Guilt-Free Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles Pasta

My favorite way to cook zucchini noodles! See how to make our 20-minute zucchini noodles pasta recipe with garlic, tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese. Low-carb, keto-adaptable, and vegetarian-adaptable! Jump to the Zucchini Noodles Pasta Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how we make it.

Watch Us Make The Recipe

Guilt-Free, 20 Minute Zucchini Pasta

We are in love with this easy recipe. There’s fresh zucchini, tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and lots of garlic. The best part? It only takes 20 minutes to make. It’s low on calories and carbs, while having maximum flavor!

This is such a quick and easy recipe. It’s adaptable, too. We love this with 100% zucchini noodles (basically, spaghetti made from zucchini), but a combination of real spaghetti or pasta and zucchini is great.

Guilt-Free, 20 Minute Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Pasta

This pasta recipe is all about fresh ingredients. The zucchini should be firm and the tomatoes sweet. If you have a hard time finding good, flavorful tomatoes, it is better to use canned. We love canned San Marzano tomatoes as well as the options from Muir Glen.

Zucchini noodles, basil and tomatoes

How to Make Zucchini Noodles With and Without a Spiralizer

Zucchini noodles are spaghetti-like strands of zucchini. You can make them a variety of ways. Here’s how to make them:

  • The easiest way to make zucchini noodles is to use a spiralizer. They make long, curly noodles in minutes. This is a great tool to add to your kitchen. We purchased ours on Amazon for less than $30. There are a variety of brands and price points to choose from. Some food processors come with a spiralizer attachment now, too.
  • 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, too.
  • You can also use 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 them for sale in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even some Safeway stores.

Once you’ve got noodles, you’re ready to cook them.

Cooked Zucchini Noodles

Our Best Tips for Cooking Zoodles So That They Are Delicious and Not Soggy

Zucchini is mostly made up of water so cooking it can be tricky. Here are our tips for cooking it well and making sure it’s not soggy.

  • Don’t peel the zucchini. Peeled zucchini noodles are mushy and have little crunch. Plus, it adds a step and we’re looking for dinner on the table fast.
  • Don’t salt the zucchini ahead or time or while it cooks in the pan. Salt draws out water from the zucchini. This will make it less crunchy when it’s cooked. Since salt makes things taste good, we prefer to salt the sauce and not the zucchini.
  • Don’t overcook. The noodles should be cooked to al dente (just like pasta). This means they will look wilted, but still have a crunch.

Since zucchini has a tendency to become watery, we do our best to reduce this as much as possible in our recipe. Even so, you will still find some water left at the bottom of the serving bowl. This is okay with us. The liquid mixes with tomato, garlic, cheese, and olive oil, so it’s delicious. By the way, if you are looking for more ways to use up zucchini, here’s our parmesan basil zucchini chips recipe for you. They are addictive.

20 Minute Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles

What Our Readers Are Saying

If you don’t believe that our recipe helps you achieve perfect zucchini noodles pasta at home, take a look at what our readers are saying about the recipe! More reviews are in the comments section below.

“Wow! It’s delicious. This recipe is at the top of the favorites list!” – Pam

“I was surprised how delicious this actually was!! I followed recipe exactly and it turned out perfect.” – Marissa

“Oh. My. Goodness! Its amazing! What a super way to introduce the family to disguised healthy eating with flavor that is the embodiment of summer. This year I planted even more zucchini and Zoodles will be part of our lives forever!” – Shannon

More Veggie Recipes

Guilt-Free Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Noodles Pasta

  • PREP
  • COOK

We’re in love with this easy zucchini pasta recipe. There’s fresh zucchini, tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and lots of 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.

These noodles can be made without the parmesan cheese. Swap for your favorite vegetarian-friendly cheese or use nutritional yeast.

Makes 4 Servings

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 Noodles
  • Trim and spiralize the zucchini (see notes below for how to do this without a spiralizer). Cut extra long noodles so that they are about the length of spaghetti.

