Boiling Zucchini – The Complete Guide

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Zucchini can be cut and prepared in many fun ways, but perhaps the best way to cook it is to boil it! 

This vegetable requires some cooking experience but fortunately, there are a few methods that you can use to cook and boil zucchini perfectly! 

How should you boil zucchini? Zucchini can be peeled, cut, and boiled in a saucepan for about 3-5 minutes at a rolling boil. Other types of zucchini cuts, like zucchini noodles, may take even less time and can be used in several delicious and healthy recipes!

Read below to learn more about how to boil zucchini, how to make classic zucchini noodles, and how to cook them perfectly every time!

Preparing Zucchini

Zucchini is a somewhat dense and water-laden vegetable that belongs to the gourd family. There are several species of this vegetable.

Some present with dark and light green stripes, some are golden yellow, and others only have a deep green color.

Every type of zucchini tastes the same with only a few minor flavor differences. This vegetable can be cooked in several ways, but perhaps the best way to get the most out of its flavor and soft texture is to boil it in filtered water!

Boiling zucchini in either plain or saltwater will render the exterior of the vegetable and make it tender yet adequately firm

This characteristic allows the vegetable to be used in many different recipes. For example, zucchini can also be cut into thin strands, called zucchini noodles that resemble the texture of pasta!

But before we get into the variations and uses of zucchini, let’s first look at how to prepare it for general cooking purposes!

When picking zucchini from the market, make sure that you pick at least 2-3 zucchinis, especially if you want to slice them and if you plan to make a medium or large-sized meal. 

The vegetables should be fresh and completely ripe. It should also not have any exterior deformities or soft spots, which would indicate spoilage. 

Washing And Peeling

Wash the zucchini using clean water and then pat it dry using a paper towel. Then, simply peel the exterior skin of the vegetable. Make sure that you use a vegetable peeler instead of a knife for this task! 

Ideally, a thin peeler should be more than enough to remove the exterior layer; however, you can also use a thicker peeler if you dislike the dark green color directly under the skin (we’d recommend this one). 

On its own, zucchini has a balanced flavor with earthy and nutty notes. It also has a slightly sweet and an equally mild bitter flavor too.

It is worth noting that the bitterness is largely reduced once the zucchini is peeled and cooked properly.  

Cutting Zucchini

Zucchini can be cut in many ways. The best way to use it would be to cut it sideways (horizontally) to form even, round slices. 

Several recipes make use of this cut. Rounded zucchini can be baked, fried, grilled, steamed, and boiled

But the best way to enjoy zucchini is to make zucchini noodles! 

Zucchini noodles are delicate, slightly sweet, and have a more pronounced vegetable-like flavor compared to common pasta noodles.

Also, they are more nutritious, especially when compared to common wheat noodles.

While they aren’t as firm, they still make for an excellent substitute for people who can’t process gluten or for diet-conscious people who are looking for a low-carb and low-calorie alternative.

Boiling Zucchini 

Boiling zucchini will preserve its texture and will also allow it to become deliciously soft

Although raw zucchini is tender enough to bite into, eating properly cooked zucchini may save you from the bitterness and potential stomach problems that may be caused by eating undercooked or raw zucchini. 

How Long To Boil Zucchini

Boiling this vegetable is very easy. All you need is to cut the zucchini into slices and then cook it in boiling and salted water for about 3-5 minutes.

A common mistake people make when boiling this vegetable is that they leave it in for longer. It is important that you take out the zucchini as soon as it is done cooking or it may continue to cook even in warm water.

So, how do you know when it’s cooked? Well, it’s important at this step to take note of the zucchini’s color, size, and tenderness.

Remember, zucchini has a dark green color but when it is cooked, it takes on a pale green to light green color.

This is usually a clear indication of cooked zucchini. However, it can be difficult to rely on just one aspect, given the variances in the color of this vegetable.

The second-best way is to keep an eye on the size of the slices. Raw zucchini is either hard or a bit firm with a plump texture.

