Zoodles are a popular choice and a powerful alternative to pasta. People are often surprised by just how good they taste.
In this guide, we’re examining zoodles in detail. This includes how to make zoodles with a spiralizer and how to do the same without one.
We also look at some amazing recipes, along with tips, tricks and hacks for making sure your zoodles are full of flavor and aren’t watery.
What are Zoodles?
Zoodles are quite simply noodles made from zucchini. They’re often created using a spiralizer, but not always.
They consist of thin strips of zucchini. When made with a spiralizer, zoodles tend to be long and curly, making them an easy pasta substitute.
This is partly why they’re so popular. Zoodles can easily be used in the place of pasta. By doing so, you have a low-carb and gluten-free pasta alternative. Many recipes take advantage of them.
Zoodles are used for other types of dishes as well. They’re an incredibly versatile ingredient, one that is also low in calories and carbs, while offering nutrients.
How to Make Zoodles with a Spiralizer
If you’re going to make zoodles regularly, a spiralizer just makes senses. These tools give you the most consistent results and they’re easy to use.
Spiralizers are also versatile. Many of them have multiple blades or add-ons that can create different shapes. The video below shows how to use one.
There are many different spiralizers out there. But, some of our favorites are:
- Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer. This is one of the most popular benchtop spiralizers and is perfect for making many zoodles in a short space of time. It gets positive reviews and is very easy to learn.
- KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment. This is a fun (and popular) way to go if you already have a KitchenAid mixer. It comes with multiple blades, allowing you to peel, core, slice and spiralize fruits and vegetables.
- So Nourished Spiralizer. This is a handheld spiralizer that is simple and easy to use. It doesn’t have the same versatility as the larger options – but it is small and inexpensive. While there are many other handheld options, this one comes from So Nourished, which is associated with Tasteaholics. They know their stuff when it comes to cooking.
You can check out Blender Babes for a comparison of some of the most popular spiralizers.
How to Make Zoodles without a Spiralizer
If you want perfect curls every time, a spiralizer is the way to go. But, these devices aren’t the only option. There are also other tools that you can use, such as the ones below.
- Julienne Vegetable Peeler. This type of peeler is designed to create narrow strips. They tend to be inexpensive and are very easy to use. They’re small too, which is perfect if you are short on space. The main limitation is that you’re only going to get flat zoodles (they won’t be curled).
- A Mandolin Slicer. This type of slicer works well and products often come with many attachments. But, you do need to be careful when using a mandolin slicer, as the blades are sharp. Once again, the zoodles will be flat, not curled.
- With a Knife. LifeHacker highlights two ways that you can create zoodles just using a sharp knife. The zoodles will never be as amazing or uniform as with a spiralizer. But, this can be the perfect way to get started.
- A Regular Peeler. You can also create flat strips of zucchini with a potato peeler and then cut these into thin noodles. Some people also make zoodles directly with a peeler, using a little finesse.
- A Grater or Food Processor. Finally, you can use a grater or a food processor to make zoodles. These methods are slightly different, as they won’t give you long noodles. Instead, you get shorter pieces of zucchini. The finished product mightn’t be perfect but it would still work well in many dishes.
This video shows how you can make zoodles by using some of these tools.
Cooking Your Zoodles
Once you’ve made them, the next step is to cook your zoodles. There are many methods of doing so, including baking, boiling, simmering and sautéing.
Sautéing is one of the simplest techniques and is easy to learn.
- Add some healthy oil (like coconut oil) to a frying pan and heat it up.
- Throw in your zoodles and stir regularly until they are soft.
- Add salt and pepper, or any other seasonings.
You can then use your zoodles however you want to. You might simply mix them in with a sauce or add some other ingredients like cherry tomatoes.
There are also some other approaches that you can take.
- Eat them raw. Most people cook zoodles, but you don’t need to. They can be eaten raw on their own or combined with a sauce that works well cold.
- Add raw zoodles to cooked food. For example, you might add the zoodles to a bolognese dish or to a hot marinara sauce. This warms the zoodles up and slightly cooks them. It’s an easy intermediate between cooked and raw.
