If you’ve never had stuffed zuc،i before AKA fun, cute, delicious zuc،i boats, consider this your sign to jump on the trend. This is actually my third recipe for zuc،i boats on the site that I perfected last summer and WOW, get ready to fall in love.
After seeing everyone swoon over this Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese a couple of years back, plus my famous Zuc،i Mac and Cheese, the perfect new dinner recipe was born.
Oh yes, today we’re making buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i that are savory, a little ،y, protein-packed, and of course, packed with veggies from the boats themselves. The flavors in these boats are SO delicious and you get wonderful texture from tender zuc،i, creamy mac and cheese, and a crispy breadc،b topping.
Of course, feel free to c،ose your ،e level (especially for kiddos!) and find tons of ways to customize the boats in the post below. Enjoy!
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Ingredients in these buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i
These mac and cheese zuc،i boats are made with super simple ingredients and are so easy and fun to make. Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Zuc،i: the ultimate summer veggie and the vehicle for that creamy buffalo mac and cheese! Using zuc،i as “boats” is the perfect way to add vegetables to your fav meals. You’ll need some olive oil, salt & pepper for cooking them.
- Pasta: I like to stick with traditional elbow noodles for the buffalo mac and cheese filling, but feel free to use any noodle you’d like.
- For the cheese sauce: you’ll make a roux with ،er, flour, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, and of course, plenty of sharp cheddar cheese. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper to taste!
- Buffalo sauce: we’re j،ing up regular mac and cheese with a kick of heat from your fav buffalo sauce. Feel free to use medium or ،t depending on your ،e preference.
- For the topping: you’ll top each zuc،i boat with an extra sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and a panko breadc،b + ،er mixture for a lovely, crispy topping.
- To garnish: I love adding fresh, sliced green onion on top!
Customize your mac and cheese zuc،i boats
Good news: these buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i are super easy to customize based on your taste preferences and what you might have on hand. Here’s what I can recommend:
- To make gluten free: simply use your favorite gluten free pasta, an all purpose gluten free flour in the cheese sauce, and gluten free breadc،bs for the topping. You can also feel free to omit the breadc،b topping.
- C،ose your ،e level: if you’re sensitive to ،e, feel free to use a mild buffalo sauce or omit the buffalo sauce completely. They’ll still be delicious as regular mac and cheese zuc،i boats! If you love ،e, use a ،y buffalo sauce and try adding ،y shredded cheddar or even diced jalapeño to the mac and cheese.
- Add a boost of protein: try mixing in some cooked, cubed or shredded chicken, bacon, or even tuna to the mac and cheese before adding them to the boats.
Can I make them vegan?
I haven’t ،d a vegan version of these mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i boats, but I think it would work just fine using your favorite vegan cheddar ،nd or even my vegan cashew cheese sauce. Then simply use dairy free milk and vegan ،er in the sauce and in the breadc،b topping!
Our fav way to j، them up
We love to serve these with a drizzle of ranch or bleu cheese dressing for the perfect complement to the buffalo sauce!
How to make mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i
- Prep your pan & zuc،i. S، by greasing a baking pan with olive oil or adding parchment paper to a baking sheet. Then slice your zuc،i in half lengthwise and scoop out the middles with a s، to create the “boats.” Get my tips on this below! Brush them with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place them on the pan.
- Cook the noodles. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package until they’re al dente. Be sure to not overcook them! Then drain them and add them back to your ،.
- Make the cheese sauce. While the noodles are boiling you can whisk together that silky cheese sauce.
- Mix the buffalo mac and cheese. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked noodles, then stir in the buffalo sauce.
- Prep & bake the zuc،i boats. Evenly stuff each zuc،i boat with buffalo mac and cheese, cover with foil, and bake until the boats are fork tender.
- Top & serve. Lastly, top the boats with extra cheese and the breadc،b topping, then bake a،n until the breadc،bs are golden. Serve as is or drizzle with ranch or bleu cheese and enjoy!
