This simple and easy zoodles instructions will show you how to make the zucchini noodles as well as how to cook them so that they stay al dente and don't get mushy. The recipe is for garlic, lemon, and Parmesan zucchini noodles with a light sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
What are zucchini noodles?
Zoodles or zucchini noodles are long, spaghetti-shaped pieces of zucchini, cut with a spiralizer. Through trial and error, I found the best spiralizer (a relatively cheap one available on Amazon), and a method for using it.
We initially bought a spiralizer from The Pampered Chef, thinking it would be the best. It left a huge amount of waste instead of cutting the entire zucchini so, after using it a few times, we sent it back and got the above one which cost about a third of the price. The new one cuts almost the entire squash, leaving just a sliver of waste that we usually cut up a bit and throw into the pot to cook with the zoodles.
Apparently, you can spiralize any firm vegetable, and we have talked about making beet and/or carrot noodles, but we've never gotten around to it given that we like zucchini noodles so much.
Why this is the best zucchini noodles recipe
Easy: This recipe is so easy that it's almost not a recipe at all. There are just a handful of ingredients and a couple of steps, and you're done.
Fun: Spiralizing veggies is fun, especially for kids. Get yours in the habit of making dinner by introducing them to interesting skills like using a spiralizer.
Quick: Including the time it takes to spiralize the zucchini, you can make this recipe start to finish in under 15 minutes. It's perfect for those hectic weeknight dinners!
Healthy: Is there anything healthier than a plant-based meal? I'm not sure there is. This recipe has a small amount of heart-healthy fat and a lot of zucchini. Zucchini is a powerhouse of antioxidants, boasting loads of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, plus manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, and more. Plus it's loaded with fiber and very low in calories which makes it great for low carb, keto, paleo, and whole30 diets.
Allergy-friendly: This recipe is gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free. You can make it vegan and dairy-free by using a vegan Parmesan cheese or simply leaving the cheese out. It's used primarily for a garnish at the end anyway.
How do you make zucchini noodles?
All you have to do to make zucchini noodles is cut the end off the zucchini to make it flat, push it onto the prongs of the spiralizer, and turn the handle. The spiralizer does all the work and will spit out the zoodles. It's really very easy.
What other vegetables can you spiralize?
- Butternut Squash
- Broccoli (cut the florets off and spiralize only the stalk)
How do you cook zucchini noodles?
This is the tricky part until you understand that you CANNOT cook zoodles like you would cook traditional pasta. If you boil them, they will get waterlogged, mushy, and disgusting zucchini noodles.
Instead of boiling, the best way to cook zucchini noodles is to heat some olive oil or butter in a skillet and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften. You don't want them to be completely cooked and soft because you don't want mushy noodles. An al dente texture is best.
What you'll need to make the best Lemon Zucchini Noodles with Parmesan and Garlic recipe
- Spiralizer - Obviously, you will need a way to make zucchini noodles from your zucchini. I don't know any way to do this other than a spiralizer.
- Garlic press - A garlic press minces fresh garlic into teeny tiny pieces, considerably smaller than you could ever mince with a knife. It ensures that the garlic will be distributed evenly among the zucchini noodles.
- Citrus juicer - You'll need fresh lemon juice for this recipe, and I think the best way to get juice from a lemon is using a press-like juicer. If you have another method, feel free to use it.
- Microplane grater - This will allow you to scrape the lemon zest off of the lemon without getting the bitter white pith that's underneath.
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page for all measurements and nutritional information.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh garlic - I recommend pressing your fresh garlic with a garlic press.
- Fresh lemon - You'll use only the zest and juice.
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Medium zucchini - Spiralized with a spiralizer. Obviously, you can't make Lemon Zucchini Noodles without having zucchini noodles to start with.
- Parmesan cheese - Grated or shaved Parmesan. This is not the powdery stuff in the can but slivers of actual cheese that must be refrigerated.
How to prepare Lemon Zucchini Noodles with Parmesan and Garlic
- Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil. When the oil is beginning to steam, add garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- Stir the mixture for 30 seconds until golden brown.
- Add the zucchini noodles to the pan and drizzle with with lemon juice and toss into the garlic mixture. Sauté 3-4 minutes, until zucchini reaches your desired tenderness. I like it crisp-tender, when it is just beginning to soften.
- To serve, garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
You can add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper if you'd like some heat.
If you're a big cheese lover (like me), you could add a handful of shredded mozzarella or Swiss. (Go crazy and use whatever cheese you want!)
Is this zucchini noodles recipe vegan?
You can very easily make this recipe vegan by substituting a vegan Parmesan cheese or simply leaving the cheese out.
How to serve zucchini pasta
Because zucchini is a mild vegetable (or is it a fruit?), it has very little flavor on its own and pairs well with nearly any sauce. You can serve it with spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, or the garlic and lemon olive oil sauce in the recipe below. Any olive oil based sauce with spices will taste nice with your zoodles.
You can serve zucchini noodles as a side dish with a protein like chicken bryan (that's chicken with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh basil drenched in a lemon butter sauce), balsamic pork roast, or air fryer steak bites.
Take a look at these other zucchini recipes:
- The Best Cheese Stuffed Zucchini
- Crustless Zucchini Quiche (Gluten-Free)
- Peanut Sesame Chicken Over Zucchini Noodles
- Spicy Sriracha Shrimp with Peanut Zucchini Noodles
- Chicken Piccata with Zucchini Noodles
- Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini
- Zucchini Sausage Egg Muffins Recipe (Gluten-Free & Low Carb)
- Zucchini Parmesan