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Zucchini Noodles Aka Zoodles: The Low Carb Pasta You’ll Love

Here's everything you need to know about our favorite low-carb pasta alternative - zucchini noodles or 'zoodles.’ Find out how it became popular, how to prepare, what kitchen appliances to use, and how to cook it. Get some fantastic ideas for your low-carb meals and satisfy your cravings guilt-free.
Zucchini Noodles Aka Zoodles: The Low Carb Pasta You’ll Love
Zucchini Noodles Aka Zoodles: The Low Carb Pasta You’ll Love
Anna at SideChef
Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
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Anna at SideChef
Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.

Zucchini noodles, aka 'zoodles' - the spiralized 'impasta' to help us with our carb cravings through low-carb, keto, gluten-free, whole 30, and other healthy diets. We have to thank Ali Maffucci from New Jersey for starting the "spiralized" movement and introducing the world to zoodles and other "Inspiralized" healthy meals.

Let's agree on one thing; you can't simply replace pasta with a spiralized vegetable. You won't get the same texture or bounce spaghetti has, and the sauce doesn't hold on to zoodles the same way. But out of all the low-carb noodle options, zucchini works best. Plus, how can you resist a punny name like that?

Now that we've set realistic expectations let's learn how to zoodle the right way.

How to make zucchini into noodles

1. Spiralizer/spiral vegetable cutter


You might have guessed that a specialized kitchen tool called the spiralizer is the best way to turn fresh zucchini into noodle-like spirals. And, depending on the attachments you also choose, you can have angel hair threads, wavy, ribbon, julienne, and many other fancy cuts.

If you have enough room for another piece of kitchen equipment, you should definitely get one; it really is the best tool for the job. And if you are not interested in all those extra cutting options, just get the simple handheld spiralizer/spiral vegetable cutter.

It sure is a fun kitchen tool you could use for many other things. Make carrot pasta, curly sweet potato fries, fun salads with spiralized cucumbers and beets, spiralize apples into the classic slaw, pumpkin, yellow squash; the options are endless.

But if you are strongly against adding another kitchen appliance into your collection, there're ways to make zoodles without using a spiralizer.

2. Mandoline Slicer


It's an equally good option, and you might already have this multi-purpose slicing tool in your kitchen. Simply use the thin julienne blade to make zucchini into noodles. Even better, you can make it into lasagna-like zucchini noodles and easily make a vegetarian lasagna.

3. Vegetable Peeler/Julienne Peeler


A simple vegetable peeler can work just fine for the minimalist who only plans to julienne vegetable noodles on occasion. You won't get perfectly even long strands with it, but the method works just fine.

4. Grater


Another minimalistic way to adapt and use the tools you already have. You will get short strands, only slightly reminding of noodles, but it's an option to consider.

5. Knife


A knife is an option for you if you don't like taking the easy route. Simply slice the zucchini into thin strips until you reach the core, and then cut into spaghetti-like strands.

6. Just buy the pre-made zoodles at the store


If all else fails, and you don't live by the "fresh is best" principle, it's perfectly fine to buy zoodles that have been prepped for you already. In the frozen vegetable section, you should see them next to carrots, butternut squash, and other veggie spirals.

NOTE:

If you are making your own zoodles, choose small- and medium-sized zucchini to get the best flavor. Large zucchini might seem like a better choice for spiralizing, but they often have lots of seeds and might be bitter closer to the center.

How to cook zucchini noodles

We will get to our favorite zoodle recipes in a minute. But before that, let's take a look at our favorite ways to cook zoodles, as well as some tips and tricks to give you perfectly cooked zucchini noodles every time.

1. Eat them raw


After you have prepped your noodle strands, the easiest way is to eat them raw. Mix them with some extra veggies in a large bowl, season with salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil, and enjoy a healthy crunchy low-carb meal.

You can also make a variety of cold zoodle pasta without using any cooking methods altogether.

2. Boil/Blanche zucchini noodles


If you're not making a zoodle soup, we don't recommend this method. As zucchinis are over 90% water by weight, you can expect them to turn out rather watery when boiled.

If you're set on using this cooking method, bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook the zoodles for about one minute until crisp-tender.

How to avoid watery and soggy zucchini noodles


  • Transfer the cooked noodles into a large bowl with ice water immediately. Drain and pat dry the zoodles using paper towels once they have cooled completely.

  • Add the sauce right before serving and eat right away. If you let the zoodles sit in the sauce for too long, they will inevitably release water.

  • Make the sauce thicker than you would for regular pasta. You can either reduce it by simmering a bit longer to let more liquid evaporate or add a starchy thickener. Good old cornstarch can work as well as some pureed potato or cauliflower.

  • Do not overcook. It barely takes a minute to get your zoodles al dente using this method.

3. Pan Fry/ Saute zucchini noodles


One of the most common methods to use. Cook them for 3-4 minutes in a large skillet over medium-high heat with a bit of unsalted butter, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt. Add salt last to avoid soggy zoodles. You can serve them as a side or top them with your favorite pasta sauce.

4. Bake the zoodles


Simply spread the prepped zucchini strands on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for about 15 minutes. Make sure to spread the zoodles as evenly and far away from each other as possible.

Some swear by this method, claiming it provides the crunchiest most spaghetti-like veggie noodles that are not watery. But it's still best to pat them dry after for the best possible result.

5. Air Fry zucchini noodles


This cooking method is similar to baking and does help remove the extra moisture. Air fry your zoodles for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C), and season with salt and pepper after.

6. Microwave


As tempting as this speedy method may be, we really don't recommend using it. You're guaranteed to end up with a soggy, mushy zoodle mess.

Zoodle Cooking Tips:


  • If you're cooking a smaller volume, pan-frying or air frying is probably the best option, especially if you are making a one-pot style recipe and serving your zoodles immediately.

  • You can make a larger portion using the oven method.

  • To reduce the chances of your zoodles turning mushy or watery, add salt and/or sauce last and serve immediately.

  • Do not cover with the lid if pan-frying; it will trap the moisture.

  • Do not overcrowd the pan. It's better to cook in batches and make sure your zoodles cook evenly and don't just boil in the excess moisture.

  • Cook over medium-high heat and use a pan that conducts heat well. Cast iron skillet or stainless steel work much better than non-stick for zucchini noodles.

  • Take out of the pan as soon as they are cooked. Otherwise, they will continue cooking and releasing more water.

  • You can freeze zucchini noodles in single-serving bags, but the reheating process does make them rather soggy. So it's highly recommended to consume your low-carb noodles straight after cooking.

Our All-time Favorite Zucchini Pasta Recipes

Now that we went through all the basics, take a look at our favorite low-carb meals with zoodles and apply all of the newly acquired knowledge in the comfort of your own kitchen. Happy zoodling!

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