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Sloppy Joes get a healthier gluten-free makeover with the help of zucchini

Skip the buns, and make sloppy Joes healthier, low carb and gluten free by stuffing fresh zucchini boats with the classic filling.

As a child (or even as an adult), I’m sure you’ve had one or two sloppy Joes in your day. They’re usually made of ground meat, onions and peppers simmered in a tomato-based sauce with spices and served on buns.

While I love the traditional recipe, I wanted to make these healthier and gluten free while keeping that same great taste we all love. By using zucchini instead of buns, you’re getting a serving of vegetables that even the kids won’t mind.

Sloppy Joe stuffed zucchini
Image: Brandi Bidot/SheKnows

Gluten-free sloppy Joe-stuffed zucchini recipe

Serves 4-6

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes


  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground beef
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small handful fresh parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons agave or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F, and spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Slice each zucchini in half, and carefully remove the insides, using a spoon to create a boat. Place all the zucchini halves in the casserole dish, and set aside.
  3. To a large pan over medium heat, add the beef, onions, peppers and chopped parsley (reserving the 2 tablespoons for garnish).
  4. Cook the mixture for 6 to 8 minutes or until the juices run clear and the ground beef is no longer pink.
  5. Drain any liquid from the pan, and return it to the heat. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, agave and seasonings, and simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Spoon the filling into each zucchini boat, and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the zucchini is tender.
  7. Remove from the oven, and garnish with the remaining parsley. Best served warm.
gluten-free friday
Image: SheKnows

More stuffed zucchini recipes

Quinoa-stuffed zucchini
Chicken Parmesan-stuffed zucchini boats
Zucchini stuffed with herbed orzo, almonds and tomatoes

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