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This post has been a long time coming – the ultimate guide to zoodles! It has everything you need to know about how to make zucchini noodles and the perfect basic zucchini noodles recipe. I did a ton of research and testing to make this happen, and am so excited to finally show you.
We’ll talk about everything from what zoodles are, to the best methods of making them, and finally, how to cook zucchini noodles so that they are perfectly al dente, and best of all, not watery!
What Are Zucchini Noodles?
Zucchini noodles are simply zucchini that has been spiralized (cut into thin strips, forming long spiral strands). This turns them into a noodle shape, and you can expand on the basic zucchini noodle recipe to make your favorite pasta low carb! Some people call them zoodles. While you can easily turn this squash into a side like sauteed zucchini, this method for making noodles is ideal for certain high-carb dishes you want to make keto friendly. If you prefer a more traditional pasta flavor and texture, try these keto egg noodles instead!
(If you’re low carb, you’re probably familiar with zoodles by now. But if you’re new, don’t miss my guide on a low carb diet!)
Why You’ll Love This Zucchini Noodles Recipe
- Lots of options for spiralizing
- Two methods for cooking zoodles
- NOT watery!
- Easy to make
- Healthy and low carb
There are a million zucchini noodles recipes out there, but first, you need to know how to make them. I’ll go over each method, so you can decide which one you like best!
Types of Spiralizers for Zoodles
There are 4 basic tools to choose from when making zucchini noodles:
- Counter Top Spiralizer – By far my favorite! This method is super fast and makes zoodles that have uniform thickness. This counter top spiralizer has the highest quality I’ve seen, and unlike others the bottom suction stays put.
- Handheld Spiralizer – A good option to save space in the kitchen. It’s small, but requires more effort and the zucchini noodles tend to come out thinner. Here’s a good hand-held spiralizer to try.
- Julienne Peeler – The solution to avoid buying a separate tool, but can be tedious and time consuming. Also, the zoodles usually turn out to be much shorter. This julienne peeler works well and swivels.
- Knife – This is basically just cutting the zucchini into thin strips. Definitely the most basic way, but also time consuming and it’s hard to get thin enough noodles.
How To Make Zucchini Noodles With a Spiralizer
Let’s start with the easiest, most popular way: making zucchini noodles with a spiralizer (the counter top style zucchini noodle maker)…
- Cut off the ends of the zucchini.
- Secure the counter top spiralizer on the counter using the suction cup(s) on the bottom. (More on this below!)
- Insert the zucchini. Skewer one end onto the side of the spiralizer that has the handle, then poke the other end into the side that has the blade.
- Crank the handle repeatedly, continuously pushing the zucchini toward the blade and watch the zoodles come out the other side.
Tips For Using A Spiralizer To Make Zoodles
- Get a spiralizer that has a *strong* suction cup on the bottom. It will save your sanity. I’ve tried several with the small suction cups at the bottom, and they move around at least some of the time. Super annoying. This spiralizer has a giant suction cup on the bottom, and a lever to make it stay in place – I love it!
- Make sure the zucchini is centered on the spiralizer. That way, you’ll end up with more of the best zucchini noodles, which are the ones that include the edges and skin. The middle ones tend to be more mushy. Also, this will avoid the super-short pieces that you sometimes get when the zucchini isn’t centered. You can always re-position it as you go along.
- Choose zucchini with a smaller diameter when possible. Some people prefer larger zucchini because it’s easier to spiralize them into zoodles, but I prefer small ones. Again, you’ll get more noodles that include the skin. These are more sturdy and release less water than the center ones.
- Spiralize the zucchini raw, before cooking. Do not peel it. You probably know both of these things if you’ve made zoodles before, but mentioning it in case you haven’t.
- Trim the spiralized zucchini length before cooking. Otherwise, they will be too long. The easiest way is to use kitchen shears, grab handfuls and cut until you get rid of the excessively long pieces.
- What to do with the core? Toss it in a vegetable stir fry!
How To Make Zucchini Noodles Without a Spiralizer
- To use a hand-held spiralizer: Cut off the ends of the zucchini. Insert one end of the zucchini into the spiralizer. If you’d like you can use the separate piece that comes with the hand-held spiralizer for the other end of the zucchini. I’ve found it’s not always required, but can help toward the end. Twist the zucchini with one hand while holding the spiralizer steady with the other.
- To use a julienne peeler: To make zoodles with a julienne peeler, simply run it across the zucchini length-wise, creating strands. This method works, but the zoodles sometimes come out uneven and it can be harder to make super long ones.
- To make zucchini noodles with a knife: Cut long strips as thinly as you can. This can be a challenge, and takes a long time. I don’t recommend this method.
How To Cook Zucchini Noodles (5 Ways)
Learning how to make zoodles is one thing, but I think the part that really makes a difference is the cooking method.
No matter what zucchini noodles recipe you want to make, in my testing, the best way to cook zucchini noodles was in the oven, and the next best was pan fried zoodles. But just for completeness, I’ll tell you about all the different ways to make them:
- Pan fry zoodles – This is the most common method, but not actually my favorite. If this is the method you want to use, I’ll show you how to cook zucchini noodles on the stove below — there is a process so that they aren’t watery.
