Tips for how to avoid watery and soggy zucchini noodles.
Probably my most commonly asked question from those new to spiralizing is, “How do I avoid soggy zucchini noodles?”
Since zucchinis are over 90% water by weight, you should expect your cooked zucchini noodles to be a bit watery. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the excess moisture in cooked zoodles! This way, you can have a less watery and certainly not soggy bowl of zucchini noodles.
After you spiralize your zucchini with a spiralizer, there are three best ways to cook the zucchini noodles: serve them raw, saute them in a skillet, or cook them in a soup. For more information on how to cook zucchini noodles, read this post.
If you’re serving raw zoodles, you won’t have as big of an issue with soggy zoodles because heating up the vegetable is what causes the moisture to drain out and thus, create a watery bowl of zucchini noodles. However, to reduce excess moisture, pat the noodles dry with paper towels or a thin kitchen rag.
If you’re cooking zucchini noodles in a soup, you won’t have the issue of watery or soggy, because of osmosis, the noodles will keep their moisture and stay mostly firm. However, because the zucchini will release its water content into whatever soup you’re making, it will dilute the flavor. For example, if you’re making a salty ramen, the ramen will taste less and less umami/salty the longer the noodles sit in the broth. To fix this, add more flavoring when you go to reheat! If you’re eating right away, it’s not an issue.
Now, if you’re cooking zucchini noodles in a skillet, you will notice immediately that the noodles release moisture into the pan. If you’re cooking one spiralized zucchini, you may not notice too much water released (barely a tablespoon). If you’re cooking more zucchini noodles, you’ll notice more and more water buildup in the pan.
Here are our tips on how to avoid watery and soggy zucchini noodles:
Noodles first, sauce second
If you’re serving the noodles with a hot sauce, don’t cook the noodles in the sauce. Add the sauce after the noodles have been cooked. For example, if you’re cooking my Turkey Bolognese, you’re going to want to cook the zucchini noodles in a skillet, and then top the bolognese sauce over the zoodles.
Drain the cooked zucchini noodles in a colander
After you cook your noodles and before you top with sauce, drain the cooked zucchini noodles in a colander to shake rid of excess moisture. Bonus points for patting dry!
Add foods that absorb moisture
If you’re cooking zucchini noodles and topping with a red sauce, there’s going to be nothing but extra moisture, especially because there’s nothing there to “sop up” the water. Why do we love dipping bread in our leftover pasta sauce? To sop up the flavor! So, either serve your noodles with some good crusty bread and dab as you go or add foods that absorb the moisture, like cheeses, healthy breadcrumbs, or other veggies that absorb moisture, like eggplant.
If using a hot sauce, reduce it or thicken it
The thicker the sauce, the less water it has and the less watery your overall bowl of zoodles will be. If you’re making a tomato sauce, let it simmer longer than you normally would to make it thicker (reducing the water.) When you add the thick sauce to your bowl of cooked zucchini noodles, the zucchini noodles will release their moisture and the sauce will thin (so don’t worry about a thick sauce.)
Another example is an alfredo sauce – you may want to make it creamier or thicker, using cauliflower or potatoes.
Don’t cook your noodles too long – shorter is better
Just like a piece of meat will rest on a cutting board and still cook for a few minutes after you remove it from heat, so will zucchini noodles. If you cook noodles too long and they’re already looking limp and soggy in the skillet, they’re going to be even worse once you transfer to a plate and top with a sauce. To avoid soggy and limp noodles, I recommend cooking for only 3-5 minutes (5 if you’re cooking more than 1-2 spiralized zucchinis) and tossing frequently. You want a slightly al dente noodle, because it is going to continue to cook once you take it off the heat and finish the meal.
Eat right away
Regardless of what you do to reduce the moisture in zucchini noodles, once the noodles sit in a hot sauce, water is going to drain out. So, make sure that you don’t serve your meal until you’re ready to eat it! Don’t let it sit for more than a minute before serving, because every second is precious!
We hope these tips help you have a more enjoyable zucchini noodle dinner!