Zoodles, or zucchini noodles, are a quick and easy gluten-free, low carb pasta alternative you can use to make your favorite dishes. Here's how to make zucchini noodles.
Zucchini is a quick and easy gluten-free, grain-free, paleo pasta alternative—you don't even have to cook the zoodles. But if you want it a little softer, you can blanch it in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Or just add it to the pan with whatever sauce you are making for the last few minutes of cooking.
Zucchini pasta works well with just about any sauce and also makes a great cold salad.
In this easy to follow guide, you'll learn how to make zoodles, explore the various ways to cook them as well as methods for keeping them from becoming soggy.
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What Are Zoodles?
Noodles that are made from zucchini squash are known as zoodles. Zoodles are a clean eating, no-carb way to enjoy pasta-inspired dishes. And the best part? Making zoodles is easy!
Zucchini squash, because of its elongated size and dimension, is perfect for making lengthy, thin and sometimes spiral threads, depending on which method you use to cut them. In this form, they resemble spaghetti strands which makes them a healthy, gluten-free and low carb substitute for many traditional pasta dishes.
What Do Zoodles Taste Like?
Zucchini noodles have a very mild flavor which is great because it allows you to layer on herbs, seasonings, toppings and sauces just as would with traditional pasta. Zoodles do not, nor do they attempt, to taste like flour-based pasta. They act as a healthy canvas for what goes on top, allowing that to be the dominant flavor.
The texture of zoodles, in raw form, is slightly crunchy. For a more tender bite, cooking them briefly will warm them up and give them a softer texture.
Can I Use Yellow Squash To Make Zoodles?
You can, but the texture of yellow squash, depending on the variety, may be softer.
The most popular form of yellow squash that's readily available is crook-neck yellow squash. The elongated zucchini squash also comes in a yellow variety.
Either of these yellow squashes can be used to make zoodles, but the texture may vary. Because of this, I suggest using a mix of the yellow squash with the green zucchini so you'll have a substantial texture with which to work.
Methods To Make Zucchini Noodles
The great thing about working with zucchini is that you can cut it and transform it into just about any "noodle" shape that you want. From thin spaghetti strands to a wider-width fettuccine look-alike to an ultra wide lasagna noodle shape, this squash ranks at the top for its ability to morph into a healthy noodle substitute.
To convert the zucchini into your desired noodle, there are several handy tools and methods that you can use to achieve your desired shape. Here are a few different ways to make zucchini pasta:
- Sprializer - The easiest (and most fun) method is to use a vegetable spiralizer. This countertop version comes with a set of different stainless steel blades that allow you to make various sizes and shapes with just a twirl of the handle.
To spiralize it, just cut off both ends of the zucchini. You do not need to peel the zucchini, but I like to peel it so it looks more like “pasta.” Attach it between the prongs and blade, turn the handle and watch as the zucchini becomes curly strands of zoodles.
- Spiralizer Attachment - If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, you can get an attachment that will do everything that the countertop spiralizers do without having to turn the crank. Just turn it on and it spins the veggie against the blades to peel it and make the spirals.
Tip: Not just for zucchini, this spiralizer can be used for other vegetables, too, like carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, onions, bell peppers and more. It can even handle fruit like apples and pears.
- Handheld Spiralizer - To achieve a similar effect, this handheld spiralizer comes with two built-in blades on either end of the unit that will spiralize your zucchini by just inserting the vegetable and twisting. It's a portable and budget-friendly solution that requires a little manual turning on your part.
- Mandolin - Another method of cutting your zucchini into shapes is to use a mandolin. Much like the spiralizer, it comes with a set of blades to help transform the zucchini into noodles. Just insert the julienne blade and cut the zucchini into threads. You can also make lasagna-width noodles from zucchini if your mandolin has a wider blade.
Tip: A mandolin is a great tool to have for quickly slicing other veggies, too. Onions, carrots, cabbage and more are easily and evenly sliced or shredded using the appropriate blades.
- Vegetable Peeler - Use a vegetable peeler to make long thin strips of zucchini. Continue around the zucchini until you get to the seeds. You can create thin or wide strips using this method.
I find that by making wide strips, I can then stack the zucchini ribbons on top of each other and, using a sharp knife, cut them lengthwise into thinner strips, either fettuccine or spaghetti-sized.
- Julienne peeler - A vegetable peeler with a julienne blade is another way to make pasta strands. Just peel around the zucchini until you get to the seeds.
How To Avoid Soggy Noodles
Now that you've transformed your zucchini into zoodles, you'll no doubt notice that they're very wet. That's because zucchini is a water-based vegetable. In fact, it's been estimated that zucchini contains up to 95% water.
Before using any of the methods below, you'll want to salt your zoodles to help draw out the excess moisture. Then use one of the methods listed below to remove as much of the excess water as you can.
- Place your salted zoodles on a paper towel. Cover them with another paper towel and press to help release the excess liquid. Do this several times, changing the paper towels as they become soaked.
- Place your salted zoodles in a salad spinner and let them release water while you're preparing the rest of your meal. Give them a gentle spin to release any remaining water before you're ready to serve or cook them.
