If you’ve never had stuffed zucchini before AKA fun, cute, delicious zucchini boats, consider this your sign to jump on the trend. This is actually my third recipe for zucchini boats on the site (try these Pesto Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats for the AK Dinner Party!) and WOW get ready to fall in love.
After seeing everyone swoon over this Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese last year, plus my famous Zucchini Mac and Cheese from a couple of years back, the perfect new dinner recipe was born.
Oh yes, today we’re making buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zucchini that are savory, a little spicy, protein-packed, and of course, packed with veggies from the boats themselves. The flavors in these boats are SO delicious and you get wonderful texture from tender zucchini, creamy mac and cheese, and a crispy breadcrumb topping.
Of course, feel free to choose your spice level (especially for kiddos!) and find tons of ways to customize the boats in the post below. Enjoy!
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Ingredients in these buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zucchini
These mac and cheese zucchini boats are made with super simple ingredients and are so easy and fun to make. Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Zucchini: the ultimate summer veggie and the vehicle for that creamy buffalo mac and cheese! Using zucchini as “boats” is the perfect way to add vegetables to your fav meals. You’ll need some olive oil, salt & pepper for cooking them.
- Pasta: I like to stick with traditional elbow noodles for the buffalo mac and cheese filling, but feel free to use any noodle you’d like.
- For the cheese sauce: you’ll make a roux with butter, flour, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, and of course, plenty of sharp cheddar cheese. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste!
- Buffalo sauce: we’re jazzing up regular mac and cheese with a kick of heat from your fav buffalo sauce. Feel free to use medium or hot depending on your spice preference.
- For the topping: you’ll top each zucchini boat with an extra sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and a panko breadcrumb + butter mixture for a lovely, crispy topping.
- To garnish: I love adding fresh, sliced green onion on top!
Customize your mac and cheese zucchini boats
Good news: these buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zucchini are super easy to customize based on your taste preferences and what you might have on hand. Here’s what I can recommend:
- To make gluten free: simply use your favorite gluten free pasta, an all purpose gluten free flour in the cheese sauce, and gluten free breadcrumbs for the topping. You can also feel free to omit the breadcrumb topping.
- Choose your spice level: if you’re sensitive to spice, feel free to use a mild buffalo sauce or omit the buffalo sauce completely. They’ll still be delicious as regular mac and cheese zucchini boats! If you love spice, use a spicy buffalo sauce and try adding spicy shredded cheddar or even diced jalapeño to the mac and cheese.
- Add a boost of protein: try mixing in some cooked, cubed or shredded chicken, bacon, or even tuna to the mac and cheese before adding them to the boats.
Can I make them vegan?
I haven’t tested a vegan version of these mac and cheese stuffed zucchini boats, but I think it would work just fine using your favorite vegan cheddar brand or even my vegan cashew cheese sauce. Then simply use dairy free milk and vegan butter in the sauce and in the breadcrumb topping!
Our fav way to jazz them up
We love to serve these with a drizzle of ranch or bleu cheese dressing for the perfect complement to the buffalo sauce!
How to make mac and cheese stuffed zucchini
- Prep your pan & zucchini. Start by greasing a baking pan with olive oil or adding parchment paper to a baking sheet. Then slice your zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the middles with a spoon to create the “boats.” Get my tips on this below! Brush them with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place them on the pan.
- Cook the noodles. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package until they’re al dente. Be sure to not overcook them! Then drain them and add them back to your pot.
- Make the cheese sauce. While the noodles are boiling you can whisk together that silky cheese sauce.
- Mix the buffalo mac and cheese. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked noodles, then stir in the buffalo sauce.
- Prep & bake the zucchini boats. Evenly stuff each zucchini boat with buffalo mac and cheese, cover with foil, and bake until the boats are fork tender.
- Top & serve. Lastly, top the boats with extra cheese and the breadcrumb topping, then bake again until the breadcrumbs are golden. Serve as is or drizzle with ranch or bleu cheese and enjoy!
Tips for making zucchini boats
- Make sure to choose zucchini that are all smaller and similar in size so that they fit in your pan and cook in the same amount of time.
- Scoop out the insides of your zucchini with a spoon and make sure to leave a 1/4 inch rim so that the filling stays inside the zucchini.
- Be sure not to scoop your zucchini halves too deep — otherwise the filling may fall out of the bottom once the zucchini boats have cooked.
How to reuse zucchini pulp
After scooping out your zucchini boats, you can save the zucchini pulp for smoothies! It’s nutritious and incredibly delicious. Simply add zucchini pulp to a freezer safe container. Add to smoothies when you want a little nutritional or fiber boost. No need to thaw!
Store these mac and cheese stuffed zucchini boats in meal prep containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply place them on a plate and microwave them until they’re heated through.
More zucchini recipes you’ll love
- Spiced Zucchini Apple Baked Oatmeal with Cinnamon Vanilla Glaze
- Buffalo Zucchini Chicken Burgers
- One Pan Enchilada Zucchini Turkey Meatballs and Rice
- Healthy Zucchini Bread
- Summer Garden Crustless Zucchini Pie
Get all of my zucchini recipes here!
I hope you love these buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zucchini boats! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
Buffalo Mac and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Savory and delicious buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zucchini with a crispy panko breadcrumb topping. These mac and cheese zucchini boats are easy to make, protein-packed, and such a fun way to use up summer zucchini! Choose your buffalo spice level and enjoy the perfect weeknight meal.
- For the zucchini boats:
- Olive oil
- 4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise (look for zucchini that is similar in size)
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- For the buffalo mac and cheese:
- 8 ounces dry elbow noodles
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour (or sub whole wheat or GF all purpose flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened cashew milk, almond milk or regular milk
- 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 ½ heaping cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese off the block)
- Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup medium to hot buffalo sauce
- For topping:
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- For garnish:
- Sliced green onion
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan with olive oil or line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a spoon, scoop centers from zucchini while leaving a 1/4-inch rim to create boats. Place zucchini in the greased pan; they should snuggle pretty tightly in there, but if you can’t fit them all in, you can use two pans. Brush zucchini with a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon or so). You can also simply spray them with an all natural oil-only cooking spray. Generously season with salt and pepper.
Boil the noodles in a large pot until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and return noodles to the large pot.
While the noodles are boiling, make your mac and cheese sauce: in a medium pot or skillet, add butter and place over medium heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes stirring every so often, until the sauce thickens up a bit. Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper.
Next add in 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until completely melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles, then add in buffalo sauce. Stir to completely coat the noodles.
Spoon mac and cheese evenly into zucchini boats. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes or until zucchini is slightly fork tender.
Remove from oven and top each with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of zucchini boats. Bake for 5-10 more minutes until breadcrumbs become slightly golden. Garnish with green onion before serving and drizzle with some ranch or bleu cheese dressing, if desired. Serves 4; 2 boats per person.
Feel free to serve these with a drizzle of ranch or bleu cheese dressing if you’d like. You can also omit.
If you don’t want these spicy, simply leave out the buffalo sauce! They’ll still be delish as regular mac and cheese stuffed zucchini boats.
See the full post for ways to customize, plus storing instructions.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
Yum!! I love having the zucchini for an extra healthy touch. Great week night dinner.
Happy you loved them!! Thanks, Marilyn 🙂
SO YUMMY! Can’t wait to try this. Love how there are also suggestions on what to do with the unused parts.
Thank you! Excited for you to try them!
What an interesting combo! Defo worth trying!
Thanks, Dan! 🙂
I want to eat it, it will be a good dinner.~