Zoodles (or Zucchini Noodles) are a delicious low carb substitute for pasta. Learn how to make them with a spiralizer, a julienne peeler, or by hand-cutting them. They are a perfect way to lower the calories of your favorite Italian dishes and make an interesting base for salads.
What should you make after you’ve prepared your zoodles? Try these Keto Meatballs with Zoodles, or Keto Chicken Pesto Zoodles!
What You’ll Need
- Zucchini – Look for vegetables that are thick and straight. If they are too small, they are difficult to cut into zoodles. If they curve, they are also hard to cut.
- Spiralizer (or a “zoodle maker”) – I’ve used several spiralizers, and this one is the easiest to use because it holds steady to the countertop. The blades are super sharp. I’ve had mine for years and use it often for zucchini, cucumbers, butternut squash, beets, and more!
- -or- Julienne Peeler – This is a cheaper, smaller option, if you don’t have the budget or the kitchen space for a spiralizer! Also use this for carrots, beets, and cucumber.
- -or- Mandoline Slicer
- -or- A sharp knife – If you don’t want to buy a tool to make your zucchini noodles, you can cut them by hand! See directions below and understand the pros and cons of hand cutting zucchini noodles.
What are Zoodles?
Zoodles are “noodles” or pasta made from zucchini (Zucchini noodles).
These are a great choice for anyone who loves pasta or noodles dishes, but is looking for ways to incorporate more veggies into their diet, or lower the calories of their favorite meals.
Zucchini noodles are also ideal for low carb or keto dieters. Instead of relying on steamed vegetables and salads, build your favorite Italian (or Asian!) noodle dishes on these low carb, low calorie vegetable strands.
Zoodles are most often made with a spiralizer. But not to worry – learn how to make Zoodles without a fancy tool below!
How to Make Zoodles
Use a Spiralizer
- The quickest / easiest method.
- The noodles are uniform in size, about the same size as spaghetti.
- The most expensive option for making zucchini noodles.
- The largest option to store in your kitchen.
Step 1: Trim the ends of your zucchini with a straight cut. Cut the zucchini in half (most zucchini are too long to fit in the spiralizer).
Step 2: Add the zucchini to the spiralizer, and spin to create zucchini noodles. I find it easiest to do if I press hard. Be sure to have a flat/hard surface for the spiralizer to suction to.
Use a Julienne Peeler
- Makes uniform sized noodles about the size of spaghetti.
- It’s an inexpensive kitchen tool.
- It’s small and easy to find space for in your kitchen!
- It’s more time consuming than using a spiralizer.
- It wastes the center of the vegetable (a spiralizer will use the whole zucchini).
Step 1: Trim the ends from the zucchini, and run the julienne peeler in a straight line down the side of the zucchini. Repeat until you get to the center where the seeds are, and then it’s too soft to continue.
Step 2: Rotate, and repeat the process on the other 3 sides of the zucchini. You will be left with the center core of the zucchini. If you don’t want to waste this, chop it up, and freeze it for smoothies, like this Keto Strawberry Smoothie!
Use a Mandoline
- You have the flexibility to make lasagna noodles, or wider noodles like fettuccine or linguine. (check out these fun and delicious Enchilada Zucchini Rolls ups!)
- You might already own one!
- A good mandoline can cost near the same as a spiralizer.
- More storage space than a julienne peeler.
- It’s more time consuming than a spiralizer or a julienne peeler.
- It’s easy to cut yourself using a mandoline, so use caution!
Step 1: Cut the ends of a zucchini off, then place a zucchini lengthwise on a mandoline slicer. Be very careful as you slide the zucchini down the blade. I have found it difficult to do this with the hand guard, so I very carefully use my hands.
Step 2: Continue slicing the zucchini until it feels unsafe to continue. Chop up the remaining zucchini and save to make a stir fry or a veggie omelet.
