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best recipes for zucchini

If you’re signed up for my newsletter, you know I currently have zucchini the size of Birdie my Bernedoodle over here. That’s what you get when you add end-of-summer temperatures + back-to-school craziness for three kids in different schools, + sickness. It’s a garden gone wild! But before you dump those monster zucchini in your compost when you start your fall clean-up, I have a list of the best recipes for zucchini of all sizes. Is there a difference in taste, you ask? Keep reading to find out!

What’s the difference between small and large zucchini?

First, the bigger the zucchini, the larger the seeds and the more water content. This additional water can create a more bland taste, so while they aren’t garbage, they are suitable for baking and soups but not as tasty when raw as their smaller, more normal-sized counterparts.

While this happens to me almost every year at least once, the perfect storm mentioned above had me out of the garden for a couple of weeks this past month, and I currently have five squash this size. Help!

overgrown zucchini laying in the dirt under vines and zucchini leaves

How do you freeze zucchini?

It’s so easy! All you need is a fresh zucchini, a box grater, and a jar with a lid or freezer bag.

  • First, wash the whole zucchini and dry with a clean towel or drip dry. Set up a colander (or a clean towel or cheesecloth) over a larger bowl for the next step.
  • Second, cut zucchini ends off and slice down the middle lengthwise. Using a box grater (or food processor with shred attachment), shred zucchini into a large pile and remove some water according to the FAQ below.
A pile of shredded zucchini sitting next to freezer jar with lid and a large green zucchini on a marble counter.
  • Third, put shredded zucchini into a mason jar with a lid with about one inch of space at the top, or use a large freezer bag and remove the extra air. I like to freeze in measurements of 2-4 cups.
  • Last, freeze the zucchini for 4-6 months. Jump to the FAQ for tips on thawing!

Best recipes for zucchini that is over-grown or frozen

The best recipes for shredded zucchini (especially puppy-sized ones) are baked goods like zucchini bread, pancakes, or muffins. Above all, these gluten-free zucchini chocolate chip muffins are some of our favorites. Earlier this month, we made them for the first day of school, and often we’ll make a double batch with two cups of shredded zucchini from fresh shreds or frozen. They are the perfect lunchbox side, after-school snack, or breakfast with a side of scrambled eggs.

Gluten-free Zucchini Muffins
They're so soft and delicious! My clients and family love these gluten-free zucchini muffins with dark chocolate chips from Sara Forte at Sprouted Kitchen.
Make these muffins!
gluten free zucchini muffins diagonally on a cooling rack ready to eat

I keep my pantry stocked with these items from Thrive Market so I can pull this and much more together fast:

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Best recipes for zucchini that is small to medium in size

1. Roasted zucchini – When you slice zucchini in half lengthwise, rub with olive oil, grill, roast, or pan-fry, you have an easy vegetable side. Yum. In addition, you can level up with this grilled zucchini side, both as a method or made as written. I like to make a version of this dish with roasted asparagus instead of leeks, more lemon, less olive oil, and a little shallot. You get the idea, it’s adaptable. My one tip: don’t over-grill or cook the zucchini; leave a little crunch!

Grilled Zucchini with Walnuts, Lemon and Herbs
This recipe from Alison Roman is so versatile. Change up the vegetables or herbs, and serve warm or at room temperature, but whatever you do, take this as your special invitation to enjoy your surplus of zucchini!
Make this side!
black plate of grilled zucchini, walnuts, and asparagus with lemon dressing and fresh parsley

2. Zoodles – do you have a spiralizer? I don’t, haha! But only because of my storage shortage. I’ve borrowed this one before, and it is fun. Zoodles, fresh or store-bought, do not take long to sauté or cook. Again, to avoid the mush factor, less is more when it comes to cooking covered with steam, sautéing, or both.

3. Zucchini ribbon salad – using your vegetable peeler, you can make long raw zucchini ribbons and toss them with this Easy Greek Vinaigrette. Add olives, tomatoes, peppers, fennel, cucumber, herbs, greens, garbanzo beans, and feta for a twist on my Greek chop-chop salad.

Pile of shaved zucchini ribbons on a marble surface.
Chopped Salad with Easy Greek Vinaigrette
Get the recipe for this Greek chop-chop salad and substitute fresh raw zucchini strips for the greens for a delicious take on this popular salad. This is the fastest way to lunch, I promise.
Make this salad!
Blue pottery dish pouring Greek vinaigrette over chopped Greek salad in a bowl with fresh herbs on marble counter.

4. Sliced zucchini on pizza! Yes, Ina did it again with this tart I call pizza. I have made this recipe gluten-free multiple times for friend and family dinners. It is all my favorite things – pizza, pizza, goat cheese, fresh herbs and vegetables, and pizza. Who loves pizza, I mean this tart? Me.

Zucchini & Goat Cheese Tart
Ina's zucchini & goat cheese tart is so easy to make gluten-free with a pre-made crust or your favorite homemade tart or crust recipe. It's the perfect appetizer wtih roasted olives or a delicious lunch or dinner with a side salad.
Make this pizza!

What gluten-free pizza crusts work for the best recipes for zucchini?

  1. Schar gluten-free pizza crust – This is our favorite everyday gluten-free pizza crust! Thrive Market sells this crust, which has become our go-to for ease and taste. It is sturdy enough to hold toppings like goat cheese and zucchini. It has a crisp finish when I brush the top and bottom lightly with olive oil.
  2. Against the Grain Gourmet Pizza Shell – this gluten-free crust is delicious with this zucchini pizza as an appetizer. AAG’s pizza crust has a lot of dairy, so it’s rich for a main dish and quite filling. I like that it uses zero gums or additives to hold it all together. I’ve also found it on Instacart and with frozen foods at Thrive Market.

Using and Freezing Zucchini: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to thaw frozen zucchini before using it?

Yes! Zucchini holds a lot of water, so when frozen raw like directed above also freezes the water content. I like to let zucchini thaw in the fridge overnight or put frozen zucchini into a colander set over a bowl and let it thaw and drain at room temperature.

How do I remove excess water from fresh zucchini?

There are two ways I like to prepare fresh zucchini for a baked recipe. First, you can set a colander over a bowl and press zucchini down in the colander with a clean hand or paper towel, letting water drip out into the bowl. Or second, you can lay out a clean towel, set your shredded zucchini in the middle, pull up all four corners, and twist over a bowl or sink to remove the excess water.

Do I need to remove the seeds or the middle of fresh zucchini before using?

It’s truly a preference. With small or regular size zucchini, there is no need to seed or scrape out the middle. I use it all! If the zucchini has grown larger, so will the seeds, and the middle can be more stringy like the squash it is. In this case, I like to scrape out the centers with a spoon before shredding, chopping, and baking.

Is there a way to freeze chopped zucchini, so it’s not so mushy?

Yes! If you are not wanting your zucchini to be so mushy and perhaps would like to use it chopped in soups or to hold the color better, try blanching your zucchini in unsalted water for 1 minute. Then quickly adding it to an ice bath to cool for no more than 1 min. Then drain and let dry in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Dab any wet spots with a paper towel gently. In the same way, you would freeze blueberries and put your dry zucchini on a cookie sheet in the freezer until frozen individually. Then remove, and put frozen pieces into a jar or freezer bag to freeze for 4-6 months.

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Last Updated on September 25, 2022 by Heather Bursch

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