- Microwave them. Simply add your zoodles to a microwave-safe dish and cook them. Focus on one minute or thirty second bursts, as the zoodles will cook quickly
Many recipes are developed with zoodles in mind. With these, you can just follow the directions. Examples include:
- Citrus Grilled Shrimp and Zoodles (Paleo & Whole30) – from Paleo Running Momma
- Creamy Avocado Pesto Noodles (Paleo & Whole30) – from Paleo Gluten Free
- Cajun Zucchini Noodle Pasta (Vegan & Paleo) – from Detoxinista
- Garlic Parmesan Zoodles – from Gimme Delicious
- Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai – from White on Rice Couple
Zoodles are often used as a pasta alternative. But, you can also find them in other types of meals. For example, they work well as a salad base, creating a type of noodle salad. You can also use them in stir fries, in tacos and in fajitas.
Tips and Tricks for Using Zoodles
Zoodles are incredibly simple to make and to use. You can substitute them into countless dishes. But, some hacks can make your meals even better.
Stopping them from Being Soggy
- Spiralize the zucchini raw, then cook the noodles. Doing it the other way around increases the moisture content.
- Cook the noodles right before you want to use them. This decreases how much liquid they’ll release.
- Don’t overcook. The zoodles should still be firm, which won’t take long. Overcooking releases extra water, making the zoodles soggy. They don’t taste as good this way either.
- Avoid peeling the zucchini. This helps it keep its form for longer.
- Don’t use water-based sauces. Focus on ones that rely on oil or fat instead.
- Season your noodles and then let them rest on paper towels (for about 10 minutes). The salt helps draw out the moisture and the paper towels absorb it. The site Gourmet Girl Cooks has a great visual guide for doing this.
- Don’t season in the pan. If you’re going to season your zoodles, follow the step above. Seasoning in the pan causes the water to release there, which guarantees soggy zoodles.
- Eat them raw. This gets around the water issues entirely.
You also need to choose good zucchinis to begin with. Make sure they’re not overripe and are firm in your hand.
Making Your Zoodles Crunchy
Some people also recommend baking zoodles to make them crunchy. That pattern works well for some other vegetables (as the video below shows).
But, the idea is less powerful for zucchini. Most bloggers recommend skipping the process. Baking zoodles takes time and the end result isn’t very different. The process is best reserved for recipes, like this Chicken Alfredo Zoodle Bake from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen.
The best way to make zoodles crunchy is to eat them raw. Or, if you’re going to cook them, keep the cooking time short.
Storing Your Zoodles
Zoodles are best stored in the fridge.
- Living Loving Paleo suggests that you keep them in a paper towel-lined container. The paper towels help absorb any moisture and extends the shelf life of your zoodles.
- If you’ve prepared any meals with zoodles, these can be stored in the fridge as well.
Freezing is also an option, although it’s not as powerful and isn’t recommended.
- Zoodles freeze well but they lose structure when defrosted. You simply end up with a mushy mess.
- You can get around this by using the zoodles straight from frozen. But, they’ll still be more watery than they should be.
You can also just make zoodles when you need them. They’re very fast to prepare and you won’t normally need to make them ahead of time.
If you’re interested in meal prep, you can find details at The Live Fit Girls. This site offers some extra tips and tricks to consider.
Experiment with Them
There are many easy zoodle recipes out there. But, the best approach is often to simply experiment.
Try zoodles out in different dishes. See where they work well and how you can make them taste better. You’re likely to find some uses that are perfect for your needs.
Other Zoodle Shapes
Thin zucchini noodles are the most common style – and they’re a perfect pasta alternative. But, they’re not the only option. Spiralizers often have other settings too and can create different shapes.
- For example, you can create zucchini ribbons, which are long and flat versions of zoodles. These are often twisted, although they’re sometimes flat like pasta, depending on how you make them.
- Some spiralizers have attachments that allow you to create wider sheets as well. These can be used for lasagna and similar meals.
- You can make rice alternatives with zoodles as well by blitzing zoodles in a food processor.
