This vegan stuffed zucchini recipe is pretty as a picture. Cute little vegan meatballs balance up top tasty, juicy baked zucchini. All of this gets covered in a savory marinara sauce and oozy, melty vegan cheese. It’s a total dreamboat!
If you love Italian-style vegan recipes like this classic (with a vegan twist), check out my pesto couscous and chickpea salad. On that note, this basil pesto vegan pizza is another one the whole family will love!
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Stuffed Vegan Zucchini Recipe
- Super delicious: The combination of meatless meatballs, marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder hits all the savory high notes. This great recipe has classic Italian flavors, and the vegan cheese brings it all together.
- Both healthy and satisfying: Fresh zucchini are low in calories and high in fiber. This makes them a healthy choice for a filling meal. Zucchini are great for heart health and are full of antioxidants. The vegan meatballs provide plant-based protein, while the olive oil adds healthy fats. This vegan stuffed zucchini recipe is a great way to incorporate more veggies and plant-based ingredients into your diet.
- A great foundation recipe: You can easily customize this vegetarian stuffed zucchini recipe. Add other vegetables or fresh herbs to the filling. Switch up the seasonings to suit you and what you have in your cupboard.
- Easy to make: As fancy as they look, they are super easy to make. Once the zucchini halves are prepared and hollowed out, you only need to combine the filling ingredients, stuff the zucchini, and bake them in the oven. This makes this vegan stuffed zucchini recipe a great midweek option.
- Great for the whole family: Kids and adults will love this recipe. These vegetarian zucchini boats will delight anyone you serve them to. They really are so cute and taste simply delicious.
- Leftovers and meal prep friendly: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to make extra servings. It’s a great option for meal prepping, as you can make the stuffed zucchinis ahead of time and reheat them throughout the week.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Zucchini: Select medium zucchini for this recipe, preferably in zucchini season. You want the zucchini flesh to be firm and free from blemishes. You can also use other veggies in place of the zucchini shells. Yellow squash and red bell pepper are great options.
- Meatless meatballs: You can use Gardein or any other meatless meatballs. If you prefer a different type of plant-based protein, feel free to substitute it. Vegan sausage also works really well in this vegan stuffed zucchini recipe.
- Olive oil: I love using good quality olive oil in this recipe but go ahead and use another vegetable oil if you prefer.
- Italian seasoning: You can either use a store-bought Italian seasoning blend or make your own by mixing dried herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
- Garlic powder: You can also use fresh garlic if you like. Garlic is a hero ingredient in this delicious recipe.
- Marinara sauce: You can either make your own from scratch or use a store-bought option.
- Vegan mozzarella shreds: Daiya is a popular brand that offers vegan mozzarella shreds. Look for a brand that melts easily.
- Grated vegan parmesan: VioLife is a great brand for its vegan parmesan, but you can use any other brand that suits your taste. Alternatively, you can make your vegan parmesan at home.
- Parsley: You can use flat-leaf parsley or curly parsley, based on your preference. Fresh basil is the perfect alternative.
Pro Tips and Tricks
- Choose evenly sized zucchini: Select zucchinis that are medium-sized and firm. Avoid huge zucchinis, as they may be a bit dry or have too many seeds in them. A slightly smaller size is likely to have juicy zucchini pulp, which is what you’re after.
- Hollow the zucchini correctly: When hollowing out the zucchini, use a grapefruit spoon or a melon baller to carefully scoop out the flesh. Leave about a ¼-inch border around the edges to ensure the zucchini boats hold their shape while baking.
- Dry the zucchini properly: If you have extra juicy zucchini, you will know because little water droplets appear as soon as you’ve sliced them. To avoid a watery sauce, sprinkle a little salt on their surface and wait 10 minutes. Next, dry them with a paper towel.
- Don’t overstuff: When filling the zucchini boats, try not to overfill them. Leave a little room for the filling to expand while baking. Overstuffed zucchinis can become messy and difficult to handle with overflowing tomato sauce all over the show!
