Zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables. It's delicious in almost any recipe, whether fried, baked, or sautéed. It can even be used as a noodle substitute or sneakily added to a batch of chocolate cupcakes to give dessert a nutritional boost. Read on to learn how to cook zucchini using virtually any cooking method you can think of.
Zucchini is a garden and farmers market summer favorite, and it's easy to end up with a bumper crop. To help you use up this veggie while it's in season (unless you're already planning to freeze extra zucchini), here are all the ways to cook zucchini—including roasting, sauteing, frying, grilling, and baking—so you can try new methods of cooking zucchini when you need to mix things up. The best way to cook zucchini depends on the flavor and texture you're craving (grilled zucchini will have a smoky flavor; broiled zucchini is super tender and speedy), so knowing how to cook zucchini squash a few ways means you satisfy your cravings and make the most of your veggies.
Types of Zucchini
Zucchini, a type of summer squash, is so easy to grow in home gardens that you can end up with an overabundance of this tasty veggie. Luckily, there are tons of fresh zucchini recipes to try. Zucchini, which can be found in green, yellow, and striped varieties, is low in calories and high in vitamin C and packs a healthy dose of potassium.
How to Oven-Fry Zucchini
Oven-fried zucchini is super simple to prepare. All you need to do is slice it, toss it in a drizzle of oil or salad dressing, and roll it in a mixture of bread crumbs, paprika, and Parmesan cheese. Then bake your zucchini slices for 9 to 11 minutes at 450°F and enjoy.
How to Grill Zucchini
Depending on the shape you want to eat your grilled zucchini there are a couple ways to grill it. No matter how you cut it, grilled zucchini absorbs a bit of that smoky flavor we all crave during grilling season.
Grill Zucchini Directly on the Grate
Learn how to cook zucchini on the grill and all your backyard cookouts will be better. Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and toss with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. For even easier grilled zucchini, cut zucchini in half lengthwise, cut-side down on the grill grate. For a charcoal grill, grill the zucchini directly over medium coals until tender (about 5 to 6 minutes), turning once. For a gas grill, preheat the grill, then reduce the heat to medium. Place the zucchini on the grill rack over the heat and grill, covered, as directed above.
Grill Zucchini in a Grill Basket or Foil Pack
If you want to grill crosswise zucchini slices instead, you'll need to use either a grill basket or a foil pack to keep the slices from falling between the grates. To grill zucchini in a foil pack, halve the squash lengthwise, then slice it into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Toss with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Place the squash slices (along with any other veggies you like) onto a square sheet of heavy foil. Bring up two opposite edges of foil and seal with a double fold. Fold the remaining edges together to completely enclose, leaving some space for steam to build up. Grill directly over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
How to Sauté Zucchini
Sautéed zucchini is tasty on its own, but it's also a great topper for meat or slices of crusty bread. When you're learning how to cook zucchini on the stove, using a mandolin (Mueller Austria V-Pro Multi-Blade Adjustable Mandolin, $29.99, Amazon) ensures that your zucchini slices are uniform so they'll cook evenly. You can also use a sharp knife to thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise or into coins. Place the zucchini slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt, then let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Slightly brown the zucchini on both sides; this should take about 5 minutes. Don't crowd the skillet, or the slices won't cook evenly.
How to Roast Zucchini
Baby zucchini can be roasted whole, but anything larger should be cut into slices or sticks. Line a 13x9-inch roasting pan (OvenStuff Bake, Broil, and Roasting Pan Set, $13.48, Walmart) or large baking pan with foil and spread the baby zucchini or zucchini slices in the pan, making sure not to crowd them. Toss zucchini in salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast about 15 to 20 minutes at 425°F.
How to Bake Zucchini Boats
Roasting zucchini boats with stuffing turns your fresh veggies into an entrée. Cut your zucchini in half lengthwise, then use a melon baller to scoop out some of the pulp, leaving a shell that's about 1/4 inch thick. Fill as desired, then bake (or grill) according to your recipe. Here are a few ideas for fillings:
- Serve Mexican-inspired zucchini boats by filling with black beans, corn, and poblano peppers.
- Use up any extra veggies by stuffing the boats with chicken, tomatoes, and any leftover steamed vegetables you have on hand.
- Turn zucchini into a hearty dinner with a salmon, sweet pepper, and bread crumb stuffing.
How to Broil Zucchini
Broiling zucchini in the oven is a fast way to add a side of veggies to your meal. Cut the zucchini into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan, then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices, or until tender.
Baking with Zucchini
Zucchini can be a great addition to cakes and cupcakes. It keeps them moist while adding a healthy serving of vegetables to your sweet indulgences. And home-baked zucchini bread is always popular. In most baked goods, the recipe calls for shredded zucchini. We recommend using the coarse side of a box grater to shred zucchini for desserts and breads.
How to Cook Zucchini in the Microwave
For a super-quick way to steam zucchini, use your microwave. Place 1/4-inch-thick slices in a small casserole dish with 2 Tbsp. water. Microwave, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring twice partway through the cook time.
How to Steam Zucchini
Steaming zucchini is speedy, easy, and a great way to get a big batch of the veggie cooked fast for serving with dinner or adding to other recipes. Cut zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick slices. In a large pot, bring a small amount of water to boiingl, then place the zucchini slices in a steamer basket and add the basket to the pot. The steamer basket should sit above the water, not in it. Steam 4 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender.
How to Cook Zucchini Flowers
Yes, you can cook with zucchini flowers (aka squash blossoms) too! There are a few ways to incorporate these edible flowers into your cooking: Use them as a garnish, bake them into a cake, or even add them to your tacos. One of the simplest ways to try zucchini flowers is to lightly fry them. Start by filling the blossoms with a semisoft cheese, like goat cheese or havarti. Stir together a batter. (Try 1 cup of flour and a pinch of salt with enough seltzer water to give the mix the consistency of pancake batter.) Dip the stuffed flowers in the batter, then fry them in hot oil until they're golden brown and crispy.
With these methods of cooking zucchini under your belt, you can serve zucchini a different way each night of the week. Start off your week with pan-cooked zucchini, then change it up and serve your veggies grilled the next night. In addition to being a great side dish, zucchini becomes the base of a main dish when you learn how to cook zucchini noodles. Once you've mastered the basics, you might even consider planting more zucchini next season.