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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. Smitten Kitchen has a phenomenal version of this recipe. Tried & true for years! Highly recommend trying SK’s recipe if you ran into issues with this one, Deb puts so much time into developing her recipes!

    1. Oh thanks for the recommendation!! Tieghan s recipes RARELY turn out for me and there’s always something “”off”. I browse her site about once a week looking for recipes to google from legit sources. This one looked good and I appreciate the time you saved me looking for different recipes 😄

    1. Hi Serena,
      Asiago would be great, same with Romano cheese! Let me know if you give this dish a try, I hope it’s a hit! xx

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Fantastic!! I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, love to hear that it was tasty! xT

  2. 5 stars
    As with all of your recipes—This was delicious! I did take some of the suggestions from the comment section and added fresh lemon juice at the end as well as some brown butter bread crumbs. This will be on repeat with summer zucchini!

    1. Hi Christine,
      Amazing!! So glad to hear that this dish turned out well for you, thanks so much for trying it out! xx

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious. I used the yellow summer squash instead of zucchini because that’s what I had in the fridge. My husband complains when I make squash but this was absolutely flavorful, easy and quick. Great meatless dinner treat.

    1. Hi Mary Ann,
      Happy Wednesday!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and appreciate you making it! xT

  4. 3 stars
    Unfortunately not my most favorite HBH recipe! I couldn’t get the zucchini to carmelize so maybe that was the problem? overall found it to be lacking a some flavor. Needed a lot of salt. Love HBH recipes so probably just a fluke!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      So sorry to hear you didn’t love this recipe! Please let me know if there is anything that I can help with or clarify! xT

  5. 5 stars
    This was so very good! I used a mix of summer squash and zucchini, and I had rotini for the pasta. Very light and fresh, perfect for summer!!! Next time I will add a bit of lemon zest or juice to the finished dish. Thank you for a light, healthy and produce forward dish.

    1. Hi Patty,
      Wonderful!! So glad to hear that this dish turned out well for you, thanks so much for making it! xT

  6. Looks delicious! I will try it tomorrow!
    And I want to ask – more aubergine recipes for summer please please please! 🙏🏼

  7. 3 stars
    I made this today. However butter was listed as an ingredient and I never found any directions as to when or where it was supposed to be added. Also, it said to warm the olive oil in the pan but there was no quantity nor was olive oil listed in the ingredients. Recipe was easy though and tasty.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks so much for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback!! The butter is listed in step 2 and then the ingredient list calls for 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Please let me know if I can help in any other way! xx

  8. 5 stars
    Made this using the zucchini and yellow squash combo and oh my was it delicious! So simple and very tasty! My husband and I both agreed this will be in our regular Summer dinner rotation! Thanks!

    1. Hi Marcia,
      Wonderful!! Thanks so much for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xx

  9. 5 stars
    Made this tonight, came together in a flash. So, so light and delicious. I added cauliflower and onions when making the sauce and served on Angel hair pasta. The secret? Adding the pasta water to really bring out a creamy sauce. Thank you, Tiegan!

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Fantastic!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it turned out well for you!🍒🥭

  10. Seriously, what would my family do without HBH? Made this tonight – day the recipe came out, for Monday dinner. Tasty! We did add some grilled chicken & burst cherry tomatoes – for a little contrast.
    Easy and pretty summer dinner. Thanks!

    1. Wow! Thanks so much for your kind message David!! So glad to hear that your family enjoyed this dish, thanks for making it! xx

  11. 5 stars
    I puréed the zucchini because I have a baby- I added so much parm that is kind of tasted loke Mac and cheese. I was using egg noodles and got inspired- I added tomato from the farmers market, fresh mozzarella and breadcrumbs and hit it in the oven for a minute for a healthy take on a Mac and cheese. Perfect.

    1. Hi Brandy,
      Perfect!! Thanks so much for sharing what worked well for you and giving this recipe a try, so glad to hear it was enjoyed! xT

  12. 5 stars
    Hello !
    Flavourful and tasty, as usual (even without butter) ! I’ve added mini mozzarella balls and chicken pieces to the spaghetti for an even hearthier dish.
    Thanks for the recipe !

    1. Hi there,
      Fantastic!! I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment, love to hear that it turned out well for you!🍒🥭

      1. Thanks 😊
        I love your recipes so much that I subscribed to the newsletter – even though I already have a thousand books and french-written sites (I live in Belgium). You give me a healthier version of US cuisine that I usually find elsewhere, and that little twist that changes my usual on recipes.
        Thanks for inspiration and for taking the time to write and share !