Zucchini Noodles, or Zoodles, are a gluten-free, low-carb, and nutrient-packed alternative to classic wheat-filled pasta. Learn how to make and cook zucchini noodles perfectly so they’re tender-crisp – never soggy.
Zucchini Noodles Are Good For You
I have been spiralizing zucchini since 2011. More than a decade! A pasta lover to the core, I have consumed fewer processed carbohydrates and way more vegetables thanks to this one simple swap.
The best part about zoodles, though? They actually taste really good– when they’re not drowning in their own water (more on that in a sec). And, you can eat loads of them! Plus, they taste great with just about everything from chicken to steak bites or covered in all your favorite sauces like homemade marinara to garlic butter sauce. Most importantly, however, they’re a fun and delicious way to encourage everyone in the family to eat more veggies.
And whether you’re their biggest fan or you’re just getting a chance to try zoodles for yourself, there’s no denying the benefit of adding more of them to your diet!
What are Zucchini Noodles?
Zucchini Noodles, also known as “Zoodles”, are a delicious and healthy gluten-free pasta alternative made from zucchini!
A type of squash, zucchini is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, and thanks to their mild, somewhat watery taste, they pair well with just about everything.
How to make Zucchini Noodles Without a Spirilizer
- Julienne Peeler: I will often make zucchini noodles using a Julienne Peeler. This UberChef Peeler comes with both a julienne blade and a peeler blade and is my favorite when I want to make zucchini noodles that aren’t curly. It is also awesome for carrots.
- Handheld Spiralizer: I have not personally tried using a handheld spiralizer as a julienne peeler or spiralizer works so well. The pros of this new kitchen gadget include a small kitchen footprint and the ability to take it anywhere. However, the total time to spiralize zucchini noodles is much longer.
How to Make Zucchini Noodles
- Spiralize the zucchini using your favorite method.
- Spread the zucchini noodles in an even layer across a baking sheet lined with 2-3 paper towels.
- Sprinkle with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt and allow them to hang out for approximately 20-30 minutes. You’ll notice that the zucchini will start to drop some of its water (salt naturally draws out water thanks to a little thing called osmosis).
- After 30 minutes has passed, gather the zucchini noodles and very gently squeeze the zucchini to draw extra water out. Don’t squeeze too hard, though! We don’t want to damage the noodles.
- Cook using your favorite method until tender-crisp, or al dente.
Tips and Tricks
Zucchini is made up of 95% water so it’s pretty much impossible to cook them without some kind of residual water. This is especially true when cooking zucchini noodles since they have been cut in such a way that exposes so much surface area.
Since we can’t eliminate the water from happening, let’s try to minimize it.
- Do not overcook the zucchini.
- Do not add salt during cooking. Wait to add any additional salt until just before serving.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan.
- Remove your cooked zucchini noodles from the pan immediately after cooking.
- When making zucchini noodles, it’s best to buy zucchini that have a smaller diameter (aka they’re thinner). You won’t get as many noodles from each zucchini, but you’ll get more noodles with the skin. These “outer” noodles contain much less water and, as such, hold their shape better.
- Do not peel your zucchini or cook before spiralizing.
- If you plan to add a sauce, go with one that’s less watery. Pesto is a favorite with zucchini noodles.
How to Cook Zoodles
My favorite method will always be a quick sauté in a hot pan, but try each method a chose for yourself!
- Sauté – Since I am usually already cooking something on the stovetop when I make zucchini noodles, I find this to be the easiest method. All you need is 1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter and 2-3 minutes (at most). You can easily add other sauces or serve plain.
- Boil – If you’re looking to skip the extra oils, a quick boil may do the trick. Keep in mind that this is more of a blanch than an actual boil. I wouldn’t recommend leaving your zoodles in the water for more than 1 minute.
- Microwave – quick and speedy, the microwave comes in handy when you want zucchini noodles as fast as possible. Pile them in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30-second increments.
- Bake – I admit this is one method I have not tried personally as it seems like SO much unnecessary work. However, if you feel like giving it a shot, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with a paper towel. Even spread the noodles over the top of the paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven and gently squeeze the noodles to remove any extra water.
Garlic and Parmesan Zucchini Noodles
This is just one example of how you can turn plain zoodles into a flavorful side dish or pasta alternative. Feel free to make it your own by adding more of your favorite ingredients or less of the things you dislike.
- Olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt + Black pepper
Can You Freeze Zucchini Noodles?
I don’t recommend freezing zucchini noodles. Their water content is so high that once they’re thawed and reheated, they end up mushy and kinda gross.
Have you tried making Zucchini Noodles?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Garlic Parmesan Zoodle Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley - chopped
- 4 large zucchini - spiralized
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ lemon - juiced
- Spiralize zucchini using your favorite method.
- Prepare zucchini noodles. Line a baking sheet with several paper towels. Spread your zucchini noodles across the paper towels in an even layer and sprinkle with salt, approximately 1 teaspoon. Toss to coat. Allow zucchini noodles to drain for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes have passed, gather noodles in a clean tea towel and gently (not too hard as this will actually cause the zucchini to turn mushy) squeeze any remaining water out from the noodles. Some remaining water is ok.
- Sauté the aromatics. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot add the tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Allow butter to melt. Reduce heat to medium and add the minced garlic and fresh parsley. Cook, stirring continuously, for 30-60 seconds.
- Cook the zoodles. Add the zucchini noodles to the skillet and toss to coat with the olive oil and garlic mixture. Continue to cook, mixing frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente (see notes).
- Add remaining ingredients and serve immediately. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and immediately remove from heat. Sprinkle with black pepper, salt (if needed), and fresh lemon juice, if desired. Best if enjoyed immediately.
- What part of the zucchini the zoodle has come from will (partly) determine cooking time. For example, any zoodles made from the seedier center will cook faster and tend to be mushier. In general, if I see that those zoodles start to look well-done, I will immediately remove the pan from the heat.
- Storage: Keep the zucchini noodles stored in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. For best results, keep the zoodles stored separately from any sauce.
- Reheating: Drain any excess water. Reheat in a large skillet set over high heat with a little olive oil or butter just until reheated.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)