Filled with rice, cheese, black beans, corn, and spices, this flavorful Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini is great as a vegetarian, gluten-free main dish or a colorful side.
Tex Mex dinners are a favorite at our house. My kids will get excited about any meal that includes sour cream and justifies tortilla chips at the dinner table. I’m always happy if I can creatively build some extra veggies into the mix. Stuffed zucchini / zucchini boats have long been a favorite at our house ever since we started folding them into meal plans over at Cook Smarts.
Like many stuffed zucchini recipes, this one can be easily made ahead and finished in the oven right before dinner. It’s naturally gluten-free, vegetarian, and can be adapted to include lots of different vegetables or spices.
Here’s how to do it!
Choosing a Pan for Stuffed Zucchini
The size of pan or baking dish you need for this recipe depends on the size of the zucchini you’re using. Before you get started, set the zucchini in the baking dish to make sure they can all easily fit. A sheet pan will work just fine for this too.
- Zucchini – While this method works with any size of zucchini, I like to pick zucchini that are on the small to medium side (about 8 oz each). These are a good size for serving two halves as a main dish or one half as a side dish. Using larger zucchini gets a little unwieldy, but you can always cut it up into individual portions after baking.
- Black Beans – Be sure to drain and rinse these first.
- Corn Kernels – Frozen, canned, or fresh corn kernels work just fine here and add a natural sweetness and crunch to the filling.
- Cooked Rice – This is a great recipe for using up leftover cooked white or brown rice (or any other grain like cooked quinoa, cooked couscous, or cooked farro). See below if you want to try it with cauliflower rice for a low carb option.
- Spices – I like a mix of paprika, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Store-bought taco seasoning works great here as a shortcut.
- Shredded Cheese – I’ve been on a shredded Monterey Jack kick because it melts so nicely and adds a mild but rich flavor. Absolutely any shredded cheese will work – cheddar or Mexican blend are great.
- Optional for Topping / Serving: Sour cream, salsa, and chopped cilantro are great for finishing these. We love serving some tortilla chips on the side to scoop or dip the filling.
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini
- Pre-cook zucchini – Get the zucchini started by pre-cooking it in the oven. This softens it and makes it easy to scoop out the filling.
- Make filling – Combine all of the filling ingredients with seasoning and spices. And don’t forget to stir in the flesh from the pre-cooked zucchini – no need to waste any of it.
- Fill zucchini shells: Divide the filling between the zucchini “shells”. You’ll have more filling than you need, but just mound it over the tops and press it gently down to compress. I never worry about being precise – just spread everything out over the zucchini shells casserole-style. Top the zucchini with cheese.
- Finish baking – Return the dish to the oven and let it cook to bring all of the flavors together and melt the cheese.
How to Make Stuffed Zucchini Ahead
Assemble the zucchini in a casserole dish up to 3 days ahead. When you’re ready to serve it, let the dish come to room temperature before baking.
Low Carb Stuffed Zucchini
This recipe is so flexible that it can easily be adapted into a low carb version. Try it with cauliflower or broccoli rice (I like to saute it in a little oil or butter to soften it first). Skip the black beans and corn and instead use sautéed ground beef with some taco seasoning.
More Ways to Use Zucchini
- Paleo Pad Thai with Zucchini Noodles
- Sesame Peanut Noodles with Zucchini and Sweet Potato
- Grilled Summer Vegetable and Pesto Pizza
Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini
- Casserole Dish
- 4 medium Zucchini (about 8 oz each)
- 1 14 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups Corn Kernels, frozen or canned
- 2 cups Cooked Rice (use white or brown)
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Chili Powder (do not use cayenne which is much spicier)
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, divided (sub any type of shredded cheddar)
- Heat oven to 425°F / 218°C.
- Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and arrange in a single layer in a large baking dish (or sheet pan), cut-side up. Sprinkle the zucchini with some salt and transfer to oven. Roast until softened slightly, about 10 minutes.
- While zucchini roasts, in a large mixing bowl, combine black beans, corn, rice, salt, paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese.
- Remove zucchini from oven and let cool slightly. Working carefully, use a spoon to scrape out the center of the zucchini, leaving the peels intact. Add any zucchini that you scrape out to the bowl with the rice mixture and stir everything to combine well.
- Season zucchini shells with some salt.
- Spoon the rice mixture into the zucchini shells, pressing it down gently, and mounding it over the tops. (You can make this more casserole-style and just spread the rice mixture out over top of all the zucchini or fill each zucchini separately, pressing the rice mixture down into the zucchini.)
- Top the zucchini with 1 cup cheese.
- Return zucchini to oven and continue cooking until filling is warmed through and cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Serve the zucchini with sour cream, salsa, and chopped cilantro. Add tortilla chips for crumbling over top or serving on the side. Enjoy!
*This post contains affiliate links*