Basic Zucchini Noodles

Go ahead and say it! It’s OK to complain a little among friends. At first, saying “no” to pasta – and replacing it with vegetables! – is no fun. I understand. We all go through it. But here’s the thing: We have choices. Tasty choices. There’s no reason to give up the fun of twirling long, strands of yumminess on a fork. With a little patience, some ingenuity, and the loving support of vegetables, you can have all the joy of noodles without the troublesome anti-nutrients of grains.

With these Basic Zucchini Noodles, you’ve got the base for a super comforting, noodle-icious meal. You can top them with Old School Italian Meat Sauce, toss with pesto, make a bed for Chicken Pesto Meatballs, add sardines for a dose of Omega-3, turn them into Comfort Noodles, slurp them in soup, and much, much more.

basic zucchini noodles
Basic Zucchini Noodles

Serves 2-4 | Prep 10 minutes | Sweat 30 minutes | Cook 2 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 4 zucchini, julienned with a julienne peeler or spiralizer (about 4 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Place the julienned zucchini in a colander or wire strainer and toss generously with salt until the strands are lightly coated. Allow the zucchini to sit for 20-30 minutes to remove excess water. Rinse with running water, drain well, and pat dry with paper towels. Now you have two choices: got directly to step 2 or… for absolutely al dente noodles that do not get mushy, return the noodles to the colander and place in the fridge, uncovered, for 1-2 hours. This allows the strands to dehydrate even further.


Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the prepared zucchini noodles. Sauté them in the dry pan until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and drizzle the olive oil over the noodles, stirring gently to coat the strands. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

PRO TIP! You can julienne and sweat the zucchini in advance, then store raw noodles in a covered container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Quick pasta whenever you need it!

How To Turn Zucchini Into Noodles

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  • Wendy says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Now I know why my zucchini noodles end up mushy when I cook them after put them thru the spiral. I just have a question, what is the purpose of coating them with salt, let them sit for 20-30 mins and then rinse them again?

    Thank you

    • The salt draws out the excess water,then you rinse them so they’re not super salty. Water on the OUTSIDE doesn’t make them mushy — it’s the water on the inside.

  • Lydia says:

    How is it that I never thought to prep my zucchini noodles days in advice. THIS IS LIFE-CHANGING. THANK YOU.

  • Katie says:

    Fabulous idea! Can’t wait to this tonight with paleo pesto and some sundried tomatoes and artichokes. Thanks Melissa! We love your recipes 🙂

  • Mel says:

    Thanks for this alternative. I’d been prepping my zucchini noodles in accordance with instructions from another site (which was still easy.) But I am lazy and those directions involved slightly dehydrating the zoodles in the oven. This is more doable with my one-step, one-pan laziness. No baking sheet cleanup, yay!

  • Faaizah says:

    How spectacular! Thank u for sharing this!!!!! I was wondering why I always end up with a soppy n mushy mess!

  • Carla S says:

    No matter how much I rinse them they always taste super salty to me afterwards. Do you have any other tricks to sweat them? Maybe I’m using too much salt? How much do you use?

    • I don’t know how much I use — I just shake salt from a salt shaker until they feel gritty. Use less salt next time and see how it goes! You just need enough to make the excess water expel.

    • Wendy says:

      I followed the advise and they were not extra salty. In fact I added a bit more salt when cooking. I use Himalayan salt and I had noticed Sea salt it is way “saltier”

  • Jenny says:

    I don’t use any non-stick cookware. Should I use a little butter, oil, or ghee right from the start or just use my dry cast iron pan?

  • Gail Brill says:

    I love zucchini noodles SO much (and zucchini ribbon salad with mint and cured olives, and grilled zucchini and stuffed zucchini) that I will be doing a workshop this summer at our Farm2Fork Fest! Such a sadly misunderstood vegetable! Thank you Melissa. I am a big fan. (Your Salmon Cakes are my go to dish for company…who would have thought…canned salmon for guests! It’s a winner.

  • Janis Haug says:

    Do you have a cold salad recipe using zucchini noodles? It’s summer in AZ and I try to eat as cold as possible!!! Thanks.

  • Beth says:

    Do the cucumber noodles also keep for four days in the fridge? I’m addicted to the sesame noodles from Well Fed 2, and would love to be able to have a stash of the noodles in the fridge ready to go. (I’ve added to the recipe – thinly sliced bell pepper and sugar snap peas, extra hot sauce and home smoked pork shoulder. So good!)

    • Yes, the raw noodles should be good for 4-5 days in the fridge — and before adding the sauce, you might want to wring them out in a towel again to expel any excess water.

  • Jennifer Kramer says:

    Thanks for sharing the tips! I was wondering what tool you find easier to use and which one you prefer – the julienne slicer or the spiralizer? Thanks!!

