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. Every summer when zucchini season comes, I make this. I make it several times each season, and many times, I think about the leftovers while I’m lying in bed reading, which also many times leads me to get up out of bed, and have a quiet, blissful moment eating it straight out of the Tupperware-cold. Yes, it’s even delicious cold. Sometimes I put Basil, sometimes I don’t—it’s good both ways. I’m writing this review now because zucchini season is here once again, and tomorrow this is what is for dinner—when I think about it, it feels like Christmas when you’re a kid. Thank you for this recipe! It’s heaven!

    1. Hey Tina,
      I really appreciate you giving this recipe a try, I am thrilled that it was enjoyed! xxTieghan

  2. This is a favorite! I made this today and even a couple of my really, really picky eaters asked to have some for dinner!

    1. Hey Ashley,
      Fantastic! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe, thanks so much for making it! Happy Friday:) xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    This was excellent! My husband thought I meant spiralized zucchini when I said zucchini pasta, so he was pleasantly surprised. He kept saying mmm throughout the meal, loved the kick that the red pepper gave, and even went back for thirds. He definitely wants it in the rotation, and so do I! So tasty!

    1. Hey Missy,
      Fantastic!! Love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! Have a great Sunday:) xxTieghan

  4. It was just as I hoped it would be! I have cooked my zucchini this way forever and love it, turning it into a pasta sauce was a great idea!

  5. 5 stars
    I loved this! It’s so easy. I cut back on the butter & cheese (I used about half) and it was still delicious.I will definitely make this again.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is AMAZING! I could eat this every single day the sauce is so perfect. I love all the fresh zucchini and it’s very easy to make 😊

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