15 Creative Ways To Use Your Summer Zucchini Harvest

Zucchini is a type of mild-tasting summer squash with edible green skin and flesh. It's not to be confused with squash, which is typically yellow in color and oblong. According to Organic Facts, zucchini contains 95% water and can aid digestion and reduce blood sugar levels. It also improves circulation throughout the body's systems (per Medical News Today). 

In the summer, the squash plant proliferates at an astonishing rate. It can be difficult to keep up with baskets of vegetables coming out of your garden all at once! While many cooks know it for its utility on the grill, many appetizers, entrées, and desserts use it for moisture and texture. If you don't have enough ways to prepare zucchini from your list, the Food Network notes that the vegetable can be chopped into small pieces, blanched, cooled, and frozen in air-tight bags for up to six months. 

Here are some creative ways to eat up the last of your zucchini harvest from the summer growing season.

Make a quick bread

Quick breads are soft (typically sweet) and leavened with baking powder or baking soda. The addition of grated summer zucchini to a quick bread is a simple way to provide moisture. For example, Kate Shungu's zucchini carrot bread utilizes a food processor to shred the carrots and the zucchini for this purpose. However, since zucchini is a moist vegetable, it is very important to remove some of the water from the shreds using a colander. To remove the water, Shungu recommends pressing the pieces against the strainer with a spatula and setting them aside to mix into the batter. The finished bread stays moist for several days after baking; it can also be frozen for several weeks before being defrosted.

You can also mix and match zucchini with other fruits and vegetables like apples and bananas. Hayley MacLean's recipe for zucchini banana bread muffins gets its moisture from a hearty helping of zucchini, Greek yogurt, and mashed bananas.

Bake zucchini chips

Although zucchini chips aren't the same thing as the classic potato-based snack, they are a delicious way to use up the leftover squash in your kitchen. They are vegan, gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, and made with three simple ingredients: sliced zucchini, oil, and salt. Table for Two by Julie Chiou recommends using a mandolin to slice the vegetable uniformly; you'll want ⅛-inch thick slices.

If you want to bake the chips, you'll need to preheat the oven to a low temperature. It is also important to blot the zucchini dry with a towel to remove the excess moisture before cooking. They will take about two hours to bake. If you pull them out before most of the moisture has cooked off, they will stick to the parchment paper and result in a crumbly, sad mess. Zucchini chips can be stored in an air-tight container for up to three days.

Make zoodles

Zoodles are a popular low-carb alternative to pasta and noodles. Like other zucchini recipes, it is important to first remove as much water as possible before cooking. You can do this by salting and letting them sit for a few minutes before drying them with a paper towel.

It's important to remember that zoodles don't "cook" all too much –- and overcooking will render the noodles mushy and limp. You can fry them for about two minutes in a skillet with oil, or you can add them directly to your desired sauce and lightly toss. According to Sweet Peas and Saffron, you can store them for up to four days in a sealed, refrigerated container on a paper towel. Zucchini noodles do not freeze well because the flesh has such a high moisture content. If you're planning on meal-prepping with the zoodles, avoid storing them with sauce to prevent them from becoming too mushy.

Make stuffed zucchini boats

Zucchini's mild flavor and shape make it the perfect vessel for stuffing. Miriam Hahn uses it to make their Mediterranean-inspired stuffed zucchini boats recipe. They first recommend charring the vegetable in a skillet and seasoning with salt, pepper, oregano, and a generous splash of oil before scooping out the flesh. This is then mixed with Kalamata olives, quinoa, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, and feta cheese before being baked in the zucchini "shell" for 20 minutes.

Although Mediterranean flavors are a common essence for zucchini boats, you can customize them to suit cuisines from around the world. Try stuffing roasted zucchini with seasoned ground beef, black beans, and shredded cheese for a Tex-Mex version. This meal is perfect for meal-prepping because you can add sour cream, guacamole, or salsa before serving. 

Combine ground chicken, honey, soy sauce, and garlic for Asian-inspired sesame zucchini boats. Add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce or a scoop of chili topping for more kick.

Ferment homemade kimchi

Fermentation has long since been recognized as a way to preserve produce. According to Révolution Fermentation, kimchi is a spicy Korean sauerkraut made with fermented vegetables, garlic, ginger, and Korean chili. Although the blend of vegetables typically includes Napa cabbage, daikon radish, and carrots, other vegetables can be added for a boost of fiber and flavor.

