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Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta. Garden fresh summer zucchini cooked down and mashed into a buttery, peppery parmesan pasta sauce – without using any cream. This quick pasta takes just minutes to make and uses the simplest of summertime ingredients, most of which you may have in your pantry right now! This dish isn’t super fancy, but it’s totally delicious.

Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta |

I’m all about quick cooking, minimal ingredients, and little-effort recipes right now. It’s probably why I haven’t wanted to make a layer cake in months. Like most of you, I’m looking for fast and delicious recipes. Especially when it comes to summer dinners.

For us, summer dinners are always enjoyed on the later side. With the sun staying up until 9 pm, we never end up sitting down for dinner before 8 pm. For this reason alone, quick and simple dinner recipes are best – we’re tired and hungry!

That’s when I fall back on recipes just like today’s Zucchini Parmesan Pasta. A simple pasta that highlights two of my favorite summer foods, zucchini (or yellow summer squash) and fresh garden-grown basil.

I’ve been making this simple zucchini pasta for years, we just love it! Originally, I made this because I had an abundance of zucchini and fresh basil that needed to be used up!

With everyone’s gardens starting to flourish, I knew we needed to make my favorite pasta! I know you all will really love this one!

Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta |

Here are the details

Step 1: Start cooking the pasta

You can use any cut of pasta you love, long or short. I think a thick-cut rigatoni noodle works very nicely! Spaghetti or fettuccini would be nice too.

Just before you drain the pasta, reserve a little over a cup of the pasta cooking water. You’ll need the pasta water to help create the yummy sauce.

Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta |

Step 2: cook the squash 

While the pasta is cooking, start the zucchini. You can also use yellow squash or a mix of the two. The secret is to cook the zucchini until it’s 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.

I find the zucchini is easiest to break down if you shred the zucchini first and then add it to the pan. Just like you would shred cheese.

I decided to leave the zucchini on the chunkier side, but if you prefer a smooth pasta sauce, you could puree the zucchini in the food processor. This is an extra step and an extra dish to wash though.

Chunky or smooth, it’s going to be good.

Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta |

Step 3: finish the sauce 

Once the zucchini is cooked, add the reserved pasta water, the cheeses – parmesan and pecorino, and butter to the pasta. Toss until you have a nice cheesy sauce.

Finish this pasta with fresh basil and lots of freshly cracked parmesan. Enjoy this warm, while the sauce is hot and creamy.

This is one of those recipes that can easily become a staple because it’s truly so easy, simple, and delicious. And if you happen to be growing zucchini this summer, I foresee this becoming a staple in your kitchen too!

Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta |

Looking for other simple pasta dinners? Here are a few of my go-to’s. 

One Pot Lemon Butter Ricotta and Zucchini Pasta

Pesto Cheese Zucchini Ravioli with Burst Tomatoes

Spicy Zucchini Ricotta Lasagna with Oregano Breadcrumbs

Cherry Tomato Pasta Alla Vodka

Lastly, if you make, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Simplest Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 487 kcal

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


  • 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, reserve 1 1/4 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
    2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, garlic, thyme, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is golden, 5 minutes. Mix in the butter. Using the back of your spoon or a potato masher, mash down the zucchini until it becomes a chunky sauce. 
    3. Add 1 cup of reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the pasta, parmesan, and pecorino, and toss until melted. Add more pasta water if need to thin the sauce. Remove from the heat, toss in the basil.
    4. Serve topped with fresh basil and pepper. Enjoy!


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

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    1. See step 2 in the directions: 2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, garlic, thyme, chili flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook until the zucchini is golden, 5 minutes. Using the back of your spoon or a potato masher, mash down the zucchini until it becomes a chunky sauce.

    2. Hi Dana,
      You are going to add the thyme in step 2 with the zucchini. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

  1. Hi – I will definitely try, I never thought to grate zucchini for a pasta dish, it sounds perfect with parmesan. Thanks for the idea(s) 🙂

  2. I have a handful of zucchini and summer squash that should be ready for picking in the next week or so – perfect timing to find this recipe! I can’t wait to try it, it looks delicious!

    1. Hi Iris,
      You can add the thyme in step 2 with the zucchini:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xx

  3. 5 stars
    So easy to make and delicious! I used Banza linguine pasta. Great option for a summer pasta for the family. I added extra salt & pepper at the end for a cacio c pepe twist! Could be the main event or a beautiful dinner side dish.

    1. Hi Brooke,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that you have been enjoying this recipe and appreciate your notes and feedback! xT

  4. I saw this recipe on your Instagram and looks delicious, but there it says 8 tablespoons of butter, here it says 2. Would both work ?

  5. 5 stars
    Wow! THE BEST!! I used the biggest, ugliest zucchini from our garden (missed picking it with all the rain we’ve been having) and just discarded the inner seedy part. This was absolutely delicious with chicken hot off the grill. Thank you!

    1. Hi there,
      Happy Friday!!😎 I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks for making it and your comment! xx

  6. 5 stars
    Well this recipe is delightful, much like everything else you create!! It’s also kids approved which is a win for me. Thank you!

    1. Hey Katie,
      Awesome!! So glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed and thanks so much for making it! Have a great weekend:)

  7. I made the recipe with a slight little difference, had no butter and basil in ze kitchen, but added some extra olive oil and capertjes / capere it was very tasteful, thanks for the explanation, grazie mille

    1. Hi there,
      Happy Friday!! Thanks a lot for trying this recipe out, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Have a great weekend:)

  8. 5 stars
    I followed your recipe to a T, even down to the pasta shape. It was AMAZING.
    It was quick, inexpensive and absolutely delicious. I strongly considered adding cherry tomatoes to it, but decided ultimately to keep it simple and I’m glad that I did.

    I want to say, I checked out the Meghan Markle lifestyle article you referenced, and your version of the zucchini pasta looked way better than the one pictured. Just saying.

    1. Hey there,
      Amazing!! I love to hear that this recipe was tasty, thanks so much for making it sharing your review:) xTieghan

    1. Hi Debbie,
      I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, I am so glad it was enjoyed! Have a great day:)

  9. 5 stars
    Couldn’t wait to comment. Hubby does not like zucchini, calls it a slimy veg.
    But I had zucchini to use up from the garden, so decided to make this.
    I pureed the sauce, so you couldnt tell it was zucchini.
    The flavour was amazing. I topped it with garlicky breadcdumbs, browned in a little butter, to give it some crunch.
    After a few bites I asked my husband how it was and he said excellent!!!
    Only then did I tell him the sauce was made with zucchini.
    He did enjoy the crunch on top. Hard to believe how great this tastes without any cream or butter.
    I will definitely make this again.

    1. Hey Antonia,
      LOL love this! I am so excited to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it! Have a great weekend☀️

    1. Hey Meghan,
      Amazing! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for making it! Have a great Monday! xTieghan

  10. 4 stars
    So easy, and very good! Great for nights when you don’t have a lot of time! I only had parm and a tiny amount of basil but with fresh lemon at the end it was really good. Used my mini masher to mash the squash right in the pan, so easy. Leftovers reheated well also, added mushroom for the reheat which i would do again. Even my husband commented on how light and simple it was but still really great creamy flavor. will make again!

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      Happy Sunday! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe and sharing your feedback! I love to hear that it was enjoyed! ☀️