- Place your salted zoodles in a colander and let them drain for at least 20 minutes, then press the zucchini to remove the liquid or lay it on a dish towel to dry.
Tip: It's perfectly okay to skip the draining altogether. If you're tossing your zoodles with other ingredients that will absorb the water, then there's no need to worry about draining.
How To Cook Zoodles
First, you should know that you absolutely do not have to cook your zoodles. If you're using them as a base for a pasta meal where you'll be topping them with a cooked hot sauce, the heat of the sauce will automatically warm and soften the zoodles. Plus, it's one less step you need to worry about when getting a meal on the table.
That said, if you want a more al dente zoodle with less crunch, here are a few easy methods to heat and cook your zucchini noodles.
- Stir the zoodles directly into the warm sauce in your pot or pan and let them simmer for no more than a minute or two. You do not want those spirals to disintegrate in the sauce!
- Blanch the zoodles before serving. Plunge them into a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds and immediately drain them in a colander before continuing with your recipe. They'll be hot and slightly cooked but still retain their shape and texture.
- Sauté the zoodles in a heated skillet with olive oil for no more than 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and continue with your recipe.
Can I Make Them Ahead Of Time?
Absolutely! In fact, making them in advance is a great idea because it will give the zoodles more time to release their water. You can even make them a day or so ahead and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use. See my tip for storage below.
How To Store Zoodles
Whether making zucchini noodles ahead of time or storing leftovers, you'll want to line a glass storage container with paper towels before adding the zoodles. This way, as they release water, the paper towels will absorb it and keep the zoodles from getting soggy. You may want to change out the paper towels if you're storing them for more than a day. Make sure your container has a tight fitting lid.
Leftover zoodles will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.
Can I Freeze Zoodles?
You can actually buy frozen zucchini spirals. But they’re so quick and easy to make fresh, I don’t bother freezing them since it does change the texture. The frozen zoodles are softer and less firm after they’ve been thawed.
However, if you choose to freeze them, place them in a silicone freezer bag, uncooked. When ready to use, thaw them in a covered pan on the stovetop and remove any excess liquid before serving. You can also drop them directly into a recipe, like soup, to thaw if you don’t mind the extra liquid.
Easy zoodle recipes to try
- Zucchini Pasta Pesto
- Garlic Roasted Shrimp with Zucchini Pasta
- Crock Pot Turkey Bolognese Sauce with Zucchini Noodles
- Easy Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Zoodles
How to Make Zoodles
- 4 medium zucchini
- Cut the ends off of each zuccini and peel if desired.
- Place one zucchini in the spiralizer and turn the handle to spiralize it. Cut strands to pasta length. Repeat with remaining zucchini.
- At this point, the zoodles are ready to cook or use raw. If they will be used in a recipe that does not need extra liquid, lightly salt the zoodles and let them drain in a colander to remove any excess moisture.
This looks easy ! I have been trying to incorporate more veggies into our meals, and this blog is full of ideas. My youngest child is a very picky eater. He will not touch a vegetable or a fruit. My oldest would eat veg and fruits all day if I let him.
I've never thought of substituting zucchini for pasta. Is this a better alternative than spaghetti squash from the nutrition/health point of view?
It's very easy - and zucchini is a good source of vitamin C.
So u dont cook it at all like pasta right??
Cooking is optional - you can eat it raw or toss it in a hot sauce for a few minutes if you want softer noodles.
No. Zoodles cook quickly. You can blanch them or stir fry or saute them quickly. Boiling them like pasta will make them "melt"
Have you ever tried freezing these?
Kari, I have not tried freezing them. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
You can buy frozen ones so you should be able to freeze your own without cooking first
Update: I've tried freezing them and it does change the texture. The zucchini noodles are are not as firm after thawing them.
I am very new to cooking. What kind of sauces would you recommend with this? And if I boil it in water, for how many minutes?
Kessie, zucchini noodles would work with just about any type of sauce. A couple suggestions are garlic shrimp and walnut pesto. If you blanch them, they just need 1 - 2 minutes in salted boiling water. Then plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking. Here's a link to how to blanch vegetables.
I just purchased a Paderno spiralizer and am looking forward to using it a great deal.I have a couple of questions: I'm wondering if I should peel the zucchini first as it looks like you might have in the photo. And do you have any tips on using this odd-looking gadget? Other than keep well clear of the scary-looking blades... Thanks, just subscribed to your site and looking forward to trying your recipes.
Awesome! Peeling the zucchini is completely optional - it just depends on how you like it. As for tips, it's easier to clean the spiralizer right after you use it. And definitely be careful of the blades - they are sharp! 🙂
I love my paderno spiralizer!
Me too, Patricia!
I plung the zucchini & baby spinach for 1/2 minute in boiled salted water, drain immediately , drizzle w/ lemon/olive oil & stir in basil pesto..., I do peel the zucchini first...love this as a side with grilled chicken or salmon pan seared with basil pesto...yummy!
Chrissa - Physical Kitchness
i ADORE zucchini pasta! I have a manual spiralizer but itching for a fancy one (on my bday wish list). I could spiralize to my little heart's content! This is a great post for those newbies that have never tried veggie pasta alternatives!
I love my spiralizer, Chrissa! You can make so many things with it!