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Zucchini spaghetti is a light and healthy take on a familiar favorite. Fresh zucchini noodles are served with rich homemade tomato sauce. It's an easy recipe for weeknights as it's ready in just 15 minutes!
For more cozy low-carb dinner recipes, also try our spaghetti squash shrimp scampi and roasted spaghetti squash with brown butter, sage, and walnuts.
Pasta night just got a whole lot lighter with this zucchini spaghetti recipe. We're not going to pretend that zucchini noodles are the same as regular wheat pasta noodles, because they're not. But we love them as a light, healthy, and tasty alternative.
This is a great dish to make in the summer when zucchini is abundant and we crave lighter meals. That said, it's easy to find zucchini year-round and this is our go-to low-carb meal that's full of veggies for when things get starchy in the winter.
It's really easy to make this recipe, but you'll need a spiralizer or julienne peeler to transform the zucchini into noodles. The rich tomato sauce is a success thanks to the caramelized onions, a generous amount of garlic, and some balsamic vinegar.
It's perfect for weeknights because it's quick and uses mostly pantry ingredients. Serve it on its own or with a protein and some fresh herbs for a well-rounded meal the whole family will love.
Zucchini spaghetti ingredients
Here's what you need to make zucchini noodles:
- Zucchini – look for fresh, firm zucchinis, and make sure to leave the peel on so the noodles keep their crunch. Nowadays, you can also find zucchini noodles at most grocery stores, already spiralized and ready to go.
- Sea salt – to salt the noodles, helping them to release excess water so you don't end up with a watery bowl of ‘pasta'.
This is what you'll need for the tasty tomato sauce:
- Oil – we use olive oil, but any neutral cooking oil will work. You can even use butter or a non-dairy butter alternative for a richer taste.
- Onions + garlic – the onions get cooked until dark brown and caramelized, and we use a generous amount of garlic to add lots of flavor to the sauce.
- Diced tomatoes – we try to find Italian tomatoes if we can but any type of canned diced tomato works well.
- Honey or coconut sugar – to add a bit of sweetness to the sauce and balance out the acidity from the tomatoes.
- Balsamic vinegar – balsamic vinegar is our go-to ingredient for tomato sauce, adding robust flavor and a little tang.
- Sea salt – to enhance all the awesome flavors happening in this sauce!
- Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast – optional, for topping.
How to make zucchini spaghetti
Making spaghetti with zucchini is an easy, light, yet satisfying meal with familiar Italian flavors. Here's how we make this delicious dish in a few simple steps:
- Start by placing the zucchini noodles in a colander in the sink and sprinkling them with sea salt.
- To make the sauce, sauté the onions in a large skillet until they become a dark golden brown color, and then add the garlic.
- Add them to your blender with the tomatoes and give them a whiz until they're smooth. Pour this mixture back into your pan along with the other sauce ingredients and heat it until it's warm.
- Rinse the zucchini under warm water then give the noodles a good squeeze to remove any excess moisture.
- Serve the noodles with the tomato sauce and top with parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (if using).
How to make the best zucchini noodles
If this is your first time making zucchini noodles, you'll be surprised at how easy they are to make. All you need are some zucchinis (medium size seems to work best), and either a vegetable spiralizer or (our favorite) a julienne peeler.
A spiralizer is easy to use and makes nice curly noodles. A julienne peeler will make straight noodles that tend to be a bit thicket. But both zoodles taste the same. Many mandolines also have attachments for making long strips. You can also use a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons in a pinch.
We don't use the inner seedy part of the zucchini because it tends to turn soggy. We also don't boil or sauté the noodles which keeps them fresh with a nice al-dente crunch. We salt them to help them soften, rinse them under hot water, and give them a good squeeze to remove excess moisture. That's all there is to it!
How long do leftovers keep in the fridge?
We recommend eating zucchini pasta right away for the best taste and texture. If you have leftovers, they will keep in the fridge for 3 days when stored in an air-tight container.
Can I prepare the zucchini noodles in advance?
Definitely! Save yourself some time and spiralize your zucchini up to two days in advance. Don't salt it, just store it fresh in the fridge in a container until you're ready to make the rest of the recipe.
Can I freeze the sauce?
Absolutely! The sauce freezes well in a silicone bag (like these stasher bags) or a container for 2-3 months.
What to serve with zucchini spaghetti
A serving of this zucchini spaghetti is often enough for us on its own as a vegetarian main. To make it a more filling gluten-free meal, add crumbled tofu or texturized vegetable protein (TVP) to the sauce, or serve it with a meat main if you're not vegetarian.
If basil is in season, toss some on top, too! If you love a bit of heat, sprinkle on some red pepper flakes.
While it's chock-full of vegetables, it also tastes delicious with a crunchy salad.
Salads that pair well with zucchini spaghetti
- 2 large zucchini (cut with a julienne peeler or spiralizer)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 medium onions (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (smashed)
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons honey or coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
- Optional: parmesan cheese or a little nutritional yeast (to serve)
- Place the julienned zucchini in a large bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Set aside.2 large zucchini, 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. You want the onion to be nice and brown.2 tablespoons cooking oil, 2 medium onions, 3 cloves garlic
- Scrape the onion and garlic into a blender and add the diced tomatoes. Blend until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Heat until the sauce is warm.28 ounce can diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey or coconut sugar
- Rinse the zucchini pasta well under hot water then gently squeeze handfuls of it to dry.
- Serve the pasta with the sauce on top and a little parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.