- Melting the vegan cheese: If you want the vegan mozzarella shreds to melt and become gooey, cover the stuffed zucchini boats with foil during the first part of baking. Then, remove the foil for the last few minutes to allow the cheese to brown slightly.
Variations and Add-Ins
- Grain or legumes: Bulk up the filling with grains like quinoa, brown rice, or couscous. You can also include cooked legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, or black beans to increase the protein content.
- Veggies galore: Sauté diced bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, or spinach and mix them into the filling mixture. This is a great way to use up vegetables in the fridge.
- Spicy: Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
- Nutty crunch: Add a delightful crunch by mixing in chopped nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts to the filling mixture.
- Fresh herbs: There are so many different kinds of herbs that will work in this vegan stuffed zucchini recipe. Try basil, thyme, oregano, or cilantro. Pestos are also a lovely way to mix herbs into the sauce.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Include chopped sun-dried tomatoes in the filling. They are quite rich and will deepen the flavors.
- Vegan sausage: Instead of or in addition to meatless meatballs, crumble up some vegan sausage and mix it into the filling. Kind of like a vegan ground beef.
- Thai or Mexican twist: For Thai-inspired zucchinis, add ingredients like coconut milk, curry paste, or cilantro. For Mexican-inspired zucchinis, mix in black beans, corn, salsa, or diced green chilies.
Make Ahead Instructions and Storage
You can prepare and stuff the zucchini boats as instructed in this vegan stuffed zucchini recipe, and then, once stuffed, place the zucchini on a baking sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate the prepared zucchini for up to 24 hours before baking.
If you have leftovers or want to store the stuffed zucchinis for later consumption, here’s what you can do: Allow the zucchini to cool completely after baking. Next, place any leftover stuffed zucchini in an airtight container or baking dish. Wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Can I use regular meatballs instead of meatless meatballs for this stuffed zucchini recipe?
Yes! If you prefer to use regular meatballs instead of meatless meatballs, you can make that substitution. Keep in mind that using regular meatballs will make the dish non-vegan, so adjust accordingly based on your dietary requirements.
Can I freeze the stuffed zucchini for later?
Yes, you can freeze the stuffed zucchini and eat them later. Freezing and thawing the zucchini might change the texture slightly.
Can I substitute other types of cheese for the vegan mozzarella and parmesan?
Yes! If you prefer different types of vegan cheese, feel free to substitute them in this vegan stuffed zucchini recipe. You can experiment with vegan cheddar, pepper jack, or any other cheese that melts well and suits your taste preferences.
- 3 -4 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise
- 24oz meatless meatballs, I used Gardein
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cup marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella shreds. I used Daiya
- 1/2 cup freshly grated vegan parmesan. I used VioLife
- salt and pepper, to taste
- parsley for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Scoop out the insides of the zucchinis and place them in a shallow baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and season with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until mostly tender. Remove the baking dish from the oven, and turn the broiler to high.
- Cook meatless meatballs according to the package.
- Pour marinara around the meatless meatballs and stir until the meatballs are fully sauced. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat.
- Fill the zucchini boats with meatless meatballs and top with mozzarella shreds.
- Place the zucchini boats in the oven and broil until the cheese has melted, for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Garnish with vegan parmesan and parsley, and serve hot.
Meatless Meatball Zucchini Boats
- 3-4 medium zucchinis halved lengthwise
- 24 oz meatless meatballs I used Gardein
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella shreds I used Daiya
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated vegan parmesan I used VioLife
- parsley for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Scoop out the insides of the zucchinis, and place them in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until mostly tender. Remove the baking dish from the oven, and turn broiler to high.
- Cook meatless meatballs according to the package
- Pour marinara around the meatless meatballs and stir until the meatballs are fully sauced. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat
- Fill the zucchini boats with meatless meatballs and top with mozzarella shreds
- Place the zucchini boats in the oven and broil until cheese has melted, for 3 to 5 minutes
- Garnish with vegan parmesan and parsley and serve hot