Given that it's also super nutritious—the summer squash boasts cancer-fighting antioxidants, manganese and potassium for nerve and brain health, immunity-boosting vitamin C, antibody-building vitamin B6, and skin-protecting lutein—you shouldn't hesitate to add it to recipes. Still, if its impressive nutritional profile doesn’t blow you away, perhaps these recipes will. Whether it’s rolled into meatballs, baked into potato tots, or blended into ice cream, there's way more to zucchini than noodles (though we included recipes for that too).
If you’re more of the savory breakfast type, this speedy skillet is an easy detour from your usual omelet. The beef and eggs provide plenty of stick-to-your-ribs satiety while a generous two cups of chopped zucchini take the edge off all the richness. The dish may be ready in just 15 minutes, but the filling combination of protein and fiber from the meat and veggies will prevent any mindless snacking later in the morning.
Why make oatmeal when you can use oats to make cookies for breakfast instead? With banana and honey replacing the processed stuff, these have less sugar than most cereals or sweetened oatmeals out there. They're so good, you'll want them in the morning and for dessert.
If you really want to keep the veggies in these whole-grain pancakes hidden, remove the skins from the zucchini. We’d recommend keeping them on, though, as that’s where most of the squash’s fiber and eye-protecting antioxidants live. Plus there’s just something so pretty about the flecks of green peeking out from that fluffy, golden-brown stack.
Breakfast loaves get a bad reputation, but swap in healthy ingredients like whole-wheat flour, coconut oil, and honey and you've got yourself a pretty tasty treat you can feel good about eating. A cup and a half of grated zucchini packs in the veggies, while cinnamon and vanilla extract help sweeten it up.
Do away with the pie shell (store-bought versions can hide sneaky trans fats and who has the time to roll out a homemade one?) and let the veggies shine in this simple brunch favorite. Mushrooms, onion, and corn play supporting roles to the zucchini, and with mozzarella and Swiss cheese lending a savory bite, you won’t miss the crust.
Zucchini oats, or “zoats” as they’re known in the blogosphere, are ever popular among health foodies. If you’ve never tried them, start with this pudding-like recipe with a tablespoon of cacao or cocoa powder to not only mask the grated zucchini but also give you some flavanols that are beneficial for blood pressure and heart health. Chocolate may stand out as the major flavor here, but you can feel good knowing that with each sweet spoonful, you’re still getting in a half serving of veggies.
Sweetened with banana, brown sugar, and honey plus a touch of cinnamon and vanilla, this is a truly healthy muffin recipe. Ready in just half an hour and perfectly portable, you can make a batch and freeze them so you can grab and go when you’re rushing out the door or sit down for a leisurely meal with coffee.
Sip your way to better skin with this zucchini bread smoothie—the veggie’s abundance of vitamin C is crucial for fighting wrinkles and dryness. Along with spinach and banana, this meal manages to pack in produce and still taste like dessert thanks to all the spices. Win win!
Teamed up with corn and red onions to be tossed in a zesty olive oil-based dressing, this gluten-free zoodle dish is practically a pasta salad, but since it isn’t doused in mayo, feel free to make it your contribution to your next outdoor gathering. Throw in some cotija cheese or omit it if you’ll be serving this to dairy-free friends—it’s just as scrumptious without.
Lasagna is up there on the list of comfort foods, so you may be wary of venturing away from Mom’s recipe. But this one proves that change really can be a good thing; baked to soft perfection and rolled up around cheese, tomato sauce, and turkey sausage, zucchini mimics noodles so well that the swap may not even be noticeable—until you realize later that you’re not slumping over in a food coma.
Drenched in oil, salt, and sugar, restaurant versions of peanut noodles can be fat and sodium bombs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26248469 This one takes it easy on all three but still retains that must-have nutty flavor, using natural peanut butter and just a touch of sesame oil and soy sauce. Poured over thin strands of zucchini with red peppers tossed in for even more veggie action, these are peanut noodles you’ll want to be slurping on a daily basis.
