Simple Smoked Brisket Boats

How a summer garden monster
inspired a new BBQ favorite

When nature presents you with a monster-sized veggie, you must throw it on the grill. When we pushed back the leaves in our garden and discovered this giant zucchini, we were astounded! It stood taller than a wine bottle and weighed in at a whopping four pounds. You cannot simply cube and sauté a beauty like that, it deserves special treatment. Luckily, we had just the idea – Smoked Brisket Zucchini “Boats”. Or Aircraft Carrier is more appropriate.

MOAZ: The Mother of All Zucchini

We found this recipe to be remarkably simple and a great all-in-one meal. You don’t really need a side dish, however, an easy salad or corn on the cob would go well. Although we used brisket in this dish, ground beef or shredded chicken would be delicious as well.

Creating the “Boat”

A couple of tips for a successful zucchini boat; first, make sure to core out enough of the inside. You only want about a 1/2 inch or less of thickness. That will add up to plenty of veggie for one meal; ours were thicker and there was a bit too much veggie to meat ratio due to the size. Your cook time will vary depending on the size of the vegetable, so you’ll want to watch closely so your zucchini doesn’t get too soft.

The Cook

We did this in a two-part cook; we pre-smoked the zucchini and warmed our meat mix separately. After we filled the boats, we put the zucchini back on the Traeger to combine flavors and melt the cheese. Zucchini has a neutral flavor profile, so this dish needs more spice than you think. Don’t be stingy with the seasoning. A salty spice or seasoning rub will go particularly well.


  • Zucchini – large zucchini will work best in this recipe

  • Your favorite rub or seasoning

  • 1-2 cups chopped cooked brisket or meat of your choice

  • 1/2 cup Shredded cheese – we used Mexican blend

  • 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil


  • Set your Traeger to 350deg Fahrenheit. Alternately set up your grill for indirect cooking. The recipe works well on the Big Green Egg as well.
  • While your fire is coming to temp, wash your zucchini and slice in half lengthwise. Core the inside leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of wall.
  • Coat the inside and outside of the zucchini with a light layer of olive oil.
  • Season the inside of the zucchini boat – you want a solid coat of seasoning.
  • Put the zucchini directly on the grate for about 10 minutes. Your time will vary depending on the size of your vegetable.
  • While the zucchini is smoking, prepare your filling. We warmed our pre-cooked brisket in the skillet with a little oil and season to taste.
  • Remove the boats from the Traeger or grill, add meat filling and top with cheese.
  • Return to Traeger or grill for about 3-4 minutes to let the cheese melt. The zucchini should be soft but not mushy, you don’t want it falling apart. Remove and enjoy!

The Final Family Verdict

Yes! We took our giant zucchini and turned it into a delicious summer meal that was a hit with the whole family! What, you don’t have a 4lb zucchini? One-half of a regular zucchini per person served with a side should be plenty.

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