Sautéed zucchini is the easiest and most versatile zucchini recipe because you can eat the zucchini on its own, as a side dish, or use them in many other recipes.

You can sauté zucchinis on a pan in 10 minutes and add them to pasta, risotto, or frittata, or you can use them as a topping on pizza, bruschetta, and crostini.

sautéed zucchini

Sautéing zucchini in a pan on the stove is a valuable cooking skill that anyone can master with little effort and use to make a quick and creative home-cooked dinner.

Think of sautéed zucchini as much more than a simple side dish, although you can certainly eat it as such.

Try blending half of them and make a delicious sautéed zucchini sauce to use with pasta or risotto.

Or try mixing them into your frittata batter and make a tasty zucchini frittata.

We like to cook sautéed zucchini with red onion and some garlic to add a sweet, caramelized, and smokey flavor.

Add a handful of your favorite fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and enjoy this delicious zucchini as a beautiful side dish.

Sauteed Zucchini pasta
Spaghetti with sautéed zucchini sauce.

Ingredients

sauteed zucchini ingredients

Zucchini

You can use classic dark green zucchini or try globe zucchini, yellow crookneck, yellow squash, yellow zucchini, grey zucchini, and costata romanesco.

Choose zucchini that are hard to the touch. Apply gentle pressure with your thumb and index finger; the zucchini should barely yield to pressure.

Also, look for smaller zucchini—Max 6 inches (15 cm) long to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

Fresh zucchini will stay more intact and less soggy when you cook them. However, old zucchini can be mushy and bitter.

Oil

Zucchini goes best with olive oil, even better if an extra virgin olive oil for more flavor.

Canola, avocado, and sunflower oil are ok alternatives, but they won’t give the same flavor as good-quality olive oil.

Substitute olive oil with butter or non-dairy butter.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic adds a fragrant and fresh flavor, while the red onion makes the dish sweeter, with caramelized onion notes.

You can use crushed, grated or minced garlic. Substitute white or yellow onion for the red onion.

Herbs and Spices

We use dried oregano and fresh parsley; however, you can use most dried and fresh herbs with this easy sautéed zucchini recipe.

We recommend thyme, basil, tarragon, mint, marjoram, chives, dill, and red pepper flakes. Italian seasoning with mixed herbs is also a good option.

Add dried herbs at the start and fresh herbs towards the end.

Salt and Black Pepper

We recommend sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Lemon

We like to squeeze half a lemon on the sautéed zucchini before serving them.

Aged balsamic vinegar works well too.

Other ingredients

We don’t use cheese for this recipe. However, if you’d like to use it, we recommend sprinkling the sautéed zucchini with grated parmesan cheese, crumbled feta cheese, goat cheese, or non-dairy cheese right before serving them.

You can also add toasted pine nuts and grated lemon zest.

Sauteed zucchini and lemon tofu
Lemon tofu with sautéed zucchini.

Instructions

Wash, dry, and trim the ends of the zucchini, then slice them into 1/5 inches (1/2 cm) thick discs. You can do so with a chef’s knife or mandoline slicer.

Tip: You can cut the zucchini into other shapes, such as dice, or spiralize them into zucchini noodles. There’s no need to peel the zucchini as most nutrients, flavor, and color are in the peel.

sliced zucchini

Heat up the olive oil in a very large skillet, add finely chopped red onion, and fry on medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often.

Tip: A large pan helps the zucchini cook more evenly and the steam to escape, allowing the zucchini to get tender-crisp without getting mushy. If you don’t have a large skillet, cook half of the zucchini.

frying the onion in a pan

Add the zucchini, crushed or minced garlic, salt, pepper, and dried oregano.

Stir it to spread the seasoning, and fry the zucchini without moving them on medium-high heat for 2 minutes.

zucchini in a pan seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano

Stir and turn them around, cover them with a lid, and cook for 2 more minutes.

The lid will help the zucchini cook faster, trapping some steam. This way, we won’t need to add liquid to the pan. Keep the top on for only 2 minutes.

