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This Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini is best for nights when you’re craving Italian, but you’re also wanting to keep things healthy..ish and summery. Summer zucchini is sliced into ribbons and rolled up with a basil pesto and ricotta cheese mixture. Then baked in a spicy, herby, tomato sauce that’s creamy and so delicious! This is a great way to use summer produce. It’s also easy enough to serve any night of the week…or for your next Saturday night dinner party.

Overhead photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini with spoon in skillet

I’ve always enjoyed zucchini, but I know it can also get a bit boring at times too. Especially during these August days when you have so much on hand. Sometimes you just can’t eat any more raw zucchini salads or zucchini off the grill. I get it, it can get old. But the fun thing about zucchini is that you can really do so much with it. You just have to get a little creative.

Enter this zucchini Involtini. It’s basically cheesy zucchini baked in tomato sauce, and it is DELICIOUS. I’ve decided the easiest way to take zucchini from boring to insanely good is to just add cheese and pesto. Probably the case with most vegetables, right? Cheese especially can be a game-changer.

Anyway, the real inspiration for this recipe starts with the mass amounts of basil I have in the garden (greenhouse). The herb garden is inspiring a lot of recipes this month (like tomorrow’s recipe). It’s overflowing with fresh herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. I’m loving having all of my favorite herbs at my fingertips. I just have to use them up. It’s actually kind of nice having SO many herbs. It really forces me to test out new ways to use them and put my “thinking cap” on.

Kind of fun!

overhead photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini before baking

Traditionally, Involtini is an Italian dish made using sliced and grilled eggplant. I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant, so I’ve always steered clear of making Involtini. I was brainstorming recipes when I thought about swapping the eggplant with zucchini.

Done and done.

I got to work testing out this recipe. I knew after the very first round of testing that this was going to be a recipe worth sharing.

This zucchini Involtini is SO GOOD.

overhead photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini after baking in skillet

overhead photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini with spoon remove zucchini from baking dish

Here are the details.

This recipe requires a little prep work, but it’s all easy and pretty fun too.

First, make the tomato sauce. I kept this very simple, using canned tomatoes, fresh oregano, and thyme. I did add a special ingredient, spicy Italian chicken sausage.

Of course, if you’re vegetarian or just going for a meatless Monday theme, you can easily omit the sausage from the sauce. I’d recommend adding some fresh garlic and a touch more crushed red pepper flakes. This will keep the sauce flavorful and on the spicy side.

With or without the sausage it’s going to be great, so do what works for you!

overhead close up photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini with spoon in baking dish

While the sauce is simmering away, get to work on the zucchini.

Start out by slicing the zucchini into thin ribbons. I find this easiest to do with a mandoline, but you can use a knife as well. You’ll want to lay the zucchini flat, sprinkle it with salt, and let it sit a few minutes. Doing this will draw out any excess water and make the zucchini ribbons pliable for rolling.

Then just mix fresh ricotta cheese with some fontina and basil pesto. Add the cheese to the zucchini, tuck, and roll! It looks all fancy, but it’s actually the easiest to do.

At this point, place the zucchini rolls into the tomato sauce, top with mozzarella, and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce all bubbly…

overhead photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini on serving plates

Your kitchen will smell incredible…like an Italian grandma’s kitchen, so perfect.

If I could best describe this dish, it’s kind of like stuffed pasta shells, but minus the pasta. Maybe not the best description, but trust me, this zucchini is truly mouth-watering.

You guys know me, I’m usually all about the pasta. But this cheesy zucchini is surprisingly filling and layered with great flavor and texture! This is a new summer dinner favorite for sure. But then you really can’t go wrong with zucchini filled with cheese and pesto in a flavorful tomato sauce. It’s perfection.

If you have fresh zucchini, this is what you should be making…well, either this or my chocolate chunk zucchini bread. Actually, you should just make both. Hey, it’s August, zucchini every day, all day!

side angled photo of Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini on a plate with fork in a zucchini to reveal the cheese inside

If you make this Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Watch The How To Video:

Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 892 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.



  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish or dish of similar size.
    2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken sausage and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
    3. Meanwhile, using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide strips and lay them flat on a paper towel lined counter. You should have around 30 strips. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt. 
    4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto. 
    5. To assemble, spoon 3/4 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Grab 2 zucchini ribbons and lay them side by side lengthwise. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of the zucchini. Roll into a coil and place each seam-side down in the dish as you go. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over top of the zucchini and then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup pesto evenly over everything. Add the mozzarella.
    6. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh basil and thyme. Enjoy!


Vegetarian Option: If you'd like to make this vegetarian, no problem, just omit the chicken sausage and use a little more crushed red pepper flakes for heat, if you'd like.
To Make Ahead: Do everything up until the final baking. Cool, and store in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Bake as directed. If there is any excess water on the surface of the sauce, drain this off or blot with a paper towel before baking.
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  1. Hey Teigan!
    Thanks so much for your recipes — our family loves them!
    Do you have any ideas for replacing the San Marzano tomatoes (which I assume are Roma-type tomatoes) with my garden tomatoes (which are heirlooms).
    Maybe just drain well? We love to use tomatoes & zucchini from our garden all summer long.
    have a great week 🙂

    1. Hi! Yes, I would just make sure you drain well! Sounds like you have some awesome veggies from your garden! xT

  2. There is no way a serving is 892 calories. I’m baffled as to how that would be possible when zucchini is the delivery method.

    1. Hi Carla,
      I always recommend that if the nutritional information is important to you, you use your own personal calculator. Ours is automatic and controlled by google. It’s not something we’d prefer to be using. We are required to. I’m sorry for the trouble, we do our best! Hope you enjoy the recipe! xT

    1. Hey Ashley,
      Happy Friday!!⛄️❄️ I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xT

  3. 5 stars
    We make this all the time, and it is a staple in our household. It’s so yummy and perfect for extra zucchini in the garden. We swap for beyond sausage, and it works perfectly! Thanks HBH!

    1. Hey Courtney,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe is always a hit, thanks so much for making it so often and sharing your review:)

  4. This turned out perfectly for me. My husband is skeptical, but ended up really enjoying it. We like things spicy in this house so I added extra red pepper plus some Fresno Chilies in the sauce as well.

    Has anyone tried freezing this? Wondering how it would turn out.

    1. Hey Chrislyn,
      Happy Tuesday!! Thanks a lot for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, I love to hear that it turned out tasty for you! This should be just fine for you to freeze! xT

  5. 5 stars
    I made this last night for dinner and it was great! I did a couple things different, one I did cut the zucchini thinner then the recipe called for and I also cut them and salted them first before prepping anything else so they had time to sweat. which made them very pliable for rolling. Then I also didn’t make it spicy as this was for my family and my kids don’t like much spice. But this was delicious and it was easy to make the couple changes that I needed for my family. Definitely a recipe that I will be saving

    1. Hey Dan,
      Happy Friday!👻 Thanks a bunch for giving this recipe a try and sharing your review! I love to hear that it was enjoyed! xT