    • I resisted the spiralizer for months because I didn’t want another kitchen appliance, but I have to admit, it’s much faster and easier than the julienne peeler.

      • Alyson says:

        I so agree! Also, it’s far less dangerous to the fingers of dexterity-challenged people like me 😉

  • Janis Haug says:

    Thank you!! I love your blog!! 🙂

  • Feg says:

    Have you ever heard of or used the veggetti? If so, do you suggest/ recommend one gadget over the other ( julienne peeler or spiralizer vs. veggetti)?

    Thank you!

    • I’m not familiar with the veggetti. I’ve used both a spiralizer and the julienne peeler. Honestly, the spiralizer is a lot faster — but if you don’t want another kitchen gadget clogging up your countertop, the julienne peeler is awesome, too.

  • foodgirldc says:

    I topped the raw ones with your chocolate chili – the heat from chili warmed the noodles just enough and it was fabulous. Can’t wait to try this cooking method next time.

  • Hannah says:

    This has been such a helpful tutorial! I was a late comer to the zoodle scene, so this really helped me out. I linked to the tutorial in my Zucchini round up today.

  • Lisa Gray says:

    Can you make a large amount and then store them in the freezer?

  • Cindy says:

    I am not sure how many times are appropriate to say THANK YOU! These turned out absolutely perfect and tasty.. Did you know that naughty bad for you past has no flavor? This on the other hand is fantabulous! I am pretty sure that I will never crave the naughty bad for you stuff again! Oh.. And did I say thanks? I wish that I could post a picture to share.. Trust me y’all this is easy peasy!

    • I’m so happy that the zucchini noodles made YOU happy. They really are delicious with so many different sauces and things stif-fried into them. Have fun playing with ’em!

  • Leona says:

    Love this blog! Purchased a spiralizer for my garden zucchini it is awesome! I followed your recommendations for zucchini turned out more pasta in our house!

  • Ruth says:

    Do you find that fresher zucchinis need more salting/refrigerator time? I’ve been using zucchinis from the farmers’ market and even though I’ve increased the salting step to 1 hour and the refrigerator time to 3-4 hours and dried them off in a towel both before and after the refrigerator step, my zoodles still end up a little watery.

    BTW, love your cookbooks and how they encourage you to take your own path! Tabbouleh made with cauliflower is pure genius. It used to be a summer staple, and now it is again. The other day there was no cauliflower at the store I shop at and I panicked, wondering what I could sub instead. I’m still trying to think of an answer to that one in case it happens again — though I suspect the answer is to just leave it out and make tabbouleh as the parsley-based salad some purists insist it should be. But it wouldn’t be as good.

    • I’m not sure why your zucchini might have more moisture, but you might try this: after salting/sweating, wrap them in a clean dish towel and wring them out. Then refrigerate uncoverered for a few hours — that might help. When you cook them, get the pan REALLY hot. REALLY, really hot, then just saute them for 2-3 minutes and get them off the heat.

      Yes, the tabbouleh tastes good without the cauliflower “cracked wheat.”

      Happy cooking! So glad you’re enjoying the cookbooks.

  • Sybil says:

    What a great method…trying it today! I like zucchini noodles but often find them a bit watery…especially if you are going to add a sauce. I may even try sweating and leaving them in the fridge awhile next time I shred some for zucchini pizza crust to see how it turns out.

  • Michelle says:

    How many calories is this dish?

  • Sid Wood says:

    Have you ever tried freezing the noodles after you sweat, rinse, and dry them? If so, how do they fare? We are in the height of zucchini season here, and I would like to preserve it as much as I can. Thanks! LOVE both of your cookbooks, btw 🙂

    • Sorry to say I haven’t had good luck freezing them. They get pretty mushy when you defrost. You *might* have more success if you put them in broth and use them as a soup when you defrost it all together, but the noodles themselves did not fare well. You could also make a bunch of Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup and freeze it; that works like a dream!

      • Sid Wood says:

        Thanks for the reply. It was as I suspected. We will just have to eat a ton of z-noodles now!

      • Laura says:

        I have so many zucchinis in my garden that I started grating them up and freezing them in 1 cup packages. I make zucchini bread and muffins all winter with it and also add it to home made spaghetti sauce and stews, and potato cakes…works really well.

        • Catherine says:

          Add it to your breakfast eggs too! Mild italian sausage, eggs, and grated zucchini. Mmmm,mm,m,mm,mm,mmmmmmm!

        • jude says:

          Back from the dentist and I wanted something filling and easy to swallow, so I sauteed onions, garlic, a few pieces of fresh oakra cut in thin slices, and then cut up some zucchini. Added just enough water to barely cove the half cooked veggies, boiled til all was just soft, and using the Hand Blender, buzzed it all smooth. Tasted and added some oregano, dill, basil, sea salt, and grated parm cheese. Wow, that sure did the trick for dinner!