Bonus Noodle Hacks!
These tricks don’t fit nicely into a category but they’re all good techniques to rely on.
- Some spiralizers produce exceptionally long noodles. Just use scissors to cut through them – making the noodles much easier to eat.
- Larger veggies are easier to spiralize and give you more noodles.
- Smaller zucchinis often have a better structure. So, if you don’t mind the extra work, these may give higher quality zoodles.
- One medium zucchini per person is a good approximate serving size.
- You can peel the zucchini first or spiralize it as-is. Leaving the skin on gives you a brighter color, along with extra nutrients.
Why Zoodles Are So Good
Zoodles might seem like a fad if you haven’t tried them before. But, they offer many significant advantages.
They boost your veggie intake
Zoodles are a simple way to increase how many vegetables you eat. They’re also much more fun and interesting than simply adding vegetables as a side or a salad.
They’re a good pasta substitute
Zoodles aren’t exactly the same as pasta but they’re pretty close. They also work perfectly in most recipes that are designed for pasta or noodles.
Other pasta alternatives are much less versatile and might only be useful in a few recipes.
Relying on zoodles often makes meals lighter and less bulky. They’ll typically be lower in calories as well. This pattern is great for improving health. It’s also perfect for warm weather, when you don’t want anything too heavy.
You may even find that zoodles taste better than pasta, especially if you’re following a good recipe.
They’re fast and easy to use
Zoodles are incredibly simple. You can quickly make them from zucchini and cooking tends to take just a few minutes. That’s much faster than cooking pasta.
As a result, zoodles make dinner times simple. You can even mix the zoodles with some sauce for a quick snack, perhaps throwing in a few other ingredients at the same time.
They suit many different diets
But, there aren’t that many good pasta substitutes.
You can find products like Miracle Noodles, which are gluten-free and made from plants. There are also options like PaleoThin Fettuccini. But, these only work well for some situations and recipes. Many people don’t like the way they taste either.
Zoodles are different. They’re effective for pretty much any type of diet. This includes:
You don’t have to be following a specific diet either. Zoodles can work well on a conventional diet. If nothing else, they’re a nice change from pasta.
How Do You Make Zoodles Taste Like Pasta?
Zoodles are a common substitute for pasta. But, they’re not pasta and they never will be.
After all, pasta is comfort food, contains many carbs, has its own texture and tends to be filling. Zoodles are different in all those areas. On average, a zoodle version of a pasta meal will be lower in calories, will be less filling and may not be as comforting.
The best you can do is choose recipes with heavy sauces and strong flavors. These will get you as close as possible to a pasta experience.
But, as Sarah from Food 52 points out, that’s not really a solution. We need to stop viewing zoodles as pasta. They have their own characteristics and advantages. You can also do many things with zoodles that wouldn't be possible with pasta.
Other Veggies You Can Use
When people say zoodles, they mean long pasta-like strands of zucchini. The vegetable is perfect in this role and its texture makes it an easy alternative to pasta.
But, other vegetables (and fruits) can be spiralized as well. The Inspiralized website highlights four main guidelines to pay attention to.
- The flesh needs to be firm, not juicy,
- The produce should be relatively consistent throughout. It shouldn’t have a tough core, be hollow or contain seeds.
- It should have a diameter of at least 1.5 inches.
- It should be at least 2 inches long.
Of course, this is just a rough guide. Some vegetables don’t fit into these categories but still spiralize well. Key ingredients to try include the following:
The video below also highlights various vegetables that you can spiralize, along with the process for doing so.
Spiralizing other vegetables gives you many more options. For example, the process can help create curly fries from potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can also make sweet potato rice and other rice alternatives. The site Pistachio Project shows the steps for doing this.
Zoodles aren’t a complete replacement for pasta, but they do come close. They’re also a practical way to add more veggies to your meals.
Their biggest advantage may be their versatility. Authors are continually developing new and creative recipes that use zoodles. Those recipes often suit many different diet types, which is a major advantage.
Besides, they simply taste good.
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