Kalyn's Kitchen

Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats

Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats are made from long pieces of zucchini which are hollowed out and stuffed with salsa, beef, and cheese. And if you’re careful to use a low-sugar salsa these are deliciously low in carbs! 

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Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats close-up photo of cooked zucchini boats

I recently shared my updated collection of 50 Amazing Zucchini Recipes on the Kalyn’s Kitchen Facebook Page, and from the response it was obvious that there are lots of people looking for zucchini recipes! Stuffed zucchini is a classic way to use those zucchinis that get a little too big, and my recipe for Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups is a hugely popular idea that shows how to hollow out giant zucchini and make cups to fill with a cheesy mixture of sausage and cheese. But if you have large-but-not-giant size zucchini, these Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats are a delicious stuffed zucchini option with taco flavors.

This recipe makes a lot, but stuffed zucchini like this reheats well, and when you have a counter full of zucchini staring you in the face, you don’t want to cook something that only uses a little bit of zucchini. But if you don’t have lots of zucchini or don’t want to make so much, just cut the recipe in half! Either way, I am recommending this for my Friday Favorites pick this week, and I hope you’ll try it if you’ve got zucchini staring you in the face!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • zucchinis
  • ground beef
  • olive oil
  • onion
  • Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning, or any taco seasoning of your choice
  • ground cumin (affiliate link)
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • Pace Picante Sauce (affiliate link)
  • grated Mexican Cheese Blend (divided)
  • canned black olives

What Low-Carb Salsa do I use?

I use Pace Picante Sauce (affiliate link) for this recipe. I love this brand, which doesn’t have added sugar and only has 16 carbs in a cup. I’ve used this salsa for years and  like it so much I have a collection of Low-Carb Recipes with Pace Picante Sauce, including some favorites like Instant Pot Salsa Pork Chops, Instant Pot (or Slow Cooker) Southwestern Beef Stew, Instant Pot Salsa Chicken, and Mahi Mahi with Mediterranean Salsa and Feta.

What are Zucchini Boats?

Zucchini Boats refers to largish zucchini that is cut in half lengthwise and hollowed out to make a “boat” and then stuffed with a tasty mixture.

Want more options for stuffed zucchini?

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups are a great zucchini recipe if you end up with zucchini that’s really giant sized! Stuffed Zucchini with Ground Beef is made with round 8-Ball zucchini and this recipe has red pepper, onion, and basil, and uses just 1/4 cup cooked brown rice per serving, or switch out the rice for cauliflower rice. Tasty Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini has Brown Rice, Black Beans, Chiles, Cheddar, and Cotija Cheese, and this is another one where you could use cauliflower rice instead of the rice.Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats process shots collage

How to Make Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. I used Pace Picante Sauce (affiliate link) for this recipe because it doesn’t have added sugar and I love this salsa. 
  2. We used zucchini that were about 10 inches long and cut them in half lengthwise; then we hollowed out the inside with a melon baller (affiliate link)to make a boat; you can also use a sharp spoon.
  3. You can microwave them for a few minutes if you want the zucchini to be softer in the finished dish; we skipped that step.
  4. Brown the ground beef; then push it to the side and add the onion to cook it partly through.
  5. Then add Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning or your favorite taco seasoning, ground cumin (affiliate link), salt, pepper, and salsa and cook over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. While the meat simmers, slice olives and measure out the cheese. When the meat mixture is mostly dry, turn off heat and let it cool for a minute or two.
  7. Then stir the olives and most of the cheese into the meat.
  8. Lay zucchini boats out on a baking sheet that you’ve sprayed with nonstick spray and use a large spoon to fill them with the meat mixture, packing it in.
  9. Bake about 25 minutes; then sprinkle them with the remaining cheese and bake about 15 minutes more, or until the zucchini is cooked through.
  10. Serve hot, with some sour cream and salsa on the side to add at the table if desired.

square thumbnail image of Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats cooked and on serving plate

More Tasty Ideas with Zucchini:

The BEST Slow Cooker Zucchini Recipes ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
50 Amazing Zucchini Recipes, Plus More from Around the Web ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats

Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats

Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Long pieces of zucchini are cut in half and hollowed out to make boats; then they're stuffed with beef, salsa, and cheese to make these Low-Carb Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats.


