These tasty zucchini noodles are ready in 10 minutes and closely mimic the experience of eating real pasta. The cheesy, garlicky strands are unbelievably good!
If you use store-bought spiralized zucchini, it's as easy as can be. And you can mix in a cooked protein such as chicken or shrimp and turn these noodles into a complete meal.
Vegetables-based pasta substitutes can be tricky. It's not easy to recreate the flavor - and especially the texture - of wheat pasta.
Hearts of Palm pasta and spaghetti squash noodles are two great options. But I find myself making these zucchini noodles more often than any other substitute.
The cheesy, garlicky strands are tasty and not watery. They are simply amazing and very close to the experience of eating real buttered noodles
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make these amazing zucchini noodles. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Spiralized zucchinis: I get mine at Whole Foods. They are also available at most supermarkets.
- Butter: European butter is especially delicious, but any butter will work.
- Garlic: For the best flavor, mince it yourself rather than using the stuff that comes in a jar.
- Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, reduce the amount you use by half, or the dish could end up too salty.
- Red pepper flakes. They add flavor and color. They don't actually make this dish spicy. But you can omit them if you'd like.
- Grated Parmesan: It's best to use finely grated parmesan and not coarsely shredded.
- Instead of butter, you can mix store-bought pasta sauce into the noodles. When I go this route, I use a ⅓ to ½ cup of sauce and omit the spices. This is as easy as this recipe can get!
- Sometimes I add a cup or two of shredded baked chicken breast or boiled shrimp to the noodles. This turns them from a side dish into a complete meal.
- Bacon bits are another tasty option that adds wonderful flavor.
- You can use high-quality olive oil in this recipe instead of butter. I prefer butter, but olive oil is also very good.
Zucchini Noodles Instructions
Given that you can now use store-bought spiralized zucchini, which wasn't an option a few years ago, this is a very easy recipe. It's literally ready in ten minutes.
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (Photo 1).
- When melted and foamy, add the noodles. Cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. (Photo 2).
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute. Turn the heat off. (Photo 3).
- Add the kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and parmesan. Mix and serve. (Photos 4-6).
Overcooking the zucchini strands will result in them being soggy. It's actually much like cooking pasta al-dente. You want the strands to still have a "bite." You don't want them too soft.
So make sure you don't cook them longer than necessary in the first step of cooking, before adding the garlic. Then, after adding the garlic and letting it cook briefly, turn the heat off immediately.
I started making this recipe in 2014. Back then, not wanting to use a mandoline slicer, I used a sharp knife to thinly slice fresh zucchini into thin strips. Later, I learned that you can use a vegetable spiralizer.
As I write here to update this recipe, in 2021, I am so happy that grocery stores now carry spiralized zucchini. How convenient! So that's what I use now when making this recipe.
Not exactly. Like many other substitutes, this is an excellent one, and I do find it's very satisfying and amazingly close to the real thing.
But it's still a substitute, making it appropriate for those willing to compromise a bit in order to meet their dietary goals.
Don't overcook them! They only need about 5 minutes in the pan, maybe even less if your pan is hot. It's just like pasta - you want it al-dente, so you need to make sure not to overcook it.
Zucchini noodles are the perfect side dish. They go well with so many main courses, including baked salmon, chicken drumsticks, chicken patties, and pork tenderloin.
They can also serve as an excellent bed for saucy dishes such as baked scallops, shrimp scampi, or pulled pork.
As mentioned above, you can mix cooked protein (such as shredded chicken) into the noodles and turn them from a side dish into a main dish.
I also like to serve them topped with meatballs, such as these chicken meatballs or these meatballs with tomato sauce.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for about 3 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
If you like to eat cold leftover pasta, I think you'll enjoy these leftovers cold too. I do!
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Quick Zucchini Noodles
- 1 pound spiralized zucchinis
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons Parmesan dry-grated
- Heat the butter in a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
- When melted and foamy, add the noodles. Cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute. Turn the heat off.
- Add the kosher salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and parmesan. Mix and serve.
Add Your Own Notes
Nutrition per Serving
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Hi! I decided to loosely follow your recipe: I added chicken & mushrooms plus some different seasonings. It was so good. I grilled the chicken separately then chopped it up and tossed it in.
Sounds really good, Colleen! Glad you enjoyed it.