As I’ve mentioned, giving up pasta wasn’t too tough on me when switching to a Ketogenic lifestyle…it was giving up all the stuff that GOES with pasta: sauces, cheese, spices, meatballs… I’ve tried a few “keto” pasta alternatives and they just didn’t do it for me. What has been my favorite substitute is simple: zucchini or sometimes eggplant, depending on the recipe.

I make this Cheesy Zucchini Manicotti weekly – my kids love it and the zucchini mimics pasta so well, the flavors of the sauce, meat and spices come through perfectly. It’s hearty, super delicious and meets the macros – win, win, win!

Cheesy Zucchini Manicotti

You'll never remember that the zucchini is in this recipe to replace pasta -- the flavors come through and all the cheesy goodness takes center stage!
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 416


  • 4 whole zucchini squash, sliced lengthwise about 1/8" - 1/4" in thickness I prefer to use a mandoline for even slices
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups no sugar added marinara sauce I like Rao's
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 - 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter


  • Preheat over to 350 degrees. 
  • Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish with oil and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil and butter in skillet over medium heat and add minced garlic. When garlic is soft, add ground beef, pepper, salt, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 of oregano and 1/2 of parsley, and crushed red pepper flakes, if using.
  • Brown beef until cooked through and add marinara sauce. Lower to simmer, cover and let simmer while you prepare the zucchini and filling. 
  • In a medium bowl, combine egg, ricotta and parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and remaining spices and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • Coat the bottom of the prepared dish with 1/2 cup of meatsauce.
  • Place about 1 tbsp of cheese mixture at the end of a zucchini "sheet" and roll loosely. Place seam side down in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining zucchini sheets and cheese. Arrange zucchini rolls close together, but not too tightly. 
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella over rolls evenly.
  • Pour remaining sauce over rolls and shredded cheese. 
  • Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. 
  • Place dish in preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes. 
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Hi! I created Ketology after struggling for years with hormonal changes and weight gain. As I got older, I found managing my weight and moods became more and more of a struggle. Within 3 months of switching to a ketogenic lifestyle tailored for my age, I not only shed 30 pounds of stubborn fat, but my mood improved, my focus sharpened and I have had nothing but positive effects! Learn more about my journey here. ?


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