Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese


This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Jump to Recipe

This zucchini noodle spaghetti bolognese is reminiscent of an Italian beef ragu, but better. Fresh zoodles are warmed up with a layer of rich bolognese, then topped with basil and parmesan. It’s an easy weeknight meal the whole family will love!

A plate of zucchini noodles topped with bolognese sauce, fresh parmesan and basil.

With zucchini season just around the corner, you know what that means. More zucchini recipes for your summer menu! And if you loved my zucchini lasagna, you’re sure to love this healthier spin on a classic.

It’s a simple combination of zucchini noodles and bolognese sauce. And instead of using a store-bought pasta sauce, we’re making it from scratch today. But don’t worry. It’s easier than you think and adds that vine-ripened freshness to this summer plate. 

What Is Bolognese?

When you hear bolognese, you’re probably thinking of a meaty tomato sauce. But, it’s much more than that. It transforms ground beef into something rich and appetizing.

Traditional Italian bolognese may include vegetables such carrot and celery, in addition to the meat, onions, and tomatoes. But since we’re serving the bolognese sauce on top of vegetables today, we’re keeping the sauce simple yet flavorful. 

Bolognese sauce in a pan on the stove.

Creating An Easy, Simple Bolognese Sauce 

While you can certainly use store-bought pasta sauce in this recipe, give this homemade version a try for fresh, herby goodness. I’m using beefsteak tomatoes for this recipe. But you can use plum or roma tomatoes (which have less liquid) to speed up the cooking process. Here’s how to make it. 

Process the tomatoes. First, slice the tomatoes into quarters and toss them into a food processor. Pulse a few times until it’s slightly pureed. 

Saute and boil. In a pot over medium heat, saute the diced onions and garlic, then stir in the tomatoes and oregano. Your sauce will thicken in about 30 minutes after much of the water has evaporated.

Cook the beef. While the tomato sauce is cooking, saute the ground beef in a large pan until it’s browned. 

Mix everything together. Add some tomato paste to the sauce (which helps to thicken a bit more) and finish it off with salt, pepper and fresh basil. Then, pour the sauce into the pan and mix it in with the beef. And you’re done!

Two plates of zucchini noodle spaghetti bolognese, with tomatoes and parmesan on the side.

The Best Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese

Now that your sauce is ready, all you need to do is spiralize the zucchini. In previous recipes I’ve cooked the zucchini, but today I’m keeping the zucchini raw for a more crisp texture.

With room temperature zucchini, the heat of the bolognese sauce warms it perfectly. But if your zucchini is refrigerated or you prefer it slightly cooked, there’s a few things you can do after spiralizing. 

  • Sauté the zoodles with a little bit of olive oil for one minute
  • Blanch in a pot of boiling water for one minute
  • Microwave the zoodles for one minute

When you’re done, add a serving of zucchini noodles to a plate and top with bolognese sauce. Then, garnish with grated parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil. Voila – zucchini noodle spaghetti dinner!

Close up photo of zucchini noodles with spaghetti bolognese sauce.

Bolognese Variations

Not a fan of beef? No problem. Here’s a few substitutions that will still create a delicious “meaty” mixture. 

  • Chicken or Turkey: use ground chicken or turkey for a lighter, low-carb option.
  • Vegan Mushroom and Walnut Mix: Saute chopped mushrooms until cooked. Then add in grated carrots, onions, chopped walnuts, minced garlic and saute for another 4 minutes. Let this mixture cook with the tomato sauce. 

More Easy Zucchini Recipes

Make the most of your leftover zucchini with these recipes. You’ll find flavors that are bright, zesty, chocolate-y, and sweet!

A plate of zucchini noodles topped with bolognese sauce, next to a plate of parmesan.

Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese

4.77 from 21 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This zucchini noodle spaghetti bolognese is a healthy, gluten-free weeknight dinner the whole family will love.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 large zucchini
  • 10 beefstake tomatoes, (or 12-13 roma tomatoes)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • parmigiano reggiano, grated for topping (optional)
  • basil leaves, for garnish


  • Slice the tomatoes in half, remove the core and quarter. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times, until finely diced and almost pureed.
    Slicing tomatoes and pureeing in a food processor.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pot on medium heat and saute the onions for 2-3 minutes or until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and oregano to the pot, then stir and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and much of the liquid has evaporated.
  • While the sauce is cooking, spiralize the zucchini with either a spiralizer or julienne peeler and set aside.
  • Add the ground beef to a saute pan and cook on medium-high heat. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break the ground beef up into small pieces as it cooks. The beef is done when it's browned and cooked through.
  • After the sauce has reduced, stir in the tomato paste, fresh basil and salt and pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add to the cooked ground beef and stir to combine.
  • Add a serving of zucchini noodles to a plate and top with bolognese sauce and grated parmigiano reggiano. Garnish with additional basil.
    A plate of zucchini noodles topped with bolognese sauce, next to a plate of parmesan.


Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 210mg | Potassium: 1143mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 2077IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: zoodle spaghetti, zucchini noodle bolognese, zucchini noodle spaghetti
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted September 2015, but updated to include new information.

You May Also Like

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Was pretty easy to make. We’re not keto but we still enjoyed this recipe. It was hearty and filling but didn’t make you feel heavy.5 stars

  2. This recipe has a lot going on but I believe the end result was worth it. The sauce tasted so fresh when made from scratch. The zucchini noodles are such a great healthy alternative to real pasta.5 stars

    1. No, there’s no need to saute the noodles before serving. You can read more about prepping zucchini noodles in my “how to make zucchini noodles” post!

  3. This is absolutely delicious! I used whole tomatoes and added one link of mild Italian sausage to the ground beef. Fresh basil really enhances the dish. This will be a regular favorite.

      1. This dish is wonderful. We enjoyed it so much… plan to make regularly.
        Question: would the sauce freeze well. I’m wanting to make it ahead of time for company coming in early October. Thanks for posting such a tasty, simple recipe. I look forward to hearing from you.1 star

      2. Yes, you can freeze this sauce! Just make the zucchini noodles fresh when ready to serve.

  4. Hello Lisa,

    thank you again for a great recipe! Can canned tomatoes be substituted for the fresh tomatoes? And can the zoodles be food prepped? If yes, how long will it last for?

    1. Hi there! You can use canned whole tomatoes if you’d like. As for zoodles, they can be prepped and stored in the fridge for a few days :)

    1. Hi Amanda- Just 10 regular tomatoes are fine, and if you have smaller tomatoes (such as roma tomatoes) then around 12 works.

  5. Hi Lisa! 

    I love your site – content, pictures, the works :) ! 

    Thank you for including the clarification re: Registered Dietitians and other Registered Health professionals practicing in the Medical model and for hi-lighting the scope of these professionals who are trained to work with clients in disease states and/or managing chronic diseases.  

    Your nutrition content is top notch as a Health Coach.  It’s great to see the evidence you cited for wellness programs enhancing behaviour change and that there is a role for Health coaches to work with healthy clients – provided scope of practice is adhered to and clients are informed of the same. 

    In terms of the bolognese recipe..  your ground beef sub lists ground chicken or ground turkey as a “low Carb” option.   Perhaps an edit is required as subbing the meat sources does not affect the carbohydrate nutrition profile. 

    Kind regards, 
    Barbara Queijo 4 stars

  6. I’ve been looking for a gluten free bolognese dish and I came across yours. I’m so glad I did because it’s so delicious and hearty! We’ll be making this again for sure!5 stars

  7. This is the first recipe after I bought a spiralizer. I never expected to be that good. It tastes amazing5 stars

  8. Your pictures really highlight this zucchini noodle spaghetti bolognese. It looks light the perfect meal to feed my family.5 stars

  9. This is such a wonderful recipe for that in-between weather! I heart ragu so much and using zucchini noodles makes me feel healthy. A fantastic combination!5 stars

  10. Absolutely delicious! This is now my go-to bolognese… it’s so easy and delicious atop a bed of zoodles. Thank you, Lisa! 5 stars

    1. Hi Julianne – I’m so glad you loved this recipe! It’s one of my favorite go-to’s for any time of the month :)

  11. How many Calories and carbs per serving. And how much is 1 serving? Is it one ounce? Or 2? Just trying to get my macros right and on point. 

    1. Hi Chad – the nutrition facts at the bottom of the recipe will give you the calorie amount per serving :) In this case, it is 424 calories per serving, and there are 4 servings in this entire recipe. Hope that helps!

  12. Just getting into “zoodles”. Borrowed my daughter-in-laws spiral and love using it. Used to day for first time. I think I still need to practice cooking the zoodles. I put it with some left-over sauce and warmed it all up. Still a little crunchier than I want, but still tasted yummy. I will definitely be purchasing my own spiral and making more recipes.
    Thanks!5 stars

    1. Wonderful! That’s great you got to test it out first with your daughter’s spiralizer. They’re definitely worth the money and I eat zucchini noodles and spiralized veggies all the time. :)

      1. I tried to take a picture, but nighttime kitchen lighting is the worst, and just didn’t do this dish justice….
        Such a great recipe!
        There was a teeny bit leftover, and I was able to microwave it all together, and it reheated perfectly! The moisture from the warmed up zucchini noodles didn’t even water down the sauce at all. :D
        Thank you, Lisa!!

      2. Oh, I totally understand kitchen lighting – lol! And I do the same on the leftovers. Love making one meal for two days (and only having one set of dirty pots and pans!). ;) x