Kick a cold even faster with this spicy update on chicken noodle soup. Zoodles take the place of regular old noodles, and chicken cooked in garlic and cumin comes together with lime and Sriracha for a soup that is hardly short on flavor. Best of all? This soup can be ready in 15 minutes.
Widely available as preservative-filled junk food, packaged ramen as we know it has long suffered a dubious reputation. But this recipe may redeem that questionable rap, swapping the fried noodles out for zucchini spirals and dunking them in a fresh and fragrant broth of bok choy, ginger, green onions, and miso paste. It may not be the most authentic bowl of ramen out there, but it’s certainly one of the most nutritious.
Comprised of nothing but veggies tossed in herbs and olive oil for maximum nutrient absorption, this is really a colorful salad disguised as spaghetti thanks to the spiralized zucchini. The fresh corn and lightness of the “noodles” makes it an ideal dish for the summertime, but since it can be served hot, it’s also totally appropriate for when chillier weather sets in.
This may be one of the more time-consuming recipes here, but it’s still less work than having to knead dough and bust out a pasta-maker! Large peels of zucchini act as the raw version of ravioli, wrapping around a protein-rich filling of riccota cheese, Parmesan, egg, and spinach. Since it does take a few extra minutes (worth it!) to assemble this vegetarian meal, call your friends and get them involved in dinner, or save it for a date night at home.
Replacing pasta with zucchini noodles is a popular choice when there’s a rich sauce involved. This vegan pesto uses avocado as a creamy filler, plus lemon juice, olive oil, and of course, lots of basil to keep it fresh.
Since it is 95 percent water, zucchini alone won’t make a satisfying meal. But it’s a different story when you remove the moisture in the middle and stuff it with quinoa, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. Bonus: the presentation looks impressive, but is actually super easy to assemble.
Five ingredients, salt and pepper, and one pot are all you need to make this simple soup. The zucchini is softly cooked, giving the dish a nice chunky texture, while garlic and a touch of sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt) amp up the flavor.
Enchiladas are delicious, but they can also be meaty, cheese-laden, digestive nightmares. This recipe uses a modest amount of lower-lactose goat and feta cheese, which tend to be easier on your system, while the black bean and zucchini filling stands in as a lighter alternative to beef. They may become your favorite recipe to enjoy Mexican food a lighter way.
Cauliflower pizza crust is so last year. We've moved on to using zucchini to make our low-carb pies. Two cups of the shredded stuff is mixed with a little flour, an egg, and Mozzarella cheese to bind it all together. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, then top with asparagus, red sauce, two cracked eggs, and cherry tomatoes and put back in the oven. A few more minutes and you've got a savory, veggie-packed pizza waiting for you.
It’s reminiscent of gratin, but with Greek yogurt replacing cream and a mixture of whites and whole eggs, this casserole can be filed under “everyday eats” rather than “reserve for special occasions.” With the lack of heavy ingredients clearing the way for zucchini to take center stage, you may gain a newfound appreciation for how it really doesn’t take much to elevate the veggie from simple to succulent.
A common ingredient in raw foods cuisine, zucchini steps in for rice in these no-cook, veggie-packed rolls. Plenty of carrot, cucumber, and radish provide a satisfying crunch, and cashew filling plus creamy avocado slices give it some healthy, unsaturated staying power. These pretty rolls are filling enough for lunch or a light dinner.
Why not add zucchini to this Middle Eastern fave? Be sure to really squeeze out the moisture so your falafel sticks together. Baking instead of the usual deep-frying method makes them that much more nutritionally appealing, while cilantro and garlic ensure that their flavor will be irresistible too. Feel free to swap out crushed flax or fiber cereal for breadcrumbs.
Little disks of zucchini replace a bready crust to sneak a little heart-strengthening potassium into your pizza, while classic toppings like marinara, mozzarella, and pepperoni make sure you’re satisfying a craving. Ready in less than 10 minutes and pretty darn adorable to boot, these bites are a no-brainer for a party appetizer.
