The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is, “What’s the best way to cook zucchini noodles?”

Zucchini can be tricky, because it’s made up of over 95% water and therefore, can get mushy and lifeless real quick.

With these tips and three best ways to cook spiralized zucchini, you’ll never have a soggy zucchini noodle again. Grab your Inspiralizer and start spiralizing!

Before I go over the three best ways to cook zucchini noodles (after you’ve spiralized them with a spiralizer), here are some “best practices” for cooking those green noodles:

  • Avoid peeling the zucchini before spiralizing. Once you peel the zucchini, the flesh is exposed and the moisture will start to seep out. The zucchini will feel slimy, which will only result in a soggier, mushier noodle once cooked. Keep the skin on so that the noodle can keep its form longer and also, there are key nutrients in that skin!
  • Don’t pre-salt your zucchini noodles – just spiralize and go. Whoever recommended to pre-salt your zucchini noodles before cooking spread a mean, dirty rumor: that’s the worst idea, ever! First off, one of the benefits of spiralizing is that it’s SO quick (just spiralize, cook, and have pasta in under 5 minutes!) Salting is not only time-consuming, it will render the zucchini lifeless and salty.
  • Don’t cook for too long. When you cook zucchini, you may try hard to cook those noodles until they’re no longer crunchy. That’s the problem! The longer the zucchini cooks, the more time it has for its moisture to leak out and then, become mushy. Think about your best Italian pasta meals. Were the noodles soggy? No! Al dente is the way to go, so the noodles are done once they wilt and lay mostly flat.
  • Choose the right zucchini. If you’ve tried everything, but you’re still experiencing issues, it could be the zucchini you’re starting with. When you squeeze the zucchini, it should be firm. If you’re using an overripe zucchini, the noodles will come out too soft and break up once they hit the heat. If you’re using an underripe zucchini, the noodles can come out too dry and delicate and then they’ll break up in the pan. This will create a mushiness in your finished dish.
  • Never salt the zucchini once it’s heating in the pan. If you are cooking your zucchini in a skillet, don’t salt it! The salt will cause the water in the zucchini to release and thus, a soggy mess.

Now that you know best practices, here are the best ways that I recommend cooking zucchini:

Saute

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

Recipe example: Zucchini Noodles and Arugula with Bacon, Corn and Ricotta

This is my favorite way to prepare zucchini noodles. Place a skillet over medium-high heat, add in some olive oil or cooking spray and once the skillet is hot (flick water in, it should sizzle), add in the zucchini noodles. Toss the zucchini noodles lightly with pasta tongs and cook for for 3-5 minutes or until al dente – don’t let the noodles cook for longer or else they’ll wilt and look lifeless. Embrace the crunch! If you’re cooking more than 1 spiralized zucchini, it may take up to 5-7 minutes to cook the zucchini thoroughly. Just keep tossing so that all zucchini noodles hit the bottom of the hot skillet and cook through.

Simmer in a broth

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

Recipe example: Easy Coconut Green Curry with Zucchini Noodles

While you would think that adding zucchini noodles to liquid would make them mushier, it’s the exact opposite. Thanks to science (ya, osmosis!), when you add zucchini to liquid, the zucchini doesn’t release as much moisture, because it’s floating in moisture! Without getting too technical, the broth or soup liquid will keep the zucchini firm. However, moisture release is inevitable and does happen, so it will thin out the broth, diluting it with water. To combat this, add extra flavor to your broths, in anticipation of this dilution. For example, add an extra couple teaspoons of soy sauce to your ramen to counteract the few quarter cup of water that the zucchini will release over time. If you’re making a zucchini noodle soup and eating it immediately, you don’t need to do this, but if you’re letting the soup sit out for a while or saving it for the next day, it’s a good idea to add those extra seasonings.

Never boil your noodles to use them! If you’re keeping them in the liquid, that’s fine (like with ramens and the above curry noodle soup), but if you’re trying to boil them to then toss them into a pasta, I don’t recommend that at all – your dish will turn soggy and watery in seconds.

