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Tangles of zucchini noodles wrapped around burst cherry tomatoes in a garlic Parmesan sauce that forms itself right in the pan as the zucchini cooks, this bright Zucchini Pasta is the recipe that convinced me that zucchini noodles can, in fact, be as legitimately satisfying as regular pasta noodles.

Zucchini pasta on a blue plate with tomatoes

Why You’ll Love This Zucchini Pasta Recipe

  • Zucchini Noodles You’ll Actually Want to Eat. Most of the time if you are cooking with zucchini noodles, it’s because you are trying to save calories or keep things low carb. But, like my Healthy Shrimp Scampi, this creamy zucchini pasta is an absolute delight with its bright, summery flavors.
  • Use Up All That Summer Zucchini. Zucchini Muffins and Blueberry Zucchini Bread are great, but if you’re looking for healthy ways to make zucchini for dinner, this zucchini pasta is right up there with my Stuffed Zucchini and Zucchini Pizza Boats.
  • It’s a Versatile Recipe. You can keep the recipe vegetarian as written, or add your protein of choice. See “What to Serve with Zucchini Pasta” below for ideas.
  • Zucchini Pasta Is Ridiculously Easy. 15 minutes of prep plus 10 minutes of cooking time equal an outstanding weeknight dinner option.
Creamy and easy zucchini pasta

5 Star Review

“The best zucchini noodles I’ve made!”

— Cathy —

More About Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini pasta is a bit of a misnomer, because this recipe doesn’t actually include traditional pasta noodles—and no, you won’t find it alongside linguine and bucatini when you’re eating dinner at a ristorante in Italy.

Instead, it uses spiralized zucchini, meaning zucchini that has been cut into long, thin spaghetti-shaped “noodles” using a spiralizer machine.

Spiralizers are not expensive—the one I recommend will set you back around $20, but I know it can feel like a lot to add another appliance to your kitchen. I have a few suggestions for how to make zucchini noodles without a spiralizer below.

While zucchini noodles do not taste exactly like pasta noodles, if you cook them properly (meaning until they are al dente, not mushy), they are surprisingly satisfying.

Zucchini noodles absorb flavors well, you can twirl them around your fork like traditional noodles, and it does feel good to know you are enjoying a hefty serving of veg.

Zucchini noodles can also provide a pasta-like option for those who can’t have traditional pasta for dietary reasons. If you are gluten-free, wanting to reduce carbohydrates, or are following a diet like Whole30, keto, or Paleo, zoodles are a great option (check out these Whole30 Meatballs, by the way).

Healthy zucchini pasta in a skillet with tomatoes and basil

How to Make Zucchini Pasta

The Ingredients

  • Zucchini. Zucchini noodles are a delicious, healthy pasta alternative that make this dish worthy of eating on repeat. They’re gluten-free, low carb, and keto/Paleo/Whole30 friendly.

Market Swap

Other summer squash, like yellow squash and those funky zephyr squash you sometimes find at farmers’ markets, will work here too. Just make sure it’s a shape that can be easily spiralized!

  • Lemon Juice + Cornstarch. The sneaky thickener for our pasta sauce. The lemon juice adds brightness, while the cornstarch helps the sauce thicken without resorting to heavy cream.
  • Butter. While you could use extra-virgin olive oil, I love the flavor that butter adds to this zucchini pasta.
  • Shallot +  Garlic. An iconic duo that creates a scrumptious flavor base for our pasta sauce.
  • Cherry Tomatoes. Juicy, red pops of sweet goodness that flavor the sauce and every bite you take.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. For the ideal amount of heat.
  • Parmesan. Not only does the Parmesan provide salty, cheesy flavor, but it also plays a role in thickening our pasta sauce.
  • Basil. A shower of fresh basil is the perfect finishing touch for this dish.

The Directions

Zucchini noodles in a glass
  1. Prepare. Spiralize the zucchini.
Lemon and cornstarch in a glass bowl
  1. Start the Sauce. Prepare the lemon and cornstarch slurry.
Tomatoes and garlic in a skillet
  1. Cook the Veggies. Sauté the shallots in butter. Add the garlic. Stir in the tomatoes.
  2. Make It Creamy. Pour in the slurry and red pepper flakes.
Zucchini pasta in a skillet with tomatoes
  1. Coat the Noodles. Add the noodles, stirring to coat them in the sauce.
Vegetables and noodles in a skillet
  1. Bring It All Together. Add the cheese. Cook until the noodles are al dente. Keep on tossing the whole time.
Zucchini pasta with tomatoes and basil on a plate
  1. Finish and Serve. Sprinkle in salt and pepper, and add the basil. Top with Parmesan, and ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Make Ahead. Spiralize the zucchini noodles up to 2 days in advance, and store them in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator.
  • To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a large skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • I don’t recommend freezing this dish, as the zoodles can have a mushy texture once thawed.

