Giving up carbs doesn’t have to mean giving up Italian! Keto-friendly Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini is so delicious and filling you’ll be asking “Pasta what?” Fresh veggies, homemade marinara, and all your favorite Italian seasonings make this one for regular rotation – not to mention all the ooey-gooey, melty mozzarella and parmesan. Mangia!
I have been ever-so-slightly obsessed with “edible vessels” since I was young. Tacos, obvs. (Have you seen my blog?) Fruit salad in half a melon. Rye Bread Party Dip. Pina Coladas in a pineapple. Ok, that one came later… but there’s something magical about the first time you have a beautiful, thick, rich creamy soup in a bread bowl and you realize “Oh my god, I can just dip my bowl into itself!” Very meta.
Bread bowls aside, it’s kind of awesome how many tried-and-true recipes exist for “stuffed” something that are already on their way to being keto-friendly – stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers, lettuce wraps, cabbage rolls (though traditionally most of those have rice).
For people like me who aren’t all about that keto life 24/7, but want to achieve a good macro balance, it’s comforting to have old reliable recipes that aren’t always “adapted.” I don’t have to worry about substituting or recreating something I’m not supposed to have. If I’m eating zoodles, I want it to be because I want zucchini noodles and not bucatini.
And speaking of zucchini, these Stuffed Zucchini Boats are “the bomb.” At least that’s what my children tell me. (And I don’t have the heart to tell them that I don’t think anyone is using “the bomb” anymore in that way but they’re young.) So yay! We have a “bomb” low-carb recipe that is also full-family approved and that’s never an easy feat. Now you can all enjoy dinner together instead them wolfing down lasagna while you weep silently into a can of tuna.
Are zucchini boats keto?
They sure are! Do use full fat cheese and make sure your sausage has no carby-additives. Bonus – this dish is loaded with nutritious veggies!
Tips for making keto stuffed zucchini perfectly
- Cook the zucchini in 2 stages – an initial roast “naked” and then stuffed to warm through and melt the cheese.
- To keep it keto, use the right marinara sauce – we used our whole30, keto, and sugar free marinara sauce.
- Be sure to cook the zucchini pulp until the moisture is completely released for non-watery stuffing.
How to hollow out zucchini
Using ripe zucchini will guarantee this process is simple! Gently run a spoon or melon baller along the inside, taking out the seeds and pulp, but leave between 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch of fruit around the edge to ensure it will hold the weight of the stuffing (and you get plenty of tasty zucchini).
Make it your way
- Whole30: omit the cheese. I swear it’s still delicious! Top with a dusting of nutritional yeast instead of parmesan cheese.
- Use mild or hot Italian sausage depending on preference; or add 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes along with the Italian seasoning.
- Feel free to use chicken or turkey sausage, just make sure you can remove the casings and break apart.
Other keto-friendly “edible vessels”
- Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Bruschetta Stuffed Avocados
- Sausage Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Ground Beef Keto Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Did you make these Italian zucchini boats? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini (Keto)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe
- 4 medium zucchini about 2 lb
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 lb Italian sausage casings removed and broken into small pieces
- 1.5 tsp italian seasoning
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 c baby spinach
- 1 c marinara sauce
- ½ c shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp basil, chopped
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise. With a spoon or melon baller, remove the pulp from the zucchini; coarsely chop the pulp and set aside. Rub the zucchini halves, inside and out, with 1 tbsp oil, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. Lay the zucchini, cut side up, in a baking dish. Transfer to the oven and bake 15 minutes.
- Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the remaining tbsp of oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the sausage to the pan and cook, stirring frequently to break up the pieces, until the fat is rendered the sausage is no longer pink, 5-6 minutes. Add the zucchini pulp to the sausage and saute, stirring occasionally, until the pulp releases most of its water content, 6-7 minutes.
- Add the onion and bell pepper; saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the italian seasoning and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, 1 minute more. Stir in the spinach and toss frequently until it barely wilts.
- Add ½ c marinara to the sausage and vegetables and mix until well combined.
- Scoop the sausage and vegetable mixture into the zucchini boats. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the zucchini, then sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the zucchini is tender.
- Top the zucchini boats with finely grated parmesan cheese and chopped basil and serve immediately.