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My favorite nosh or nibble are little protein bites like these chicken zucchini poppers.  They make an easy snack and are good both hot or cold. In fact, I made a batch of these for a road trip from the Bay Area down to Tucson, Arizona. I didn’t want to make any stops for food and having a nice protein to snack on really helped keep me going. Prepping something like this ahead of time will curb the last-minute search for something when you get hungry and you may tend to choose something less nutritious.

Healthy Protein and Veggie Snack

I really like this recipe because it combines veggies and protein. You can get creative with other ingredients like smoked paprika or minced jalapeno, hot sauce, or other grated veggies. I frequently add roasted green chilies to this recipe, those little chopped green chilies that come in a small can at the store. I am busy writing up that version for you too, which I will share when it is done.

chicken zucchini poppers on a plate

You can take a basic recipe like this and make it your own. Just remember to print out the recipe and make notes of what you changed. You can use ground chicken or turkey with this and if you are like me, eat them cold from the fridge any time of the day.

Zucchini Prep

Don’t be tempted to skip drying out your zucchini a bit with a paper/kitchen towel. Zucchini has a lot of moisture, and if you don’t squeeze it out beforehand, your meatballs may stick more to the pan if you’re pan-frying and have a bit more trouble holding together during baking.  Grate the zucchini and then place on a couple of layers of paper towels. Gently squeeze over a sink until most of the liquid comes out.

grated zucchini on paper towels ready to be squeezed

Do these poppers freeze well?

Yes!  Let them cool completely in the fridge first to make sure no heat remains, then place in a ziploc bag, press out all the air, seal, and throw in the freezer.

These Chicken Zucchini Poppers are gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, great for Whole30 and the Wahls Protocol. Serve them with some guacamole, salsa, or a Paleo ranch dressing. You could even put them on slider buns with a chipotle aioli for a fun mini-food lunch.

chicken zucchini poppers stuffed with veggies

Want More Snack Recipes?

I put together my first cookbook of all the Gluten Free Snacks my cooking clients have loved over the years. This chicken and zucchini popper is in the book along with 14 other tasty recipes to spice up your day. All of the recipes are gluten free, dairy free, and loosely Paleo based, and ALL kid tested and approved. Get recipes for: Shrimp Tofu Cakes, Coconut Cashew Cookies, Ginger Soy Meatballs, Salmon Cakes, Frittata Muffins, Chicken Lettuce Cups and more! Check out the Gluten Free Snacks Cookbook here.

cover of gluten free snacks cookbook by The Holistic Chef

For more tasty recipes here on my blog check out:

Liver and Mushroom Pate – make liver taste better with lots of sauteed onions and mushrooms

Macadamia Coconut Bark – a dairy free creation to satisfy your sweet tooth that tastes like white chocolate

Zucchini Bread – another great recipe using zucchini, make this as a large loaf or mini loaves to have as a snack, perfect with mini chocolate chips to enhance this late summer favorite!


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overhead picture of a plate of chicken zucchini poppers

Chicken Zucchini Poppers

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  • Author: Andrea Sprague
  • Yield: 24 patties 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Tender little patties full of protein and veggies! So good your kids won’t mind the added vegetables. They make a great snack, easy breakfast, or slider burgers for an appetizer party.



2 cups grated zucchini, about 2 medium
1 pound ground chicken or turkey thigh
¼ pound ground pork
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
Fresh ground pepper
Coconut Oil or Bacon Fat

Optional: ½ cup chopped cooked greens like swiss chard or spinach, squeezed of any excess water


  1. Place grated zucchini on top of 2 layers of paper towels, or a clean tea towel. Gently gather up the end of the towel and squeeze the zucchini over the sink, to get out as much water as possible, without breaking the paper towels.
  2. Put squeezed zucchini into a large bowl and discard towel.
  3. Add the chicken, pork, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley and pepper (and optional greens) to the bowl and mix well. Mixture will be a little wet.
  4. Tear off 2 pieces of parchment paper. Place one on the counter (to stage the raw patties) and place one on a baking sheet.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Scoop mixture with a large spoon and gently smooth into a patty shape with your hands. Place patties on the parchment paper on the counter. The mixture will be wet, so your hands are going to get a little messy here. It’s best to form all the patties at once instead of doing them in batches.
  7. Heat large frying pan over medium-low heat. Once your pan is hot, add in a little oil or bacon fat, place the patties about 4 to 5 at a time into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on the first side.
  8. Flip and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on the baking sheet and repeat until all patties have been cooked.
  9. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12 minutes to finish cooking the insides and soften the zucchini.
  10. Store in an air tight container in the fridge. Will last for 5 days.


  • For zucchini, grate on the smallest size holes of your grater. This should be about 2 medium zucchinis. Leave the peel on and squeeze out some of the liquid with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  • NOTE: Don’t be tempted to skip drying out your zucchini a bit with a paper/kitchen towel. Zucchini has a lot of moisture, and if you don’t squeeze it out beforehand, your meatballs may stick more to the pan if you’re pan-frying and have a bit more trouble holding together during baking.
  • Alterations: add some chopped basil, minced shallots, or minced garlic

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