How to Make and Cook Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles (also known as “zoodles“) are the perfect gluten-free, zucchini pasta. Today, I’m showing you how to make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer, julienne peeler and mandoline.
I’ve also got several tips on how to cook zucchini noodles perfectly (so they’re not soggy) and I’m sharing my favorite “go to” zucchini noodle recipes.
Just because you’ve decided to ditch wheat-based spaghetti doesn’t mean you really have to give up pasta. How so, you ask? Well, let me introduce you to zucchini noodles. Also known as “zoodles” – zucchini noodles are the most brilliant noodle base for numerous healthy gluten-free recipes.
But if you’re new to the world of zoodles, you may be overwhelmed with all the options. You may even have questions like: What’s the best tool to make zucchini noodles? What zucchini noodle recipes should I make? How do I cook them? And should I even cook them?
I completely understand. And trust me, they’re all the same questions I had years ago. So today, I’ve put together the ultimate guide to zucchini noodles. A mini-resource guide, to help you navigate the wide world of zoodles.
The Ultimate Guide to Zucchini Noodles
Listed below are the most popular methods for making and cooking zucchini noodles. I’ve listed them in order of my favorite to least favorite. If you keep scrolling, you’ll also find a video that shows you how I use each device – so make sure to watch that!
And finally, at the very end I’ve included some of my best tips along with my favorite zucchini noodle recipes. So let’s dive in!
How to Make Zucchini Noodles
1. With a Spiralizer
The Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer is far and away my favorite tool. It creates curls of your favorite vegetables, literally in seconds. It’s the fastest tool of the bunch and requires the least amount of strength or effort (with suction cup feet to keep it in place). You simply cut off the ends of a zucchini, place it next to the blade and spin. In less than 8 seconds you’ll have spiral sliced the entire zucchini.
Now, I know these reviews are for zucchini noodles, but keep in mind other vegetables you may want to slice up. Carrots, sweet potato, apples, pears…the list is endless!
With this spiralizer, you can create your favorite carrot pasta, curly sweet potato fries or apple chips with easy to swap out blades. Yes, it’s bigger than some of the other options, but considering how I often I use it the pros far outweigh the cons – so it’s still my #1 favorite.
PROS: requires little effort/strength, performs the fastest, reasonably priced, sturdy and offers different blades/slicing options.
CONS: will require more storage space than other options.
2. With a Julienne Peeler
The great thing about a julienne peeler is that you likely already have one in your kitchen. Win! A julienne peeler frequently does double duty with a vegetable peeler. One side juliennes, the other side slices. And that’s perfect for when you want thick, flat slices of zucchini pasta. The single biggest benefit of a julienne peeler is that it’s small. It takes up virtually no space in your kitchen and will most likely reside in your utensil drawer.
When it comes to the actual zucchini noodles, a julienne peeler slices the thinnest, most delicate noodles. Then, you simply pull the strands apart with your fingers. The reason this tool makes #2 on my list is that it takes longer to slice (you rotate the zucchini, creating a rectangular shape), it leaves the largest core and the potential of nicking a finger is high (yep, I’m clumsy).
PROS: cheap and easy to store.
CONS: takes longer to slice and leaves a pretty large core.
3. With a Mandoline
I actually hummed and hawed about making the mandoline #2 on my list (because I love it that much) – but the julienne peeler won for size. I’ve had this mandoline for several years and it gets used a ton in my kitchen.
The mandoline creates julienne noodles that are slightly thicker than a peeler, but does it in half the time. The blades are SUPER sharp on a mandoline, so please please always use the plastic holder or a cut-resistant glove. I’ve sliced a massive divot out of my thumb before – and it’s not fun.
The mandoline creates the best flat zucchini pasta and allows you to vary the thickness. Similar to the Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer, it has several blade options, giving you options for perfectly consistent noodles, slices or rounds (and easily cuts through any “harder to slice” vegetable). Alright, maybe this is actually a tie for #2.
PROS: slicing is easy/fast (due to sharp blade) and consistent sizing/width of output.
CONS: sharp blade (be careful with your fingers) and medium size for storage.
4. With the KitchenAid Spiralizer
If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer then you’re likely aware of the numerous attachments available. While these attachments aren’t cheap, they’re automated by connecting to the power hub on the front of the mixer. And yes, as you guessed it, KitchenAid has a spiralizer attachment.
The Kitchenaid spiralizer comes in a nice storage box (though it’s quite large) and provides the most blade options, with 7 blades (including a peeler). But even with all these blade options I found that I still gravitated toward the 3 basic blades – the same ones which are included with the Paderno Spiralizer.
