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These 30-minute sesame zoodles are a delicious and nutritious weeknight meal that's always a hit! Juicy chicken and tender zucchini noodles are smothered in an irresistible creamy sesame sauce. It's a light yet super satisfying meal that everyone loves, and it's all made in one pan!
For another healthy and delicious zoodle recipe, try our cashew chicken zoodles with a creamy cashew sauce!
Who needs salad when you can make these super easy sesame zoodles! You'll find a version of them in our meal plan most weeks. The spicy sesame sauce is so good we dream about it, and the entire dish is filling without weighing us down. It's a versatile recipe that is easy to tailor for all the eaters around your table, too!
These sesame zoodles are made with simple, healthy ingredients, and apart from maybe the tahini, you're likely to have most of them in your kitchen.
- Boneless chicken breasts: boneless chicken breasts can easily be swapped for chicken thighs here.
- Zucchini: firm medium-sized zucchinis work best for zoodle making. The firmer outer part is the ideal texture for noodles, so try to avoid the really large summer zucchinis which tend to have more watery flesh in the centre.
- Tahini: tahini (or tahina) is a popular Middle-Eastern condiment made entirely from ground up sesame seeds. This buttery-smooth paste has a nutty flavor that we use as the base of the creamy sauce. It's easy to find alongside nut butters at most well-stocked grocery stores, or look for it a your local Middle-Eastern market.
Other ingredients you need are sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey (or maple syrup), garlic chili sauce, fresh ginger, and sesame seeds (for serving).
How to make sesame zoodles
This spicy sesame zoodles recipe is basically a no-brainer healthy meal that comes together quickly. Let's make it!
- Mix the sauce ingredients together, and marinate the chicken in half of it. While the chicken marinates, use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make your zucchini noodles.
- Cook the chicken in a pan until it's cooked thoroughly and browned in spots, then set it aside.
- In the same pan, cook the zucchini noodles for a couple of minutes, until they start to soften. Similar to pasta, you're going for al dente.
- Add the chicken back to the pan with the remaining sauce, toss until it's warmed through, then serve it in a bowl with sesame seeds sprinkled over top.
Sesame zoodle variations to try
This recipe for sesame zoodles is pretty versatile so feel free to use ingredients you love or things you already have on hand. Here are some ideas to make this meal your own:
- Make a vegan version by swapping the chicken for tofu or tempeh.
- Spiralize other veggies like carrots, butternut squash, or daikon for a mix of colors and flavors.
- Add in other veggies like broccoli florets or sliced red bell pepper.
- Make it extra-spicy with a dash of sriracha or more garlic chili oil, or omit the chili garlic oil completely for a kid-friendly version.
Can I make this meal ahead of time?
This is one of those meals that's best eaten right away because the zoodles become soggy pretty quickly. If you want to get a head start, make the sesame sauce ahead of time. It will thicken in the fridge but it's easily thinned out with a splash of warm water.
Can I make it vegetarian?
Yes! To make it vegetarian, simply swap the chicken for a plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh (just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly).
Can I use almond or peanut butter instead?
Yes! You can easily swap the tahini for an equal amount of another nut or seed butter like almond butter or peanut butter.
Can I use regular noodles instead?
For sure! Swap zucchini noodles for spaghetti, soba noodles, or your favorite rice noodles.
Are these sesame zoodles gluten-free?
To make these sesame zoodles gluten-free, simply swap the soy sauce for a gluten-free soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos.
- 4 medium boneless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 4 medium zucchinis (sliced into noodles with a julienne peeler)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil (divided)
- Sesame seeds (to serve)
The Sesame Sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce (gluten-free or coco aminos as needed)
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- Mix all the sesame sauce ingredients together. Place the chicken breasts in a bowl and pour ½ cup of the sauce over the top. Mix the chicken and then set it aside to marinate while you cut the zucchini noodles.4 medium boneless chicken breasts, ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup tahini, ¼ cup sesame oil, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and all the marinade to the pan. Cook, occasionally scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and the zucchini noodles to the pan. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.4 medium zucchinis
- Add the reserved sauce and the chicken into the pan and toss to coat. Let the sauce cook for 1 minute to thicken it. Serve with some sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.