It may take a while to bake these zucchini rounds to chip-like crispness, but we promise it’s for good reason. Not only are these three-ingredient veggies a lower-carb, heart-healthy alternative to your usual taters, you can customize them with spices of your choice—we’d say that’s worth the wait!
Cheesy, eggy, crispy, and chewy... fritters are just so fun to eat (and say!). This zucchini-based rendition cuts down on the ladlefuls of oil soaked up by your run-of-the-mill recipe without compromising any of the texture or flavor. You’ll still get all the garlicky, Parmesan-flecked savory crunch in these mini-pancakes, with none of the grease.
Bursting with cheesy, herby flavor, this Italian-inspired side proves that eating your vegetables doesn’t have to mean steaming them to limp mush or boring mixed greens. Not only does a Parmesan crust make just about anything more appetizing, but with the tomatoes’ lycopene, garlic’s sulfur compounds, and zucchini’s antioxidants, it’s boasts a trifecta of cancer-fighting properties.
These two-bite nibbles couldn’t be easier to whip up. Unlike the freezer-section packages made with tons of preservatives, this recipe is all about real food, from the shredded zucchini and carrots to Parmesan and cheddar. Serve them up as a healthier alternative to traditional tots or hash browns along with brunch or enjoy as a savory snack.
Give your zucchini an Eastern flair with easy-to-find, Asian-inspired ingredients. Seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes lend major spice to zucchini, cabbage, carrots, and bell pepper. If you had any lingering doubts that zucchini was boring, this dish should extinguish them once and for all.
Breadcrumbs and Parmesan lend that all-important crunch factor to these zucchini “fries,” while garlic powder gives them a flavor boost that you won’t find in any fast-food chain. A trip to the oven bakes them up to be golden-brown and just as addictive as regular fries without any worrying over ingredients like dimethylpolysiloxane (we don't think that grows on trees) lurking in them.
Dark, moist, and unabashedly chocolatey, even we had to do a double take to believe that there is an entire zucchini hidden in this sweet loaf. This dessert gets even better for you with Greek yogurt joining the party to cut down on the oil. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips for a veggie bread that's irresistibly good all day long.
They resemble the classic buttery, sugared up blondies so closely that only the little flecks of zucchini here and there would give away the healthy swaps in these bars. Using oats instead of white flour, banana as a sweetener, and the green veggie to replace some of the fat while adding fiber, the results are just as ooey-gooey as the originals but score way higher when it comes to nutrition.
Featuring an entire cup of zucchini but not a single hint of dairy, this vegan and raw cheesecake will blow you mind in more ways than one. The crust is made of pecans while the silken chocolate filling has a cashew base, adding in some iron for a healthy metabolism. How could you not go nuts for it?
If you’re looking to get a little experimental in the kitchen, start with dessert—this dessert, to be specific! From the black beans and zucchini replacing the flour to the use of dates and coconut sugar as unrefined sweeteners, there’s little that’s conventional about these wheat-free, butter-less cookies. But one bite of the end product, and you’ll be so glad you ventured off the beaten path!
Your favorite elementary school birthday treat gets a major health upgrade here with Greek yogurt, whole-wheat flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and shredded zucchini. Light brown sugar and a touch of vanilla extract keep 'em sweet, and more Greek yogurt in the cream-cheese frosting packs some extra protein in there.
These oat-based cookies still use some baking staples like butter and sugar, but they also include zucchini, oats, and coconut flakes, so they are definitely better for you than most store-bought cookies. Use whole-wheat flour and coconut sugar to up the health factor even more, but keep the chocolate chips...duh.
If you've ever looked at the nutritional info for a coffee shop lemon loaf, you've probably shed a tear too. This zucchini-based version is waaay better for you, especially if you use coconut sugar and a whole-wheat or almond flour instead of the white kinds.
One glimpse of these brownies might make you drop everything and run to the kitchen—you can practically taste the fudginess right off the screen. The best part is knowing that even brownies made with peanut butter, oats, applesauce, and of course, plenty of zucchini, can yield such rich and gooey results. This is healthy baking at its finest.
Originally published August 2015. Updated January 2017.