Another consideration is that because this tool is automated, it also has a fixed width. That means large zucchini need to be cut in half, with each half spiralized separately.
If you already have a KitchenAid and love using attachments, this is a great option. But for everyone else, the cost alone will probably be the biggest deterrent.
PROS: the only automated spiralizer, has the most blade options and comes with a peeler.
CONS: fixed width, requires the most storage space and I found that I could still spiralize a zucchini faster, by hand, with the Paderno Spiralizer.
5. With a Handheld Spiralizer
The handheld spiralizer is the newest kid on the block and the solution for curly noodles in a small contraption. It produces zucchini noodles most similar to the Paderno Spiralizer, though they tend to be flatter and not as consistently sized. I was really hoping to love this little device, but with all the other options on the market, I had to rank it last.
If you’re spiralizing several zucchini your wrist can become sore from all the twisting and it’s hard to keep the zucchini slicing straight. Also, if you plan to spiralize other vegetables (like carrots and sweet potatoes), this tool will be the most difficult as it requires the most strength and effort. Sure, it’s cheap, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
PROS: cheap and takes up little space.
CONS: inconsistent noodles, requires strength/wrist power and lacks the versatility of the other options.
Learn How to Make Zucchini Noodles
In the video below I’ll show you several ways to make zucchini noodles. While I love to use my spiralizer, you can choose your favorite method!
How to Cook Zucchini Noodles
Congratulations – you’ve made zucchini noodles! Now the big question is what to do with them, right? And you might be thinking, how do I cook them? But the question you should be asking is, “how do I heat them up?” Because you don’t really want to cook zucchini noodles. At least not too much.
Zucchini are comprised of 95 percent water (yes, 95%). So when you cook them, you may end up with a soggy, mushy mess of watery noodles – just by cooking one minute too long. The exact opposite of al dente. So when you’re cooking zoodles, remind yourself that your intention is simply to heat them up and not really to “cook.” I failed miserably at this in the beginning.
Today, I end up with perfectly crisp, al dente noodles every time. Here’s how…
1. Eat Zucchini Noodles Raw
The best way to get the crispiest, most al dente noodles? Keep them raw. Yep, that means no cooking whatsoever. Spiralize, mix with your favorite ingredients and serve. Not only is raw the easiest and fastest method, but the noodles are just as delicious cold as they are warm. Think of raw cucumber – you don’t need to cook that to eat it do you? Cold zucchini noodles are no different. And mixed with a cold avocado cucumber sauce or pesto sauce for zucchini pasta caprese….they’re delish!
If your zucchini is room temperature, simply mixing the noodles with a hot sauce, like a bolognese, also warms the noodles. So you’ve cooked without cooking! Isn’t that the best? And that’s why raw always wins as my favorite “cooking” method.
2. How to Microwave Zucchini Noodles
For the speediest cooking of your zucchini noodles, a microwave can’t be beat – which is why it’s my second favorite cooking method. Just pile all your noodles in a microwave-safe dish and cook for one minute. Depending on the amount of noodles you have you may need to cook longer, though I would recommend 30-second increments to prevent over-cooking. Then, divide your noodles between serving plates and top with your favorite sauce.
3. How to Sauté Zucchini Noodles
If you’re already cooking on the stovetop, sautéing your noodles may be the easiest. Just add one tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil to a pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes. This is a perfect cooking method if you’re making zucchini pasta with lemon garlic shrimp – or something similar. But I find that if I’m adding a bolognese or other sauce to the noodles, I’d prefer not to have the extra oil on the noodles.
4. How to Boil Zucchini Noodles
When I first started making zucchini noodles, this was the method I used the most. It’s quite simple to boil a pot of water, toss in your zucchini noodles and cook for one minute. It’s similar to cooking frozen veggies on the stovetop. And once your noodles have cooked, drain the noodles in a colander and serve. If you’d like them super dry, blot them with a paper towel before serving.
5. How to Bake Zucchini Noodles
Baking zucchini noodles is the method I use the least as it’s the most time-consuming and labor-intensive. At first, I thought the noodles would be crispier and more spaghetti-like, but the difference is negligible. For the added time and energy, I much prefer any of the other methods.
But if you want to give it a go, preheat your oven to 200 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a paper towel and evenly distribute your noodles on top. Then, sprinkle with sea salt. The sea salt helps to draw out the moisture while the paper towel soaks it up. And no, the paper towel won’t catch fire at such a low temperature. Cook for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the oven and gently squeeze the noodles in the paper towel to wring out any additional water.
