Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

I have quite an affinity for most Mexican dishes. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything I didn’t like, whether actually in Mexico or at a restaurant here in the States. Chicken enchiladas are one of my favorites, except for the high sodium content in pre-made enchilada sauces. I could also do without the tortilla shell. Not a whole lot of nutrients stemming from it, just carbs! Plus my husband is not a fan of the soggy texture tortillas have after baking in the sauce. This recipe fixes all of these minor issues and is the heathiest take on chicken enchiladas I can find!


Tortillas are replaced with fresh zucchini for less than a quarter of the calories. A simple, but smoky and subtly spicy, homemade enchilada sauce surrounds each zucchini boat. Inside is a mixture of shredded chicken breast, spices, fresh vegetables, and cilantro. So much flavor!!


You do need to plan ahead with this recipe as it calls for shredded chicken breast. I often make a huge batch in the crock pot and use it throughout the week. It’s simple to do: spray the crock pot, place chicken breasts inside with 1/4 cup of chicken broth and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set on low for 4 hours. Shred with 2 forks or in the bottom of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Done!

I have to be honest and say this recipe does take quite a bit of time, will dirty several dishes, and is slightly labor intensive. One way to simplify the dish is to skip making the sauce yourself and use a canned enchilada sauce. I do think it is worthwhile to take the time to make the sauce, but if you are in a bind, that is a possible time saver.

These are excellent reheated the next day as well!

Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats


For the enchilada sauce:

  • olive oil spray
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 tbsp chipotle chile in adobo sauce, more if you like it spicy (I used 1 tbsp of the sauce only)
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2/3 cup fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the zucchini boats:

  • 4 (about 32 oz total) medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 8 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp water or fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Topping:

  • 3/4 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar

1) For the enchilada sauce: In a small saucepan, spray oil and sautee garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until ready to use.

2) For the zucchini boats: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and using a small spoon (or melon baller if you have one), scoop out the flesh, leaving 1/4″ thick. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini and set aside.

3). In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add chopped zucchini and cilantro; season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, water, and tomato paste and cook a few minutes more. Add shredded chicken. Cook for 3 more minutes.

4). Place 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish. Place zucchini cut side up. Using a spoon, fill zucchini halves with 1/3 cup of chicken mixture, pressing firmly.

5). Top each boat with 2 tablespoons of enchilada sauce and 1 1/2 tbsp cheese.

6). Cover with foil and bake about 35 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Servings: 8 halves. Serving size: 1 zucchini boat half. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 116  Fat: 3.5g  Carbs: 11g  Fiber: 3g  Protein: 12g Sodium: 410 mg (without salt) Sugar: 4.5g

Recipe adapted from