37 Healthy Ways to Cook Zucchini
Healthy Zucchini Recipes
From crispy baked zucchini chips to stuffed zucchini boats, there are so many healthy ways to cook zucchini. Peak season for zucchini is June through late August, but they’re available year-round at most grocery stores. So, whether you’re wondering what to do with an abundance of summer zucchini, or you’re simply looking to eat healthier, you’re sure to find the perfect zucchini recipe here.
Spicy Zucchini Salad
This late-summer salad uses zucchini ribbons, which you can make with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler. Buttery Bibb lettuce adds adds flavor, but you can also substitute chopped romaine or a spinach-arugula mix. Fiber- and protein-packed chickpeas bulk up the salad while roasted pepitas add crunch.
Seared Salmon With Zucchini Noodles
If you like crisp salmon skin, this cooking method is for you. Just be sure when you place the salmon, skin side down in the pan that you don’t touch it for the full 6 minutes while it cooks—that’s the key for the crispiest browned skin around. After turning the fish, cook it to your preferred degree of doneness. The barely warmed vegetables are still crunchy and flavorful. Serve with lemon wedges, if you like.
Crispy, salty zucchini fritters make for an excellent appetizer or side dish. Best served fresh out of the pan, this recipe is a great way to use up a bumper crop of fresh summer zucchini.
Zucchini Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Zucchini noodles (a.k.a. “zoodles”) are the the perfect gluten-free alternative to traditional pasta. Find pre-cut zucchini noodles or spirals in the produce section of your local grocery store—or make your own at home with a spiralizer, a julienne peeler, or the julienne blade on a mandoline. This stunning summer salad packs plenty of crunch thanks to zucchini noodles, matchstick carrots, bean sprouts, and chopped peanuts. We top it with a creamy peanut butter sauce that packs a touch of heat from Sriracha sauce.
Elote-Style Zucchini Noodles
Mild in flavor and tender just like pasta, zucchini noodles pair well with virtually any sauce or ingredient mix-ins. Here, we’ve spun zoodles into a flavor-packed zucchini pasta salad inspired by elote, or grilled corn that’s a staple of Mexican street food. You’ll find all the traditional elote ingredients—corn, fresh cilantro, queso fresco cheese, and fresh lime juice—mixed in with zucchini noodles.
For a complete meal, pair these zucchini noodles with our Coriander-Crusted Flank Steak with Cuban Black Beans recipe.
Sautéed Baby Zucchini with Pecans and Mint
Sautéed zucchini gets a sprinkle of turmeric (pair it with black pepper for maximum health perks) for an extra nutrition boost, but you can keep this dish kid-friendly by omitting it. A simple saute of zucchini with butter and salt is just as tasty. The mint will turn brown quickly; for the prettiest presentation, stir it in just before serving.
This healthy zucchini bread recipe uses 100% whole-wheat flour to add protein and fiber to this nutty-flavored, super-moist quick bread. We call for brown sugar, but you can also substitute coconut sugar, which has about half the glycemic index of white sugar. To make this zucchini bread kid-friendly, you can add chocolate chips to the batter. Enjoy a slice for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack.
Broiled Zucchini and Radishes
This broiled zucchini side dish stars baby zucchini, a pint-sized, more tender version of zucchini. Find baby zucchini at the farmer's market or in the produce section of Whole Foods. Flashing the vegetables under the broiler for a few minutes adds a touch of char to the zucchini and mellows the bite of the radishes. Serve this speedy side dish alongside roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, or pan-seared fish.
Chicken Parmesan Over Zucchini Noodles
If you prefer curlier zucchini noodles in this recipe, then a spiralizer is your best bet. Spiralizers are easy to use, and they can produce an impressively large pile noodles quickly. A julienne peeler, on the other hand, yields straighter noodles and isn’t quite as speedy—but it’s the least expensive of all the “zoodling” methods. The zucchini noodles in this healthy take on a classically unhealthy dish cook quickly in a skillet and get tossed with a bright and fresh tomato sauce.
To learn how to make zoodles with a julienne peeler, watch this how-to video.
Zucchini Salad With Farro and Tahini-Lemon Dressing
The toothy farro soaks up the nutty, creamy dressing, and the fresh veggies provide welcome color and texture in this satisfying lunch bowl. Farro is available in microwaveable quick-cooking packets, like Uncle Ben’s and Simply Balanced, that are ready in 90 seconds. You can also make it from dried farro: Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, add the farro, boil 10 minutes, and drain.