The Best Zucchini Noodles Recipes
- Zucchini Noodles with Chicken, Spinach and Parmesan
- Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese
- Mexican Chicken Zucchini Noodles
- Zucchini Noodle Caprese
- Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Garlic Shrimp
- Carrot and Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Cucumber Sauce
Zucchini Noodles Tips & Tricks
After making, eating and cooking zucchini noodles for several years I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- If you’re using my favorite spiralizer to make your noodles, you’ll end up with super long strands. In order to more easily serve your guests, just use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip through some of the strands.
- Make your zoodles ahead of time! This is the best time-saving tip. After you’ve spiralized several zucchini, line a large plastic or glass storage container with a paper towel, add your noodles and place in the refrigerator. They’ll stay fresh for 2-3 days.
- Larger zucchini are easier to spiralize and will yield more noodles. For serving sizes, plan on one medium zucchini per person.
- To peel or not to peel the zucchini? I don’t peel the zucchini before spiralizing as I love the added green color in my dish and extra nutrients it provides, like dietary fiber.
- Don’t forget to make zucchini ribbons and spiralize lots of other veggies, such as carrots, squash, eggplant, potato, beets and parsnips. Get creative!
- And lastly, remember that there’s so many more vegetables that you can spiralize, in addition to zucchini noodles. Check out my Spiralizer Beginner’s Guide with the 10 vegetables I spiralize most frequently. And expand your veggie recipe repertoire with the new Vegetable Sheet Cutter. It’s seriously amazing.
Easy Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 tbsp parmesan, grated
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Slice the ends off the zucchini and place it on your spiralizer. Turn the spiralizer and create zucchini noodles.
- Heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add the zucchini noodles and toss them for one minute, just to warm through, then turn off the heat.
- Sprinkle on the grated parmesan along with salt and pepper, give them another toss in the pan, then serve them up.
- Don't forget to read all the notes and tips in the blog post above. You'll soon be an expert at zucchini noodles as well!
This post was originally published December 2015 and updated June 2017 and today, to include new content, photographs and a video.
Passed my spIralizer on to my daughter, so will try the mandolin. First go will be basic, thanks for the garlic parmesan recipe.
This tutorial may well lead to a new spIralizer in my kitchen.
Hi there. I’m looking forward to trying your recipe. I am wondering if you’ve made this one ahead of time? I love the idea and will try this version of sautéing and serving warm but I love your flavor profile on these and have a dinner meeting coming up where the meeting will break for dinner so wondering if this could be made ahead as posted but brought to room temp or would you recommend an alternative recipe for that type of plan ahead meal?
Appreciate your input!
Cooked zucchini noodles can be left at room temperature for a few hours or so. But, I would try to cook them as close as possible to your meeting time.
Can i use frozen zucchini noodles for this recipe?
Typically, I don’t freeze zucchini noodles in the first place as they hold a lot of water. But if they’re pre-made, defrost first before cooking.
Honestly, I never tried eat zucchini noodles, I prefer normal yellow colored noodles than Zucchini noodles. But after I read your article, I would like to try some. Thanks for sharing mate. Keep sharing amazing content.
Give this a try and let me know how you like it!
This is so easy and tasty!
Lisa, I’m new to your site but I have to say I’m loving it. Very inspirational and so ‘user friendly’, I’m sharing it with anyone who’ll listen LOL
Happy to hear you’re enjoying Downshiftology content so far Clare! Excited to see what recipes you make and thanks so much for sharing with others who might enjoy healthy, gluten-free recipes :)
Thank you for the information. I added a little lemon pepper and a pinch of dill. It was so good! I eat it for breakfast, after my morning walk, for a great start to my day.
This has been the best information I have ever gotten about zucchini noodles! Thank you so much for the how to spiralize them and the how to cook them. I have been sautéing way too long, lol
Happy to hear this post was so helpful Ann!
Wow! Thank you for all your dedicated work explaining everything through, testing different ways to slice the zucchini and beyond!
I will use the Juliana peeler and try to make some cuts in the zucchini before hand so once the Juliana goes there the thick slice is already sliced 8-) and most likely keep it raw
This is an easy, delicious side dish.
I followed the recipe, but I sautéed a sliced shallot with the garlic and added a handful of chopped spinach to the zoodles. I finished the dish with a dash of lemon juice before serving.
I see that the Paderno spiralizer has options of 3-blades, 4-blades, or 7-blades.
You said you use the basic 3 blades that came with your machine.
