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Italian zucchini garnished with parsley in a black baking dish.

Italian Zucchini

These baked Italian zucchini are a perfect weeknight meal. They’re full of hearty protein from ground chicken, Italian flavor from marinara sauce, and healthy vegetables, such as zucchini and bell peppers. This quick and easy recipe is great as a simple dinner for two or for an entire crowd, making it a healthy dinner for everyone!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 168kcal
Cost $15



  • 4 green zucchini
  • olive oil to coat the skillet and for drizzling
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil plus extra for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano plus extra for sprinkling
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ a medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper any color, chopped
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 tablespoon unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • cup shredded mozzarella


  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and hollow out the inside until there is a deep canal through the middle. (You can either choose to discard the seeds and inners or add it with the onions and garlic in the upcoming step.)
  • Arrange the zucchini in a shallow baking dish. Set it aside.
  • In a large skillet set over medium heat, drizzle a light layer of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the ground chicken. 
  • Season the chicken with the dried basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Brown the chicken until it is almost cooked through, then add the chopped onion, garlic, and pepper. Cook until the onion and pepper are tender.
  • Add the marinara to the skillet, stir, and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, turn off the heat.
  • Drizzle the zucchini with a light drizzle of olive oil and then season them with a pinch of dried basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  • Fill the canal with the meat sauce and allow it to form a mound on top of the zucchini. (If you have extra filling, you can save it for later and use it as pasta sauce or use it to fill additional zucchini or other vegetables.)
  • In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and mozzarella. 
  • Sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumbs over the top of the zucchini.
  • Place the baking dish in the oven, uncovered, and allow the zucchini to cook for about 20 minutes until they’re fork tender, the cheese melts, and the tops become golden brown.
  • Serve the zucchini warm from the oven.
  • Store any leftover Italian zucchini in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you’d like to prepare this meal ahead of time, you can make the filling on the stove up to 2 days ahead and then slice, season, and fill the zucchini the day of cooking in the oven.


  1. If you prefer ground beef or ground turkey, you can use those instead of the ground chicken.
  2. When buying store-bought marinara sauce, look for ones with whole ingredients (such as tomatoes, onion, and garlic), little to no “unfamiliar” ingredients (such as sodium benzoate or calcium chloride), and little to no added sugar.
  3. For a non dairy and/or gluten free version of this recipe, you can omit the breadcrumbs and cheese or create your own crispy topping with pulverized nuts and nutritional yeast instead.
  4. If you’re not a fan of zucchini or simply want to diversify this dish, you can add the same Italian filling to other vegetables. Substitute the zucchini for any color bell pepper, large tomatoes, poblano peppers, spaghetti squash, yellow onions, or portabella mushrooms, each sliced in half and hollowed out. Depending on the vegetable you choose, you may need to adjust the cook time in the oven.


Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 484mg | Potassium: 818mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 997IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 2mg