Use a Kitchen Knife to Hand-Slice Zoodles
- No need to buy or store any special kitchen tools! This is a great option to try zoodles for the first time, to gauge whether or not you will continue to make them.
- The most time consuming option.
- The noodles won’t be uniform in size and won’t “twirl” on your fork the way other options will.
Step 1: Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise.
Step 2: Place half a zucchini cut side down, and then very thinly slice the zucchini into strips.
Step 3: Take a stack of 3-4 strips about the same width, and slice them into the desired width noodle.
Step 4: Continue until all noodles are sliced, making them as uniform in size as possible.
How to Cook Zucchini Noodles
Eat Zoodles Raw
My favorite method of “cooking” zoodles is to plate them raw, toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and then serve with a hot sauce or toppings. The noodles retain an “al dente” texture and don’t get watery if they are used raw.
Cook Zoodles in a Skillet
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add zoodles, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bake Zucchini Noodles in the Oven
Heat oven at 425º F. Line a baking tray with paper towels, and add zoodles. Spray or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 5-7 minutes, then serve immediately.
FAQ & How to Store Zucchini Noodles
Meal Prep Zoodles: Only heat the zucchini you plan on eating, and store leftover zoodles raw. Pack in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Heating up Previously Cooked Zoodles: Zucchini is a light, water rich vegetable. When heated, water is released. I prefer not to reheat previously cooked zoodles because they become very soggy.
How can I prevent zoodles from getting soggy?: Zoodles get soggy when overcooked. Water is released when zucchini is heated. My favorite way to serve zoodles is raw. I use a hot sauce or hot toppings (like grilled chicken and veggies, or meatballs) to make the meal warm. If you’d like to cook your zoodles, heat them very quickly, and don’t try to reheat them.
How to Serve Vegetable Noodles
As a Salad Base: Zucchini noodles are a great green to use for salads! It keeps your meal low calorie, but makes your salad have a cold pasta feel. Try this Whole30 Zoodle Salad, which uses tahini and lemon juice as a refreshing dressing.
For Pasta Sauce or Spaghetti: Any place you’d normally use a wheat-based pasta, you can sub zoodles! Add a spaghetti sauce, meatballs, or even alfredo sauce and chicken!
Pesto Zoodles: Toss zucchini strands in your favorite pesto sauce. Add chicken to make it a complete meal!
As a Rice Substitute: If you normally serve a curry on rice, try a bed of zoodles instead! This Keto Butter Chicken is delicious with zucchini noodles.
As a light side dish: Keep is simple, and serve zoodles with butter, salt and pepper, as a fun “pasta-like” side. Top with parmesan cheese if you’d like!
- 2 zucchini thicker in diameter, look for as straight as possible
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
To Make Zoodles
- Cut the ends off the zucchini in a straight/flat line.
- Spiralizer: Cut zucchini in half, with as flat of a cut as possible (not at an angle). Place half the zucchini in the spiralizer, and spiralize it to form noodles. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini.
- Julienne Peeler: Use the peeler to peel straight down the side of the zucchini. Continue peeling down the same section of the zucchini until you reach the soft seeded core, then rotate the zucchini and peel down another side. Repeat on all 4 sides. Discard or save the core for another use.
- Mandoline: Use the mandoline to cut zucchini into thin slices. It is difficult to use the guard, so hold the zucchini by hand, pressing down into the slicer, and be very cautious past the middle of the zucchini. The last 1/4 of the zucchini is not safe to cut, so save that for another purpose.
- By Hand: First, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Put one half of the zucchini cut-side down, and very thinly slice it.Take 3-4 slices of the zucchini, and cut them into strips the desired width of your noodles.
- Raw: My favorite method of "cooking" zoodles is to plate them raw, toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and then serve with a hot sauce or toppings. The noodles retain an "al dente" texture and don't get watery if they are used raw.
- In Skillet: Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add zoodles, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Oven Method: Heat oven at 425º F. Line a baking tray with paper towels, and add zoodles. Spray or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 5-7 minutes, then serve immediately.