These delicious zucchini noodles are ready in ten minutes. When using store-bought spiralized zucchini, this recipe is as easy as can be.
You can mix in a cooked protein such as chicken or shrimp and turn these noodles into a complete meal.
One of my favorite side dishes is vegetable-based pasta substitutes. Hearts of Palm pasta and spaghetti squash noodles are two excellent options. But I make these zucchini noodles more often than any other substitute.
The cheesy, garlicky strands are delicious and not watery. They are very close to the experience of eating real buttered noodles.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Spiralized zucchini: You can use a mandoline slicer or a vegetable spiralizer to create the noodle shapes. When I first started making this recipe back in 2014, I simply used a sharp chef's knife to slice fresh zucchini into thin strips:
Nowadays, store-bought zucchini spirals are readily available at most supermarkets in the produce section, so that's what I use. I usually get mine at Whole Foods:
Using pre-spiralized zucchini makes this recipe incredibly easy and quick.
Butter: European butter is delicious, but any butter will work.
Garlic: For the best flavor, mince it yourself instead of using jarred minced garlic.
To season: Kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Grated Parmesan: It's best to use finely grated parmesan and not coarsely shredded.
Fresh Spiralized Zucchini is Better
I experimented with using frozen spiralized zucchini that I got at Wild Fork Foods. I'm usually a big fan of this brand and use many of its products, but this product was not as good as fresh zoodles.
The noodles look great on the package:
But when you open the package and remove them from the plastic wrap, you see that they have hardened into a solid block of ice:
To thaw them, you can microwave them, or do as I did and place them frozen in a skillet, cover, and heat on medium heat until they start to thaw and you can gently separate them:
They released a large amount of water, so I strained them in a colander, then returned them to the skillet and added butter, garlic powder (instead of fresh garlic), kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
I sauteed them over medium heat until heated through, then plated and topped with grated parmesan.
We tasted the result, which wasn't bad, but the noodles were a bit mushy and not as tasty as fresh zucchini noodles. So, if you can, choose fresh zucchini spirals instead of frozen.
- 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 fantastic flavor. You can also microwave bacon until crispy, crumble it, and add it to the noodles.
- You can use high-quality olive oil in this recipe instead of butter. I prefer butter, but olive oil is also delicious.
Zucchini Noodles Instructions
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
Heat the butter in a large 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.
Overcooking the zucchini strands will result in them being soggy. It's much like cooking pasta al dente. You want the strands to still have a "bite." You don't want them to be too soft.
So ensure you don't cook them longer than necessary in the first step before adding the garlic. Then, after adding the garlic and letting it cook briefly, turn the heat off immediately.
Not exactly. Like many substitutes, this is an excellent one, and I find it very satisfying and amazingly close to the real thing. But it's still a substitute.
Don't overcook them! They only need about 5 minutes in the pan, even less if your pan is hot. It's just like pasta - you want it al-dente, so you must ensure not to overcook it.
Another tip is to use fresh zucchini spirals and avoid frozen spirals, which tend to become soggy and mushy.
Yes. Yellow squash will work just as well in this recipe, although it's not as common to find it already spiralized, so you'll need to spiralize it yourself.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to four days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave at 50% power.
If you like cold leftover pasta, you'll enjoy eating the leftovers cold. I certainly do!
More Noodle Recipes
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Zucchini Noodles with Butter and Parmesan
- 1 pound zucchini spirals
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon of any other salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 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.
- Overcooking the zucchini strands will result in them being soggy. It's much like cooking pasta al dente. You want the strands to still have a "bite." You don't want them to be too soft. So ensure you don't cook them longer than necessary in the first step before adding the garlic. Then, after adding the garlic and letting it cook briefly, turn the heat off immediately.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to four days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave at 50% power. If you like cold leftover pasta, you'll enjoy eating these leftovers cold. I certainly do!