Tip: sauté means to jump in French. You could try to “jump” the zucchini rocking the pan with a swift movement forth and back, making the zucchini hit the edge of the pan and flip over.

pan fried zucchini

Take off the lid, stir, and finish cooking for about 3 to 6 more minutes.

Taste and adjust for salt, then when the zucchini is cooked to your liking, add some finely chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Tip: The exact cooking time depends on how thick your zucchini slices are and how cooked you like them.

lemon and parsley on zucchini

Serve sautéed zucchini as a tasty side dish, or use them to make other recipes.

sautéed zucchini with red onion

Serving suggestions

As a side dish

Pan-fried zucchini make a healthy vegetable side dish with most mains. For example, try it with our lemon tofu for a beautiful, healthy spring and summer meal.

Other tofu recipes that go well with pan-fried zucchini are vegan tofu fish, tofu with pizzaiola sauce, tofu and spinach cutlets, and this tofu pasta.

Sauteed zucchini and lemon tofu

Zucchini Frittata

We make a mean vegan frittata with sautéed zucchini and chickpea flour batter. It’s just so delicious and healthy; you have to try it. It’s also super easy to make, which is a massive plus.

Make it with a simple chickpea flour batter, mix in the sautéed zucchini, and cook like a regular frittata. Here’s the full recipe for chickpea flour frittata.

vegan frittata with sautéed zucchini

With Pasta

An easy way to use pan-fried zucchini is to use it with pasta.

To do so, we recommend blending half of the sautéed zucchini and adding a little pasta cooking water.

This way, you’ll make a delicious zucchini sauce that will coat your pasta.

zucchini cream and pan fried zucchini

Add in the pasta cooked al dente, add a ladleful of pasta cooking water, and finish cooking on medium heat, stirring often, for about 1 minute.

spaghetti with zucchini

This is such an easy and delicious meal. The zucchini cream perfectly coats the spaghetti. The sautéed zucchini add that sweet, buttery flavor.

Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few basil leaves (some toasted pine nuts would also be perfect here), and enjoy.

pasta with sautéed zucchini

Sauteed zucchini is also fantastic on top of other basic pasta dishes such as spaghetti aglio olio, pomodoro pasta, and mushroom pasta.

As a starter on bruschetta

There’s nothing simpler and more satisfying than a crunchy and tasty bruschetta with sautèed zucchini.

Toast the bread in the oven with a broiler or grill pan. Then rub it with garlic, and top with a generous amount of sautéed zucchini.

Drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil, a few toasted pine nuts, and some basil leaves, and enjoy. Simple, yet with a flavor that will impress anyone at your table.

bruschetta with fried zucchini, pine nuts, and basil

Zucchini Pie

An excellent recipe for brunches, potlucks, and picnics, but also perfect as a make-ahead lunch.

Our zucchini pie is incredible. You can make a homemade or store-bought crust, fill it with chickpea batter and sautéed zucchini, and bake it in the oven.

Get the full recipe for zucchini pie.

vegan zucchini pie

Tips

Don’t overcrowd the pan

To allow the water in the zucchini to evaporate and prevent the zucchini from getting soggy, it’s best to cook it in a large pan without overcrowding them.

In everyday cooking, laying the zucchini on a single layer in the pan is impractical.

It would take too long to cook them all. What I would recommend, however, is to not cook more than 500 grams or about 1 pound of zucchini in one pan.

Get fresh zucchini

Zucchini gets soggy and bitter quickly if they are not fresh. When at the store, make sure to get the hardest zucchini. The ones with tiny furry spikes on their peel are the freshest.

Learn to jump

Sauté in French means to jump. In this context, jumping means flipping the veggies without touching them with tools.

To do that, move the pan swiftly forth and back. The zucchini should slide onto the edge of the pan and flip over.

Jumping vegetables is more effective because turning the zucchini with a tool will almost surely damage the zucchini. A quick, shallow jump won’t.

Questions

Do zucchini need to be peeled before sauteing?

No. Zucchini doesn’t need to be peeled before sauteing.

Zucchini peel is safe to eat, contains flavor and antioxidants, and you don’t need to remove it.

Why is my sautéed zucchini mushy?

