Kalyn's Kitchen

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini is loaded with Mexican flavors with Brown Rice, Black Beans, Chiles, Cheddar, and Cotija Cheese! Replace the rice with cooked cauliflower rice if you want a lower-carb version.

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Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini top photo

Recently I had some Cotija cheese that was left from a dish my brother Rand had made when he was visiting, so I guess that’s what inspired me to go with a Mexican-themed version for this new recipe for Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini. The Cotija made such a nice topping for the stuffed zucchini, but if you don’t have it you could use Parmesan, Feta, and or even a little more of the cheese blend that’s used in the stuffing.

I used those adorable little round 8-Ball Zucchinis that I love so much, but if you don’t have those, use a larger zucchini cut in chunks and then scooped out to make zucchini “cups.” (You can see an example of that in the photos.) The first time I made these the cheese got too brown and the zucchini wasn’t quite as tender as I wanted it, so Jake and I came up with the idea of cooking the stuffed zucchinis covered for the first 20 minutes and then taking the foil off for another 30 minutes cooking time. That time we thought they were perfect, and this was absolutely delicious for a meatless meal!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • 8-Ball zucchinis (or use larger long zucchini, cut in 3 inch lengths and hollowed out to make zucchini “cups”)
  • Cotija cheese (or other grated cheese of your choice)
  • canned black bean
  • green onion
  • can of diced green chiles
  • cooked brown rice such as Uncle Ben’s Brown Rice (affiliate link)
  • sour cream
  • Mexican 4-Cheese blend
  • Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link), optional; taste the filling and see if you’d like a little more heat

What is Cotija Cheese?

Cotija is a firm, crumbly cows milk cheese from Mexico. Here’s more about how to use Cotija from Bon Appetit.

How can you make this recipe lower in carbs?

If you want to keep the Mexican flavors but make a vegetarian stuffed zucchini that’s lower in carbs, just replace the brown rice with 2 cups of slightly-cooked cauliflower rice. For best results I’d cook the cauliflower rice in a hot pan with a little oil to evaporate some of the liquid.

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini process shots collage

How to make this recipe:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Drain a can of black beans into a colander, rinse with cold water, and let them drain while you prep the zucchini.
  2. I used half 8-Ball Zucchinis (on the right) and half large zucchinis cut into 3 inch pieces (on the left).
  3. Use a small sharp spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the flesh of the zucchini, leaving a thin layer of zucchini flesh next to the skin. (I didn’t use the zucchini pulp that I scooped out, but you could use it to replace some of the rice.)
  4. Thinly slice enough green onions to make one cup and drain a can of diced green chiles.
  5. To make the filling, mix together cooked brown rice (or cauliflower rice), sour cream, sliced green onions, black beans, Mexican cheese blend, and green chiles. You can add a little Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) if you want to make it a bit spicier.  (We did.)
  6. Use a spoon to fill with zucchini with the stuffing mixture, pressing it down so it’s tightly filling the inside of the zucchini.
  7. Cover the dish and bake the filled zucchinis for 20 minutes at 350F/180C.
  8. Then remove the foil and use a spoon to press a few teaspoons of Cotija cheese (or other cheese of your choice) on to the top of the zucchini.
  9. Bake about 30 minutes more, or until the filling is bubbling hot and the cheese is nicely browned.
  10. Serve hot, with more Green Tabasco Sauce to add at the table if desired.

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini square thumbnail image

More Stuffed Zucchini Recipes:

Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups
Cheesy Salsa Beef Zucchini Boats
Stuffed Zucchini with Ground Beef

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini is loaded with Mexican flavors with Brown Rice, Black Beans, Chiles, Cheddar, and Cotija Cheese!



  • 6 medium-sized 8-Ball zucchinis (or use larger long zucchinis, cut in 3 inch lengths and hollowed out to make zucchini "cups")
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (or other grated cheese of your choice)