However, once it is cooked, it will slightly shrivel up and reduce in size. You can tell whether the zucchini has been fully cooked by looking at the core (middle) of the round slices

When cooked, the seeds in the middle will become more prominent as the rest of the slice shrivels up around it. This is another clear sign of a cooked zucchini! 

Also, overcooking zucchini may result in it becoming super tender. You would only want it to become tender enough without it losing shape or form! 

Overly tender zucchini will be difficult to scoop up with a spoon and will break apart halfway from the plate to your mouth. 

The zucchini should be tender, yet remain firm. In other words, it should retain its shape but be tender enough to pierce through with a fork or knife without any resistance

Foolproof Method For Boiling Zucchini

Here’s a great method for perfectly boiling zucchini!

You will need:

  • A medium saucepan
  • 3-4 zucchini (peeled, sliced)
  • Salt (to taste)


  1. Clean the zucchini and then peel it using a vegetable peeler. You can set the width of the peeler to whatever you like. We suggest a thin to medium peel for the best flavor and texture.
  2. Fill the saucepan with water, add salt to taste, and bring to a boil. 
  3. Add the zucchini slices and let the vegetable cook for about three minutes. 
  4. Check for doneness by piercing 2-3 slices using a knife or fork. Cooked zucchini will be tender enough to allow the fork or knife to pass through without breaking apart. A great indication of this would be if you could lift the zucchini slice without it breaking apart.
  5. Remove the zucchini slices from the boiling water and run clean tap water over them to bring their temperature down. This will also prevent the zucchini from overcooking. 
  6. Thoroughly drain the cooked zucchini and set them aside for 2-3 minutes before using them in any recipe! 

Here’s a quick guide for the cooking time for zucchini:

Covered Pot3-5 Minutes
Uncovered Pot5-6 Minutes. 

Boiling Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” are an excellent alternative to pasta. 

Nutritionally, one cup of typical pasta consists of around 200 calories and 40g of carbs. Comparatively, one cup of zucchini will give you around 18 calories and 4g of carbs.

Plus, you also get other important micronutrients with zoodles as well!

So, how do you make zucchini noodles? Well, for this recipe, you’re going to need a special tool called a “veggetti”.

This tool will cut thick or thin noodles within minutes and you can easily get around 1-2 large servings with just one medium-sized zucchini.

To make the noodles, just insert a clean zucchini into the veggetti and start turning it! Once you have all the noodles, you can then simply cook them in either boiling water or directly in a pan.

Here is a quick recipe for zoodles cooked in oil. You will need:

  • Zucchini noodles
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Parmesan cheese and chili flakes (for garnish)


  1. In a pan, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cook until fragrant and then add the zucchini noodles. 
  2. Cook the noodles over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until they are tender. The noodles will not require a lot of oil to cook since zucchini is naturally very moist. It will release a lot of its water while it cooks, which will create steam and help speed up the cooking process too.
  3. Add the seasonings and gently toss the noodles using a spoon.
  4. Serve the noodles on a plain plate with a garnish of parmesan cheese and chili flakes! 

Boiling Method for Zoodles

To cook the noodles, simply bring a pot of water to boil and add a sprinkle of salt to taste. Then add the zucchini noodles and let them cook undisturbed for about 3-5 minutes or until tender.

A great way to tell if the noodles are done is to pick up a strand using a fork and then pinch it between your fingers. You can also use a knife to avoid burns. 

If the noodle easily breaks apart then just remove them from the pot and run them under clean water. Drain them properly and set them aside. 

If the noodles break apart even when you lift them, then this would indicate that the noodles have been overcooked. You can still use them, but they won’t provide the same great texture.

Boiling Zucchini and Squash

Squash and zucchini are usually used interchangeably. 

This is true to some extent, but both zucchini and squash have slightly different characteristics. 

Both belong to the same gourd family but zucchini is either dark green, light green, or yellow while the squash is mainly just variations of yellow. 

