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Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta. Two of summer’s star produce, zucchini and yellow summer squash are caramelized and mashed to create a creamy, buttery pasta sauce without using any cream. This pasta takes just minutes to make and uses the simplest of summertime ingredients, most of which you may have in your pantry right now! If you’re looking for a new pasta dinner, this is it. Bonus? This pasta is full of veggies, making it healthy…ish.

overhead photo of Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta with basil and glass of wine

Hey, hi and welcome to another addition of super simple Thursday here on HBH. I am loving getting creative with these easy recipes, making them delicious, pretty, and fun!

This fresh zucchini pasta… It. Is. GOOD! I mean, it’s so simple, yet, so delicious and also very different. Why? Because I made the pasta sauce out of zucchini. No cream, no eggs, just a lots of zucchini, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. OK. And maybe a little butter too, because I mean, pasta needs butter, if you ask me.

overhead photo of sautéed zucchini in pan

Before I dive into the details, let me tell you where my inspiration for this recipe came from, Meghan Markle. Yes, Meghan Markle, as in the new Duchess of Sussex. If I’m being honest, I really did not follow any of the royal wedding, but it was hard not to miss some of the headlines as they were everywhere. A few things did catch my eye.

One, her dress/dresses were all stunning. I loved them. What did you guys think?

Two, I also loved her simple makeup look, proving to girls everywhere, that you don’t need to cover up your face. And also? Simple is best.

Three, among all the headlines about the royal wedding, I came across an article that mentioned Meghan really loved cooking and that she makes a zucchini pasta sauce that she loves. Obviously this very much interested me, so I read on. The article didn’t mention how exactly she made the pasta, but it’s cool, because I was happy to do my own thing…

So I did do my thing, and it turned out SO GOOD. Very excited about it. Thank you to the new Duchess of Sussex for inspiring today’s recipe.

overhead photo of Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta in pan

Let me explain how exactly you turn zucchini into a pasta sauce.

For starters, you’ll need to boil some pasta, reserving the pasta cooking water to use for thinning out the zucchini sauce, this is key. I have mentioned this before, but the pasta cooking water is an essential ingredient to creating some of the best pasta sauces. Always reserve a little water before draining. Always. You can really use any cut of pasta you love, but I’m loving the large tubular shape that I used. The ridges really catch all the sauce so that each bite is perfectly saucy.

While the pasta is cooking, start the zucchini. The secret is to cook the zucchini until it is deep golden and caramelized. Once it hits this stage, it can be easily broken down and mashed. Cooking the zucchini this way allows for the flavors to really come out, it becomes sweet and buttery. It’s honestly just magical. That sounds so cheesy, but I don’t know of a better way to say it.

I decided to leave the zucchini on the chunkier side, but if you prefer a smooth pasta sauce, you can puree the zucchini in the food processor. Personally, that’s just another step that I didn’t want to do, but do what you like! Whether chunky or smooth, it’s going to be good.

All that’s left to do is add the cheese, I like parmesan a lot, but manchego is really good too, if you happen to have that available. Stir in lots of fresh basil and that’s it.

Pretty simple, right? Under ten ingredients, under thirty minutes, no fancy ingredients, but still really, really good. Love it!

side angled photo of Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

And when I say I love it, I really mean it. This is one of those recipes that can easily become a staple, because it truly is so easy, simple, and delicious. I like to think of it as a fancier version of buttered noodles with the addition of lots of zucchini, basil and parmesan.

It’s truly perfection, and if you happen to be growing zucchini this summer, I foresee this becoming a staple in your kitchen too!

close up overhead photo of Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

If you make this zucchini pasta, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I love hearing from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every one of you. Oh, and of course, if you do make this easy, summery pasta, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram so I can see! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Watch the How To Video:

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories Per Serving: 336 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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  • 1 pound pasta, use your favorite cut
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 medium zucchini and or yellow summer squash, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese
  • 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • lemon juice, for serving (optional)


  • 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the zucchini, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the squash is caramelized and golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Using a potato masher, mash down the zucchini until it becomes a chunky sauce. 
    3. Add 1/3 cup of reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the pasta, butter and manchego, toss until melted. Add more pasta water if need to thin the sauce. Remove from the heat, add the basil. Transfer to a bowl and serve topped with fresh basil and lemon . Enjoy!


*If a smooth sauce is desired, transfer the zucchini to a food processor before adding the pasta and puree until smooth. 

horizontal photo of Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

All the pasta, all summer long…

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  1. 5 stars
    This is amazing! The sauce is perfectly creamy and easy to make! I didn’t have the parmesan cheese, but I went ahead and made it anyway because I wanted to use up some zucchini, and it was still excellent! Excited to try it with some cheese next time. I will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much for the recipe!!

    1. Hey Emily,
      Wonderful!! So glad to hear that this recipe was loved, thanks for making it:) No need to peel the zucchini. xTieghan

      1. 5 stars
        Very good recipe! I agree with peeling the zucchini only because I used overgrown zucchini from my garden and the peel remained very tough and woody. I used rubbed sage instead of the basil, and substituted some canned coconut milk for the butter. Delicious!

        1. Hey Alma,
          Fantastic!! So great to hear that you enjoyed this recipe and thanks a lot for making it. Have a great week!🍂 xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    Omg…this was amazing! Honestly wasn’t feeling like making dinner and all I had was zucchini, but this was a 5 star meal. I added spinach, and think next time I may even add mushrooms? Loved this recipe!

    1. Hey Mary,
      Happy Monday! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks a lot for giving it a try! Mushrooms would be great! xTieghan

  3. Many years ago, I stayed with some friends in Florence and we had zucchini pasta. It was so simple and so delicious. Thanks for the excellent trip down memory lane. My wife loved it and said it she definitely be repeated.

    1. Hey Paulette,
      Sure, you could definitely freeze the sauce. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  4. Tieghan,
    I must say this has become one of my favorite go to recipes, I don’t even need the directions anymore I make it so often. This last time I made it I used some pesto in with the zucchini before I mashed it and at the end I added burrata cheese and it was so so GOOD. I just wanted to say thanks you for sharing this, I always make this for guests and it is always a hit.

    1. Hi Emma,
      Awesome! I am so glad that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try! xxTieghan

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