Raw

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

Recipe example: Pesto Caprese Zucchini Noodle Salad

One of the most beautiful things about spiralizing is that it makes raw veggies into edible pasta! Save yourself the headache of cooking and toss them in a dressing or sauce raw! The best way to enjoy zucchini noodles raw is in a pesto, in my humble opinion. The pesto is creamy, flavorful, and coats the zucchini well. Aside from pesto, I love nut butter-based sauces (like my Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad, using almond butter.) It’s thick and creamy and the acids in the sauce “cook” the zucchini and naturally wilt it. However, a simple vinegar-based dressing will work wonders too – like my very popular Italian Zucchini Pasta Salad. With these types of dishes, the longer they sit, the more the noodles soften to the perfect consistency. Bonus points: they save well in the fridge for leftovers!

When I’m in a rush, I’ll heat up a sauce and toss the zucchini noodles with the hot sauce and as the noodles sit in the heat, they’ll soften slightly. The noodle will still mostly be crunchy, but it’s an easy way to prepare pasta without the worry of overcooking them.

What about roasting?

Roasting zucchini is totally doable, just don’t roast the noodles alone! Roasting is time-consuming and not the best use of your zucchini! It will wilt it and it’s easy to over-cook the zucchini this way. If you do want to roast the zucchini, I recommend you do it in a casserole, like here: Chicken Tetrazzini with Zucchini Noodles.

If all else fails, if you’ve never seen my video on How to Avoid a Watery Sauce with Zucchini Noodles, check it out here:


Get more recipes like these in my cookbooks:

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The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