Leftover Ideas

If you only have a small amount of zucchini pasta left, instead of serving it as a main course, dish it up as a side with a filling main like Breaded Pork Chops or Baked Chicken Parmesan.

What to Serve with Zucchini Pasta

Easy zucchini pasta with tomatoes, basil, and lemon
  • Spiralizer. The easiest way to create perfect zucchini noodles.
  • Tongs. The best way to toss the noodles.
  • Large Skillet. A kitchen tool you’ll use constantly, and it’s perfect for many of these one pan meals.
  • Citrus Juicer. A helpful gadget that’s worthy of a spot in your kitchen.

Keeping Zucchini Noodles from Becoming Soggy

Zucchini has a naturally high water content, meaning that if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with soggy noodles and a watery sauce.

This zucchini pasta recipe uses the water content of zucchini to its advantage. As the zucchini releases water, we toss the zoodles continuously in Parmesan and a bit of cornstarch.

The cornstarch and Parm bind with the noodles, turning the zucchini liquid into a light, creamy zucchini pasta sauce. I stole the approach from this Pasta al Limone and was delighted to find that it works well here also.

Here are a few tips more tips to make your zucchini noodles not soggy:

  • Wait to Add Salt. Salt naturally draws moisture out of ingredients, so it could make the noodles soggy if added too early. Wait to add the salt until just before serving.
  • Don’t Overcook Them! Once the noodles are al dente, they’re done. Overcooked zucchini noodles can quickly become a mushy, soggy mess.
  • Pat Them Dry. After you’ve spiralized your zucchini, lay the noodles on a towel, and gently press down to remove any excess moisture.

How to Make Zucchini Noodles without a Spiralizer

By far, the easiest and fastest way to make zucchini spaghetti is with a spiralizer. It’s inexpensive and once you own it, you’ll likely find yourself making veggie noodles more frequently.

I like countertop models like this one. You can find many similar models on Amazon and at other retailers too. You can use them for other vegetables in addition to the zucchini.

If you don’t have or wish to purchase a spiralizer, you certainly have options!

  • You can use a handheld vegetable peeler like this one to create long, straight zucchini noodles.
  • Slice your zucchini lengthwise on a mandoline for easy zoodles (I use this technique for my Zucchini Ravioli).
  • If necessary, you can even cut zucchini noodles by hand using a knife. Cut long, thin noodles down the length of the zucchini (though by the time you are done, you may wish you’d bought a spiralizer).

Zucchini Pasta

4.83 from 29 votes
This creamy zucchini pasta pairs zucchini "noodles" with lemon, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and an easy Parmesan pan sauce. Bright and healthy!

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds zucchini about 4 medium
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Spiralize the zucchini (see blog post above for tips). Set aside.
  • In a small bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch. Set near your stove.
  • In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook just until very fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes and stir to coat. Let cook 2 minutes, just until the tomatoes begin to soften.
  • Add the lemon juice mixture and red pepper flakes. Let simmer 1 minute.
  • Add the zucchini noodles. Toss them with the mixture, using a pair of tongs to coat them as evenly as possible with the sauce and to break apart the noodles. At first the mixture will seem dry.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese. Keep tossing and cooking. As the zucchini cooks and gives up its liquid, it will form a sauce that coats the pasta. Continue to cook and toss, until the zucchini noodles are al dente, about 4 minutes.
  • Add a good pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, then toss in the basil. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve right away, topped with extra Parmesan cheese.

Video

Notes

  • TO MAKE AHEAD: Spiralize the zucchini noodles up to 2 days in advance, and store them in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator.
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a large skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 180kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 9gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 26mgPotassium: 920mgFiber: 3gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 1510IUVitamin C: 75mgCalcium: 197mgIron: 2mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Zucchini Noodles Taste Like?

