November 11, 2020
From Plant-Based Recipes

This zucchini boat is festive for a holiday meal, and it can serve as a meal in and of itself if you wish. However for a holiday meal you can easily serve the zucchini boat with sides such as stuffing, candied yams, or your favorite vegetable side.

Holiday zucchini boat with cranberries and potato on a plate
This recipe contains a lot of actions and cooking numerous items, but it isn’t too difficult. And it might just impress your guests!

I first made this holiday zucchini boat for Canadian Thanksgiving, which happens in October. I wanted to use some really old frozen cranberries I found in the freezer, and had a zucchini from the farm down the street. This is what came of it! I know the ingredients list is long, but it’s not quite as bad as it looks (and it is, after all, a holiday dish). I will add some directions below the recipe for simplifying this recipe so it’s better for a weekday meal.

We have made this zucchini dish a few times now, testing it for this post. I plan on repeating it for Christmas too. I love the zucchini boat with cranberry sauce on the side, and my husband enjoys gravy on top. Either way works, and I have provided suitable recipes for either option (links in the ingredients list).

The crunchy topping can be adjusted or omitted depending on your preference. We used a simple crushed corn flake with a bit of the mashed potato flavoring, however you can make the meal fancier by adding some vegan parmesan into the mix too.

close up of the holiday zucchini boat with cranberry
Crispy crunchy top makes this zucchini boat special for a holiday meal.

Added bonus? All your fiber and half your protein and iron daily requirements are all covered by one serving of this zucchini boat.

Vegan Holiday Zucchini boat recipe with potato and cranberries (Oil free)

Holiday Zucchini Boat with Potatoes and Cranberry

This meal is great as your holiday main, featuring a zucchini boat stuffed with a lentil, rice, and cranberry mixture and topped with crispy mashed potatoes.

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Servings: 4 Servings

Calories: 509kcal

Author: Jen deHaan


  • 1 zucchini Medium-ish. Please see notes!


  • 2 Tbsp Chopped fine. Substitute other nut or seed as desired
  • 1 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
  • 1 cups Cooked (about 1 can), divided
  • 1 cups Green or brown
  • 3/4 cups Substitute any other rice
  • 1/2 cup white onions
  • 1/4 cup


  • 3 cloves Minced or blended with chickpeas
  • 1 tsp Dry or fresh
  • 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp Optional
  • 1/2 tsp


  • 3-4 lb potatoes Boiled. About 1.5kg

Potato flavoring – see notes

  • 1/2 cup Or substitute other plant-based milk
  • 1/4 cup
  • 4 cloves Minced, or blend with oat milk and nutritional yeast in blender
  • 1/2 tsp Optional

Potato Topping

  • 1.5 cups Crushed. See notes
  • 2 Tbsp potato flavoring (above) Substitute oat milk or aquafaba
  • Salt and pepper or red pepper flakes Optional. To taste

Optional garnishes

  • Click link for recipe
  • Click link for recipe


  • Cook wild rice, lentils, and chickpeas (or use canned/packaged if desired). These can be made anytime in advance and refrigerated.

  • Boil the potatoes while you prepare the zucchini.

  • Cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise (see photo). Scoop out the seeds to form a hollow center, and compost these seed-filled pieces.

  • Scoop out some additional flesh so there is a lager hollow center for the filling (see photo). Reserve the seedless zucchini pieces and add them to a large bowl.

Make the filling

  • Add 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas, and all of the lentils and rice to the large bowl.

  • Add the remaining chickpeas (1/2 cup) to food processor or blender, along with the garlic, all dry spices. Blend until lumpy or smooth. If you have any trouble blending, add a bit of the aquafaba from the can or cooking water to the food processor.

  • Fold together this blend with the rice and lentil blend in the large bowl.

  • Add this filling into the hollow center of your zucchini boats.

Make the mashed potatoes

  • When the potatoes are tender, drain and set aside.

  • Add all ingredients from the potato flavoring section (oat milk, nutritional yeast, minced garlic and salt) to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Alternatively you can blend these ingredients in a blender.

  • Rice or mash the potatoes, adding about 1/2 cup of the “potato flavoring” (previous step) to this and fold until combined.

  • Add these mashed potatoes on top of the rice filling on your zucchini boat.

Make and apply the crunchy topping

  • Crush the cornflakes in a bowl.

  • Add some of the blended potato flavoring and optional seasonings (pepper, salt) into the corn flake mixture and stir to combine.

  • Add these crunchy bits on top of the mashed potatoes.