Have you used any of the newer blade options they now offer?
Hi Mariah – I find that I still use those three blades most often, but I know others who love having additional options.
Hi…I made a version of this using what I had on hand, my first attempt at zucchini noodles with my new Brieftons Spiralizer (so easy!). However I guess I sautéed them too long, because they were still very crunchy but never turned soggy, and never softened. I must have mistakenly thought they would soften. Can you please advise what they SHOULD Taste like when properly prepared? After reheating the dish they softened a little, but not much. I probably had inaccurate expectations. Thanks for all of the hints & tips for us newbies! I’m glad I got a spiralizer and think I’ll use it often. Leeched carrots & spiralized, but they never softened when sautéing…so disappointing. Persian cukes must have been a day or 2 too old, cuz they wouldn’t spiralize, although the mandolin made quick work of them and made a delicious cuke, Greek yogurt, dill, feta, roasted shrimp salad. Changing to a WFPB/Flexitarian lifestyle, so look forward to more of your delicious recipes. Thanks.
I followed this recipe except for grating my own fresh Parmesan cheese. So few ingredients … such a big flavor! I’ll definitely make this again!
Loved this easy recipe!
Oh my goodness sooo good I added a ton of black cracked pepper …gave it that Cacio e Pepe vibe. I have to tell you I’m so glad you call them Zucchini noodles and not that other word that starts with “Z” and ends with oodles… lol! I don’t know why but I hate that word. What can I say I’m weird but I love your recipes!
What I love about this simple instruction is that you can add and change it with whatever leftovers happen to be in the fridge.
I had roasted cauliflower, and then drizzled lemon and a sweet soy sauce over the entire dish and sprinkled salt and pepper… delicious.
It really makes for such a good veggie base for so many dishes!
Glad you loved these zucchini noodles Danielle!
I made this recipe last night and it was so good. I gave it a 5 star even though I did not make the exact recipe for the sauce. I did not tell my husband what it was and he thought it was the best spaghetti I ever made. This is the first time I made zoodles and definitely not be the last. It was so helpful to have all the different ways to cook them. I added a little Italian sausage to my sauce. I wiped out the pan I used to fry it in and just quick warmed the zoodles and then put the sauce in with them. Delicious!!!
I looked at the video on spiralizer’s when I got mine. I did not use it until now. I am a fan. I am excited to use it for other veggies. I really like the website and will look at your other recipes.
This can even fool those who can eat gluten :) But, happy to hear you’re making use of that spiralizer!
This recipe was so good will be making this a lot
Glad you enjoyed these zucchini noodles! They definitely are a staple in my kitchen as well.
Love it! I just found your website since I had to shift my diet so far all recipes has been amazing. I love that you explained things so easy. You have been a blessing on my transition.
Welcome to the Downshiftology community! Happy to hear you’ve been enjoying all the content so far and can’t wait to hear about which recipes you make Glenda :)
This was delicious and easy to make!!! I’m so glad I found this recipe…did I say it was delicious? 😊
Yay! Glad your zucchini noodles turned out perfectly Kristina :)
I’m just curious if you have ever tried steaming your zoodles and how that worked out?
Yes, unfortunately it just makes them limpy and not ideal.
This was so quick to make and delicious on a hot summer evening!
Glad you enjoyed these zucchini noodles Janie!
Super yummy. I wasn’t sure on the first bite, but then I immediately became a great fan. I think it would also be great with costco no-salt seasoning or red pepper flakes or marinara. It’s great to find delicious plant-based recipes.
By the way, I added a couple tablespoons of homemade pesto. What can I say, super yum! Thank you
Happy to hear you’re now a zucchini noodle fan! Be sure to take a peek at all the zucchini noodle recipes I have on my website as well :)
Curious what you do about the zucchii seeds? leave them in, take them out?
No, you don’t need to remove the seeds from the zucchini.
Is there any reason to consider salting the zoodles a short while to lesch out the water a bit? Would this help the zoodles to absorb more sauce, or would they just break up?
Hi John – I don’t recommend salting, as it tends to just make them soggier, more flimsy, and extra salty.
Thank you so much for your helpful ideas and tips. I had written off spiralized zucchini after boiling, and baking in the oven with less than desirable results. Your microwave method was absolutely perfect since I hate mushy, watery zucchini. This will help kick-start my diet and allow me to replace my favorite staple, pasta.
Glad this post was helpful to create the perfect batch of zucchini noodles!
