Today we're talking about how to keep zucchini from getting soggy when cooking. With these tips, you can cook zucchini on the stovetop, in the oven, and on the grill without creating a soggy mess!
Zucchini is made of over 90% water, making it easy to go from firm to soggy in (seemingly) an instant. Today I'm sharing my favorite tips and tricks on how to prevent soggy zucchini.
Zucchini Zone is filled with over 100 recipes using zucchini. If this is your first time here - welcome! I've sauteed, grilled, baked, and fried zucchini, and have personally written and tested every recipe on this site. That's why I feel uniquely qualified to talk about the most common question I see regarding zucchini - "How do I prevent zucchini from getting soggy?"
Continue reading for my favorite tips on how to prevent soggy, watery dishes made with zucchini.
Why does zucchini get soggy?
Zucchini is made of over 90% water. When cooked, it gets soft and slowly releases that water into whatever dish you're cooking. If zucchini is overcooked, it will have a mushy, soft texture.
In certain recipes, the author may recommend that zucchini be patted dry or salted and drained before cooking. Although the author may not explain why these steps are important, they shouldn't be skipped. These techniques draw water out of the zucchini, reducing the amount of water that's released during cooking.
Reduce cooking time
Since zucchini gets mushy and soft when overcooked, my first tip is obvious - reduce the cooking time. Depending on the recipe, this is an easy step to implement. Here are a few examples:
- For recipes using only zucchini: Let's say you're making oven roasted zucchini and the zucchini consistently turns out mushy after 16 minutes. Try taking it out of the oven after 12 minutes. Zucchini is perfectly safe to eat raw - it's a vegetable, not meat - so there's no reason to cook it for an extended amount of time.
- For recipes adding zucchini partway through: Do you have a recipe where zucchini is added in partway through cooking? For my creamy chicken vegetable soup, zucchini is added during the last 4 to 5 minutes of cooking. This time can easily be reduced slightly if you'd like a firmer zucchini.
Especially when roasting, zucchini should be sliced into thick, ½ inch slices to ensure they don't get soggy in the oven. If your oven roasted zucchini is consistently turning out soggy, try slicing it a little thicker next time.
Pat zucchini dry
Once sliced, zucchini slowly releases water, or "sweats", as it sits. Using a tea towel or paper towels, gently pat both sides of your zucchini dry before continuing with the recipe. This method works well for roasted zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini boats, and breaded zucchini that's baked or fried.
Recipes that benefit from patting zucchini dry:
- Roasted zucchini and peppers
- Oven roasted zucchini
- Pizza zucchini boats
- Grilled marinated zucchini
- Baked zucchini sticks
- Greek fried zucchini
Salt and drain zucchini
If you've got the time, try salting and draining your zucchini. This method involves liberally salting your sliced zucchini and allowing it to set in a colander (over a bowl) for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour, before patting dry with paper towels or a tea towel.
I use this method for Greek fried zucchini, which involves thinly slicing zucchini, salting and draining (as shown above), then dipping in batter and frying. Salting and draining ensures the zucchini doesn't turn into a soggy mess while frying.
This method also works for roasted zucchini, grilled zucchini, or baked zucchini if you're looking to remove as much water as possible. The only downside is the time involved.
Squeeze grated zucchini out
Have you ever made zucchini bread and it turned out dense and wet in the center? It's likely that too much liquid was added to the batter.
I've tested dozens of zucchini bread recipes and, depending on the other ingredients involved, it's sometimes necessary to squeeze the excess liquid from the shredded zucchini.
How do you know if you need to do this? If it's a thorough recipe, it will tell you right in the directions. Every recipe on this site that calls for shredded zucchini will either say "drain water out after measuring" or "do not drain water out". If you're reading a recipe and it doesn't specify, ask the author for clarification before continuing.
How do you drain water from shredded zucchini? Pile shredded zucchini in the center of a few layers of paper towels or a tea towel. Gather the edges and gently squeeze over the sink until most of the liquid has drained out. Then, continue with the recipe as written.
Zucchini bread with undrained zucchini:
- Chocolate zucchini bread
- Gluten-free zucchini bread
- Amish zucchini bread
- Peanut butter zucchini bread
- Snickerdoodle zucchini bread
Zucchini bread with drained zucchini:
Make raw zucchini dishes
While zucchini is most commonly cooked into dishes, it can be eaten raw. If you're tired of cooked zucchini turning out soggy, maybe a raw zucchini dish is more your style. Try dicing zucchini into a salad with other veggies and your favorite dressing. You can even turn that extra garden zucchini into zucchini pickles!
A few of my favorite raw zucchini recipes:
- Zucchini ribbon salad
- Summer vegetable pasta salad
- Zucchini pesto
- Bread and butter zucchini pickles
- Refrigerator dill zucchini pickles
For more information
Looking to learn more about zucchini? Here are a few more helpful resources: