This recipe for quick and easy BBQ chicken zucchini boats is a light low carb dinner that is full of flavor and will leave you satisfied. Even better it is a one-pan dinner and ready in less than 30 minutes.
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This is one of those 'I can't believe this only takes 30 minutes' kinds of meal. Minimal clean-up means you can skip the take-out and stay home for a healthy meal everyone will love!
📖Why This Recipe Works
This recipe is naturally gluten-free, with an easy dairy-free option. So easy that you can make part of the recipe dairy-free and the rest with regular cheese. Making chicken stuff zucchini boats a perfect recipe for families.
This zucchini and chicken recipe is great for summer. Not only can you use up all the fresh zucchini from the garden but it is easy to make with minimal effort so you can be out enjoying the great weather. Plus it is a great way to use up leftover chicken.
Zucchini is obviously the star of this dish. You want to use small to medium-sized zucchini and all the zucchinis should be in the same size range. Fresh, maybe even a little underripe is perfect. Have lots of giant zucchini to use? Try our sliced roasted zucchini recipe or lemon zucchini noodles instead!
For this recipe you will also need:
Shredded Chicken- The chicken must be precooked chicken, you can use leftover, rotisserie, or even canned. When testing I used chicken breast, chicken thigh, and ground chicken. All 3 were wonderful.
But my favorite is poached chicken. If you haven't made it, follow this simple tutorial on how to boil chicken.
Red Onion- Be sure to dice your onion up small because we don't pre-cook it. You can also substitute white onion or sweet onion, depending on your taste.
BBQ Sauce- You can do homemade or store-bought. My homemade BBQ sauce recipe is naturally gluten-free.
Cheese- I typically use shredded mozzarella for this recipe because I love how it melts. But a sharp white cheddar or dairy-free almond cheese shreds can be substituted.
⏲️How to Make Chicken Zucchini Boats
The key to a successful, and quick, zucchini boat is the proper prep of the zucchini itself. And not over roasting. Zucchini should be soft but still crunchy. We won't be overcooking these!
Step 1- Prep
Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment spray or brush the pan with oil to prevent sticking. The nice part about using parchment or aluminum foil is that it makes serving and cleaning up a breeze. Simply slide the parchment onto a serving platter.
Step 2- Cut the Zucchini
Start by slicing your zucchini longways. Do not trim the ends! You don't have to eat the stem but leaving it intact will prevent the delicious filling from oozing out. These are zucchini boats, and boats don't have one side totally open!
Use a small spoon to hollow out the flesh of the zucchini halves, leaving a ¼-inch thickness around the edges. Some people use a melon baller for this but I find that unnecessary and more complicated.
Place the zucchini cut side-up on the baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can discard the zucchini flesh.
Step 3- Make the Filling
In a bowl combine the chicken, red onion, a ½ cup of the BBQ sauce, and a ½ cup of the shredded cheese. Spoon the chicken filling into the zucchini and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Step 4- Bake and Serve
This zucchini boat recipe will need to bake at a relatively high temperature so be sure to properly preheat your oven. Bake uncovered at 425 F for 18 to 20 minutes or until the filling is set and the cheese is melted.
When baking with dairy-free cheese I make a tent foil and very loosely cover. This will help the cheese melt and prevent it from over-browning. Take it off the last 3 to 5 minutes of baking.
Drizzle the baked zucchini boats with the remaining BBQ sauce and garnish with jalapenos, cilantro, and green onions. Or your favorite toppings.
- To make it vegan substitute shredded jackfruit for the chicken and use almond mozzarella.
- For a flavor, variation substitutes our gluten-free peanut sauce or a buffalo-style hot sauce for the BBQ sauce.
- Add crumbled bacon for an extra layer of flavor.
- To reduce the sharpness of the red onion, rinse in cold water before adding to the filling.
- Don't trim the ends off, you don't have to eat them but we need all that filling in the boat.
🌡️Make Ahead and Storage
To make the zucchini boats in advance. Prep the zucchini boats and cover the baking sheet with foil. Store in the fridge for up to 2 days. The zucchini boats can go straight from the fridge to the oven.
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on a sheet pan in the oven at 300 degrees until warmed through. Or reheat in the microwave on medium power.
🥗More 30 Minute Dinner Recipes
Looking for more quick and easy 30 minute weeknight dinner recipes? Here are some of our favorites! Plus they are all gluten-free!
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📖 Printable Recipe Card
Barbecue Chicken Zucchini Boats
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use a small spoon to hollow out the flesh of the zucchini, leaving ¼-inch thickness around the edges. Place them cut side-up on the baking sheet. Brush the hollowed-out zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.4 zucchini, Olive oil, Kosher salt and pepper
- In a large bowl combine the chicken, red onion, ½ cup BBQ sauce, and ½ cup shredded cheese.2 cups cooked shredded chicken, ½ cup red onion, ¾ cup BBQ sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Spoon in the filling and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the filling is set and the cheese is melted.
- Drizzle with remaining BBQ sauce and garnish with jalapenos, cilantro, and green onions¾ cup BBQ sauce, jalapeno slices, green onions, cilantro etc.
- Assemble the boats up to 2 days before. Cover with foil and place in the fridge. Zucchini boats can go straight from the fridge to the oven.