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95 comments

alex says:
this is great! sometimes we need to go back to basics I have been making zuccini noodles but they always turned out mushy now I know where I have been going wrong didnt want to ask how best to cook them! as this was probably gone over long ago! thanks for back to basics tips we need 'em!
Jo says:
Hi when they go mushy instead of starting again Try mixing them with a small quantity of cheese sauce and chicken stock made into a sauce and a shake or 2 of pepper with a little grated lite cheese on top. Like a thick soup very nice alternative ...
Juli says:
Wow, thank you for the tip!
Anonymous says:
thanks
Kim says:
My favourite way is to cook quickly in a hot pan with a tiny amount of coconut oil, I add chopped garlic & ginger too &, for the last minute or so, a sprinkling of a sea salt & chilli mix. Result is hot spicy courgetti, love it!
Anonymous says:
Wow! Sounds delicious! I'll try it!
Karen says:
I second Alex's comments above and add my own thanks, Ali. Your timing is perfect on (re)posting this information, since zucchini season is coming up soon. I'm already starting to see some fresh, beautiful ones in my local co-op.
So happy you posted this! I have been spiralizing like crazy but seem to always prepare my spiralized zucchinni the same way- can't wait to try the almond butter sauce and italian salad!
Laura says:
Thanks, Ali! Definitely needed this. I would love some more basic tips!
F.l.laubner says:
Need recipes for sweet. Potatoes,spirelized. Thank you! Bye
Erin says:
Thanks for this very detailed post! Just what I (and apparently others) needed.
Lesley F says:
I also learned "bigger is NOT better" when it comes to spiraled zucchini. Go for the smaller zucchini: more skin, less flesh. Therefore, holds up better. I LUVVVVVV sautéed spiraled zucchini :)
Gail says:
Thanks tons! I've been cooking spiralized zucchini all wrong -- always salting it, cooking it too long, etc. I'll try it the correct way this evening!
Anonymous says:
Thanks for these tips and for the zucchini video. Today I'm making the Vegan Kale and Rutabaga Lazagna (which I love), but using zucchini instead of kale. I was worried about the zucchini being watery. I think I know what to do now to minimize that. I also read the post about the Zucchini Lasagna. That was a big help! Thanks again.
Beth B says:
I always zap them in the microwave until heated if I'm added them to a dish or using them as a pasta replacement. Works great with turkey bolognese. I'm so glad to know about noodles not getting soggy when added to soup. I always wait until I'm ready to serve, heat (zap) the noddles, then add in a bowl with soup. Thanks for this info.
amanda t says:
I have planned to try your microwave method and am pleased to see that it is tried and true already I also make a great red sauce with turkey
Anonymous says:
How long do you Zap them?
Debby Murphy says:
How long do you cook in the microwave?
Barb says:
A method I use: Heat oven to 375 degrees, put rack in middle. Spiralize 1/8' thick zucchini noodles. Cut into 12" lengths. Toss with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper & 1 T oil. Put on parchment lined, rim baking sheet & roast until tender ... 20-25 min. Transfer to colander and & shake to remove excess liquid. It works. You need to watch and turn the noodles. The baking helps evaporate the liquid.
Hi Ali, Thank you for posting this. I just started following you on Instagram about two weeks ago and have made spiralized zucchini a few times, but I did experience mushy noodles. Not so good tasting. Anyways, so happy you posted this as I am a rookie at this. The pesto caprese zucchini noodle salad looks great. I just recently given up all wheat products and have been missing my mozzarella and tomato sandwiches and this may fill that need. I am vegetarian also so the more vegetable ideas the better. Thank you for sharing and making this a easier transition time. Have a wonderful day!
Meaghan says:
we're so glad you enjoyed this post and that you found it helpful!
Adrianne says:
Has anybody ever tried zoodles in an actifry? I just got one and was thinking it might be good. I'm kinda scared they might just fall apart though!
Dawn says:
I appreciate all of your informative posts and info, Ali. My hubby & I both experience owie-painful digestion issues when we eat raw zucchini so we steam the zucchini noodles, er, zuddles for about 3 minutes. Cheers!
Jayne says:
Thanks Ali! Re your broth method - another option is to allow for dilution by making less which I've just realised is just a different way of expressing the method you use! I often make a drier tomato sauce and add the noodles raw.
Kathleen says:
Thanks for the awesome tips! I'm new to your blog and what a great find! I've been making zuchinni noodles back before anyone ever spoke of them and made with a veggie peeler....ugh!!!!! How far we've come. I can't wait to try the sweet potato fried rice. Just bought a big bag of sweet potatoes today at Sam's Club. Will go to the Farmers Markets this weekend for zuchinni etc. Yum! Ordering your book also. Thanks so much.
Ali Maffucci says:
Thank you so much for the support! Happy to have you here :)