  • Hi Melissa:

    I use your recipes for so many of my personal chef clients, so thanks for that. Do you have any opinion about cooking the zoodles in the oven? I have such a large quantity some weeks and takes so long to sautee in the pan. Thanks!!

    • I’ve never tried that. It might work if you sweat them and dry them REALLY well, then toss with some fat and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  • When using the spaghetti tool (mine is “BIB BOSS” ) …do you remove the seeds first? And skins? New to using them as spaghetti , but anxious to try!

  • Dean Ellis says:

    Yep, gotta get me one o’ them fancy peelers. I live in Belize and I’m not sure I’ll find one but with one of those I would eat a lot more zucchini noodles. It takes me about 25 minutes right now, I’d love to do it in 25 seconds instead.

    Had these noodles with paleo chicken milano. MMMM

  • Suzanne says:

    Oh my goodness; this is making me sooo hungry! I just ordered a spiralizer last week and can’t wait to try this out.

  • Charlotte says:

    Can you tell me which spiralizer you recommend? I’m coming across so many different recommendations from all over and would appreciate yours! Thanks!

  • Susan says:

    Making the noodles for the first time, does the salt also pull out the nutrients? Thank you for all your recipes, making two of them today!!

  • Brenda says:

    Hello! Just got my spiralizer, and I’m excited to try it. I am wondering at what point would you suggest stopping if I want to prep the night before. Should I let them sit for a few hours uncovered in the fridge, then cover? I’m afraid that would cause moisture.

    • Yes! I usually let them sit in the strainer in the fridge for an hour or two, then put them in a covered container. If, when you take them out to heat them up, there’s water in the container, you can squeeze them in a paper towel or a clean dish towel to remove the excess water. Then saute and EAT LIKE AN ANIMAL 😉

  • Sally says:

    I did it and am glad (my husband had seconds). Thank you for sharing and making our lives better. From a middle-aged women in Oregon who is loving life and renewal in the kitchen!

  • Cheryl says:

    What if you don’t have a julienne peeler?

    • You can use a regular vegetable peeler, but the noodles will be wide, rather than skinny. But it will work! Just drag the peeler over the zucchini to make the strips and follow the rest of the instructions.

  • Margo says:

    I am thinking these would be a good substitute for the udon noodles when I make “tom yum” with shrimp. I bet they would hold up just nicely to that coconut tom yum sauce!

  • jeanne says:

    I spiralized four zucchini this afternoon, followed your “al dente” instructions, heated some up with a tiny amount of chicken broth (I have a morbid fear of food sticking to pans), piled it into a big bowl, added just a splash of olive oil and cracked pepper, and topped it all with fresh out of the oven Merguez Meatballs. I have a huge bowl of dinner in front of me and I’m so happy! You can’t really mistake zoodles for pasta, but I can twirl them on a fork and slurp ’em like they’re the real thing. This is seriously brilliant. Next time: Clam sauce! Thank you for the tutorial, Melissa.

  • Betsy says:

    Hey!! Thanks for the tip–been chowing on SCD type foods and feeling great–but–did not figure in the salt dehydration part of making the noodles, so thanks! so simple!

  • Caitlin says:

    Hey! I am SO excited to try this!!!

    Quick question though. I eat a SUPER low sodium diet for a health condition. Do you have any suggestions for dehydrating the noodles without salt? Or does most of the salt get washed off? Even so, that would make my sodium intake hard to calculate. I so appreciate any ideas you might have! And thanks for the awesome video–I’m so glad to know I can use the julienne peeler I already have to try this! 🙂

    • If you want to skip the salt, you could try just dehydrating them a bit in the fridge. Julienne the zucchini and place in a wire strainer over a bowl, then put in the fridge, uncovered, for 24 hours. They *might* dry out a bit — I’ve never tried this technique without salting first.

      If that doesn’t work, you can make them without the ‘sweating’ step — they can just be a bit watery sometimes without the salt process. Let me know how it goes!

  • Jose Rios says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Great recipe!! One question. Ilike to meal prep for the week ahead. If I follow all of the steps, including cooking, and storing, what is the likely hood of the noodles getting mushy? Or do you recommend cooking prior to serving? Thanks!!

    • The best way to make them in advance is to sweat, rinse, and squeeze in a towel, then store in a covered container in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook, if there’s water in the container, pat the noodles dry with a clean towel, then heat a non-stick pan over high heat, add the noodles and stir-fry until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Then top with whatever you’re serving with them.

  • Audrey Yap says:

    Loved this idea! Hey, I’ve got a great recipe to go with Zucchini Noodles and its Cajun Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles. Hope you can check it out over here