To make your own kimchi at home with zucchini, Feast Magazine recommends first slicing the zucchini into half-moon shapes and dousing the pieces with salt. This will extract the water from the vegetable before it is mixed with the other ingredients, as well as make it easier to eat once the kimchi is finished fermenting. Then, squeeze out the water with a clean kitchen towel and add zucchini, garlic, grated ginger, and green onions to a large glass container. Season generously with fish sauce, sugar, gochujang, and rice wine vinegar before covering and refrigerating for at least 12 hours. The kimchi can be served as a side with fresh rice, meats, or tofu. If stored properly, the kimchi can last several months in a cool, dry spot.

Fry zucchini fritters

Fried zucchini fritters make a great light side or appetizer for a summer meal –- especially served alongside a tzatziki dipping sauce or with a Greek salad. You'll need a few simple ingredients to make these delicious rounds at home. We recommend slicing the zucchini into ½-inch slices before dredging and frying them in oil. Savory Nothings recommends using freshly chopped chives and parmesan instead of dill and serving the patties with sour cream.

Although most fried recipes use oil and a skillet, Air Frying Foodie suggests pulling out your favorite tabletop kitchen appliance: an air fryer! Preheat the air fryer to 360 F. Then, use an ice cream scoop to plop the fritter mix into the air fryer basket, leaving ample space between each. You can spray the tops of each zucchini round with oil for an extra crisp. The patties will be ready in about twelve minutes.

Make breakfast zoats

Oatmeal contains a plethora of nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins, and beta-glucan (per WebMD). When combined with the digestive properties of watery fruits and vegetables (like zucchini), the human body can maximize its digestion of oats.

You'll first want to shred the zucchini with a grater or food processor. You won't need to dry out the water from the vegetable because most of the liquid will be cooked off later. Then, combine whole rolled oats, spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt, and water or milk in a saucepan with the shredded zucchini. You can also add egg whites to the pan towards the end of the cooking process for an extra protein boost. Lastly, add maple syrup for a tinge of sweetness before serving.

You can customize your oatmeal with your favorite nut butter, protein powder, or toppings. Tina DeGraff from TODAY recommends adding almond butter, sliced bananas, and fresh berries.

Prepare zucchini lasagna

It's hard not to love a warm, cheesy plate of lasagna. But what about the same dish with a summer squash twist? Believe it or not, there is a way to use up all of the zucchini in your garden while also still getting the same flavors as a traditional lasagna!

We recommend baking lasagna with zucchini strips instead of sheets for a low-carb spin on the traditional Italian recipe. The most important part of working with this vegetable for lasagna is to allow it to sweat off moisture for at least 30 minutes before baking. You'll also need to dry the slices well with a kitchen towel. If you're still concerned your zucchini is still too wet for the lasagna, add a few tablespoons of flour (use gluten-free flour if needed) into the pan to soak up the excess moisture.

To prepare, layer the bottom of a baking pan with sauce and top with thinly sliced zucchini, ricotta, additional roasted vegetables, and more sauce. Continue layering until the pan is filled and ready to bake. Serve with chopped basil and grated parmesan.

Make zucchini wraps with soft cheese

Zucchini is a versatile ingredient in finger foods and appetizers. For your next party, try making wraps with mandolin-sliced zucchini, cream cheese, sour cream, and dill. After salting and drying the strips, cook in a skillet for a few minutes until lightly browned. After you've cooked the vegetable, roll it up with the soft cheese and herb mixture inside and seal with a toothpick. For an extra boost of protein, add a layer of deli meat (such as sliced turkey or chicken) to the wrap.

Instead of using freshly chopped herbs, Ree Drummond (as shared by Food Network) recommends using herbed cream cheese and basil. They also recommend preparing the zucchini using a grill rather than a stovetop for added flavor and grill marks. Either version of this recipe should be kept chilled after assembly to prevent foodborne illness; the zucchini wraps can be refrigerated for up to three days.

Bake zucchini pizza bites

The best things in life are bite-sized — including these zucchini pizza bites! These little appetizers come together in a matter of minutes and can be prepared ahead of time for an easy snack or game night. To make zucchini pizza bites, slice ¼-inch zucchini slices using a mandolin. This is one recipe where you'll want consistency across all the pieces for an even bake.

Top each of the zucchini slices with tomato sauce (from a jarred or a homemade batch), cheese, and any pizza toppings you can dream of. You can also add your favorite herbs (like chopped basil) to the bites. If you're using fresh herbs or leafy greens, be sure to place them between the sauce and the cheese layers rather than on top to prevent burning. Bake the bites at 450 F for five minutes to cook the zucchini, then broil for another five minutes to crisp up the cheese. Serve them as-is or with a side of ranch, hot honey, or garlic sauce.