Just made cold sesame noodles with raw zucchini noodles.. . So tasty and I prefer it to the traditional noodle recipe.
JenaLee says:
So I could make a speghetti bake with this or depending on how I cut the noodles a casserole dish?
Audrey Yap says:
Loved this idea! Hey guys, I've got a great recipe to go with Zucchini Noodles and its Cajun Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles. Check it out over here http://audreyforyou.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/recipe-cajun-shrimp-with-zucchini-noodles.html
Audrey Yap says:
Thank you so much for these! I'll be sure to try them out next time! I've got my own recipe as well. I've made Cajun Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles and it tastes so amazing! For my recipe, as well as how to make zucchini noodles WITHOUT a spiralizer, head to my blog here: http://lifewithaudrey21.blogspot.com/2016/09/recipe-cajun-shrimp-with-zucchini-noodles.html
Bradley Peters says:
Please have someone who knows proper grammar review your articles, specifically difference between adverbs and adjectives Zucchini can be tricky, because it’s made up of over 95% water and therefore, can get mushy and lifeless real quick. "can get mushy & lifeless real quick" is wrong. SHould read, "can get,,,,,, really quickly." Your efforts to write and post good grammar will hopefully help others to see and then use better communincation skills. Otherwise, you should just accpet when people say "he played good", "I'm doing good", or at least don't be bothered when someone probably will say, "He didn't write good."
Anonymous says:
Seriously? How about not worrying about the way the comments read.
Ana says:
Or learning how to spell "communincation" and "accpet" before you post.
Anna says:
Wow. I'm sure you're a real pleasure to be around. Grow up. By the way, the recipe looks delicious. I'm looking forward to trying it. :)
Rev Velveteen says:
It was the article he was talking about, actually.
Danielle Penn says:
Omg just reading this! What a dope to judge people when he can’t spell for sh#t.. lmao. Thank you everyone for fantastic zoodle ideas . I just started weight watchers and will be eating zoodles quite often I’m sure ???
Sheila says:
Someone needs to go spelling school before criticizing others.
Kimmie W says:
I find it hilarious that you would critique her grammar when you can't even spell. Poor spelling can also disrupt the flow of communication. Just saying! Next time you feel you need to puff your chest and act superior, head to a playground. Childish!!!
Belinda says:
ha doesn't proper grammar also include proper spelling? Communication not communincation and accept not accpet. Also, the beginning of your sentence SHould, verses Should. You're too funny, criticizing others when you should probably proof read your posts before submitting them. I would think the red lines under your misspelled words would be clue #1. If people wanted teachings in grammar they wouldn't be on a food blog.
Anonymous says:
Get a life
Anonymous says:
i thought this was about food not grammar peoples phones butcher language
Susan says:
Bradley, I guess you were talking about yourself when you said “He didn’t write good.” In addition to the errors in spelling and capitalization that have already been pointed out, you might also want to check your punctuation. Commas and periods ALWAYS inside quotation marks. Not to be picky, but I also noticed a missing article and a run-on sentence! Ali has great recipe ideas, and that’s why we are here. Plus, her grammar is fine. She writes in a friendly, upbeat style, and I feel confident she knows the difference between an adverb and an adjective.
Marcy says:
This has to be a prank. I don't honestly believe that anyone would do this. Then again, I may be completely wrong. This is wonderful communication among upbeat individuals. There's no place for that post here.
Pj says:
Thank you Marcie for your prank suggestion! I try to look at things with a positive lens and am constantly irritating family when I suggest maybe there was a different intention.
Jim says:
Brad, Your name should be "Dick" Just sayin'!
Bernie says:
I'm usually "the grammar police". The proper thing to do, would have been to send a private message with your concerns and corrections, and not call her out publicly. Tsk, tsk!
Anonymous says:
Trolls on the internet do this.. They think they appear smart... They usually live in basements and have no life... just best to ignore them. Love the tips ! I am going to cook them tomorrrroowww for the first time! :-)
Meaghan says:
Let us know how it goes!!
Babs says:
This is a cooking lesson not English Grammar.....look past the grammar and enjoy the recipes....
Juan Zambrano says:
Who the fk cares how what is spelled ?... People like u are probably lonely therefore u have nothing better to do then to check people spelling look fak fk file understand all them ?
Anonymous says:
You think you are sooo smart ... Don, you!
Anonymous says:
How about checking your spelling of accept.
Anonymous says:
Bradley, be nice, go get a life & shut the hell UP.
Anonymous says:
Just Wow lmao I don't quite know how life could go on, without grammar police... Gee, I hope I wroted it rite!????
Anonymous says:
Really
Anonymous 2 says:
