Looking for ways to use up zucchini, both the large “clubs” and smaller sizes you get from your garden or friend’s gardens? Look no further – I’ve got you covered with my favorite, tried and true recipes that everyone loves – even zucchini haters!
Whether you’re looking for the one zucchini bread you can make again and again, a side dish that will go with anything, or baked cookies, cakes, and muffins that benefit from zucchini’s moistness, you’ll find it here!
Over the years that I’ve grown a vegetable garden, I’ve had lots of people ask questions along the lines of:
“What are you going to do with all those (fill in the blank)?”
It can be peas in the spring (eat and freeze), beans in summer (eat, pickle, freeze), or tomatoes in late summer and fall (eat and process in SO many ways – visit AOC’s preserving page to get my favorite ways to preserve tomatoes).
But mostly it seems I get asked if I have any ideas for what to do with all.the.zucchini.
And even with all the jokes about giant zucchini’s taking over the world, there are so many ways to use this summer squash that I rarely have any go to waste! So I thought I’d list some of my favorite recipes that use this prolific vegetable.
But first, let’s talk about some zucchini facts:
- Zucchini is known as courgettes in France, Britain, and another parts of Europe (though it’s sometimes called marrow in the UK).
- It’s botanically a fruit, but for cooking is treated as a vegetable.
- It’s a summer squash – the term for squash that is harvested before their rinds harden – along with crookneck yellow squash, pattypan, and others.
- You can grow both green and yellow varieties of zucchini (my experience growing yellow zucchini is that they are easier to see to harvest, but are never as prolific – which may or may not be a bad thing!).
- You can eat the zucchini blossoms.
- Zucchini is high in potassium and vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, and K, and minerals like manganese, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
Since zucchini is a summer squash, can other summer squashes be used in these recipes?
Maybe. Definitely the yellow zucchini, though I’ve found them to be drier so the baked goods weren’t as moist. I’ve successfully substituted crookneck squash for zucchini in recipes like the sauté and fritters below, as well as bread, though I found it a bit drier, too.
So, don’t be afraid to experiment – most of the time the substitutions work.
SO, what about all those stories of the zucchinis overtaking people’s gardens and kitchens (or cars and porches from people leaving them where ever they can)?
Zucchini is usually a vegetable that will produce no matter what the rest of the garden is doing – and do it well, otherwise there wouldn’t be those jokes.
But believe it or not, I’ve had years where I had trouble growing enough zucchini and some gardening friends have said they’ve struggled, too. It feels weird to admit that – who has trouble getting zucchini? The typical problem is getting RID of all the zucchini.
Note: Definitely visit The Ultimate Zucchini Guide for more info on growing this plant as well as even more recipes I’ve culled from all over the web!
I’m happy to say, though, that those lean zucchini years are far and few between. As an example, the zucchini in the picture above all came from ONE PLANT over the course of about 4 days (I do usually try to pick them before they get too big, obviously I missed this time).
I overdosed my family on grilled zucchini one year and Brian declared that he would be happy if he never saw a zucchini again, so I plant one or two plants a season. And if you can get all this is from just one plant in less than a week? Multiply that by months and you see why zucchini has gotten its “abundant” reputation.
My advice? Never plant more than 2 plants if you’re a normal family!
But when you’ve got them coming on (or have had them gifted by a friend), turn to one – or all – of these recipes to use them up deliciously.
13 Favorite Zucchini Recipes
Zucchini Side & Main Dishes
1. Grilled Zucchini
Slice small to medium zucchini lengthwise as thin as possible, about 1/4 inch, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with some Basic Spice Rub and grill about 2-3 minutes on each side. You can also slice them in thin rounds, but we found them harder to turn on the grill.
This is what my family grew tired of, but it’s oh so good…at the beginning of the season, at least!
This was the first thing I ever made with zucchini that wasn’t a bread or cake. Can you say l.o.v.e.? SO good and so easy, these are always a hit when I make them for guests.
I love that this dish highlights all the summer flavors of the garden. The vegetables are still crisp, the zucchini is hidden in the other flavors (so no complaints from my family…) and the flavor of the feta adds that delicious tangy taste.
Side note: What on earth did we do before feta cheese was available to us? Well…I ate less zucchini, I can tell you that.
This is another summer garden favorite – you won’t believe what sausage and a bit of cheese can do to vegetables and hollowed out zucchini. This is another way I can get my kids to eat zucchini!
Zucchini Breads & Desserts
The ONE bread I make multiple batches of every year and keep in the freezer for any time we want a zucchini bread fix.
I will just say these are so, so good – with or without frosting.
I never thought I’d say this about a dessert that wasn’t chocolate, but this is to.die.for. Really! Most people don’t believe me when I tell them this cake has zucchini in it. The secret? The zucchini is peeled first! I don’t know why I never thought to do this before finding this recipe in an old recipe pamphlet.
This was a revelation when I first discovered it – freeze uncooked dough to have fresh, warm zucchini muffins in the winter! And easy way to “preserve” your zucchini that’s all ready to go when you want it.
Who says zucchini bread has to be sweet? This may just change your mind about zucchini bread for good!
For those times you’d like a little lemon tang to your zucchini bread (cake?). And you’ll never guess this is made with whole wheat and less sugar than most recipes.
How about a zucchini bread recipe that uses only honey and naturally sweet orange juice as a sweetener? A really great change from regular breads.
But of course we can’t forget about a good chocolate zucchini bread. In order for the chocolate to really taste like chocolate, I swapped sugar for honey and used whole grain flour again, so no worries about enjoying this bread.
Wait, you can make a cookie from zucchini? One that’s not just a cake in cookie form? Yep – these really are fudgy and everything you’d like in a cookie – just with a little zucchini added.
What about you – what are some of your favorite zucchini recipes?
This article has been updated – it was originally published in August of 2009.
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