Enchiladas are, and have always been, one of my absolutely favorite foods to eat and cook. They combine so many of my favorite flavors, and require a ton of cheese (in my opinion), before baked to gooey, melty perfection.
But the best thing about enchiladas is how customizable they are. You can make them with pretty much any filling you want, the sauce variations are endless, and heck, you don’t even really need the tortillas to still make a bomb enchilada dish. What’s not to love?
Today I’m excited to be sharing a new version of one of my favorite comfort food classics, with a healthy little twist on them: introducing Enchilada Zucchini Boats.
A Healthier Alternative
Whether you’re looking for a low-carb dinner option, or just looking for a way to sneak some extra veggies into your next meal, you need to have these Enchilada Zucchini Boats in your dinner rotation.
They’re packed with all the classic, comforting enchilada flavors you know and love. Juicy roasted chicken, your favorite beans, tangy green chilis, sweet corn. Not to mention those warm spices like cumin, coriander and chili powder. And of course, plenty of melted gooey cheese!
But instead of being wrapped in tortillas, these enchiladas are built into cute little zucchini boats. The zucchini make for the perfect little vessel to enjoy all the baked melted goodness, without the extra calories, carbs and added preservatives in those store bought flour tortillas.
Making Enchilada Zucchini Boats
The first thing you want to do for this recipe is prep your zucchini. After scrubbing and rinsing them well, cut the ends off your zucchini and cut them in half length wise. Then, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and flesh from the center of the zucchini. When you’re done, they should look like hollow little boats!
Next, lay out the zucchini on a paper towel and sprinkle them with a little salt to help draw out any excess moisture.
PRO TIP: When baking with zucchini (including this recipe, or something like zucchini enchiladas or roll ups), it’s important to remove as much extra moisture as you can before hand. Zucchini contains a lot of water inside, which can cause it to become mushy in the oven really quickly. Sprinkling a pinch of salt over the exposed flesh will do the work for you of drawing out the moisture within a few minutes, which you can just wipe off with a paper towel.
While your zucchini dries out, prep your filling. Start with onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Once that’s nice and soft and smelling like heaven, toss in the beans, corn, and green chilis. You can use whatever beans you like for this recipe. I think black or pinto work well. The last time I made this I actually used a combo of both! Along with that, throw in the shredded chicken. I wanted to keep this recipe as simple as possible, so I use store-bought rotisserie chicken that I shred up at home. Not technically homemade, but chicken is a whole food, so I know I’m not buying something processed, and it saves soooo much time and effort. Lastly, toss in the spices that bring it all together. We’re talking cumin, coriander, paprika, and chili powder.
The next step is to warm up your enchilada sauce. This is another place where I like to use a shortcut. A lot of the time when I’m making enchiladas, I like to make my own sauce. It’s part of the fun of creating the recipe. But when I’m just going for classic flavor in a simple dish, there’s nothing wrong with going with a trusted brand. I absolutely love Old El Paso’s Red Enchilada Sauce and I use it anytime I need a ready-made enchilada sauce. It’s well flavored, has a tangy kick to it, and full of aromatics and spices.
Toss about half a cup’s worth of sauce into the filling mixture, and spread a few tablespoons at the bottom of the baking dish (or dishes) that you’re using. Then it’s time to build these boats!!
First, pat off any extra water from your zucchini with a paper towel. Then, arrange the halves in the baking dish and sprinkle a little cheese in the bottom of each one. Next, fill the boats with your enchilada mixture. You want these boats to be pretty full of heaping piles of filling, but not so overfilled that a bunch of it falls out.
To top everything off, pour out the rest of your enchilada sauce all over the zucchini boats. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded cheddar cheese all over everything. Then you’re ready to pop them in the oven.
These zucchini boats need to bake for about half and hour at 350F until all the flavors have come together, and the cheese is golden and bubbly on top.
I like to serve these up with fresh chopped cilantro sprinkled on top, and a side of sour cream. So easy, so delicious, and I promise you won’t even be thinking about those tortillas.
Let me know if you give these Enchilada Zucchini Boats a try! I love to hear from you in the comments, or tag me on instagram @eat.think.live and let me see your creation! Plus, you can check out the rest of my recipes HERE.
Enchilada Zucchini Boats
- 6 Zucchini
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Yellow onion Diced
- 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 Can Black or Pinto Beans Drained (don’t need to rinse!)
- 1 Can Corn Drained
- 1 4 oz. Can Green chilis
- 1 1/2 Cups Roasted or Grilled Chicken Shredded or Chopped*
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Tsp Chili powder
- 1/2 Tsp Paprika
- 1/2 Tsp Coriander
- Salt & Pepper To taste
- 4 Cups Enchilada Sauce*
- 2 Cups Cheddar cheese Shredded
- Optional: chopped cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cut the ends off zucchini and cut in half length-wise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the flesh in the middle of each zucchini to create little boats inside.
- Lay the scooped zucchini halves out on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
- In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, onion and garlic. Sauté until soft and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add beans, corn, green chilies, chicken and all the spices to the skillet. Stir everything together and simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
- Meanwhile, add your enchilada sauce to a small sauce pan over medium-low heat to warm up.
- Once sauce is warm, add 2-3 tablespoons to the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish. Add another half cup of the sauce to the filling mixture and stir.
- Use a paper towel to blot the moisture that will have formed on your zucchinis. Then arrange the zucchini boats in the baking dish. You might have to use 2 dishes if your zucchini are extra long.
- Add a sprinkle of cheese to the bottom of each zucchini boat. Spoon a generous portion of the filling into each zucchini boat. You want the boats to be heaping, but not too full that a lot of filling spills off the side.
- Once all the zucchini boats are filled, pour the remaining enchilada sauce all over the top, splitting among 2 baking dishes if necessary. Sprinkle the remaining cheese all over the top of the zucchini boats.
- Bake zucchini boats in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly. If desired, serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top for garnish.
*This post contains affiliate links. That means I may get a small commission if you purchase something. I only recommend products I love and trust! For more on ETL’s policies, see HERE.