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Learn how to cook zucchini, get some new recipes, and discover fun tips with this easy zucchini guide!
Why We Love Zucchini
Zucchini, also known as courgette, is one of my very favorite vegetables (well, fruit if you want to get technical) to cook with. It’s incredibly versatile and can be used in so many ways! It cooks up quickly so no matter how you prepare it, it can be enjoyed within minutes. Zucchini can be used on its own as a side dish or quick snack. When shredded and added to baked goods like breads and cakes, it adds moisture and nutrition. It is cheap to buy and easy to grow in a garden. It may not seem like the most exciting vegetable, but there are so many reasons to love it!
Zucchini is packed with all sorts of great nutrients and antioxidants. It is high in fiber and low in calories and sugars. According to WebMD, Zucchini is a great source of folate, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin A, which means it can aid in better eye health, energy levels, and may help protect against diabetes and cancer.
How to Prepare Zucchini for Cooking
To prepare zucchini for cooking, rinse in cold water and remove any debris. Pat dry if needed, then slice off the stem and the bottom tip of the zucchini. Now you can cut up the zucchini to fit your needs:
- Halves – Cut zucchini in long, lengthwise halves for grilling or to make roasted “zucchini boats”. If making a zucchini boat, scoop out the soft center and remove the seeds. Grill or roast until cooked through and add cheese, sauce, taco meat, or any other filling to the middle and enjoy.
- Spears – Zucchini spears are great for fried, roasted, or grilled zucchini. They make for a great snack and they are the perfect size for dipping.
- Round slices – Slicing zucchini cross-wise will make round discs perfect for sautéing and using in stir frys. You can also coat these slices in breadcrumbs to make fried zucchini rounds.
Slice Thick or Thin
If sliced thick, zucchini can be roasted with other vegetables or put on skewers for grilling. If sliced ultra thin using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, they can be used to make zucchini chips!
- Shreds – Shredding zucchini is great for adding to baked goods or to add as an ingredient in recipes such as casseroles or skillet dishes. See “My Favorite Zucchini Tip” below for some more details on this.
Zucchini Noodles (aka Zoodles)
Another very popular way of preparing zucchini is by using a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, or zoodles. Zucchini noodles can be used as a low-calorie, low-carb, gluten-free substitute for traditional pasta noodles. Simply sauté or boil the noodles until soft and add your favorite sauce over the top. Just as you would any pasta dish! You can also slice the noodles into long, flat slices to make zucchini lasagna noodles. Roast the zucchini slices with a sprinkle of salt until most of the moisture has been removed and layer in a lasagna in place of (or in addition to) lasagna noodles.
My Favorite Zucchini Tip
Shredded zucchini is my very favorite way to hide vegetables in my favorite dishes. Especially anything with ground beef. Shred up your zucchini and add it straight to any recipe using ground beef. This includes taco meat, meat pasta sauce, chili, meatballs, soup, stuffed peppers… the list goes on and on! Season it along with however you season your meat. It will cook down and take on the other flavors so your kids (or picky husbands) won’t even know it’s there!
How To Cook Zucchini (4 Easy Ways)
There are so many different ways to cook up zucchini. It can be roasted, steamed, sautéed, grilled, baked, fried, or even airfried. Here are our 4 favorite easy methods of cooking zucchini:
Roasted Zucchini (or Baked)
Cut in half, slice or cut into pieces. Brush with olive oil and season with salt. Bake at 400-degrees for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Throw some other veggies on there to make a delicious roasted vegetable medley.
Slice or cut into smaller pieces, or spiral into noodles, and sauté in butter over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Season with salt or seasoning (see ideas below). You can also add garlic, red peppers, onion, or any other veggie or protein to make a stir fry.
Cut into halves, or thick slices or wedges. Brush with vegetable oil and grill for 5 minutes per side or until tender. Season with salt with each turn.
Air Fryer Zucchini
Brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray and season with your favorite seasonings. You can also lightly bread or sprinkle with breadcrumbs and/or parmesan cheese. Air fry at 375-degrees for 8-9 minutes, flipping half-way through. Season more after flipping if needed.
Bonus: Zucchini Chips
You can also make zucchini chips by slicing very thin and air frying at 250 degrees for 8 minutes, toss, then air fry another 2-3 minutes until lightly crispy. The air fryer may blow the chips around and that’s ok. Just stir around every few minutes to redistribute if needed. These zucchini chips are great dipped in sauce or as a topping on pasta (my favorite)!
Add Some Toppings
I love topping my cooked zucchini with fun toppings and seasonings to add some variety. Zucchini is also easy to coat in breading before cooking to give it a little crunch. Sometimes you just want to bring out the natural flavors, and that works too. Zucchini can just be seasoned with salt and pepper! But sometimes it’s fun to try something new. Here are some of my favorite ways to switch things up:
- Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs – You can add the breadcrumbs after cooking or if you are baking, roasting, frying, or air-frying your zucchini you can coat in breadcrumbs beforehand. Just dip in melted butter or egg, then roll in a breadcrumb mixture. Add a little oil or cooking spray over the top to help the breadcrumbs stay put if air-frying.
- Flaked or Grated Parmesan Cheese – This is such a quick and easy way to add some extra flavor. Simply sprinkle on a generous amount of parmesan cheese before serving.
- Grill Seasoning – my favorite grill seasoning to put on zucchini is Kinder’s “the Blend”. I found this at Costco and I find myself putting it on all the things. It gives the zucchini a nice boost of flavor. If you want to go all-out, add this seasoning, THEN sprinkle with breadcrumbs AND parmesan cheese. I’m telling you, it’s heavenly.
More Savory Zucchini Recipes
Zucchini Bread Recipes
More Squash Varieties
If you love zucchini and squash as much as we do, be sure to check out our post on How to Cook Squash: An Easy Guide to Common Varieties and our post on How to Cook Spaghetti Squash. We even have a post dedicated entirely on How to Cook Yellow Squash where you can get recipes, tips, and more!
According to the USDA, zucchini has 3.1 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of dietary fiber per 100g serving.
Zucchini is a type of summer squash but not all summer squash are zucchini. Yellow squash is another type of summer squash commonly consumed.
No. They are both varieties of summer squash but they are not the same thing. They are two different varieties of squash.
How To Cook Zucchini (4 Easy Ways + Recipes + Tips)
- 4 zucchini (medium-sized)
- 3 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
- Kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Additional Toppings (optional, see ideas above)
- Wash and dry zucchini and cut off stem and bottom tip. Slice according to the cooking method you would like to do.
To Roast (or Bake):
- Brush with olive oil and season with salt or grill seasonings. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and/or parmesan cheese if desired.
- Bake at 400-degrees for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add zucchini slices. Sauté for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut zucchini into halves. Brush with butter or oil grill for 5-7 minutes per side or until tender. Season with salt with each turn.
To Air Fry:
- Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roll in breadcrumbs if desired. Spray with cooking spray to help keep breadcrumbs on. Air fry at 375-degrees for 8 minutes. Season more after flipping if needed.
Bonus: Zucchini Chips
- Slice zucchini very thin.
- Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray and air fry at 250 degrees F for 8 minutes, toss, then air fry another 2-3 minutes until lightly crispy.
- The air fryer may blow the chips around and that's ok. Just stir around every few minutes to redistribute if needed.
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