The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

The Three Best Ways to Cook Zucchini Noodles

These are the three best ways to cook zucchini noodles that are crisp, springy, and...

These are the three best ways to cook zucchini noodles that are crisp, springy, and easy to pair with your favorite healthy pasta sauces for a low-carb meal.

overhead of a white plate with green 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 to cook well. That’s because the vegetable contains over 95% water. It can easily become watery and mushy when cooked. However, it’s also flavorful, low-carb and easy to turn into noodles with your spiralizer.

If you’re struggling with mushy noodles, be sure to read the tips in my post all about How to Avoid Watery and Soggy Zucchini Noodles.

And below, you’ll find my three best ways to cook zucchini noodles that come out bright, crisp and refreshing every time. After years of careful testing countless zucchini, I’m excited to share what I’ve learned!

The Inspiralizer cutting a zucchiniTips for Spiralizing Zucchini Noodles

Before I go over the three best ways to cook zucchini noodles, here are the best tips for making zoodles.

Should I Peel Zucchini before Spiralizing?

Don’t peel the zucchini before spiralizing. Once you peel the zucchini, the flesh is exposed and the moisture will start to seep out. This will give you a mushier noodle when you cook them. Instead, keep the skin on so that the noodles maintain their shape and all of the nutrients in the dark green skin.

Should I Salt Zucchini Noodles?

Don’t pre-salt your zucchini noodles.

First of all, one of the benefits of spiralizing is that it’s SO quick (just spiralize, cook, and enjoy pasta in under 5 minutes!). Salting adds extra prep work. In addition, it also leaves your noodles limp and overly salty. Whatever you do, do not let your cut zoodles sit in salt before cooking.

Likewise, 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. Instead, season your noodles just before serving.

How Long Do Zucchini Noodles Cook For?

Make sure you don’t overcook your zoodles.

The longer zucchini cooks, the more time it has for its moisture to leak out and become mushy. As with normal pasta, shoot for al dente zoodles. And remember, they’ll continue to cook after you remove them from the pan.

What’s the Best Zucchini for Zoodles?

It’s very important to choose the right zucchini.

Make sure your veggie is firm and fresh. Soft or older zucchini are more likely to become soggy because they’ve lost some of their structure over time.  On the other hand, an underripe zucchini may come out too dry and delicate.

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

The Best Ways to Cook Zucchini Noodles

Now, grab your spiralizer and start spiralizing! It’s time to make the best zucchini noodles you’ve tried yet.

1. Sautéed Zoodles

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

My favorite way to cook zucchini noodles? Sautéing.

Here’s how to do it perfectly:

  1. Place a skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil or cooking spray. When the skillet is hot (flick water in, it should sizzle), add in the zucchini noodles.
  2. Toss the zucchini noodles lightly with tongs and cook for for 3-5 minutes or until al dente. Don’t let the noodles cook for longer or they’ll wilt. 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.

Best Sautéed Zucchini Noodle Recipes:

2. Simmer in a broth

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

While you would think that adding zucchini noodles to liquid would make them mushier, it’s the exact opposite. Thanks to 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 and dilute your broth a bit. To combat this, add extra flavor to your soup at the beginning.

For example, add an extra couple of teaspoons of soy sauce to your ramen to counteract the water from the zucchini. If you’re serving your soup immediately, you don’t need to worry about this. But the longer a zucchini noodle soup sits, the more diluted the flavor will become.

Best Simmered Zucchini Noodle Recipes:

3. Raw Zucchini Noodles

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

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!

One of my favorite ways to eat zucchini noodles raw is in a pesto. 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 so it naturally softens.

However, a simple vinegar-based dressing will work wonders too. Try 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 zoodles will still mostly be crunchy, and it’s an easy way to prepare pasta without the worry of overcooking them.

Best Raw Zucchini Noodle Recipes:

What about Roasted Zucchini Noodles?

Roasting zucchini is totally doable, just don’t roast the noodles alone! You won’t get the crisp al dente texture you’re looking for.

However, 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:

Can I Boil Zucchini Noodles?

Never boil your spiralized zucchini noodles! If you’re serving the zoodles in a liquid or sauce, that’s ok. But boiling noodles for other dishes, like sauces or salads will guarantee that they come out soggy and watery.

Instead, use one of the three best ways to coo zucchini noodles above!

Other Ways to Cook Zucchini Noodles

If you’re not as concerned about texture and crispness of your zucchini noodles, you can always bake them or cook them into oatmeal.

These are my favorite baked recipes with zoodles:

Get more recipes like these in my cookbooks:

Inspiralized

Inspiralize Everything 

Inspiralized and Beyond

 

The Three Best Ways to Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

with love, Ali

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comments

  • 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!
    • 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 ...
      • Wow, thank you for the tip!
    • thanks
  • 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!
    • Wow! Sounds delicious! I'll try it!
  • 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!
  • Thanks, Ali! Definitely needed this. I would love some more basic tips!
    • Need recipes for sweet. Potatoes,spirelized. Thank you! Bye
  • Thanks for this very detailed post! Just what I (and apparently others) needed.
  • 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 :)
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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
    • How long do you Zap them?
    • How long do you cook in the microwave?
  • 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!
    • we're so glad you enjoyed this post and that you found it helpful!
    • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • So I could make a speghetti bake with this or depending on how I cut the noodles a casserole dish?
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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."
    • Seriously? How about not worrying about the way the comments read.
      • Or learning how to spell "communincation" and "accpet" before you post.
      • 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. :)
      • It was the article he was talking about, actually.
      • 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 ???
    • Someone needs to go spelling school before criticizing others.
    • 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!!!
    • 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.
    • Get a life
    • i thought this was about food not grammar peoples phones butcher language
    • A**hole alert!
    • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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.
    • Brad, Your name should be "Dick" Just sayin'!
    • 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!
    • 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! :-)
    • This is a cooking lesson not English Grammar.....look past the grammar and enjoy the recipes....
    • 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 ?
    • You think you are sooo smart ... Don, you!
    • How about checking your spelling of accept.
    • Bradley, be nice, go get a life & shut the hell UP.
    • Just Wow lmao I don't quite know how life could go on, without grammar police... Gee, I hope I wroted it rite!????
    • Really
    • 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!
  • 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.
    • 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
      • 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.
      • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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!!
  • 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.
  • Oops! Should have written marinated artichokes, not mushrooms!
  • 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 : )
  • how long a time to microwave a spiralized zucchini
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Never did I think zucchini noodles would be delicious. These are the best ways to cook them for sure!
  • Interesting blog and recipe! I will try it. Also, the tricks you shared are extremely helpful. I hope this will do wonder for me, too. Thanks for sharing.
    • We're so glad you found this helpful!
  • Thank you for your sauteeing instructions. My zoodles came out PERFECTLY this time. (I spiralized them using the 5mm size.) I had just about given up hope of making them. :-)
  • Thank you so much for sharing your tips. I found this very helpful and very interesting. I can’t wait to start using my spiralizer. I have a feeling I have a wonderful adventure ahead of me. I am going to check out your books, I am sure I will find a lot of interesting and informative things as well as wonderful recipes. Sherryl
    • Sherryl! We're so excited for you! You'll LOVE all of ALi's books.