Thanks for the helpful information. I was wondering if you recommend the newer Paderno, or the 3 blade Oxo? I have Oxo in the box unopened. I’ve scoured reviews – Oxo most stable and many put it at the top, but the newer Paderno (4 blade) has a shorter handle which didn’t work as well per Cook’s Ill’d, and is less stable, a covered lower blade area, and folds down with a lid. The older one may still be available I think, as are models with 6 or more blades.
Hi Ann – I have not tried the Oxo one, but I do love my Paderno!
Thanks for the great tips!
I used my juliene peeler to make zuchini noodles, tossed them in basil pesto ..soo yum!
Glad this turned out great Nikki!
Great recipe. Added some basil and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon.😋
Love the idea of adding basil and lemon to this!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share all these tips with us. This was Sooooooo helpful and answered a lot of questions.
You’re more than welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Sherron!
Sounds delicious and easy. Fresh zucchini from my brothers garden, I’m ready to try recipes. 😋
This is the perfect way to make use of your zucchinis this upcoming season!
Can I spiral the zucchini and freeze for a later time
Hi Rose – unfortunately, that doesn’t work well. The zucchini becomes soft and mushy when it thaws after being frozen.
I was surprised steaming wasn’t on the list. Did I miss that? Makes them too wet/soggy?
Steaming would make them a bit too soggy.
This is great for a vegetarian!
My zoodles are always soggy! I’m happy to learn of the other cooking methods!
Glad this post came in handy!
Honestly, probably one of the best videos I have ever watched. This is something I want to try at this point. Will be purchasing a spiral user ASAP and look forward to your videos. Thank you
Glad this video was helpful Jill! :)
This recipe was so good will be making this a lot
I really thought this was informative and now I can’t wait to get started
This is sure to be a staple in your kitchen Kimberly :)
Very helpful – Thanks!
This is really impressive article. Much appreciated.
Glad this was helpful!
OK, so some of you will say that I shouldn’t give this recipe 5 stars because I made some additions to the original recipe. I think, however, that I am giving this recipe 5 stars because I never would have tried zucchini noodles or had a great basis for my personal taste if I didn’t have this recipe. I started by sautéing 1/2 cup of chopped onion and 1 cup of chopped mushrooms before I added the garlic to the pan. I did everything else as written but added a pinch of red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh curly parsley with the S&P. The outcome was outstanding! I ate a small bowl of this, and then for my next bowl added 1/2 cup of spicy crawfish (did I mention I live in the south?). Now, that bowl was over the top! Thank you Lisa.
Excited to hear I can transform you into a zucchini noodle lover now!
I watch other cooking instruction videos, but it seems that I always gravitate back to your videos and recipies. Today I am intrested in spiraling vegetables. I have seen enough of your spiral zucchini to want to buy your favorite spiral machine, and I am going to. I seen in your video that you plan to make a video of how to spiral other vegetables. I am looking forward to watching that one, when you get it done. By the way, I did subscribe to your channel, (or at least, I think I did), I will look again.
Glad this video is helpful Eloyd! I actually have my spiralizer video already up on Youtube and a post written on that as well if you search for spiralized vegetables on my website :)
Glad this was helpful!
I’m looking for this recipe for my new vegan colleague. He likes this today. Thanks to you.
Glad this was a win Emily!
First Zoodles I have made and loved the recipe. Will try another tomorrow! Thanks!☺
Wow amazing! Happy to hear you first zoodle experience was a success :)
Great. Very helpful
Hi, love your recipes! I wanted to mention that I sell Zwilling Pro knives like the ones you use in your videos. They really have a better balance if you use a “Pinch Grip” using your thumb and forefinger to hold either side of the curved bolster. Once you get used to holding the knives like this it feels like a part of your arm.
Thanks for the recommendation! :)
What is the serving size?
Hi Mary- This will depend on how big or small your zucchini is! But each zucchini should make a bowls worth of noodles.
I am cooking for one these days and find the handheld spiralizer quick and quick fo use. Of course, I only need one medium zucchini; if I were doing more, I might sing a different tune. Tonight, after pan frying in a bit of olive oil for about a minute on medium heat and shaking on some plain salt and grated fresh nutmeg, I removed the pan from the stove and added sour cream, additional salt and nutmeg to taste. I thought it was good and quick to make. By the way, I spiralizer them onto a paper towel for about 20 minutes first.
Thanks for sharing! That sounds so great and glad you love zucchini noodles as much as I do now :)
Great recipe! Thanks Lisa for writing this awesome piece.
Of course! Hope this helped you create the perfect batch of zucchini noodles :)