Add zucchini to a breakfast hash brown

Zucchini is a great, low-carb bulking ingredient, so it makes a suitable replacement for higher-calorie, starchy options like potatoes. Hash browns are a perfect way to include zucchini without distracting from the homey goodness of this breakfast accompaniment. It's also an easy way to integrate more greens into your diet without sacrificing flavor. A Table Full of Joy recommends using a ratio of three medium zucchini to each potato. If you use the same grating attachment on the food processor for both the potato and the zucchini, it will make cleaning up the kitchen afterward a breeze!

When working with the zucchini in the pan, it is important to avoid flipping the mixture too frequently to prevent the hash browns from breaking. You can also season the hash browns with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to your liking. Serve them with your favorite ketchup, hot sauce, or ranch. Or, try doubling up and making a zucchini tzatziki by adding grated zucchini, Greek yogurt, and dill to a food processor with other traditional tzatziki ingredients. 

Bake zucchini cookies

Zucchini cookies are a delicious, sweet treat. Sally's Baking Recipes recommends making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with grated zucchini for their texture and crispiness. The moisture in the cookie is all thanks to the vegetable nestled between the chocolate bits. You can either use a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment. To remove the moisture from the zucchini, gently blot with a clean kitchen towel. Add the vegetable into the dough with the other dry ingredients and mix in a stand mixer until well-combined; you don't want any pockets of zucchini hiding in your cookies! After mixing in the wet ingredients, add the chocolate chips and bake until crispy.

As with other cookie recipes, you can mix and match ingredients and flavors to suit your taste. The best part about this recipe is that you'll barely taste the zucchini; it's a great way to trick your family into eating more veggies. Add cocoa powder or dark chocolate chunks to the cookies for a deeper chocolate flavor, or try chopping and adding nuts to the batter.

Add shredded zucchini to meatballs

A key quality of a great meatball is softness and juiciness. You may have never thought to add zucchini to your meatballs, but it is actually a simple low-carb option to elevate your grandmother's favorite Italian recipe. Doing so can help retain some liquid during the cooking process, resulting in a moist, luscious meatball that doesn't even taste like it has vegetables in it!

Choose your favorite meat to work with — beef, turkey, chicken, or bison are all options. After grating the zucchini, it is important to squeeze out the shreds using a kitchen towel or cheesecloth. This step will prevent your meatballs from falling apart. Combine it with the meat, seasoning, breadcrumbs, and an egg before baking. Then, toss your meatballs in your favorite marinara sauce and serve alongside your pasta of choice. We love that this meatball recipe is customizable; add more red pepper flakes for heat or a savory, shredded cheese if desired. You can also bake these meatballs ahead of time and freeze them until needed.

Upgrade your hummus with steamed zucchini

Hummus is a filling dip typically made with chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), and seasonings. However, some folks cannot process the fibrous chickpea and resort to delicious alternatives like baba ganoush — a puree made with eggplants. But, with the addition of the humble zucchini, you can add another spread to your rotation. 

Fablunch recommends peeling the zucchinis before roasting. The result is a smoother dip without tiny green flecks of skin. After the vegetable is roasted and softened, add it to a food processor with your other favorite hummus ingredients: tahini, garlic, and seasonings. Don't worry about the seeds getting in the way; as long as you have the processor on the highest setting, it should easily blend and puree the zucchini. You can make alterations to this hummus recipe to fit your favorite spices like zatar, dill, or parsley. Serve this alongside sliced veggies and pita, or use the dip as a spread on sandwiches or with fried falafels. There's no wrong way to make zucchini hummus!

Toss zucchini into your favorite slaw recipe

Love it or hate it, coleslaw is a summer classic. It can be made in many different ways and include shredded vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and onions as well as more unconventional additions like fennel bulbs, jicama, and celery. With so many creative methods to combine shredded veggies, acids, dressings, and salt, why wouldn't you consider folding in some shredded zucchini as well? 

The vegetable does very well in coleslaw because the salt pulls the moisture out of it and crisps it up. We recommend leaving your slaw to chill in the fridge for a bit before serving; this will give the water the most time to seep out. You also may have to taste the coleslaw before serving to ensure the ratio of acid and salt is perfect. If you are a fan of Asian-inspired recipes, you might try flavoring your slaw as a seriously delicious egg-roll-in-a-bowl with sesame oil and green onions. Although coleslaw can be consumed on its own, you can also try adding it to the bottom of your pulled pork sandwich or in a wrap with veggies and deli meat.