Grilled Zucchini With Sea Salt
If you don’t have access to a grill, you can use a cast-iron grill pan. Make sure to preheat your grill pan over medium heat on your stovetop for about 5 to 10 minutes before adding the zucchini. Once you place the zucchini in the grill pan—resist the urge to touch them before you flip them. They’ll mark better and develop more char from the grill if you leave them alone. Grilled zucchini are delicious topped with cheesy breadcrumbs, diced tomatoes and mozzarella, or a mix of chopped fresh herbs, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Grilled Hanger Steak With Zucchini Salsa
We love this low-cost cut for its big, beefy flavor—and the zucchini salsa adds some summery zing. Feel free to substitute flank or skirt steak if you like. Cook it medium-rare and slice the steak against the grain for melt-in-your-mouth bites.
Sea Salt and Vinegar Zucchini Chips
These zucchini chips are light, crisp, and just as good as their junk-food counterparts. Malt vinegar is made from fermented ale and is mildly sweet. If you prefer a sharper flavor, substitute cider vinegar or white vinegar. The best way to get uniform zucchini slices? Use a mandoline.
Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Tomato Salad
Stuffed zucchini make tasty vessels for carrying a delicious array of ingredients. We stuff ours with a cheesy sausage mixture that easily satisfies as a main dish. The microwave quickly steams the zucchini so that you only need to run the stuffed boats under the broiler for a minute or two. Don't toss out the zucchini pulp—you can save it to make zucchini cakes or fritters.
Plank-Grilled Zucchini with Couscous, Spinach, and Feta Stuffing
Grilling zucchini over a cedar plank gives smokiness that enhances its mildly sweet flavor. Even when time is short, don’t skip the step of soaking the plank beforehand—this will prevent it from burning on the grill. Use the largest zucchini possible to prevent the filling from spilling out while cooking.
This zucchini pie recipe is a fresh riff on spaghetti pie, where zoodles stand in for spaghetti and sweet grape tomatoes replace pasta sauce. Serve zucchini pie for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—it’s great hot, cold, or at room temperature. For a special brunch treat, top wedges with a sliver of cold-smoked salmon and a dill sprig.
Zucchini-Ribbon Pizza with Chicken
This speedy summertime pizza gets topped with a crisp, lemony zucchini ribbons, making for a perfectly balanced bite every time. Use a vegetable peeler to get wide ribbons from the zucchini. Ground coriander has a distinct lemony flavor that perks up the rotisserie chicken and the zucchini.
Why should eggplant have all the fun? Zucchini is also quite delicious when breaded, crisped up, and baked with layers of marinara sauce and two kinds of cheese. We slather on the sauce and cheese down the middle of the zucchini, leaving the edges uncovered so that they stay wonderfully crunchy after baking. When shopping for zucchini, look for ones that are roughly 8 inches long so they’ll fit the baking dish once trimmed.
Zucchini butter is a clever way to sneak a little nutrition into a typically indulgent ingredient (butter!). It’s much easier to make from-scratch than you’d think—simply combine grated zucchini with melted butter and garlic and refrigerate in an airtight container until hardened. Spread zucchini butter on hamburger buns, stuff it into pitas, smear it over a grilled steak, or toss it with pasta (or even zucchini noodles!).
Tortellini Salad with Zucchini and Peas
This light and summery zucchini salad is studded with green peas and brightened up with a hit of fresh lemon juice. This 20-minute lunch can be prepared in advance and is easily portable; just keep it refrigerated until mealtime. Enjoy it warm, chilled, or at room temperature for a satisfying, fiber-filled main. Zucchini ribbons are easy to make with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, which will give you the best angle and control.
Zucchini Pesto with Crudités
Serve this summery zucchini pesto on a platter with colorful veggies. The cooked zucchini is delicious on its own (try it as a spread) and even better blended with almonds, fresh herbs, and cheese. Garnish with a little extra cheese, if desired.
Zucchini and Spinach Chilaquiles
This verde version of a Mexican brunch classic is the perfect introduction to summer. Queso fresco has the texture of strained ricotta—it won’t quite melt under the broiler, but its mild flavor will be a welcome contrast to the heat in the tomatillo mixture. Add scrambled eggs to each serving for a little extra protein.
Fermented Zucchini Pickles
For pickles that deliver good gut bacteria, you want fermented—not vinegar—pickles. The brine is the easiest way to spot the difference: If it’s cloudy, they’re fermented; a clear brine means they’re pickled. You can also check the ingredients. For milder spice, remove the chile seeds and membranes. This recipe also works for green beans, pickling cukes, and baby bell peppers.