Another characteristic of squash is that it has a bulbous bottom that straightens out towards the tip of the vegetable. 

Zucchini, on the other hand, has a rounded and straight shape and may even resemble the shape of a mildly askew rolling pin.

Both vegetables are cooked and treated almost the same way and thankfully, you can use the same methodology to cook squash too

However, squash may take just a bit more time to cook than zucchini. Therefore, you must use the fork test after the 5-minute mark to check for doneness. 

Here is a quick chart that shows the cooking time for squash:

Covered Pot4-6 Minutes
Uncovered Pot5-6 Minutes. 

Remember, the width and thickness of this vegetable vary from region to region. 

This is why you must check for doneness using the same practices as zucchini. Once cooked, remove the squash from the boiling water and run it under clean, cold water.

Drain the squash and season it as per your liking! 

Tips And Tricks

  • Zucchini can be cooked with and without its skin on. The conventional method involves cooking zucchini by either boiling or sautéing after it has been peeled and cut. However, in the case of zucchini noodles, you can leave the skin on. The nice green and whitish color on the noodles will give the dish presentation points, but if you want to keep things traditional then just peel off the skin before making the noodles.
  • Zucchini noodles can also be steamed or boiled in the microwave. Just add the noodles to a microwave-safe bowl and then pour in a splash of water. Cover the top with a paper towel or a microwave-safe cover and let the zoodles boil at medium-power for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Boiled slices of zucchini can be seasoned separately even if you cook them in salt water. When you run clear water over the slices to cool them down, the zucchini may also lose some of its salt content. You can confirm this by tasting the zucchini before and after washing them, and then adjusting the seasoning accordingly. 

Related Questions 

Zucchini can be cut and prepared in several ways. It also makes for an amazing and healthier substitute for pasta noodles too! 

Now that you know all about boiling zucchini, here are some related questions!

Can you boil zucchini and squash together?

Yes, when both vegetables are cut the same way, they can be cooked together in a pot without requiring additional cooking time.

However, if they are not cut the same way and have varying widths, then both vegetables will require different cooking times.

At most, each vegetable should be checked for doneness after five minutes in boiling water!

Can you boil zucchini noodles until al dente?   

Zucchini noodles don’t require to be boiled and further cooked, as they can be prepared using just one cooking method. Boiling, even for 1-2 minutes, and then sauteing may overcook them and ruin their texture

It is much better to just fry or boil the noodles and then mix them at the end of the recipe to preserve their flavor and tender texture. 

Can boiled zucchini be stored?

Boiled or cooked zucchini can be stored in the same way as other cooked recipes. The best way to do this would be to keep the noodles or cooked pieces of zucchini in a dry airtight container.

Keep the container at the back of the fridge at 40°F and consume it within 2-3 days.

Always check the zucchini for signs of spoilage before consuming it.

If you notice water in the container then just drain it out. This is considered normal since the zucchini may release some of its water as it cools down and slightly contracts in the fridge. 

Zucchini can also be frozen. Always drain the zucchini properly as the added moisture may cause freezer burn!

Store the zucchini in an airtight container in the coldest part of the freezer. The zucchini will remain edible for about 2-3 months

Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini Noodles

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

This recipe for zucchini noodles creates the most delicious, tender zoodles we've ever had!


  • Zucchini noodles
  • A splash of olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Parmesan cheese and chili flakes (for garnish)


  1. In a pan, heat olive oil and add garlic. Cook until fragrant and then add the zucchini noodles. 
  2. Cook the noodles over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until they are tender. The noodles will not require a lot of oil to cook since zucchini is naturally very moist. It will release a lot of its water while it cooks, which will create steam and help speed up the cooking process too.
  3. Add the seasonings and gently toss the noodles using a spoon.
  4. Serve the noodles on a plain plate with a garnish of parmesan cheese and chili flakes! 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 97Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 21mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g

Up Next: Can You Freeze Applesauce?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *