If you still have zucchini coming out of your ears, here’s everything you could possibly need to know about making the most of this rockstar summer squash!
This post turned out to be WAY longer than I planned! Turns out I have a LOT to say about zucchini! Click the links below to go directly to the content you want:
I’ll try to revisit this post every so often to make it the most comprehensive resource possible! Please share your favorite tips, tricks, tools, and recipes in the comments :) Happy Zucchini Season!
COOKING WITH ZUCCHINI
CATEGORIES OF ZUCCHINI RECIPES
In my experience, zucchini/squash recipes tend to fall into three different categories:
BAKING/DESSERTS: There are ZILLIONS of sweet recipes for zucchini online! From classic zucchini bread to zucchini brownies to zucchini CRISP (think cinnamon-y apple crisp, but with zukes), you can find it all! Zucchini bread tends to be the “go to” way for many people to use up zucchini, but you’ll discover there are SO many other options!
“HIDDEN” IN OTHER THINGS: Zucchini is mostly water, so when you grate it and cook it, it withers away to almost nothing, but all of the nutrients are still there! Throw grated zucchini into your taco meat, rice, burgers, and spaghetti sauce. Blend it into your smoothies and soups. Get creative!
ZUCCHINI AS THE STAR (SAVORY): Tons of recipes in this round up don’t HIDE the zucchini but they STAR zucchini! Stuffed zucchini boats, zoodles, fried zucchini. The zucchini is THERE and we can’t get enough of it.
THE BEST TOOLS FOR...
Food Processor: My food processor is my FAVORITE tool for grating zucchini. It has a grating blade that makes it SO easy (seriously takes 10 seconds to grate a full zucchini), and as long as you rinse it immediately after, it’s a breeze to clean.
Box Grater: Don’t feel like you need a fancy food processor to be able to break down a zucchini! A little elbow grease never hurt anyone. The beautiful thing about a box grater? You can do thick or thin shreds depending on your preference!
SPIRALIZING ZUCCHINI / MAKING ZOODLES:
Spiralizer: I have an older version (the Paderno 3-blade), but this is the newer version available on Amazon! It comes with 6 blades so lots of options for how to slice!
Julienne Peeler: If you have limited space but still want a way to make zoodles, just buy a julienne peeler! It’s a vegetable peeler that cuts into fine strands.
Knife: A good sharp knife is all you really need. Here’s my fave (got it as a Christmas gift last year!).
Cutting Board: I got this cutting board as a Christmas gift last year!. I oil it like once a month and there’s something I just love about the process!
Food Processor: Again, you don’t NEED a food processor to slice zucchini, but when you have a few to slice up (like to put in a casserole or to use in zucchini lasagna), the slicing blade makes QUICK work of it!
MAKING ZUCCHINI BOATS / STUFFED ZUCCHINI:
A good old fashioned knife and cutting board (my faves above, for cutting in half) and a regular spoon (for scooping out the seeds/making a well).
For recipes using grated zucchini where they call for you to squeeze the moisture out first, you can use a nut milk bag or a regular kitchen towel.
Paper Towels: For recipes that call for slicing the zucchini, salting it, and laying it out to drain, you can line a cookie sheet with paper towels and then top the zucchini with paper towels to soak up moisture.
TIPS AND TRICKS
ZUCCHINI = MOISTURE IN RECIPES: Any time you cook with zucchini, it’s going to give off a lot of water! If you’re following a baking recipe, it has probably accounted for this (or instructed you to squeeze as much moisture out as you can). If you’re throwing it into a sauce or a soup, keep in mind that if you add a lot, it will thin things out quite a bit. I always use a thick sauce for zoodles!
WHAT ABOUT THE SKIN AND SEEDS?: I never peel my zucchini and yellow squash. The skins don’t bother me and I actually like the little specs of color it adds to dishes and baked goods! For thin/smaller zucchini, I usually leave the seeds in! For monster, baseball-bat-sized zucchini, the middle tends to be spongy with huge seeds. So I either scoop the seeds out and fill them as zucchini boats OR quarter the zucchini, cut the middle/seeds out, then chop!
IT DOESN’T FREEZE SUPER WELL: Due to all of the water, zucchini doesn’t freeze super well — it gets kind of mushy. I have had the best luck with:
Grating then freezing for use in future baking or stirring into rice dishes (since I will use it for something where I might squeeze the liquid out anyways, I won’t mind that it gets super watery as it thaws).
Baking into zucchini bread, muffins, or cake, and then freezing the baked goods.
Freezing savory recipes with “hidden” zucchini — if you used grated zucchini in taco meat or blended zucchini into a soup, you aren’t really counting on the texture of the zucchini to hold up!
MY OTHER FAVORITE WAYS TO USE ZUCCHINI IN A PINCH (besides the recipes below):
The classic - ZUCCHINI BREAD! In my book, the more cinnamon, the better.
The twist - Lemon Zucchini Bread from Two Peas and their Pod! I tried this recipe a few years ago and fell in LOVE! I like to use yellow squash because the yellow specs from the skin make it look extra lemon-y!
Make refrigerator pickles! I bought these packets at my grocery story and they are great for using up zucchini in a pinch. I like to use big zucchini for this, cut in quarters lengthwise, then cut the seeds out before slicing into skinny 1/2” spears. There are also lots of recipes online for refrigerator pickles, and you can sub zucchini (or any veggie, really) for the cucumbers.
Grate or use a julienne peeler and add squash to scrambled eggs!
Good ol’ zoodles and sauce, or half zoodles/half regular spaghetti is an amazing combination! SHORTCUT: Store zoodles in your fridge raw, then just microwave (from raw) with sauce on top for 2 minutes! They will be perfectly cooked! [OR just cook in a skillet and drain off moisture as you go.]
Fried Zucchini - my mom always made it by slicing the zucchini pretty thin, dredging in seasoned flour (flour, salt, pepper), then dipping in an egg bath, back to the seasoned flour, and into a thin layer of hot oil in a skillet! Drain on paper towels.
Grilled Zucchini - slice zucchini into thin planks lengthwise, spray or drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper (or any seasonings you like) and grill directly on the grates for a few minutes on each side.
Smoothies - throw raw or steamed frozen zucchini in with your smoothies! You won’t be able to taste it and it adds extra veggie-action nutrients!
ZUCCHINI RECIPES ON MARIA MAKES
This one is climbing the ranks as one of the most popular recipes on Maria Makes! Probably because it uses up a whopping 4 cups of shredded zucchini or yellow squash, makes a giant pan, and is the perfect summer side!
Made with old fashioned oats, grated zucchini, milk, and apple sauce and honey for sweetness! Chocolate chips take it over the top and are not optional. Perfect to feed a crowd or to make for meal prep.
This is ZB’s favorite meal ever! I always make it for his birthday at the end of July, so I always know I’ll be able to find (or have from my own garden) huge zucchini for this when the time is right! This recipe uses thinly sliced zucchini lasagna “noodles” in place of real lasagna noodles.
This is the OG zucchini recipe in Maria Makes. It’s consistently ranked as one of my most popular recipes (and most pinned) because, duh, BUFFALO CHICKEN. It’s my jam, and maybe yours too!? Feel free to use breadcrumbs instead of the noted almond flour.
Zoodles are one of my favorite ways to eat zucchini! You can twirl them around your fork like spaghetti and the flavor of squash is so mild that you can use ANY sauce you like. Like this spicy, creamy, vegan poblano sauce made with CASHEWS!
This soup is basically just late summer in a bowl. Hit up your farmer’s market this weekend and I’m sure you can find loads of squash, corn, AND basil! This is a blended soup that is so velvety, and I enjoy it both warm and cold!
I love to STUFF other stuff inside of zucchini! You can take the flavors ANY which way, but this is an Italian take using spicy Italian sausage! One version has cheese, one leaves it out!
Summer nights in PA are starting to cool off, and before we know it, it will be soup season. This chili recipe features chunks of sweet potatoes and chili for a veggie-filled twist.
This one doesn’t have zucchini IN it, but it’s the ideal red sauce to put ON zucchini noodles (zoodles), or to use in your zucchini lasagna! I like to make a big batch and keep this in my freezer for pasta night!
This is a perfect meal prep recipe! Everything cooks together on a big sheet pan, then you can package it up for lunches and dinners later in the week! You can throw in whatever veggies you like, but zucchini is always in the mix at our house!
This is a one skillet, super simple weeknight dinner! You can use whatever protein you have on hand and whatever veggies you have hanging out in your fridge, but I HIGHLY recommend zucchini!
I love to throw zoodles into soup! They only take a minute or two to cook in hot liquid, so just add them last. This recipe was created for a recipe contest for Kettle & Fire and uses a specific product from them, so unless you have access to it; scroll on by (or you could hack it with chicken broth and miso)!
Grating zucchini to use in baked goods is always a solid way to sneak in some veggies and use up your bounty! Does it get any better than counting your dessert as a serving of veggies?
YES definitely take advantage of the squash itself, but you can also eat the flowers! I was into Whole30 when I made this recipe, so I left out the cheese and used alternative flours for breading. Do as I SAY NOW, not as I DID THEN. STUFF THESE BABIES WITH CHEESE. Whipped feta is incredible. Goat cheese? Yes. A combo of ricotta, mozzarella, and fresh basil would be to die for (think “lasagna cheese layer”).
Be sure to share this post with someone who has a bunch of zucchini!