The Ultimate Guide to Zucchini
This is the ultimate resource for zucchini — how to store it, how to make it, and how to pick a good one at the grocery store, plus 60+ recipe ideas using zucchini. Eat more veggies using these ideas!
Zucchini may not be the trendy vegetable that you see on most restaurant menus, but it is hands down the most versatile vegetable that home cooks can use in the kitchen.
There are SO many ways to cook with it, and it’s one of the best vegetables that you can sneak into desserts too. You just have to understand some of the challenges in working with it and know how to use it best, which is covered below.
Zucchini is one of the most readily available vegetables, and odds are that you’ve eaten your fair share. But in this post I hope to give you some new ideas for ways to make zucchini and bring some new recipes into your regular rotation!
I have curated 60+ recipes using zucchini in various ways, so don’t forget to share or bookmark this so you can refer back to it anytime you need new zucchini ideas.
What are the biggest challenges when making zucchini?
1. Zucchini is a very watery vegetable.
Zucchini has a very high water content, but there are ways to either use this in your favor, or get around it.
Zucchini’s moisture is fantastic when adding it to cakes or muffins, and other times it’s not a good thing, like when making zucchini fritters. However, you can squeeze shredded zucchini with a towel and remove most of the moisture when you need to.
I’ll talk more below about how to make zucchini’s moisture work for you in your recipes.
2. Some say zucchini is flavorless.
It’s true that zucchini has a mild flavor, but it can be appreciated and accentuated when prepared in different ways.
For instance, raw zucchini has a slightly sweet and pleasant flavor. A well-browned zucchini that’s cooked with high heat gets a more intensely sweet and caramelized flavor.
I think of zucchini like tofu, in that it absorbs and takes to other flavors very well. It all comes down to how you prepare it.
As a rule of thumb, smaller zucchini will be more flavorful than bigger ones.
3. Zucchini can easily be overcooked and get mushy.
Some ingredients, like mushrooms, can be cooked for extensive periods of time and be totally fine.
Not true for zucchini.
Zucchini has a structure to it where the vegetable really breaks down quickly as you cook it.
As long as you take care not to overcook it, zucchini will still maintain a nice texture.
How to pick zucchini at the grocery store
First, look for zucchini that are very firm to the touch. Softness is a sign that the zucchini is starting to go bad.
Next, pick zucchinis with as little dings and dents as possible.
Finally, examine the stem, and make sure it looks moist and unshriveled. This indicates that the zucchini is fresh.
How to store zucchini
Store zucchini unwashed in the crisper or vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. Do not store zucchini in plastic bags, as I’ve found this makes zucchini rot very quickly. If you want to store the zucchini in a bag, use paper.
Zucchini will typically only keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before it starts to go bad.
Can you freeze zucchini?
Yes you can, but I don’t like to. The texture is just not the same, and zucchini is available year round, so I buy what I need.
If you grow zucchini in your garden and have an abundance of zucchini that you need to use up, it’s better to bake it into loaves of zucchini bread, muffins, or other baked goods, then freeze those to enjoy in the future.
If you really want to freeze zucchini for stews or soups, here is a post on how to freeze zucchini from The Kitchn, which involves blanching before freezing to improve texture.
How to cook zucchini
Zucchini can be cooked with nearly every cooking method, but my favorite ways are to bake, fry, saute, stew, grill, or shred into baked goods, and all of the recipes below use those methods.
While you can technically steam or boil zucchini, I find the results to be pretty dreadful. Zucchini is already a watery vegetable, and those methods accentuate those properties and can result in mushy and bland food.
A few fun facts about zucchini:
- Zucchini is technically a fruit! At the top where the stem is cut, this is where zucchini blossoms grow, which are prepared differently. My favorite way is stuffed with cheese and tempura fried.
- British people call zucchini “courgettes.”
- The longest zucchini ever recorded is 8 feet, 3.3 inches (Guinness book of world records)
Zucchini Fritter Recipes:
Zucchini fritters are my absolute favorite way to eat zucchini, and it’s no wonder since zucchini takes well to crispy textures. The secret to any good zucchini fritter recipe is to make sure the zucchini is squeezed of excess moisture. Shred the zucchini in a food processor or with a grater, then wrap it tightly in a tea towel and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. I’m always amazed by how much liquid I squeeze out.
- Zucchini Fritters by Fifteen Spatulas
- Zucchini Chickpea Fritters with Red Onion Marmalade by Fifteen Spatulas
- Crispy Zucchini Cakes with Yogurt Dill Sauce by Fifteen spatulas
- Zucchini-Corn Fritters by Brown Eyed Baker
- Zucchini and Fennel Fritters by The Paleo Way
Spiralized Zucchini Noodle Recipes:
With the spiralizer craze that happened a few years ago, this is undoubtedly one of the most popular ways to eat zucchini. I don’t think of zucchini noodles, or “zoodles,” as a substitute for pasta noodles, but rather a fun texture to enjoy zucchini in a different way. You can enjoy raw zoodles, al dente zoodles, or softer zoodles. There are many different types of spiralizers on the market, but this is the one I use and love.
- Zucchini Noodles Aglio e Olio by Fifteen Spatulas
- Healthy Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles by Well Plated
- Cajun Shrimp Zoodles by Grandbaby Cakes
- Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Zoodles by Oh Sweet Basil
- Zoodles with Artichoke Lemon Pesto by Barbara Bakes
- Skinnytaste Zoodles with Shrimp and Feta by Aggie’s Kitchen
- Creamy Avocado and Bacon Zoodles by All Day I Dream About Food
Zucchini Ribbon Recipes:
Zucchini can also be cut into wide and flat noodles, or zucchini ribbons, and used in a variety of ways. To cut them, use a mandoline or a vegetable peeler. You can grill them and roll them up with various fillings, you can substitute them for lasagna noodles in various pasta dishes, and you can also cut them thinly into ribbons for a fresh salad.
- Zucchini Noodle White Chicken Lasagna by Fifteen Spatulas
- Grilled Artichoke Pesto Zucchini Bites by Fifteen Spatulas
- Zucchini Ribbon Mediterranean Salad by Boulder Locavore
- 10 Minute Veggie Ribbon Salad by The Wanderlust Kitchen
Stuffed Zucchini Boats Recipes:
Zucchini boats are a fantastic recipe for dinner, and you can get your veggies and protein all in one bite. They’re incredibly easy to prepare and serve, and you can have fun with all sorts of different fillings. My default fillings for zucchini boats always involve some sort of crumbled meat, cheese, and herbs.
- Italian Sausage Stuffed Zucchini by Fifteen Spatulas
- Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Quinoa and Pine Nuts by A Spicy Perspective
- Enchilada Zucchini Boats by Two Peas & Their Pod
- Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Zucchini Boats by Sugar Free Mom
- Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats by The Food Charlatan
- Turkey Stuffed Zucchini Boats by It’s Yummi
Zucchini Appetizer Recipes:
Some of my favorite appetizers involve zucchini, and since appetizers so often involve cheese and butter, it’s nice to add some veggies to the mix.
- Zucchini Spinach Feta Phyllo Bites by Fifteen Spatulas
- Mini Zucchini Pizza Bites by Sugar Free Mom
- Zucchini Pizza Slices by Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Baked Zucchini Hummus Bites by Cookin Canuck
Zucchini Salad Recipes:
Even though zucchini may not be an obvious ingredient to include in salad, it’s one of my favorites. When I have guests over, I’ll often make them a salad with julienned zucchini in it just so I can see how surprised they are. It’s delicious! Here are some great ideas for including zucchini into your day in salad form.
- Greek Zucchini Salad by Fifteen Spatulas
- Shredded Zucchini Arugula Salad by Fifteen Spatulas
- Zucchini and Corn Salad by Foodie Crush
- Raw Corn and Zucchini Salad by Barefeet in the Kitchen
- Zoodles Greek Salad by Cupcakes and Kale Chips
- Zucchini Noodle Mason Jar Salad by Rachel Cooks
- Thai Zucchini Noodle and Quinoa Salad by Foodie Crush
Zucchini Fries and Zucchini Chips Recipes:
If you’re in the snacking mood and want to eat something a little healthier, zucchini fries and zucchini chips are a great alternative. Zucchini chips can even be crunchy when baked, if you slice them thinly enough.
- Salt and Vinegar Zucchini Chips by Sugar Free Mom
- Crispy Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries by Foodie with Family
- Easy Fried Zucchini Chips by Copykat
- Baked Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Chips by Diethood
- Panko Parmesan Zucchini Fries by Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen
- Beer Battered Zucchini Fries by Brown Eyed Baker
- Shoestring Zucchini Fries by A Beautiful Plate
Dinner Zucchini Recipes:
There are many dinner staples where you can add some extra nutrition by throwing in some zucchini. Dice it and throw into stews, slice half moons and add them to your stir fry, or shred into cheesy fillings.
- Shortcut Ratatouille by Fifteen Spatulas
- Quick Chicken Stir Fry by Fifteen Spatulas
- Chicken Rollatini stuffed with Zucchini and Mozzarella by Skinnytaste
- Mexican Beef and Zucchini Skillet by Low Carb Yum
Zucchini Bread and Muffin Recipes:
Zucchini’s high water content really works in your favor when it comes to baked goods, and adds moisture and nutrition to muffins and quick bread. Banana bread, chocolate bread, pumpkin bread, and more are all benefitted by some shredded zucchini in the mix!
- Chocolate Zucchini Bread by Two Peas & Their Pod
- Pumpkin Zucchini Bread by Spend with Pennies
- Carrot Apple Zucchini Bread by Mom on Timeout
- Cinnamon Sugar Zucchini Banana Bread by Crazy for Crust
- Healthy Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread by Chelsea’s Messy Apron
- Classic Zucchini Bread by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Healthy Zucchini Muffins with Chocolate Chips by Well Plated
- Greek Yogurt Zucchini Muffins by Chelsea’s Messy Apron
- Gluten-free Zucchini Spice Bread from My Gluten-Free Kitchen
Zucchini Dessert Recipes:
Although you may not think that zucchini and dessert go hand in hand, zucchini has a sweetness that can pair well with different types of brownies and cakes, while adding moisture and nutrition too. They can also be mixed into cookies and bars!
- No Butter, No Sugar Magical Chocolate Cake by Fifteen Spatulas
- Lemon Zucchini Cake by Mom on Timeout
- Ultimate Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake by Inside BruCrew Life
- Pumpkin Zucchini Cake by A Dash of Sanity
- Zucchini Cobbler Bars by Taste & Tell
- Blueberry Zucchini Snack Cake with Lemon Buttercream by The View from Great Island
- Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies by Bless This Mess
- Zucchini Brownies by Texanerin
- Zucchini Pie Bars by Crazy for Crust
- Chocolate Zucchini Brownies by Shugary Sweets
I hope you got some new zucchini tips and ideas from this guide and have some fun cooking planned soon.
If you enjoyed this guide, share or bookmark it to come back to later.
What’s your favorite way to make zucchini? Reply in the comments below.