Our Best Garlic Zucchini Noodles Pasta

My favorite way to cook zucchini noodles (zoodles)! See how to make our quick and easy zucchini noodles pasta recipe with garlic, tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Low-carb, keto-adaptable, and vegetarian-adaptable!

Watch the video

Zucchini Noodles Recipe Video

⭐️ Try our cold zucchini noodles salad with feta and a delicious yogurt dressing.

3 Secrets for the best zoodles (zucchini noodles)

  1. Don’t peel zucchini. Peeled zucchini noodles are mushy and have no crunch.
  2. Don’t salt zucchini before cooking or while it cooks in the pan. Salt draws out water from the zucchini, making it less crunchy when cooked. Since salt makes things taste good, we prefer to salt the sauce, not the zucchini.
  3. Don’t overcook them. Just like regular spaghetti, cook zucchini noodles to al dente. They are ready when wilted but still have a little crunch.

We love this easy zoodles recipe with noodles made from fresh zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and parmesan. The best part? The recipe only takes 20 minutes. It’s also low on calories and carbs while having maximum flavor! Enjoy these zoodles as a light meal, or add protein like baked tofu, sautéed shrimp, or juicy chicken.

Key ingredients

Use fresh, firm zucchini for the best zucchini noodles. We love this recipe with 100% zucchini noodles (basically, spaghetti made from zucchini), but you can always combine zucchini noodles and regular spaghetti for a little more sticking power.

Fresh tomatoes are excellent in this recipe, but you can use canned. We love canned San Marzano tomatoes and the options from Muir Glen.

Garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes add flavor to our sauce. We also toss in some parmesan cheese. If you are following a vegetarian diet and don’t eat parmesan, any vegetarian cheese will work in its place. I’ve made this with fresh cheese, like feta, and crumbled goat cheese and found it delicious.

Zucchini noodles, basil and tomatoes

⭐️ Cornstarch is a little unusual, but it is our secret ingredient for making crave-worthy zucchini noodles. Zucchini releases a lot of water during cooking. So, you will have some liquid at the bottom of your skillet.

The cornstarch transforms that watery sauce into a silky sauce that happily sticks to your noodles. Thanks to all the garlic and tomatoes, it’s delicious but a bit thin. We use this liquid to our advantage and thicken it with a slurry made from cornstarch and water.

How to make zucchini noodles with a spiralizer

Zucchini noodles are spaghetti-like strands of zucchini. The easiest way to make zucchini noodles is to use a spiralizer. They make long, curly noodles in minutes. Here’s our five-step method for doing it:

  1. Rinse the zucchini and pat them dry, and trim off the ends. Leave the peel on.
  2. Secure the spiralizer to your countertop. Ours has suction cups on the feet.
  3. Attach the spiralizer blade to your spiralizer (read the manual if yours came with multiple blades).
  4. Place the zucchini into the spiralizer, parallel to the counter, and slide the grip onto the other end so it holds the zucchini in place.
  5. Turn the handle until the zucchini has been turned into long, curly spirals. To cut them into shorter lengths, use scissors to cut them into 10-inch to 12-inch lengths, like spaghetti.

We purchased the spiralizer shown in our photos and video on Amazon for less than $30. There are a variety of brands and price points to choose from, and some food processors now come with a spiralizer attachment. In our video, we use the spiralizer from Paderno World.

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles Pasta

How to make zucchini noodles without a spiralizer

No spiralizer, no problem! You can also use a julienne vegetable peeler. These come in at under $10 and might even be hiding in your kitchen gadget drawer right now.

Most mandoline slicers will make noodles or try using a standard vegetable peeler and make wide noodles.

Depending on where you shop, you might even find that you can buy previously spiralized zucchini. I’ve seen prepared zoodles sold in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even some Safeway stores.

Once you’ve got noodles, you’re ready to cook them. Or don’t, and try our zucchini noodle salad!

Can you freeze zucchini noodles?

Yes, you can freeze zucchini noodles, but the texture of frozen zoodles is different from fresh ones. They do not hold up as well in dishes like our pasta recipe below but will work nicely for soups.

To freeze zoodles, we recommend that you sprialize them, then blanch for 30 seconds in boiling water. Drain them, cool them under running water, or plunge them into an ice bath. Pat the noodles dry and spread them out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours or until hard, then transfer your frozen noodles to a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Cooked Zucchini Noodles

How cook zucchini noodles without getting soggy?