Your sautéed zucchini is mushy for one or more of these reasons:

1) You used an old, not-so-fresh zucchini that was soft to the touch. Only get the freshest zucchini for sautéeing.
2) You overcooked your zucchini.
3) You overcrowded the pan with too much zucchini.
4) You cooked it at low heat.

How do you cut zucchini for sauteing?

Cut smaller zucchini into 1/5 inch or 1/2 cm thin discs. If you have larger zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise first, then into half-moons.

Make Ahead & Storage

Make ahead: this is not the best recipe to make ahead because the zucchini will get soft and soggy as your reheat them.

Refrigerator: store leftovers in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, best in an airtight container.

Reheat: in the microwave for a minute or on a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.

Freezing: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.

More Zucchini Recipes

If you like cooking with zucchini as much as we do, check out our other easy zucchini recipes:

More Sautéed Vegetable

Get more easy and quick dinner inspiration with these sautéed recipes:

For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.

sauteed zucchini on a plate

Sauteed Zucchini

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 3 votes
Sautéed zucchini is the easiest and most versatile zucchini recipe because you can eat the zucchini on its own, as a side dish, or use them in many other recipes.
You can sauté zucchinis on a pan in 10 minutes and add them to pasta, risotto, or frittata, or you can use them as a topping on pizza, bruschetta, and crostini.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Side dish
Cuisine: International

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of zucchini (2 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 handful flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ lemon

Instructions 

  • Wash, dry, and trim the ends of 1 pound of zucchini, then slice them into ⅕ inches (½ cm) thin discs.
    sliced zucchini
  • Heat up 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a very large skillet, add 1 medium red onion (finely chopped), and fry on medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often.
    frying the onion in a pan
  • Add the zucchini, 1 clove garlic (crushed), ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.
    Stir it to spread the seasoning, and fry the zucchini without moving them on medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
    zucchini in a pan seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano
  • Stir and turn them around, cover them with a lid, and cook for 2 more minutes.
    The lid will help the zucchini cook faster, trapping some steam. This way, we won't need to add liquid to the pan. Keep the top on for only 2 minutes.
    pan fried zucchini
  • Take off the lid, stir, and finish cooking for about 3 to 6 more minutes.
    Taste and adjust for salt, then when the zucchini is cooked to your liking, add 1 handful flat-leaf parsley (chopped) and the squeezed juice of ½ lemon.
    lemon and parsley on zucchini
  • Serve sautéed zucchini as a tasty side dish, or use them to make other recipes.
    sautéed zucchini with red onion

Video

Sautéed Zucchini (side dish, pasta & pizza topping)

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of sautéed zucchini out of 4 servings.
SERVING SUGGETSIONS
Check out our serving suggestions chapter above for ideas on how to use sautéed zucchini.
TIPS
Tip: You can cut the zucchini into other shapes, such as dice, or spiralize them into zucchini noodles.
Tip: There’s no need to peel the zucchini as most nutrients, flavor, and color are in the peel.
Tip: A large pan helps the zucchini cook more evenly and the steam to escape, allowing the zucchini to get tender-crisp without getting mushy. If you don’t have a large skillet, cook half of the zucchini.
Tip: sauté means to jump in French. You could try to “jump” the zucchini rocking the pan with a swift movement forth and back, making the zucchini hit the edge of the pan and flip over.
Tip: The exact cooking time depends on how thick your zucchini slices are and how cooked you like them. The more you cook the zucchini, the mushier, softer, and browner they’ll get. We’d recommend undercooking them slightly to have bright, green, crisp-tender zucchini. This is important if you use them for other preparations, such as pasta, risotto, or frittata.
MAKE AHEAD & STORAGE
Make ahead: this is not the best recipe to make ahead because the zucchini will get soft and soggy as your reheat them.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, best in an airtight container.
Reheat: in the microwave for a minute or on a pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
Freezing: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 373mg, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 324IU, Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, Vitamin C: 31mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 29µg, Calcium: 40mg, Folate: 37µg, Iron: 1mg, Manganese: 0.3mg, Magnesium: 27mg, Zinc: 0.5mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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