Zucchini noodles do taste like zucchini. (Hey, I’m a food blogger, not a magician!) That said, just like pasta, zucchini has a mild flavor that allows it to showcase the ingredients you add to it—in this case, a creamy lemon sauce, herbaceous basil, and plump tomatoes.

Is Zucchini a Good Substitute for Pasta?

Zucchini is a good substitute for pasta in some recipes, but not others. For this reason, I recommend using zucchini noodles only in recipes that were specifically developed for them, otherwise you may have watery results.

Are Zucchini Noodles Supposed to Be Crunchy?

If you’re serving them raw, zucchini noodles can be crunchy, but for a cooked dish like this zucchini pasta recipe, you want them al dente—somewhere between soft and crunchy.

Can Zucchini Noodles Be Boiled?

No, don’t boil your zucchini noodles in a pot like pasta! They’ll end up mushy and unappetizing.

Is Zucchini Pasta Good for You?

Yes, zucchini pasta is healthy! Zoodles are healthier than pasta because they’re lower in calories and packed with vitamin A, antioxidants, and potassium (see more zucchini health benefits here).

Related Recipes

Zucchini is a summertime favorite, and these recipes are my favorite ways to highlight this versatile veggie:

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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35 Comments

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  1. So delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, just added some diced chicken. My husband was somewhat skeptical about trying it, but it was a hit. I will be making it again. Thank you Erin!5 stars

  2. Absolutely delicious!!! I added 2 italian sausages cooked in a different skillet that I added in the big one just before the zucchinis! We all love it!5 stars

  3. I felt like the dish needed at least one more flavor, but I will admit I usually go too far on spices. I also felt like I had a wet mess at the end even after letting it cook a little longer, I might have overcooked the tomatoes.
    Overall, for a healthy dish that used all things I had from my garden (except using an onion instead of a shallot) or in my cupboard I will make a variation of this recipe again.4 stars

    1. looks great and tastes wonderful. Due to my diet I only used spray instead of oil and i couldn’t find the corn starch so i used coconut flour. It was probably a bit too lemony tasting so I recommend people using less and adding later, but that is a matter of taste obviously. Thanks for the excellent recipe. As to the person who found it watery, it is really important to dry off the zucchini. I used regular tomato, and you could drain out the juice in the center to make it less juicy, but it was important for the sauce part to me.5 stars

  4. The best zucchini noodles I’ve made! A little sweetness from the tomatoes and spicy from the chilies, loved the crispness of the noodles. A hit for my daughter and I. Thanks for the recipe5 stars

  5. I’m so sorry this dish didn’t turn out as you hoped, Tracy. I (and many other readers) have truly enjoyed it, so I wish it would’ve been a hit for you too!

  6. Delicious! Loved the tip about patting the zucchini noodles dry.

    I made this recipe the first time with grape tomatoes, as I didn’t have cherry tomatoes on hand. It was definitely less watery with the grape tomatoes.

    Both versions were delicious. If people like it less runny, they may prefer the grape tomato version.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you’ve enjoyed the recipe, Denise! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  7. Hi Erin, My family loved this recipe. It came out perfect! I am always looking for low fat recipes and this one topped the list!! I served it with Italian meatballs . Thank you for a great addition to my recipe choices.5 stars

  8. This was a nice approach to Zoodles! Made them really Al dente (not crunchy) and well seasoned. I added Gilbert’s Smoked Gouda Chicken Sausage as my protein and it was a perfect dinner.5 stars

  9. We tried this last night with Chicken Piccata. It was the perfect side dish – Easy and very tasty. I already shared the recipe link with some friends.5 stars

  10. Just made this recipe… FANTASTIC! Didn’t really anticipate how well it would turn out, but as things started cooking it was clear that it was going to be great.
    Paired it up with a crispy lemon tofu recipe and knocked it out of the park!5 stars

  11. If you aren’t used to low carb and it all seems confusing at first, PEEL the zucchini first. Make your zoodles and add precooked thin spaghetti noodles to the pan while sautéing. I did this, and not even our pickiest noticed a difference!5 stars

  12. Loved it the zucchini was dine perfect the lemon sauce was out of this world the flavors all worked so great together. I added some shrimp loved it5 stars

  13. Sooo delicious everyone loves is. Perfect burst of flavor. Even my dad who doesn’t usually like zoodles. Thank you. I will be adding this to our menu 😋👍5 stars