20-Minute Beef & Zucchini Stir-Fry Your Kids Will Love

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grain free ground beef skillet
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » 20-Minute Beef & Zucchini Stir-Fry Your Kids Will Love

As a kid, I remember eating things like Hamburger Helper (or Tuna Helper *cringe*) on the regular. This MSG, hydrolyzed corn protein, and enriched wheat with folic acid infused one-pan meal was a staple of the 80s and my friends and I would bemoan its existence over equally processed school lunches (obviously, I had not been taught my own food rules to cure picky eating at that point!).

As the saying goes, “when you know better, you do better,” and I can honestly say I’ve never purchased a Hamburger Helper or any other variety. That said, I can understand the appeal!

A meal that comes together in 20 minutes and only needs one pound of meat?

Yes please!

A 20-Minute Real Food One-Pan Meal

Hamburger Helper certainly did have one thing right… the convenience!

In fact, I’m sure its low price and extremely simple preparation were some of the major reasons it gained so much popularity (the taste… not so much!).

With a few simple and equally inexpensive real-food ingredients, you can replace the pre-packaged one-pan meals with more nutritious options. Certainly, you could use organic, gluten-free noodles or shirataki noodles, in place of the regular noodles in these types of one-pan meals, but this recipe is perfect for using various types of vegetable noodles.

Turn Vegetables Into Noodles…

I often use our spiralizer to slice zucchini into thin noodles for this recipe (if you don’t have a spirazlier- get one! they do magic tricks in getting kids to love making and eating vegetables!)

Another benefit to this recipe is how easy and fast it is to prepare. My kids love that they can help prepare this recipe (and the older kids can now prepare this all on their own without my help!).

This simple stir-fry is a regular in our meal planning rotation and is also my go-to for busy nights when I don’t have anything else ready to cook.


Zucchini is our favorite vegetable in this recipe but you can use any vegetable you have on hand. Some that readers have used and loved: carrots, yellow squash, kohlrabi, or sweet potatoes.

You can also make mix it up with a variety of spices for completely different flavors. Some of our favorites are:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 teaspoon of chili powder. Top with salsa, sour cream, and cheese for a Tex-Mex flavor.
  • Add some Italian Seasoning and a can of diced tomatoes. Top with Parmesan for an Italian flair.
  • Use curry powder in place of the spices listed and add a little coconut milk for a deep and earthy flavor.
  • Try toasted sesame oil in place of the butter, add some extra garlic, and top with coconut aminos (similar to soy sauce) for an egg-roll like flavor.

Our favorite beef and zucchini stir-fry recipe…

grain free ground beef skillet

Beef and Zucchini Skillet Recipe

An easy stir-fry that has a texture similar to pasta that kids love! Use a spiralizer to make vegetables into fun noodles in this recipe.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Calories 266kcal
Author Katie Wells


4 -6



  • Thinly slice onions and use a spiralizer or peeler to make zucchini noodles. 
  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Melt butter in skillet.
  • Add the sliced onion and zucchini to the skillet and saute until they are starting to soften.
  • Remove vegetables from the skillet and place in a baking dish.
  • Turn oven on to broil and place the baking dish under the broiler for about 7-10 minutes until vegetables are desired crispness.
  • While cooking, brown the ground beef in the skillet and add the spices.
  • Add the onions and zucchini back to the skillet, mix, and serve.
  • Top with any desired toppings and enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
Beef and Zucchini Skillet Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 .5 cups)
Calories 266 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Sodium 554mg24%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Protein 14g28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Use leftovers in an egg scramble for breakfast!

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What is your favorite stir-fry recipe? Share below!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


54 responses to “20-Minute Beef & Zucchini Stir-Fry Your Kids Will Love”

  1. Lauri Avatar

    5 stars
    This was delicious, thank you! We just had it for dinner. I can’t believe I got my husband to eat that quantity of zucchini and like it. Excellent! I did the Italian spin minus the Parmesan. 🙂

  2. Myra Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama, can you please tell me how to unsubsribe to your site please. I cannot see a button to press for it.

    Many thanks Myra

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      If you’re referring to emails I send out, you can click the link to “unsubscribe” at the bottom of each email. That is the only subscription that I have set up on the site…

  3. Lisette Avatar

    This is seriously my favorite recipe from your site!! I could eat this daily!! Thank you so much!!!

  4. Katie Avatar

    4 stars
    My family enjoyed this tonight. Thank you! For thise who question about sogginess, that’s kinda just how squash is, I think. It didnt bother us, we served in bowls. Cook with the lid off your pan so water can evaporate.

  5. Jasmine Avatar

    5 stars
    This was so delicious and SO filling! I thought I would still be a little hungry before bed but I stayed full! So easy, budget friendly, and absolutely delicious. Thank you so much!!!

  6. irina vilgers Avatar
    irina vilgers

    How you calculate Nutrition? We did try to do that at Reading University UK – extremely expensive exercises. ….

  7. Sheila Mattingly Avatar
    Sheila Mattingly

    3 stars
    I love your blog, but 1/4 C butter just to sauté some onions and zucchini?!?! I’m on a low-fat diet for the rest of my life — can’t even splurge because of pancreatitis — so I would use coconut oil or I also use a high-grade olive oil that has a little smoky flavor.

  8. Angela Avatar

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious and very adaptable I made this just a little differently I broiled the zucchini then poured the browned ground beef and onion mixture over the zucchini in the baking pan along with some sliced tomatoes and pesto sauce and broiled again then topped with cheese and browned that. Soooo good and easy. Whole family loved this!

  9. Corinne Avatar

    What is 1/4 cup of butter in the recipe for? The first step to cook the onions and zucchini in the skillet?

  10. Christina Avatar

    4 stars
    Hi, Just made this… I used a broccoli stem along with 2 small squashes. To use the broccoli stem, it’s important to slice off the outer layer, until you don’t see any more stringy fiber (unless you want to choke), then just thin slice (I used a handheld mandolin).

    I cooked the onions first, then added the ground meat. I didn’t add the rest of the veggies until the end, just to wilt them. Unfortunately, one of my kids still complained about the squash. Oh well, can’t please them all.

  11. Jennifer Avatar

    Made this tonight and it was good! Do you do anything to get the water out of the zucchini before cooking it? I broiled the zucchini and onions for at least 15 mins and it was still a watery skillet when I added the beef. Nice flavor though so I’ll see if I can drain/squeeze the water out next time.

    1. sharon Avatar

      4 stars
      Same for men. I usually press between to kitchen towels to get out as much water as possible.

  12. Holly Avatar

    I made this, then sautéed some mushrooms and added 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (made a double batch). Poured it on top of the zuchinni and meat mix in a casserole dish, typed with cheese, then into the oven to melt. …yumm! My kids couldn’t get enough! Thanks for the inspiration!

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