Stuffing Ingredients

  • one 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • one 4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained (see notes)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup Mexican 4-Cheese blend
  • 1 T Green Tabasco Sauce (optional; taste the filling and see if you'd like a little more heat)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Spray a baking dish with olive oil or nonstick spray. (Use a dish that holds the zucchini without letting them move around too much if you can.)
  3. Drain the black beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water until no more foam appears.
  4. Let the beans drain while you prepare the zucchini.
  5. If you don't have enough 8-Ball zucchini, cut a large long zucchini into 3 inch lengths.
  6. Then use a melon baller or a sharp spoon to scoop out the inside of the zucchini, leaving a thin layer of flesh next to the skin.
  7. Slice green onions and drain the can of diced green chiles.
  8. Blot the beans dry with paper towels if they are still wet.
  9. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the black beans, sliced green onions, diced green chiles, cooked rice, sour cream, and low-fat cheese.
  10. Gently mix to combine, then taste the mixture and see if you want to add the optional Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link). We did, but we weren't making it for kids.
  11. Arrange the zucchini in the baking pan.
  12. Use a spoon to fill each zucchini ball or cup with the stuffing mixture, pressing it down so the inside of the zucchini is tightly packed with stuffing.
  13. Cover the dish and bake for 20 minutes.
  14. After 20 minutes, take zucchini out of the oven, remove the foil, and use a spoon to carefully press about 2 tsp. crumbled Cotija cheese (or other cheese of your choice) on to the top of each zucchini.
  15. Put the zucchinis back into the oven and cook about 30 minutes more, or until zucchini is tender, stuffing is bubbling hot, and the cheese on top is nicely browned.
  16. Serve hot. These will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two and they can be reheated in the microwave or in a toaster oven.


Use brown rice or Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (affiliate link) for South Beach Diet. You can replace the rice with cooked cauliflower rice for a lower-carb version. I used Anaheim chiles, not Jalapenos! Recipe created by Kalyn.  

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 525Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9.5gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 744mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 19gSugar: 6.8gProtein: 29g

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:
As long as you use brown rice or Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice, light sour cream, and low-fat cheese, this Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet and most low-glycemic diets. Stuffed zucchini with rice and beans would be too high in carbs for a low-carb diet plan, but you could make a lower-carb version by replacing the brown rice with cooked cauliflower rice.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Zucchini Recipes or Oven Dinners for more ideas for using up zucchini! Use the Diet Type Index 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.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2012. It was last updated in 2021.

Pinterest image of Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

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    17 Comments on “Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini”

  1. Pingback: Estupendas recetas con calabacín como protagonista. ¡Súper fáciles!

  2. Thanks Kelley and Sandy. I do love those little round zucchinis!

  3. Love the Southwest flavors. And these zucchini are just too cute! I can't believe they are from your garden. #jealous 🙂

  4. Thank you Rand for leaving cojita in the fridge! What a great dish. My favorite flavors for sure!! And I love the 8-ball zucchini.

  5. Thanks everyone! I think the 8-Ball zucchinis are starting to be more widely available, at least in Utah. I've been growing them about 8 years now and am starting to see them in the market.

  6. They look so pretty!!!

  7. Great choice of flavors for this, Kalyn — and what a fabulous presentation from the typical boat I've made. Sound so tasty!

  8. That's so awesome! I stumbled on your blog directly to another link and then when I clicked on the home page it was a yay! moment.

    I have too many zucchinis in my kitchen at the moment (impulse shopping at a farmer's market) and I've been trying to figure out what I want to do with them. 😛

    At least I know what's for dinner! 🙂

    p.s. I only wish I had the 8-ball zucchinis, they look so adorable! 😀

  9. This recipe is perfect – I have a ridiculous amount of zucchini from my garden to use up and would love to put it in a delicious and nutritious recipe. Thanks for the great idea!

  10. I have never seen Eight-Ball Zucchini locally, but they are adorable. I agree with TW – great presentation! And Cotija cheese is new to me, too.

  11. It looks very good!!! With healthy ingredients. I like it.

  12. Oh yes yes yes! Indeed these must be made. Cotija is so wonderful and this is a good use for it.

    Erin – ekcantcook.blogspot.com

  13. So happy that so people are liking this idea. This was my first time using Cotija cheese, which is mild but quite salty. I'd say it tastes a bit like Feta but not so creamy (although I think there is a creamy and a crumbly type of Cotija and we had the crumbly type.)

    For anyone who hasn't had them, I love, love, love the 8-Ball zucchinis. And they grow just as easily as the regular type.

  14. This looks fabulous! I've never seen a Ball Zucchini before – what a great presentation!

  15. I love how you cut your zucchini crosswise instead of lengthwise. Never tried Cotija cheese before but I've seen it at the store. Is it mild?

  16. Once again, I am envious of those eight-ball zucchini from your garden! And I love this filling. I'm thinking you could repurpose the filling into an egg casserole, too.

  17. I love the idea of a Mexican themed stuffed zucchini! Plus cotija is one of my favorite cheeses! So tasty.