Zucchini pasta, as in pasta with zucchini, is a creamy and easy one-pot recipe you can make as a quick dinner for the whole family.
Learn how to make this delicious pasta dish with a few simple ingredients, grated zucchini, and almost no effort.
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Our zucchini pasta is actual pasta with zucchini, not zucchini noodles or zoodles. This pasta dish is easy, and you can make it in one pot with little effort.
This recipe is a great way to eat more vegetables without even realizing it because there's a lot of zucchini in this recipe.
We cook the pasta with grated zucchini, vegetable broth, and a few other simple ingredients. The grated zucchini melt in this dish, making it super creamy and delicious.
The dish comes together in about 20 minutes; it's nutritious, fulfilling, and yet light and fresh, thanks to the zucchini and lemon juice.
You can finish this shredded zucchini pasta like our zucchini risotto by adding a little cheese and/or butter at the end before serving it.
We use vegan butter and parmesan, but you can choose your favorite cheese and butter based on your dietary preferences to make zucchini pasta vegetarian or fully vegan.
We make this recipe with green zucchini, but any other zucchini type would work. For example, try globe zucchini, yellow crookneck, yellow squash, yellow zucchini, and grey zucchini.
Use a short pasta type such as rotini, fusilli, penne, rigatoni, or other. Choose Italian pasta made with 100% durum wheat and water. We have not tried this recipe with gluten-free pasta. Please let us know if you do.
To fry the garlic and thyme and build flavor for the zucchini. It doesn't have to be extra virgin olive oil, but it can.
Garlic + thyme
We fry them with the oil to add flavor to the zucchini. Thinly slice the garlic and use fresh thyme if you can. You can replace the thyme with other herbs such as oregano, sage, or some Italian seasoning.
We use vegetable broth instead of water to add more flavor to this dish.
Salt and pepper
You'll need to add some salt to make this dish taste great. We generally use sea salt or kosher salt.
If you are on a low sodium diet, you might consider replacing the salt with a potassium chloride salt substitute but talk to your doctor first.
Freshly ground black pepper adds a nice aroma. If you like this dish spicier, add red pepper flakes.
Basil and zucchini are great, so we add plenty of basil to flavor this dish.
Just a squeeze before serving. It freshens up the zucchini pasta. For lemon lovers, try adding some grated lemon zest to your portion for even more lemon flavor.
Parmesan + butter (optional)
We like to use vegan butter and parmesan cheese, but to be honest, there are no hard rules for this pasta dish. You can replace the parmesan with other melty cheese or vegan cheese, and you can replace the butter with vegan cream cheese.
Pine nuts (optional)
Pine nuts go very well with the rest of the ingredients in this recipe, so we decided to add some, lightly toasted, on a pan for a couple of minutes.
Grate the zucchini with the large holes of a box grater and thinly slice the garlic.
Add olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, and fresh thyme to a dutch oven or large skillet with tall sides.
Fry on medium heat for 1 minute then add the grated zucchini, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the vegetable broth and the pasta, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 13 minutes, stirring often until the pasta is al dente.
Note: cooking time is a few minutes longer than indicated on the package because we are not boiling the pasta in as much water as usual.
If the pot dries, add more liquid until the pasta is ready. Cooking time varies between pasta shapes. The longer the cooking time, the more liquid is required.
When the pasta is creamy and al dente, turn the heat off, taste, and adjust for salt.
Next, add the parmesan cheese or vegan cheese, the vegan butter, and plenty of fresh basil and thyme.
Stir gently until cheese and butter melt and are incorporated into the zucchini pasta.
Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice, a little grated lemon zest, and optionally toasted pine nuts.
Pasta with zucchini is a fulfilling, nutritious main course you can serve on its own or with a light salad on the side. Pair it with any of these fresh sides for added greens:
- Cucumber tomato salad
- Panzanella salad
- Chickpea salad
- Fennel orange salad
- Bruschetta with fresh tomato
- Crostini with veggie toppings
Or get more veggies on the table by pairing the pasta with any of these vegetable sides.
Pasta with zucchini pesto
Pasta with zucchini is even easier if you have some of our vegan zucchini pesto. To make this variation, boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water as instructed on the package.
Drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, and add the pasta to a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of zucchini pesto and toss the pasta until fully combined. If necessary, add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Sautéed zucchini pasta sauce
To make this delicious zucchini pasta dish, you'll need to sauté some zucchini first. Here's a quick recipe on how to sauté zucchini.
Blend half of your sautéed zucchini with 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water until you get a smooth zucchini cream.
Transfer the zucchini cream back into the pan with the remaining sautéed zucchini.
Add in the pasta cooked al dente (we recommend spaghetti for this recipe), a ladleful of pasta cooking water, and finish cooking on medium heat, stirring often, for about 1 minute. Serve with some extra virgin olive oil on top and fresh basil leaves.
More zucchini recipes
When the zucchini season starts we tend to cook the same recipes. Zucchini is very affordable at this time, and is great for a number of salty and sweet recipes:
- Zucchini boats
- Raw zucchini salad
- Roasted zucchini
- Sautéed zucchini
- Easy zucchini muffins
- Vegan zucchini bread with chocolate chips
- Zucchini focaccia
Or check out any of these zucchini recipes and get inspiration for using those surplus zucchini.
The best way to enjoy zucchini pasta is to eat it as soon as it's ready so that you can eat it at its best; creamy and al dente.
If you have some leftovers, let them cool down at room temperature, transfer them to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 24 to 36 hours.
Reheat in the microwave or a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil. Add some fresh herbs before serving. We don't recommend freezing this recipe.
For many more pasta ideas, check out our pasta category page.
- 1 pound (16 oz) short pasta rotini, fusilli, farfalle, penne, or other.
- 4 cups zucchini grated with the large holes of a box grater
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ packed cup basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons parmesan or vegan cheese
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter or vegan cream cheese
- 1 medium lemon zest + wedge to squeeze
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts toasted
- Grate the zucchini with the large holes of a box grater and thinly slice the garlic.
- To a dutch oven or large skillet with tall sides, add olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, and fresh thyme.
- Fry on medium heat for 1 minute, then add the grated zucchini, salt, and black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the vegetable broth and the pasta, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 13 minutes, stirring often until the pasta is al dente.Note: cooking time is a few minutes longer than indicated on the package because we are not boiling the pasta in as much water as usual.If the pot dries, add more liquid until the pasta is ready. Cooking time varies between pasta shapes. The longer the cooking time, the more liquid is required.
- When the pasta is creamy and al dente, turn the heat off, taste, and adjust for salt.Next, add the parmesan or vegan cheese, the vegan butter, and plenty of fresh basil and thyme.
- Stir gently until cheese and butter melt and are incorporated into the zucchini pasta.
- Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon juice, a little grated lemon zest, and toasted pine nuts.
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