Zucchini-Mushroom Caprese Bowl
Zucchini ribbons satisfy your craving for Italian at a fraction of the calories. Creamy dollops of cheese up the yum factor; toss in a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes for an extra helping of vegetables.
Gluten-Free Zucchini-Spice Bread
Here's a healthy, gluten-free zucchini bread recipe that everyone can enjoy. This spiced loaf gets its flavor from cinnamon, ground ginger, and a touch of nutmeg, while shredded zucchini keeps it perfectly moist on the inside. A box grater makes quick work of shredding the zucchini. Bake this bread for gluten-free house guests, or enjoy it as a midday snack.
Honey-Dijon Chicken Paillards with Zucchini Slaw
Zucchini slaw makes a fun twist on the cabbage classic—and it’s a perfect side dish to Dijon- and honey-slathered chicken cutlets. If making ahead, let the grated zucchini drain in a colander for several minutes before adding the other ingredients, otherwise it may become watery. Serve the chicken and slaw with simply cooked orzo pasta tossed with lemon and Parmesan cheese.
Spatchcock Chicken, Hasselback Potato, and Zucchini Fries Dinner
This showstopping sheet pan dinner features crispy zucchini fries, one of our favorite spiralized veggies. When the spatchcocked chicken comes off the pan to rest, you’ll add the zucchini fries to the open space in the pan. It’s important to spread them out in as thin a layer as possible so that they have the greatest chance of becoming crisp. You can also bake them on a separate sheet pan on a lower oven rack as the potatoes finish cooking if you don’t feel you have enough room on the first sheet pan.
Zucchini and Shrimp Cakes With Snap Pea Relish
These shrimp and zucchini patties are a delicious expression of warmer weather—and best of all, you can have them ready in under 30 minutes.These patties cook quickly, just 3 minutes on each side.
Roasted Zucchini and Black Bean Tostadas with Crisp Radish Relish
Roasted zucchini and poblano chiles make tasty toppers for these homemade tostadas. Zucchini is easy to overcook, especially when roasting, so make sure to use a hot oven (we use 450 degrees). You’ll get that perfectly crisp outside and tender inside that make roasted zucchini such a treat.
Zucchini and Red Pepper Frittata
This delicious frittata recipe uses a summer veggie that many gardeners have in abundance—zucchini. Boost the flavor by topping it with a creamy pesto, tzaiziki sauce, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Summer Squash and Zucchini Salsa
Spin fresh zucchini into a savory summer veggie “salsa” that’s delicious alongside sauteed chicken breasts or fish. We've thrown chopped walnuts, grated lemon rind and chopped tarragon into the mix to create a bold appetizer that's perfect for summer entertaining.
What’s the secret to getting this zucchini pizza on the table quickly? Use pre-baked crusts. Cut the zucchini and mozzarella as thin as possible to guarantee tender zucchini and expertly melted cheese in under 10 minutes. If you like to make your own pizza crust and have one on hand, pre-bake your crust for about 8 minutes before flipping it over and adding the toppings.
Zucchini Mini Muffins
These easy zucchini muffins are tasty for breakfast or as a snack—and even better, you get two per serving. For even portions, use a small ice-cream scoop to spoon the batter into the muffin cups. For a flavor boost, try adding chocolate chips or chopped toasted nuts to the batter.
Zucchini-Farro Cakes with Herbed Goat Cheese and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
Zucchini cakes are a clever and delicious way to showcase your summer vegetables. Serve them as a vegetarian main alongside a simple green salad. These whole-grain zucchini cakes are also delicious as leftovers.
This easy zucchini lasagna recipe is gluten-free and vegan, but it's still pure comfort. Thinly-sliced zucchini is a tasty stand-in for noodles, and mashed tofu, when seasoned correctly, is eerily similar to ricotta—but with significantly less calories and fat. The best part about this zucchini lasagna? It holds its own against traditional recipes and will wow dinner guests.
Kathie's Zucchini Muffins
These healthy zucchini muffins are absolutely foolproof—they make a tasty, on-the-go snack that kids (and adults) can grab for easy breakfasts during the week. They're low in calories (one muffin sets you back 145 calories), but full of flavor and just the right amount of sweetness. For a twist, add raisins, toasted nuts, or dried cranberries to the batter.
Baby Zucchini Ribbon Salad
Zucchini is tender enough to be enjoyed raw—especially baby zucchini. Pull out your handy vegetable peeler and shave each zucchini into thin, long strips to create pretty zucchini “ribbons” as the base of the Greek salad–inspired summer side. Turn this into a warm-weather main dish with the addition of chickpeas or oil-packed chunk-light tuna.