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Kalyn's Kitchen

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil are so delicious and this recipe is gluten-free, low-glycmeic, and South Beach Diet Phase Two. Use regular long zucchini if you don’t have these cute round ones. Use Zucchini Recipes to find more recipes like this one.

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Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations found on KalynsKitchen.com

It’s zucchini season! Back when I had a garden I fell in love with the cute round 8-Ball Zucchini, so this year when I saw these lovely striped Heirloom 8-Ball Zucchinis at the farmers market, I had to get some. We’re just days away from August 8, when a neighbor might leave some zucchini on your porch, so I did appreciate the irony of buying zucchini when people are trying to give it away, but the heirloom 8-Balls were perfect for this recipe of Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil.

Of course you might not have cute round zucchini like this, but no worries. If you have regular long ones, just cut the zucchini lengthwise and use this recipe to make zucchini boats instead. And if you end up with some of those huge giant zucchinis, use my trick of making Stuffed Zucchini Cups.

Either way you make them, I think you’ll love this recipe for stuffed zucchini with red bell pepper, fresh chopped basil, and a generous amount of dried fennel seed adding layers of good flavor. And just in case someone does leave zucchini on your post on August 8, take a look at my 50 Amazing Zucchini Recipes for more help with how to use it!

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations found on KalynsKitchen.com

Cut the stem end off each zucchini, use a melon baller (or sharp spoon) to scoop out most of the flesh and seeds of the zucchini, and microwave zucchini on high for 3-4 minutes on high. (Cook zucchini in the oven for about 15 minutes before you stuff them if you don’t have a microwave.)

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations found on KalynsKitchen.com

I cooked brown rice in advance is my beloved Zojirushi Rice Cooker; use leftover cooked rice if you prefer. Saute the chopped onion and red bell pepper, adding the garlic, Spike Seasoning, and ground fennel when the vegetables are nearly done. Remove vegetables to a mixing bowl, then add ground beef to the pan and cook until it’s nicely browned. Add the cooked brown rice, ground beef, chopped basil, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to the vegetable mixture and gently combine.

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations found on KalynsKitchen.com

Arrange zucchini in a roasting dish with sides. Fill each zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing it in tightly. Roast zucchini about 15 minutes, then top with the other 1/4 cup Parmesan and cook 10-15 minutes more.

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations found on KalynsKitchen.com

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil make a delicious dinner.

Make it a Meal:

Serve with something like Cucumbers CaesarBroccoli and Radish Salad with Gorgonzola, or Mediterranean Salad with Hummus Dressing for a carb-conscious meal.

More Zucchini You Might Like:

The BEST Slow Cooker Zucchini Recipes ~ Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Stuffed Zucchini ~ Always Order Dessert
Feta Stuffed Zucchini from A Veggie Venture
Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Black Beans, Chiles, Cheddar, and Cotija Cheese ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe will keep well in the fridge and can be reheated easily for another dinner, so it’s has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week! You might even want to double the recipe and freeze some if you have lots of zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil is perfect to make during summertime!


  • 4 large round zucchini (or use 4-6 regular long zucchini or make zucchini cups from a giant zucchini)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat)
  • 1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (or use another all-purpose seasoning blend)
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlic puree (from a jar)
  • 1 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. For 8-ball zucchini, cut stem end off each zucchini to create a flat surface that’s just slightly smaller than the largest width of the zucchini;
  3. Then using a pointed teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard most of the zucchini flesh and seeds.
  4. Leave an even 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the skin.
  5. For long zucchini, barely trim both ends of the zucchini; then cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh and seeds to leave a shallow boat shape. See this recipe for instructions on preparing zucchini cups from large zucchini.
  6. Microwave zucchini 3-4 minutes on high.
  7. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in heavy non-stick frying pan.
  8. Saute chopped onions and peppers about 3 minutes.
  9. Stir in Spike Seasoning, garlic, and ground fennel, and cook 1-2 minutes more. (Vegetables will cook more in the oven, so they don’t need to be fully cooked at this point.)
  10.  Remove onions and peppers to large mixing bowl.
  11.  Then add 1 teaspoon more oil and ground beef to hot pan and cook until it’s nicely browned, breaking apart with the turner as it cooks.
  12.  Remove cooked ground beef to mixing bowl.
  13.  Add cooked brown rice, chopped basil, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock to meat and vegetable mixture, and gently combine.
  14.  Choose a roasting pan with sides, just big enough to hold the zucchini.
  15.  Spray pan with nonstick spray or a light misting of olive oil.
  16.  Stuff zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing in as much as you can into each zucchini, and mounding it up as high as you can, until all stuffing is used.
  17.  Put zucchini into roasting pan, putting them close together so they hold each other up.
  18.  Roast uncovered 15 minutes, then sprinkle each with a bit of the reserved Parmesan.
  19.  Cook 10-15 minutes more, until zucchini is tender-crisp, and filling is hot and slightly browned.
  20.   Serve hot.


This will keep well for a few days in the refrigerator and can be reheated in the microwave.

Use turkey Italian Sausage instead of ground beef.
Use thin tomato sauce instead of the chicken stock.
Use sage or parsley instead of the basil. (I might use a bit less.)
Add some chopped olives to the stuffing.
Use sauteed mushrooms instead of or in addition to the red pepper.
Use feta cheese instead of the Parmesan.