Maybe you should keep your grammar tips for another kind of blog. I was really enjoying all this until I came to your condescending comments. And by the way, you should check your own message for spelling (as in accept) and use of capital letters (as in should). Time to come down off your high horse!
Kellyn says:
I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned; I steam my noodles. I start with my largest skillet and fill the bottom with water, lay a metal steam basket inside L, cover it and turn the burner to high. Then I rinse my zucchini and spiralize. Usually by the time I'm done with all that, my water is boiling and ready for steaming. I set a timer for 4 to 5 minutes and have Al dente, tough but not crunchy noodles that can withstand being tossed or stirred. My go to is combining them with a home made pasta sauce I make in batches and can along with turkey meatballs I make in advance and freeze. Toss them both in a saucepan on medium and its a healthy meal in 5 minutes and hardly any work.
Lea says:
hello Kellyn, in the first step you mention above ^ , do you steam the zucchini as a whole without any peeling involved? and then rinse and spiralize? Im confused since it reads that you first will steam the noodles, then you will spiralize? but doesn't spiralizing mean to make them into noodles? thanks Lea
Michele Garant says:
Start with olive oil in a skillet , heat, add onions and garlicand sliced mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes, and add baby kale and baby box Choi. Saute till almost done. While this is cooking, wash and spiral your whole, small zucchini. When veggies are almost done, toss in your raw, spiralled zucchini. Toss a bit,just a few minutes,the heat from the pan and veggies will cook it enough.
Lisa says:
Lea, I believe Kellyn prepares the skillet, then rinses and spiralizes the zucchini. By the time the zucchini is ready to be cooked, the water in the skillet is boiling and ready for steaming.
Nikki says:
Ali, I'm a big fan. Thank you for all your posts. So are you saying that you SHOULDN'T salt the zucchini noodles in a colainder, 20-30 mins before hand to release the water?
Lisa G-B says:
Thank you SO much! Brought my first spiralizer home and would have ruined the zucchini if I had not found your site. My wife and I are on Weight Watchers, and really missing our pasta. Sautéed zucchini is our new favorite dish; even my teenage girls loved it!!
Jo Ann Schif says:
My neighbor made me a delicious dish made of spiralized zucchini, LOTS of garlic, onion, butter, oil and marinated mushrooms over pasta. She passed away recently and I never got the recipe. Can you supply one? I would love to make it to remember her by. Thanks.
Jo Ann Schif says:
Oops! Should have written marinated artichokes, not mushrooms!
Pamela says:
Ok, after reading this post, I'm going to go pull my spiralizer out of my donation box. I was literally going to put it out today..lol But after talking to my son this morning who mentioned that he had bought one and loved it, and gave me a few ideas about how to use one. I went online to learn a bit more about it. Thanks for your post about making noodles properly. I'm going to give it another try now : )
c.reavis says:
how long a time to microwave a spiralized zucchini
Ashley says:
I will definitely try these recipes. Thank you for sharing this post. I will also try to add some ingredients too, just to make it a bit different.
Molly says:
Please help. I was so excited to try out my new spiralizer to make zoodles. I lighly cooked them in a curry & they were very bitter. Can you tell me if there is any way to avoid or get rid of the bitterness. Thanks.
Caroline says:
I'm getting ready to try spiralized zucchini as a way to cut back on eating regular pasta. My dietician said to go half and half since I do like pasta... So while I boil my small amount of regular pasta I can spiral my zucchini and then maybe drop the zucchini noodles into the hot water just before I drain the regular pasta - for just one minute so they will heat through? Will that work? I don't want to try putting pesto on a bowl of cold noodles. Thanks!
Kelly says:
Thanks for all your great tips on cooking zucchini noodles, sometimes it's easy to just stick to one method, I usually saute them:) But, I like the idea of in a broth too!! Very filling & no carbs:) I ordered this spiralizer after I read this great review: http://healthydiabetic.us/favorite-things/make-zucchini-noodles-favorite-tool-diabetes-spiralizer/ I like that it is easy to clean and quick to use. Also, relatively inexpensive. I see it at the bottom of your article too, so it must be a good one:)
Thank you so much to the authors, these are the ways we can cook more delicious food is looking forward to receiving the author's writings.
Thanks for all the info on zoodles, about to try it today. Will let you know how it went.
Vicki Steevensz says:
I LOVE spiralized vegetables! I saute them with chopped onions in a bit of olive oil. Before serving I add some lemon flavored olive oil (or a few lemon juice squeezes), salt, and black pepper. Fantastic!
Sue Ryze says:
Never did I think zucchini noodles would be delicious. These are the best ways to cook them for sure!

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