- Oven method (my favorite!) – Surprisingly, the best method I’ve found for how to cook zucchini noodles is in the oven! And, I’m super excited about it, because it requires no draining and no squeezing, yet the zoodles still turn out super dry.
- Eat them raw – You can easily skip cooking altogether and turn your favorite pasta salad into a zucchini noodles recipe! You totally don’t have to cook them.
- Boiling or blanching zucchini noodles – The end result is usually watery. Not necessarily right away, but the zucchini oozes water easily and quickly becomes too wet on your plate. Only use this method if you are making soup.
- Zoodles in the microwave – This can work in a pinch, but it’s a lot harder to avoid making them watery. If you want to do it anyway, the best way is to follow the draining and squeezing method just like you would when pan frying (above), then microwave. You may still need to drain or pat additional moisture afterward. Once the zucchini is hot, you can add sauce after. Adding it before placing in the microwave would mean you can’t get rid of extra moisture at the end.
How To Pan Fry Zucchini Noodles
The most common method for cooking zucchini noodles is to pan fry them. But before you dump them right into a pan after spiralizing, we need to get some of the moisture out. Do not just pan fry them right away, because they will definitely be watery!
- Drain the moisture. Place the zoodles in a colander over the sink and toss with salt. Let them sit for 30 minutes. The salt will bring out the water. After half an hour, squeeze the zoodles gently to release some additional water.
Important: Do NOT keep squeezing them to get out every last drop. This will make them too mushy and lifeless. Just get most of it out.
- Pan fry. Stir fry the zucchini noodles for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-high heat. It might take longer if you make a lot at once.
If you want stir fried zoodles with sauce, have your sauce pre-cooked and warm, and add to the pan after the zoodles are done. Avoid cooking them in the sauce for more than a couple of minutes, because they’ll water down your sauce.
How To Make Zucchini Noodles in the Oven (Preferred Method)
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the zoodles on a very large baking sheet, and toss them with sea salt.
TIP: Make sure the zucchini is spread out in a thin layer and not too crowded. The bigger the pan, the better! For pan choices, I love this hard-anodized oven-safe griddle pan or if you want to make more servings, this extra large sheet pan. If your non-stick surface isn’t great or you want easier cleanup, line your pan with parchment paper first.
- Bake. Place the zucchini in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the noodles are done to your liking. Fifteen minutes in my oven was al dente (see before and after pictures below). Feel free to do a bit longer if you want yours softer.
- Pat dry. Use paper towels to pat the zoodles dry to remove any remaining moisture.
To serve zoodles from the oven, toss them with sauce and serve right away!
Cooking Zucchini Noodles On The Stove vs. The Oven
Not sure which method to use? Both methods create delicious zucchini noodles that aren’t watery. But other than that, here are the pros and cons of each…
Sauteed Zucchini Noodles
- You don’t have to turn on your oven when it’s hot. A plus in the summer!
- Hands-on time is super short. Stir frying is fast, and the time to drain is hands-off, so you can do something else, like make one of my low carb dinner recipes for the main dish.
- Good option for a one pan zucchini noodles recipe. If you want a sauce, you can cook it in the same pan before the zoodles, wipe down the pan, cook the zoodles, then mix together, without needing another pan.
- Risk of mushy zoodles. Cooking zucchini noodles using this method can be just slightly on the mushy side.
- Smaller volume. Because we squeeze out so much moisture, the result feels like less food compared to the oven method.
Baked Zucchini Noodles
- No squeezing! This is the best part. Waiting for zoodles to drain and then squeezing them is kind of a pain.
- You don’t have to warm your sauce. Just tossing the zucchini with sauce after baking will heat the sauce and you can serve immediately.
- More zoodles. The oven version shrinks less than the stovetop version.
- The total time is faster. You don’t have to wait half an hour for the zoodles to drain over the sink.
- You have to turn on your oven. This isn’t the most desirable in the summer when zucchini is in season.
- You need a huge pan to properly dry the zucchini noodles in the oven.
Visually, below is a comparison of the stovetop vs oven method. You can see the sauteed noodles have less volume and turn out softer, but both are dry. NO water on the plate!
How To Cook Zucchini Noodles - Comparison of the Best WaysPin It For Later!
Tips To Avoid Watery Zucchini Noodles
I’ve touched on this a bit already, but the #1 thing you probably want to know is how to cook zucchini noodles that are not watery! So, I put together tons of tips for you:
For the stovetop method:
- Pat zucchini noodles dry with paper towels after spiralizing them. In fact, this is a good idea as a starting point no matter how you’ll be cooking them afterward.
- Cook zoodles over medium-high heat. This will encourage evaporation and reduce the chance of water remaining.
- Do not cover the zucchini during cooking. This will trap the moisture.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook in batches if you have to, but make sure there’s lots of room. You want as much surface area of the zucchini noodles touching the pan as possible. Crowding the pan = wet zoodles!
- Do not add salt to the pan. This will make the zucchini release more water. You can use a salty sauce instead.
- Use a pan that conducts heat well. Again, high heat will cook the zoodles quickly instead of simmering them in their own moisture. Cast iron or hard anodized steel pans work great. I use this pan and love it!
- Don’t overcook the zoodles. You want them to be al dente! Usually this takes just 3 or 4 minutes. The longer you cook them, the more water will seep out and render watery zoodles.
- Consider residual heat. If you finish cooking them and leave them in the pan, they’ll continue to soften and release moisture.
For the oven method:
If you want an easier way that barely requires any tips at all, cooking zoodles in the oven is best. You only need a few tips to get that right, and you can do this for almost any zucchini noodles recipe:
- Use an extra large sheet pan. The oven method dries the noodles, and this only works if they are in a very thin layer.
- Pat the zoodles dry afterward. Don’t forget this step! The zucchini will be mostly dry when you take it out of the oven, but as a last step, lay two layers of paper towels over the entire pan and pat gently.
How To Store Zucchini Noodles
- To meal prep: The best way to make zucchini noodles for meal prep is to spiralize them in advance and keep them in the fridge uncooked. Then, when you’re ready to cook, pat them dry first.
- To cook ahead: Cooking zoodles ahead of time is not recommended, but if you must, do not mix them with sauce until ready to serve. They will continue to release water after cooking, so pat them dry again before adding sauce and serving.
- To store leftovers: Store leftovers in the fridge for 5-7 days, separate from any sauce.
- To reheat: Stir frying on the stove is usually the easiest and fastest. Use medium-high heat so that any moisture evaporates.
Can You Freeze zucchini noodles?
I don’t recommend freezing zoodles. While you can technically do it, the texture afterward is mushy.
If you’re okay with that, cook the zucchini noodles very briefly (to slow down enzyme activity) before laying out on a parchment lined baking sheet and placing in the freezer. Once solid, you can transfer to a freezer bag.
How To Serve Zoodles
Now that you know all about ways to make zoodles and how to cook them so they aren’t watery, let’s cover how to enjoy them!
The Basic Zucchini Noodle Recipe
The tutorial for my basic zucchini noodles recipe is on the recipe card below. I’m keeping this one super simple: zucchini, butter, sea salt and black pepper.
But you can also customize this recipe with a sauce or main dish…
Sauce for Zucchini Noodles
TIP: Use a thick sauce if possible. The noodles will continue to seep water as they sit and will thin out the sauce too much if it’s already fairly watery. This tends to happen less with the oven method, though.
And don’t forget, you can always skip the cooking step altogether to make a raw zucchini noodle salad.
What To Serve With Zucchini Noodles
- Steak – Try filet mignon or New York Strip for a romantic dinner, or sirloin for a weeknight meal.
- Fish – Grilled salmon, pan seared halibut, or baked cod are delicious with zoodles.
- Chicken – Baked chicken breast, chicken legs, or pan seared chicken make the easiest dinner mains.
- Vegetarian – Add a sauce and your favorite low carb vegetables for a healthy plant based meal.
More Tutorials For Low Carb Basics
Now that you know how to make zucchini noodles, here are a few other basic recipes to master for a low carb lifestyle:
- Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs – The easy peel method for use in snacks and recipes!
- Bacon – Try bacon in the oven or microwave bacon… for everything from breakfast to recipe add-ins.
- Cauuliflower Rice – Just like zoodles are the keto noodle replacement, similarly cauliflower is the low carb replacement for rice.
- Avocado Oil Mayonnaise – You just need 5 minutes!
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken – One of the fastest ways to use chicken in casseroles, soups, and more.
- Fathead dough is the ultimate low carb dough – use it for keto pizza, keto bagels, and keto gnocchi and breadsticks found in my Easy Keto Cookbook!
How To Make Zucchini Noodles - The Best Guide to Making Zoodles
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The recipe card is below! Readers that made this also viewed these recipes:
Simple Zucchini Noodles Recipe
Learn how to make zucchini noodles perfectly! Includes an EASY zucchini noodles recipe, how to avoid watery zoodles, spiralizer comparison, cooking methods, tips, storage, and more.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
How to make zucchini noodles:
Make zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. (Check the post above for tips and other methods!)
How to cook zucchini noodles in the oven:
Arrange the zucchini on the baking sheet in a thin layer, making sure not to crowd the pan. Sprinkle with sea salt lightly and toss.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until al dente. (You can cook longer if you want them softer.)
Pat the zoodles dry with a double layer of paper towels.
Toss with melted butter, black pepper, and more sea salt to taste if needed.
How to cook zucchini noodles on the stove:
Place zucchini noodles into a colander over the sink. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss. Let sit for 30 minutes to drain.
After half an hour, squeeze the zoodles gently over the sink to release more water. No need to get out every last drop, but just the majority.
Heat butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until al dente. (Cooking time may vary depending on how much zucchini you have and the size of your pan.) Season with black pepper and more sea salt to taste.
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
Serving size: 1 cup
Check the post above for lots of tips on choosing a spiralizer (and how to use it), tips specific to each cooking method, how to avoid watery zucchini noodles, and storage or making them ahead of time.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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