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Sauteed zucchini is one of the most versatile healthy side dishes you can make. This version is seasoned simply with garlic and butter (yum!), but I’m also sharing a few seasoning ideas below. Feel free to switch it up depending on what you’re serving it with. Let me show you how to cook zucchini saute in just 10 minutes!
This is definitely the best sauteed zucchini recipe I’ve ever made, thanks to the garlic butter (the secret ingredient!). That being said, there’s a special method to do this.
The thing is, butter has a low smoke point, so it actually can’t withstand the temperature of sauteing. Some sauteed zucchini recipes (or other sauteed dishes) combine butter and oil together in attempt to solve this issue, but that does not actually lower the smoke point of the butter [*].
Instead, in this easy sautéed zucchini recipe, I used a different method to achieve that buttery flavor. Simply add the butter, as well as garlic that also burns easily, toward the end, with the heat reduced and cook for only a short time after that. Delish butter flavor, without burning it! (I use a similar method for making garlic butter sauteed mushrooms as well.)
Can You Saute Zucchini?
Yes, you can absolutely cook zucchini in a pan! There are so many ways to cook zucchini — baked, roasted, grilled, served raw, or fried, to name a few — and sauteed is one of the best ways to cook it, as it gets a little caramelized. The versatility just one of the reasons I love this vegetable. And once you see how to saute zucchini, I bet it’ll be on regular rotation at your house.
Why You’ll Love This Sauteed Zucchini Recipe
- Garlicky, buttery flavor
- Tender texture with caramelization
- Super easy to make
- Just 4 simple ingredients
- Ready in just 10 minutes!
- Naturally low carb and gluten-free
- Perfect healthy side dish for summer (get more summer recipes here to pair with it!)
Ingredients You’ll Need
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking zucchini on the stove top, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Zucchini – Obviously you need this veggie to make a zucchini saute, though technically yellow squash or patty pan squash would work the same way. I prefer to slice it thinly, and make sure the slices are uniform in thickness so that they cook evenly. You could also cut into cubes if you prefer. If you want to make your zucchini into noodles instead, learn how to cook zucchini noodles here.
- Olive Oil – For sauteing. Other neutral oils, such as avocado oil, are also fine to use.
- Unsalted Butter – Added toward the end for flavor — it’s my “secret” ingredient for a rich flavor when cooking zucchini in a pan.
- Garlic – I love the flavor of fresh minced garlic in this dish, but you can also buy jarred for convenience. If you don’t have garlic on hand, you can substitute 3/4 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
- Salt – I use sea salt for all my recipes, but kosher salt is fine as well.
- Pepper – I kept it simple with black pepper, but if you want more heat, red pepper flakes make a nice addition.
Other Things You Can Add To Sauteed Zucchini:
This recipe is basic and is seasoned with garlic, sea salt, and pepper, but zucchini is a blank slate! Try these additions if you like:
- Spices – You can add other seasonings depending on what you’re serving it with. Italian seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or lemon pepper would all be delicious.
- Cheese – Try dredging the zucchini in grated parmesan cheese, or simply sprinkle on your favorite shredded cheese at the end.
- Onion – Cook sliced or diced onions in olive oil, in the same pan, before adding the zucchini. and proceeding with the recipe as written. The onions may be almost caramelized by the time you’re done sauteing the zucchini, which is delicious!
- Cherry Tomatoes – Add them after the zucchini starts to brown, before adding the butter and garlic. They will pop and get sweeter — so good!
- Fresh Herbs – Add them on top at the end. Fresh basil is the classic choice for this summery dish, but others, such as dill or thyme, can also work.
How To Saute Zucchini
This section shows how to cook zucchini in a pan, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Cook zucchini. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add zucchini slices in a single layer (some overlapping is fine, but not multiple layers). Cook for about 5 minutes, until zucchini is starting to brown.
TIP: Stir just once, not constantly.
This will allow the zucchini to brown nicely.
- Cook butter and garlic. Push the zucchini slices to the sides of the pan, making an open space in the center. Add the butter and wait for it to melt. Add minced garlic to butter and saute briefly, until fragrant.
- Mix zucchini with garlic butter. Stir everything together and season with salt and pepper. Mix gently until butter is absorbed into the zucchini.
How Long To Saute Zucchini?
This sauteed zucchini squash cooks in just about 5 minutes, but the time to saute zucchini will of course depend on the thickness of your zucchini slices.
TIP: You can adjust the heat and cook time for your desired texture.
Use higher heat and less time for crisp-tender sauteed zucchini, or medium heat for a bit longer for softer zucchini.
Can You Scale This Sauteed Zucchini Recipe?
Yes, you can. Simply increase the number of servings on the recipe card below. However, if you increase it to more than 3 servings, it’s best to cook the zucchini in batches, so that it can brown adequately.
- Meal prep: Because this zucchini side dish takes just 5 minutes to cook, I recommend making it right before eating. If you’d like to save a few minutes of prep time, feel free to slice the zucchini a day or two in advance.
- Store leftovers: While sauteed zucchini recipes are best fresh, you can keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- Reheat: Reheat sauteed zucchini in the microwave or in a hot skillet, until heated through. It does tend to get softer when reheated, but is still delicious.
- Freeze: Sauteed zucchini can be frozen, but the texture might change a bit when you reheat it. Freeze the zucchini slices in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid, then transfer to a freezer bag. Do not freeze uncooked zucchini, though.
What To Serve With Zucchini Saute
What to serve with intro.
- Chicken – Try chicken Caprese or Mediterranean chicken for a summer themed meal, or keep it basic with baked chicken legs, chicken leg quarters, or air fryer chicken breast.
- Fish – Simple choices like baked salmon, rainbow trout, or cod are great pairings, and quick to make.
- Beef – Sauteed zucchini recipes go great with steak, such as grilled sirloin (or steak in the oven if the weather doesn’t cooperate), filet mignon, or even New York strip. But more cost effective juicy burgers are just as delicious!
- Pork – Try pan seared pork chops or for a fancy, but still easy, meal, stuffed pork chops.
- Seafood – For a more special meal, try grilled or broiled lobster tail, seared scallops (bonus: you can use the same pan, as the flavors are similar!), or crab legs. Or just keep it simple with grilled shrimp skewers.
More Healthy Zucchini Recipes
If you love zucchini as much as I do (zucchini season is the best season, don’t you agree?), you might like some of these other healthy zucchini recipes:
How To Saute Zucchini
Sauteed Zucchini Recipe (Easy, 10 Min!)
This EASY sauteed zucchini recipe takes just 10 minutes! This simple technique for how to saute zucchini has a secret ingredient to make it turn out perfectly every time.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Heat olive oil in a large 10-12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering.
Add the zucchini slices in a single layer (some overlapping is fine, but not multiple layers). Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring just once or twice but not constantly (stirring too often will prevent browning), until zucchini is starting to brown.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Push the zucchini to the sides of the pan, making an open space in the center. Add the butter and wait for it to melt. Add the minced garlic to the butter and saute for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
Once garlic is aromatic and just starting to brown, stir everything together. Season with salt and pepper. Stir gently until the butter is absorbed into the zucchini.
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
Serving size: 1 cup
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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