How to Cook Zucchini Noodles
Here’s how to cook them perfectly on the stove, in the oven or even in the air fryer.
By Amanda Neal for Food Network Kitchen
Zucchini noodles (also known as “zoodles”) are made by spiralizing or slicing fresh zucchini into thin noodle-like pieces. Zoodles have grown in popularity because they’re a fantastic low-carb, gluten-free pasta alternative. Their texture and flavor take well to classic Italian sauces, but they’re also delicious in brothy soups and chilled salads. Whether you’re spiralizing at home or you just purchased a bag of fresh zoodles at the store, there are numerous ways to prepare and enjoy zucchini noodles. Here’s how.
How to Cut Zucchini Noodles
Zoodles can be made at home in a matter of minutes with the help of a couple kitchen tools.
How to Make Zucchini Noodles with a Spiralizer
There are a variety of products on the market that will spiralizer your veggies, including handheld/hand-crank models, as well as accessories that pair with your electric appliances (such as the KitchenAid Spiralizer attachment). To use, simply cut off the ends of a zucchini, place into the blade and spin. While some spiralizers can be bulky and take up precious storage space, they’re reasonably priced, offer several blades and slicing options and require very little effort for quick results.
How to Make Zucchini Noodles without a Spiralizer
If you don’t own a spiralizer and want to make zoodles, pronto, a mandoline or julienne peeler will also do the trick. A mandoline is a slicer made up of a flat surface fitted to a sharp blade that lets you cut vegetables quickly and precisely. A julienne peeler is similar in appearance to a traditional peeler, but has a blade fitted with small teeth to cut your vegetables into thin strips (also known as a julienne). Both of these options will provide straighter, more delicate zucchini noodles compared to the more spaghetti-shaped zoodles from a spiralizer. However, both tools are inexpensive, easy to store, and will provide you evenly cut zoodles in a short amount of time.
How to Cook Zucchini Noodles
There are a handful of ways to prepare and enjoy zucchini noodles. Here are some of our favorites that give you perfectly cooked zoodles every time.
How to Blanch Zucchini Noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, then season the water generously with salt. Add the zucchini noodles and cook until the noodles are crisp tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Use tongs or a spider to immediately transfer the zoodles to a large bowl filled with ice water. This will shock the zoodles and stop any additional cooking. Once they are completely cool, drain the ice water and pat the zucchini noodles dry between a couple paper towels.
How to Sauté Zucchini Noodles
Heat a couple tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, then sauté some chopped garlic and crushed red pepper flakes until tender and fragrant. Add the zucchini noodles and a pinch of salt, then continue to cook until tender and softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve as is with just a sprinkle of herbs for a delicious side dish. Or top with tomato sauce and homemade meatballs for a hearty, pasta-free meal.
How to Bake Zucchini Noodles
Simply spread your zucchini noodles on a rimmed baking sheet, making sure to leave as much room between the noodles as possible. Bake at 350 degrees F until tender and softened, about 15 minutes. This method is great for cooking zoodles because it helps to remove some of the extra liquid from the zucchini, giving you tender yet drier end product.
How to Air Fry Zucchini Noodles
Similar to baking, air fryers are great for cooking zucchini noodles because the hot, circulating air both cooks the zoodles and removes excess moisture (no soggy zoodles here!). Just season the zucchini noodles with a little salt and pepper, then air fry at 400 degrees F until tender and starting to brown at the edges, 5 to 6 minutes.
How to Store Zucchini Noodles
If you want to make a big batch of zucchini noodles and save some for later, good news: they’re easy to store in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to Store Zucchini Noodles in the Refrigerator
Store raw zucchini noodles in an airtight container lined with paper towels. They will keep for up to five days.
Can you freeze zucchini noodles?
If you find yourself with a surplus of zucchini noodles, you can freeze them! It’s important that you blanch the noodles before freezing them – don’t freeze them raw. Follow the method above for how to blanch zucchini noodles but omit the salt from the water (the salt will cause the thawed zucchini noodles to be soggy). Once the zoodles are blanched and shocked, freeze them in a single layer on a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet, then transfer to a resealable freezer bag to store in the freezer for up to 3 months. If you put the wet zoodles directly into the resealable bag and freeze, you’ll end up with one large block of frozen zoodles, making it harder and longer to thaw.
Zucchini Noodle Recipes
Now that you know how to cook them, here's some more inspiration.
Healthy Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs with Zoodles
You can have fork-tender turkey meatballs that are golden yet moist, thanks to the air fryer! Pair with fun zoodles, your favorite jarred tomato sauce and an extra pinch of Parmesan for a delicious and wholesome meal.
Shrimp Scampi Zoodles
Zucchini noodles stand in for pasta in this low-carb shrimp scampi makeover.
Lemon-Basil Chicken with Zucchini Noodles
These buttery zucchini noodles get topped with chicken, lemon sauce, basil and red pepper flakes.
Cheesy Zucchini Noodles with Bacon
These low carb zoodles are loaded up with all the rich good stuff, including crispy bacon bits and a creamy cheese sauce similar to the one you’d use in mac and cheese.