Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Tender, garlicky sautéed zucchini is as easy as can be and goes with just about any main dish. This recipe is such an easy way to prepare zucchini but it really highlights the flavor of this popular (and plentiful!) summer squash.

How long it takes: 15 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, skillet
Servings: 4

Sautéed zucchini on a wooden spoon, topped with parmesan cheese.
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Whether it’s because you grow your own, your neighbors leave it on your porch, or you get a CSA box every week, one of the universal truths of summer is that you’ll end up with a lot of zucchini on your hands. Sautéed zucchini is the easiest way to cook it!

I love fancier recipes like cheese stuffed zucchini and sautéed summer squash and zucchini ribbons but on a hot summer day, I’m all about dinners that come together with low effort and minimal time standing at the stove. Make this sautéed zucchini with air fryer meatloaf and one of those microwaveable rice pouches (no shame in my game!) and you’ll have extra time to soak up those last few hours of evening sun on the patio.

By the way, if you happen to have the grill going, be sure to try my easy grilled zucchini recipe or this fabulous grilled vegetable salad which features zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, red onions, and an amazing dressing.

Perfect browned sautéed zucchini slices.

Reasons To Love Sautéed Zucchini

  • Quick and easy. We’re talking 15 minutes from start to finish, including prep time! Super, super simple.
  • Customizable. The seasonings here pair well with Italian, French, and American dishes but you can switch things up and make sautéed zucchini to serve with just about anything. I’ll share some ideas below!
  • Perfectly seasoned. The thing about zucchini is that there’s not much there there. It’s one of those foods that’s all about how you season it. A combination of herbs and garlic makes this stovetop zucchini fabulously flavorful!

Cooking Tip

Although giant zucchini might seem like a better value, smaller zucchini have a superior flavor. Save the big zucchini for making zucchini bread!
Ingredients needed for recipe, including two large zucchini.

Ingredient Notes

  • Olive Oil: I prefer the flavor of olive oil but if you have another oil you like to use for cooking, like avocado oil, feel free to use that.
  • Zucchini: Zucchini is a tender skinned summer squash with edible seeds. Any type of summer squash will work for this recipe, including yellow squash, pattypan, crookneck, round, chayote, you name it. This is a great recipe to put those more exotic summer squash to use. You may know zucchini as courgette or marrow.
  • Garlic: I use one clove but you can definitely add more if you’d like!
  • Herbs: Dried oregano and dried thyme infuse the zucchini with flavor while it cooks, while fresh parsley is an optional finishing touch. Use fresh oregano and thyme if you happen to have it available.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: I like a lot of coarsely ground black pepper on my sautéed zucchini. It adds a nice pop of flavor!
  • Parmesan Cheese: Grated or shredded both work here.
  • Lemon Wedges: A squeeze of lemon juice brightens things up but this is optional.

How To Make Sautéed Zucchini

Prep the zucchini. Trim the ends off the zucchini and slice it into quarter inch rounds. If your zucchini is quite large, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise before slicing it, so you’ll have half moons.

Sauté the zucchini. Heat a splash of oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, put the sliced zucchini into the pan and stir it so the slices get coated with oil. Spread the slices into a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 3 minutes to get some nice color on the undersides of the slices.

Add seasoning. Sprinkle oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper over the zucchini, then toss to coat.

Continue cooking. Continue to cook the zucchini for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the slices are tender-crisp. Near the end of the cooking time, stir in the garlic. I find that if you put the garlic in right away, it tends to burn and lose its aromatic flavor.

Serve. Taste the zucchini and adjust the seasoning if needed. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with chopped fresh parsley, Parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice, if using. Serve immediately.

Lemon being squeezed over zucchini slices.

Recipe Variations

  • Tex-Mex sautéed zucchini: Add cumin and chili powder instead of the herbs; garnish with cilantro and serve with crumbled cotija or lime, if desired.
  • Asian-inspired sautéed zucchini: Use toasted sesame oil to cook the zucchini. Add freshly grated ginger, skip the herbs, and finish with a splash of soy sauce and rice vinegar for optional tanginess.
  • Smoky sautéed zucchini: Instead of herbs, add smoked paprika.
  • Not-quite-breaded zucchini: In a separate skillet, toast panko or homemade bread crumbs in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the zucchini immediately before serving.

What To Serve With Sautéed Zucchini

Storing & Reheating Tips

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave. You can also eat the zucchini cold or room temperature.

More Zucchini Recipes

Recipe

Sautéed Zucchini

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Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Tender, garlicky sautéed zucchini is the fifteen minute side dish you'll make all summer long—especially if you have zucchini growing in your garden! It's easy as can be and goes with just about any main dish.
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Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, about 1 pound (any type of tender-skinned summer squash can be used)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (more if desired)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (fresh herbs are great, too)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
  • lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Instructions 

  • Wash the zucchini, trim, and slice into ¼ -inch rounds or half-moons, depending on your preference and the thickness of the zucchini.
    2 medium zucchini, about 1 pound
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
    1 tablespoon olive oil
  • When pan is hot, add the sliced zucchini to the skillet, stir to coat with oil, and then spread the slices into a single layer (as much as possible). Allow them to cook undisturbed for 3 minutes to develop a golden color.
  • Sprinkle oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper over the zucchini. Toss the zucchini to coat evenly with the seasonings.
    ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste, ⅛ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, or to taste
  • Continue sautéing the zucchini for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the slices are tender but still have a slight crunch. Near the end of the cooking time (about 1 minute before the zucchini is done), add garlic and finish cooking, stirring.
    1 clove garlic, minced
  • Taste the zucchini and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Transfer the sautéed zucchini to a serving dish. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, and/or a squeeze of lemon, if desired.
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, lemon wedges, for serving, 2 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Notes

  • Nutrition information does not include optional Parmesan cheese or lemon juice.
  • Storage and Reheating: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave. You can also eat the zucchini cold or room temperature.
  • Not-quite-breaded zucchini: In a separate skillet, toast panko or homemade bread crumbs in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the bread crumbs over the zucchini immediately before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 4oz., Calories: 50kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 154mg, Potassium: 267mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 285IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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