To prevent soggy, watery zucchini noodles, we do two things. First, we salt the zucchini after it is cooked, not before. Salt draws water from zucchini, and since zucchini is mostly water, adding salt at the beginning of cooking makes the dish more watery. Second, we use a cornstarch slurry.

Consider this my “steering into the skid” move when making zoodles. No matter what you do, some extra liquid will always be at the bottom of your skillet. So, let’s spin it into a positive and turn it into a silky sauce. We use 1 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons of cold water for our zucchini noodles recipe.

More veggie recipes

Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles

Our Best Garlic Zucchini Noodles Pasta

  • PREP
  • COOK

We are in love with this easy zucchini noodles recipe. There’s fresh zucchini, tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and garlic. Plus, it only takes 20 minutes to make. Make this with 100% zucchini noodles, or swap half of the zucchini for regular spaghetti for a heartier meal.

For a vegetarian option, omit the parmesan cheese, substitute it with your favorite vegetarian-friendly cheese, or use nutritional yeast.

Makes 4 Servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 to 4 cloves)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like the pasta

2 medium tomatoes, chopped, see note (about 12 ounces)

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving, see notes for alternatives

1 cup basil leaves, torn into pieces

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons cold water

Salt, to taste


  • Prepare Zucchini Noodles
  • 1Trim and spiralize the zucchini (see notes below for doing this without a spiralizer). Then cut the spiralized zucchini into long noodles to be about the length of spaghetti.

    2Add olive oil, garlic, and the red pepper flakes to a large, deep skillet. Turn to medium heat. When the oil bubbles around the garlic, add the zucchini noodles.

    3Toss the noodles with pasta tongs and cook until al dente — they should be wilted but still have a crunch; 5 to 7 minutes. Do not let the noodles cook any longer, or else they will become mushy. As they cook, keep tossing so that all the zucchini noodles have a chance to hit the bottom of the skillet.

    4Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese, and then cook for one minute. Use pasta tongs to transfer the noodles, tomatoes, and basil to a serving dish. Leave the liquid in the skillet.

  • To Finish
  • 1Bring the liquid left in the skillet to a simmer.

    2Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl, then whisk into the simmering liquid. Cook while whisking until the liquid thickens to a sauce; about 1 minute. Taste the sauce and season with salt.

    3Pour the sauce over the zucchini, tomatoes, and basil. Finish with more parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Making Zucchini Noodles Without a Spiralizer: The spiralizer is not the only way to make noodles. You can use a julienne vegetable peeler or a mandoline. You can also use a standard vegetable peeler to make wide noodles or ribbons.
  • Tomatoes: Other varieties of tomatoes work (like cherry tomatoes), you need 12 ounces. Canned tomatoes also work, you may want to hold back some of the liquid in the can.
  • Extra liquid in the pan: Don’t be surprised if liquid collects at the bottom of the serving dish. It mixes with tomato, garlic, cheese, and olive oil, so it’s delicious.
  • Vegetarian option: Parmesan cheese may contain animal rennet, so it’s crucial to check labels before use. Fortunately, several American brands offer vegetarian Parmesan cheese alternatives or use nutritional yeast. When using nutritional yeast, add to your tastes. I’d start with two tablespoons and increase from there.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. We assumed 1/2 teaspoon salt.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/4 of the recipe / Calories 197 / Protein 10.7 g / Carbohydrate 11.2 g / Dietary Fiber 3.4 g / Total Sugars 1.7 g / Total Fat 14.3 g / Saturated Fat 3.4 g / Cholesterol 7.2 mg / Sodium 471.4 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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240 comments… Leave a Review
  • Chris September 28, 2023, 7:22 pm

    This recipe gives me hope. After starting a diet and feeling hungry for a good portion of the day, this recipe was delicious and filled me up after eating about 500 calories worth. Great dinner!

    • Adam October 12, 2023, 6:38 pm

      Yay! So glad you loved it 🙂

  • Melissa September 22, 2023, 4:21 pm

    OMG! I pretty much followed the exact recipe except adding the cornstarch. I used heirloom tomatoes and the jarred parmesan (all I had). It was mouthwatering-ly delicious. THANK YOU!

    • Adam September 23, 2023, 12:45 am

      Yum! So glad you loved them 🙂


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