Recipe created by Kalyn.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil would make a great main dish or side dish for phase two or three of the South Beach Diet. If you want a low-carb meal, try my Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more 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.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into this nutrition analyzer, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

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42 comments on “Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Red Pepper, and Basil, with Variations”

  1. Looks Awesome, we love stuffed peppers, but right now we have WAY too much zucchini. Plus we're both a few pounds overweight so I can see using a some zucchini (shredded) in this, would make a healthier filler than white rice, which is what we have.

  2. I veganized these zucchini boats by using Beyond Meat Crumbles instead of ground beef, brazil nut parmesan in place of the dairy, and veggie broth instead of chicken. The result was delicious and VERY popular with my very non-vegan in-laws! I will definitely be making this recipe again, when I have an abudance of zucchini!

  3. Still fascinated by why so many Americans are obsessed with gluten. There's nothing wrong with it, unless you are the less than 1 percent of people who are actually allergic to it.

    That being said, these look amazing. Will definitely try them. And nice photos 🙂

    • Hope you enjoy. And I am surprised to hear you think Americans are "obsessed" with gluten. I certainly haven't noticed anything like that, but I do mention it in my recipe titles because it's important information for anyone who had celiac, and I have several close associates who are in that category. I think some people who avoid wheat for other reasons (the Paleo diet, etc.) also watch for the gluten-free label.

  4. I have to look for these little zucchini at the farmers market, because I never see them in the grocery store. What a fun idea to stuff them!

  5. I was looking for a recipe and I'll try at home ..

  6. I've never heard of spike seasoning. I read your post describing it and now I'm intrigued. I'll have to see if I can find it at our local Fred Meyer. I'll hunt for round zucchini as well. I love stuffed zucchini.

  7. Joan, so glad you liked it!

  8. That was so good. And so much fun to make. Thank you!

  9. I am the only person in the house who loves courgettes! I love to stir-fry them. I read a recipe on one of cuisine magazines here and they stuff the courgettes with corn kernels and shredded chickens! I’ve tried them and they are delicious!! I’ll bookmark your recipe for next time I do the courgettes. Lovely.

  10. It’s fun hearing that I’m inspiring some of you to try stuffed zucchini. If you can get the little eight-ball zucchini, do try this way of cutting them if you’re not afraid to buck tradition.

  11. I have been wanting to try stuffed zucchini. I think tomorrow is the day!

  12. Congratulations, and a well-deserved mention! You are one of the first places I go for no-nonsense recipes that are healthy and easy to replicate in the home kitchen. Nice to see recognition of such an “accessible” food blog!

  13. These look great Kalyn! Eight ball zucchini don’t seem to have hit the UK yet, though there are a lot more yellow zucchini around than there used to be

  14. Next year when I get my veggie garden together I want to try eight ball zucchini.

    They look delicious.

  15. Hola Kalyn! Congrats on the mention (you deserve it, Babycakes!) and kudos on another fab recipe with great information and photography. Beautiful!


  16. Stuffing things is always fun. When I did stuffed zucchini I hollowed out the whole zucchini without slicing it in half. Slicing it in half first sounds like it would be much easier. This stuffed zucchini look good. I like the round zucchini.

  17. thanks for the nod… 🙂 your dish looks great!

  18. Just saw your post mentioned by Amy Sherman at epicurious, and wanted to say congratulations too! 🙂

  19. Anonymous, I have no idea what is causing that problem. When I got this e-mail, I immediately went to today’s post and printed the recipe, no problem. I’m at school where they have Internet Explorer. I print recipes all the time at home too, where I use Firefox. I’ve never had any problems printing a recipe.

    I wonder if it is something in your printer settings. Can you check to make sure that you’re asking it to print the whole page. Let me know if you continue to have trouble.

  20. Kalyn, this sound delicious. However, I have had trouble printing your recipes for the last few weeks. I have tried from two different computers. It only prints an advertisement. The rest of the page is blank. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t want to miss out on any of your delicious creations! Thank you.

  21. Wonderful post and step-by-step photos, and congrats on the Epicurious mention!

  22. Your zucchinis are so healthy 🙂 The whole dish sounds super delicious!

  23. Stuffed zucchinis are terrific! I recently made some with Italian sausage.

  24. Looks beautiful … I love summer veggies!

  25. Thanks to all you zucchini lovers for stopping by. And how kind that no one has mentioned that I cut them the wrong way (on purpose, but I know some people are probably appalled.) Mrs. G, thanks, glad to hear you liked it.

  26. I made this for dinner and boy was it good! Thanks. I just added your link to my blog!

  27. This is such a yummy recipe! And healthy, too. I sure will love it.

  28. Hmmm… my sister has been dropping hints for the past few weeks about stuffed zucchini. She wants me to make this for her when I visit her in October (she does not cook by the way – though she does has a vague idea where the kitchen is but is not sure really what to do in it).

    I think I will try this out then. I used to use another stuffing mix for zucchini (incidentally called baby marrow in South Africa) but this looks way better.

  29. Kalyn – what a great step by step photo demonstration, thanks!!
    As for the recipe, it looks great…I can think of a million things I would want to do with the filling (one being “eat it straight out of the pan”)!!

  30. What gorgeous pics…looks and sounds very yummy!

  31. OK, that looks truly delicious!

  32. I really want to try 8 ball zucchini. The only place I saw it this summer was a market out of town when I was only window shopping.

  33. I always look for the smaller ones to stuff – use the big ones for bread or soup…
    Those little ones are darling! I’m going to plant some next year. And I love the stuffing; I’m a big fan of brown rice.

  34. You must have read my mind. Just bought a huge zucchini yesterday with this in mind. Thanks! 🙂

  35. Thanks for the zucchini ideas! I made bread and muffins over the weekend, but I still have more to use…thanks to you:)

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