you’re ready for dinner, sprinkle on the cheese and bake at 450 degrees zucchini is tender, cheese is bubbling and browning, and filling reaches 165 degrees on a digital thermometer.
  7. Freezer: Assemble stuffed, unbaked zucchini and freeze in an airtight container up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed. 


Serving: 2halves | Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 383mg | Potassium: 900mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 670IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 282mg | Iron: 3mg