How to Freeze Zucchini to Save Your Summer Surplus to Enjoy All Year
Save your summer zucchini for the winter by chopping it up and freezing it. Stock your freezer with fresh zucchini noodles, zucchini slices, and zucchini coins to enjoy a taste of summer even when this veggie isn’t in season. We’ll teach you how to do it in just four steps.
Knowing how to freeze zucchini is key for preserving the extras from your summer garden to use during the cooler months. Our Test Kitchen tried several of the most popular methods for how to preserve zucchini. And now we’re sharing our secrets, from the answer to “can you freeze zucchini?” (spoiler: yes!) to details about freezing shredded zucchini, freezing zucchini noodles, and the best way to freeze zucchini to prevent freezer burn. Simply follow our instructions and you can thank yourself in advance for making dinners easy—and delicious—in a few months when you have tasty summer squash ready to toss into your recipes.
How to Freeze Zucchini
No matter your preferred way to cut zucchini for freezing, you'll follow the same four steps.
Step 1: Cut Zucchini
Using a sharp knife ($65, Bed Bath & Beyond), carefully slice the zucchini into whatever shape you like for freezing. Depending on how you’re planning to use the zucchini later, we recommend choosing one of these three cuts:
We’re sometimes asked, “Can I freeze a whole zucchini?” You certainly can, but it will be much more challenging to thaw and use later. (Imagine trying to shred a soggy whole thawed squash.) We recommend tackling the shape in advance so you can put the frozen zucchini to quick use when you’re ready.
For reference, 1 pound of zucchini will usually yield between 2½ and 3½ cups, depending on how you chop it. In general, you can expect:
- About 3½ cups coarsely chopped zucchini
- About 3¼ cups ¼-inch-thick zucchini slices
- About 3¼ cups loosely packed, shredded zucchini
- About 2⅔ cups packed shredded zucchini
- About 2⅔ cups coarse zucchini spirals
If you’re seeking solutions for how to freeze zucchini for baking bread, muffins, or cakes, freezing shredded zucchini is your best bet. For soups, stews, pasta sauces, and more, try slices or chopped. And if you’re all about lower-carb noodle soups and pasta tosses, try zoodles.
Step 2: Blanch Zucchini
Blanch the zucchini in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the size of your pieces. We recommend using a stockpot with a pasta insert ($43, Target) to boil the zucchini, which makes it easy to lift the zucchini from the boiling water in one step. Immediately add the zucchini to a bowl of ice water.
Test Kitchen Tip: Wondering how to freeze zucchini without blanching? You certainly can freeze it as-is after Step 1, but a quick hot water bath and ice dunk deactivates enzymes that would make it more likely for you to end up with mushy discolored zucchini once you freeze and defrost it. Simply put, blanching helps the frozen zucchini stay firmer (and prettier).
Step 3: Dry Zucchini
Drain and thoroughly pat the zucchini dry using paper towels. You can also use a salad spinner to dry the zucchini or help remove excess water after drying with paper towels. Getting all the excess moisture out helps prevent freezer burn.
Step 4: Freeze Zucchini
The last step to master in how to preserve zucchini: Place the blanched, dried squash in a single layer on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze overnight. Once frozen, transfer the zucchini to freezer bags or airtight freezer containers. Seal, label, and date the packages, and store them in your freezer up to 3 months.
The Best Ways to Use Frozen Zucchini
While frozen zucchini won’t work well as a swap for fresh in raw preparations or for stuffed zucchini boats, you can use frozen zucchini in most cooked or baked recipes just as you would use fresh zucchini. If you shredded your zucchini before freezing it, try using it to bake zucchini bread or a Chocolaty Zucchini Loaf Cake. For zucchini noodles, try making Zucchini-Noodle Lasagna, serving it with your favorite pasta sauce, or even adding a handful of them to other spaghetti dishes, like our Summer Spaghetti Salad. If you froze zucchini slices, try grilling, air-frying, or sautéing them for a healthy, delicious side dish. No matter how you choose to serve them, you'll be thankful you saved some zucchini for later.