Bake it and serve

  • Place the two boats on a baking sheet. Cover with parchment paper or tin foil to protect the crunchy topping.

  • Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes until zucchini is fork tender. Remove the parchment paper and continue cooking about another 10 minutes until crunchy topping is golden brown.

  • Cut each boat in half, and serve with cranberry sauce or gravy.


Zucchinis: Sizes vary greatly! If you have particularly large zucchinis, I recommend increasing the recipe for fillings and toppings. You might have some extra, but you can add it to a dish and bake like a casserole.
Potato flavoring: Makes 3/4 cup – used about 1/2 cup in potatoes, and reserved some to use for corn flake topping. Add remaining flavoring to potatoes or corn flake topping if consistency requires.
Lentils: These might end up fairly mushy, or not, depending on what type you choose and also how you decide to cook them. I’ve made them both ways, and both work for this recipe. It does affect the texture, but it doesn’t ruin the recipe either way.
Corn flakes: Check the ingredients so they are suitable for you. You might need to check for honey (not plant-based or vegan), or malt (not gluten free if this is required for you). There are many options still available, and if you can only find a sweetened version this will work just fine in the recipe!

Nutrition Facts

Holiday Zucchini Boat with Potatoes and Cranberry

Amount Per Serving

Calories 509
Calories from Fat 54

% Daily Value*

Fat 6g9%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Sodium 689mg30%

Potassium 1089mg31%

Carbohydrates 93g31%

Fiber 24g100%

Sugar 10g11%

Protein 25g50%

Vitamin A 381IU8%

Vitamin C 21mg25%

Calcium 129mg13%

Iron 10mg56%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Substitutions and other changes

See the section below on how to simplify this dish for a weekday night instead of a holiday. Here are some alternate substitutions.

  • SOS-free: The salt in this recipe is optional. Otherwise this recipe does not have any oil or added sugars.
  • Gluten free: This recipe is already gluten free, but you will need to ensure you find gluten free corn flakes if you add the crunchy topping.
  • Nut free: Substitute or omit the walnuts. Nutmeg is a seed, but you may need to check if you have any related seed allergies. Check any processed ingredients you may use, such as the plant-based milk or cereal for the topping.
  • Zucchini: The zucchini can be substituted with any other summer or winter squash. You may need to cook some squash a bit longer. Check the squash for tenderness and adjust accordingly.
  • Potatoes: You can try this recipe with sweet potato or yam mash on top, instead of potatoes. Either would go well with the filling and cranberry sauce. You may want to adjust the flavorings however, based on taste or favorite recipes. You could mash them with a bit of maple syrup and oat milk if you prefer a sweeter variation, for example.
  • Making it ahead: Make the filling and potatoes in advance, refrigerate, and assemble the day of your meal. Check that the filling is warm enough before serving. You might need to cook it a little bit longer. Another option is to warm the filling and/or potatoes a little bit in the microwave first, and then assemble and bake the zucchini boat.

Find a few more suggestions within the recipe itself.

Zucchini boat dressings

Serve the zucchini boat with cranberry sauce or gravy. Both of these additions are very easy to make. Here are the recipes for each:


vegan simple miso gravy recipe - spooning gravy from a bowl
This vegan recipe for simple miso gravy is quick to make on the big day. We provide alternatives to make this recipe SOS-free or gluten free.

Simplifying the holiday zucchini boat for a weekday night (workday zucchini boat?)

This is more of a holiday or weekend dish by design. I like this kind of meal for Christmas and Thanksgiving. But what about using it for a weekday meal? Here are some simplifications you can make so it’s a much quicker meal to make on a regular weekday.

  • Replace the lentils with more canned chickpeas, and mash about 3/4 of them. This saves you from cooking lentils in advance.
  • Replace either the walnuts or the raisins with more walnuts or raisins.
  • Simplify the spices. Replace nutmeg, rosemary and/or oregano with additional garlic, onion powder, sage and/or thyme.
  • Skip the potato flavorings. You can mash the potatoes plain, or just add a bit of plant-based milk and garlic powder.
  • Serve it “nude”. You don’t need to serve this with gravy or cranberry sauce – it can stand on its own without garnish.

Making it ahead? See the directions in the “Substitutions and other changes” section above.

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This vegan holiday zucchini boat features cranberries in the filling and a crunchy potato topping.
This vegan recipe for a holiday cranberry zucchini boat is oil free, gluten free, and low in sodium too. Find directions for making this recipe SOS-free and gluten free on the recipe page.

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Jen deHaan
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