  • 4 large zucchinis (see notes)
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 1 T Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning or any taco seasoning of your choice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Pace Picante Sauce (see notes)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Mexican Cheese Blend (divided)
  • one 6 oz. can black olives


  1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Wash zucchini and cut off the stem and flower ends. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise to make 8 pieces. Use a melon baller (affiliate link) or sharp spoon to scrape out most of the fleshy inside part of the zucchini, creating a “boat” with about 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the zucchini skin.
  3. If you prefer your zucchini fairly well done, you can microwave the boats for a couple of minutes before you stuff them; if you do that blot dry with a paper towel before putting the stuffing in. (We didn’t microwave them and ours were just tender crisp when they were done.)
  4. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan; add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until the beef is nicely browned, breaking the meat apart with the turner or a potato masher (affiliate link) as it cooks.
  5. When the beef is browned, push it to one side and add the chopped onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is starting to soften.
  6. Stir the onion and beef together and add the taco seasoning, cumin, salt, pepper, and Pace Picante Sauce (affiliate link) or salsa of your choice.
  7. Stir together, then reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. While the mixture simmers, drain the olives and slice and measure out the cheese.
  9. Put the zucchini boats on a large baking sheet that you’ve sprayed with nonstick spray.
  10. When the meat mixture looks dry if you draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and let it cool for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the olives and 1 1/2 cups cheese.
  11. Use a large spoon to stuff the mixture into the zucchini boats, packing it tightly so you use it all.
  12. Bake the stuffed zucchini 25 minutes, or until the zucchini is starting to feel soft when you stick a fork into it.
  13. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the top of each stuffed zucchini with additional cheese. Bake about 15 minutes more, or until the cheese is melted and zucchini is done to your liking.
  14. Serve hot, with sour cream and additional salsa to add at the table if desired.


To make the full recipe you need zucchini that are each about 10-12 inches long. If you don't have Pace Picante Sauce (affiliate link) choose a salsa with the lowest amount of sugar you can find.

Recipe created by Kalyn and Kara.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 505Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 1081mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 40g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This recipe is low-carb and Keto friendly, and everything used in the recipe is perfect for all phases of the original South Beach Diet. The highest carb ingredient here is the salsa; look for a salsa with the lowest amount of sugar you can find. The recipe is also gluten-free.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Zucchini Recipes or Oven Dinners to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2016. It was updated with more information in 2021.

Pinterest image of Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats

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    8 Comments on “Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats”

  1. Thanks for the recipe! My son-in-law grows huge zucchini. He will only need to use half of the zucchini, but may have to up the filling. Great recipe though. I have printed it out for him.

  2. Just trying to do the math. Start with 4 zuchs. Cut each lengthwise = 8pc. Then cut each across. 16pc. Says 8. pc and 8 servings. Is serving size 1/2 a zuchini or 1/4? Thanks. Looks delicious!

    • I can’t believe this recipe has been on my blog so long and you’re the first person who noticed this! I had to dig out my old notebook to make sure, but there was nothing in the original notes about cutting them in half twice. And after I looked at the photos carefully I could tell the recipe uses 8 large zucchini, ends trimmed, and then cut in half. So one zucchini boat (about 9 inches long or so; half of a large zucchini) is what is being calculated as a serving.

      Thank you for catching that! I fixed the post.

      • Haha. Can’t believe you responded so quick. I’m still cooking them! I think you were working 2 recipes because step 1 says grease a baking dish and step 9 says grease a sheetpan. Love your recipes!

      • Oh man, that is so weird. I must have been having a very bad day when I wrote that recipe! Hope you enjoy!

  3. What brand of salsa did you find that tastes best? Not as easy to find as I thought. Thanks a bunch Kalyn.

    • I used Pace Picante Sauce Medium, which is one of the lowest-carb salsas I have found! And this is still pretty low-carb even with salsa since nothing else here has many carbs!