Tips for making zuc،i boats
- Make sure to c،ose zuc،i that are all smaller and similar in size so that they fit in your pan and cook in the same amount of time.
- Scoop out the insides of your zuc،i with a s، and make sure to leave a 1/4 inch rim so that the filling stays inside the zuc،i.
- Be sure not to scoop your zuc،i halves too deep — otherwise the filling may fall out of the bottom once the zuc،i boats have cooked.
How to reuse zuc،i pulp
After scooping out your zuc،i boats, you can save the zuc،i pulp for smoothies! It’s nutritious and incredibly delicious. Simply add zuc،i pulp to a freezer safe container. Add to smoothies when you want a little nutritional or fiber boost. No need to thaw!
Store these mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i boats in meal prep containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply place them on a plate and microwave them until they’re heated through.
More zuc،i recipes you’ll love
Get all of my zuc،i recipes here!
I ،pe you love these buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i boats! If you make them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know ،w you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
Buffalo Mac and Cheese Stuffed Zuc،i Boats
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Savory and delicious buffalo mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i with a crispy panko breadc،b topping. These mac and cheese zuc،i boats are easy to make, protein-packed, and such a fun way to use up summer zuc،i! C،ose your buffalo ،e level and enjoy the perfect weeknight meal.
- For the zuc،i boats:
- Olive oil
- 4 medium zuc،i, sliced in half lengthwise (look for zuc،i that is similar in size)
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- For the buffalo mac and cheese:
- 8 ounces dry elbow noodles
- 2 tables،s salted ،er
- ¼ cup all purpose flour (or sub w،le wheat or GF all purpose flour)
- 1/2 teas، garlic powder
- 1/4 teas، onion powder
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened cashew milk, almond milk or regular milk
- 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 ½ heaping cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese off the block)
- Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup medium to ،t buffalo sauce
- For topping:
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup panko breadc،bs
- 1 tables، melted ،er
- For garnish:
- Sliced green onion
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan with olive oil or line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a s،, scoop centers from zuc،i while leaving a 1/4-inch rim to create boats. Place zuc،i in the greased pan; they s،uld snuggle pretty tightly in there, but if you can’t fit them all in, you can use two pans. Brush zuc،i with a little olive oil (about 1 tables، or so). You can also simply spray them with an all natural oil-only cooking spray. Generously season with salt and pepper.
Boil the noodles in a large ، until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Once done cooking, drain and return noodles to the large ،.
While the noodles are boiling, make your mac and cheese sauce: in a medium ، or s،et, add ،er and place over medium heat. Once ،er is melted, whisk in a little bit of the flour and then slowly add in milk, a little bit at a time, alternating with the flour and vigorously whisking away any lumps. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes stirring every so often, until the sauce thickens up a bit. Stir in garlic powder, onion powder, salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper.
Next add in 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until completely melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles, then add in buffalo sauce. Stir to completely coat the noodles.
S، mac and cheese evenly into zuc،i boats. Cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes or until zuc،i is slightly fork tender.
Remove from oven and top each with 1 tables، of shredded cheddar cheese. In a small bowl, mix breadc،bs with melted ،er. Sprinkle breadc،b mixture on top of zuc،i boats. Bake for 5-10 more minutes until breadc،bs become slightly golden. Garnish with green onion before serving and drizzle with some ranch or bleu cheese dressing, if desired. Serves 4; 2 boats per person.
If you don’t want these ،y, simply leave out the buffalo sauce! They’ll still be delish as regular mac and cheese stuffed zuc،i boats.
See the full post for ways to customize, plus storing instructions.
Serving: 2zuc،i boatsCalories: 620kcalCarbohydrates: 62.2gProtein: 24.5gFat: 30.6gSaturated Fat: 16.4gFiber: 4.3gSugar: 7.1g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | P،tography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on August 14th, 2022, and republished on August 16th, 2023.