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

    Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese. 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
    • Bring the liquid left in the skillet to a simmer.

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

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • How to make 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.
  • Don’t be surprised if after the pasta has been sitting, liquid collects at the bottom of the serving dish. This is okay with us. The liquid mixes with tomato, garlic, cheese, and olive oil, so it’s delicious.
  • Parmesan cheese may not be vegetarian since it can be made with rennet. Swap for any vegetarian-friendly hard cheese or use nutritional yeast. When using nutritional yeast, add to your tastes. I’d start with 2 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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203 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Zoya Kobets June 10, 2020, 11:30 pm

    My mom and I used this recipe tonight with a few modifications. We used Green Giant Zucchini Spirals instead of peeling a zucchini. This was an awesome recipe and I can’t wait to use it in the future for my gluten free friends and family.

    • Dawn July 21, 2020, 8:55 am

      I am making this tonight but an easy twist. I have kale parmesan pesto I am using. Its rich and creamy.

  • Rachel G June 8, 2020, 10:23 pm

    This is our new fave! So delicious!

  • QueenNepy June 3, 2020, 7:21 am

    Why was this so delicious? I don’t even crave pasta anymore after this. Wow.

  • Michelle May 18, 2020, 6:26 pm

    This was amazing! It made up just as described!

  • Aysha May 17, 2020, 3:09 pm

    Love, love this recipe. First time making zucchini in any form. Added mushrooms and red peppers along with the tomatoes. Forgot to put the cornstarch, but still tasted divine! ???

  • Kuslig May 15, 2020, 4:59 pm

    Just so you know, parmesan isn’t vegetarian friendly because it uses calf rennet. You should probably not be advertising this recipe as vegetarian friendly.

    • Adam January 12, 2021, 3:08 pm

      Swap for any vegetarian-friendly hard cheese or use nutritional yeast. When using nutritional yeast, add to your tastes. I’d start with 2 tablespoons and increase from there.

  • Laura May 6, 2020, 5:19 pm

    Wow!! I was looking for a recipe to kind of mimic a pasta salad…. this was wayyyyy better!! Delicious!!

  • Lindsey February 9, 2020, 7:48 pm

    Oh my goodness. This is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I mixed with whole grain spaghetti and topped with meat sauce. I can’t believe how delicious it was. I’ll never eat spaghetti any other way!

  • Denise Kobrin January 10, 2020, 8:53 pm

    What spiralizer do you reccomend?

    • Adam February 8, 2020, 1:34 pm

      We use a Paderno spiralizer in the video, however there are many options available that would all work.

  • Joy T January 5, 2020, 6:01 pm

    This was so good and thanks for the tip on the spiralizing machine because I purchased one and this recipe and spiralizer are now 2 of my favorites. Can wait to try the lemon spaghetti squash recipe soon.

  • Kimberly LaFleur December 29, 2019, 6:43 pm

    This was very good! I substituted four blend mexican cheese for the parm.. that’s all I had. and I also used chicken broth instead of the water and added some spinach. YUM YUM

  • Tanya Williams December 26, 2019, 3:44 pm

    I made this for Christmas dinner last night as a side dish. It was a hit to say the least. It was so easy to make. This will be added to my favorite veggie dish list and I am sure will be made often. 🙂

  • Marcus Ford November 26, 2019, 2:01 pm

    It’s awesome. I liked the taste of it very much.

  • Patricia Olsen November 23, 2019, 6:04 pm

    Two questions When you saying parm cheese do you mean fresh parm or the parm in the container in spag sauce isle?? Also Tom In can what kind?? Crushed, diced, if diced to u drain water or leave in??

    • Adam January 12, 2021, 3:12 pm

      We prefer to use fresh parmesan and you can used canned diced tomatoes (drained).

  • Sarah November 18, 2019, 1:01 am

    Delicious! I skipped the cornstarch step but still found this to be delightful. I don’t normally like pasta substitutes, but I felt satisfied after this meal. Thank you, I will definitely make this again!


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