This fried zucchini recipe highlights one of the season’s most ubiquitous vegetables. Zucchini slices are coated in a batter and breadcrumb coating. Then they’re fried until crispy in a pan or air fryer.
Serve with vegan ranch dressing or your preferred dipping sauce.
There’s a certain point every year when the zucchini starts overflowing. It takes over gardens, farmers markets, and grocery store shelves.
Soon neighbors and friends are unloading their extras onto you…
Luckily, zucchini is a mildly flavored vegetable that can be prepared in so many ways. It can be used in everything from noodles to breads.
But my favorite way to eat zucchini (also known as courgette) has to be breaded and fried.
It gets so beautifully crispy on the outside thanks to a batter + seasoned panko crust. While the inside stays steamy and tender.
Herbs and spices in the coating make it sing with flavor. Think basil, oregano, paprika, and garlic.
It can be served as an appetizer or snack with a sauce for dipping. Or it can be a side dish alongside a sandwich, soup, or entrée.
When I make fried zucchini, I like to get indulgent and shallow fry it in a skillet. But if you’d prefer to keep things a little lighter, I also give air fryer directions below.
How to make fried zucchini
Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe.
Cut the ends off of a medium-sized zucchini. Slice the rest into roughly ¼ inch thick slices.
Blot dry on a clean kitchen towel. (The coating sticks better that way.)
Make a breading station.
In a cereal-sized bowl, combine:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
You want it to be the consistency of pancake batter.
On a dinner plate, combine:
- Panko bread crumbs
- Dried basil
- Dried oregano
- Granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
Dip each zucchini slice into batter. Tap off the excess.
Then dredge each slice in the panko mixture, until fully coated on all sides & edges.
To cook the zucchini, either pan fry or use the air fryer.
To pan fry:
Bring a skillet to a medium high heat with about a half inch of canola oil or other high heat oil. (I don’t recommend olive oil, because of its low smoke point.)
Fry zucchini for about 5 minutes. Flip the slices when they are golden brown on one side.
To air fry:
Put the breaded zucchini into the air fryer basket. Spray with oil (optional).
Air fry at 360 degrees for 8 minutes, stopping once to flip & spray again.
What if I have leftover batter and/or breadcrumbs?
Or take a peek at what’s in your refrigerator! Other ideas include breading mushrooms, onions, eggplant, cauliflower, or green beans.
Make it your own
You can make this fried appetizer your own by varying the slicing method. Cut the zucchini into wedges or fries instead of slices.
Vary the seasonings. Replace the dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, and granulated garlic with any of the following:
- Italian seasoning
- Cajun seasoning salt
- Fox Point seasoning
- Your favorite seasoning salt
- Add nutritional yeast flakes for cheesy flavor
What dipping sauce should I use?
While you could easily enjoy crispy fried zucchini as a side dish all on its own, it’s infinitely more fun with a dipping sauce.
Here are a variety of options. (Ranch is my favorite!)
- Vegan ranch dressing
- Vegan blue cheese dressing
- Creamy cashew dressing
- Thousand Island dressing
- Sriracha mayo
- Lemon garlic aioli
- Cocktail sauce
Do they reheat well?
Yes, whichever way you originally cooked them, fried zucchini slices are great reheated. Simply store leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered container until you’re ready to reheat.
My favorite way to reheat them is in the air fryer. Air fry at 400 degrees for about 6 minutes, stopping once to flip halfway through.
Once reheated in the air fryer, they’re just as good as they were fresh.
In fact, you could easily make the fried zucchini ahead of time for a gathering. Then just plan to reheat in the air fryer once guests arrive. A terrific time saver!
What to serve with it
Fried zucchini can be an appetizer or side dish for a larger meal. Here are some main dishes, soups, sandwiches, or sides to serve with it:
- Vegan pulled pork & collard greens
- Buffalo chickpea sandwich
- Air fryer stuffed peppers
- Creamy gnocchi soup with sausage & kale
- Vegan Rachel sandwich
- Vegan BBQ sandwich
More things to make with zucchini
Still have more zucchini left in the garden? Here are some easy ways to use it:
- Vegan lasagna
- Grilled vegetable skewers
- Veggie fajitas (instead of or in addition to asparagus)
- Zucchini muffins (from Veggie Inspired)
- Zucchini stew (from Veggies Save the Day)
And if you have zucchini blossoms, you absolutely must make cashew cheese stuffed fried zucchini flowers.
- 1 medium zucchini about 13 ounces
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 6 to 8 Tablespoons water
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs plus more if necessary
- ¾ teaspoon dried basil
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
- Organic canola oil for frying or air frying
- Remove ends from zucchini. Then cut the remaining zucchini into roughly ¼ inch thick slices. Blot the slices dry on a clean kitchen towel. Then set aside.
- Now it's time to make a breading station. In a cereal bowl, use a fork or whisk to combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, and 6 Tablespoons of water. After the batter is mixed, slowly add 2 more Tablespoons of water, as needed. You want the batter to have the consistency of pancake batter.
- Then on a dinner plate, combine panko bread crumbs, dried basil, dried oregano, paprika, granulated garlic, and a pinch of salt.
- One at a time, dip each zucchini slice into the batter and fully coat it. Tap off any excess batter. Then dredge it in the panko bread crumb mixture until it's covered on front, back, and sides. Continue breading each one until they are finished. If you run out of panko breadcrumbs, add more to the plate, along with a pinch of each of the seasonings.
- TO PAN FRY: Bring a large non-stick skillet to a medium high heat with about a half inch of organic canola oil (or other high heat oil). Drop a breadcrumb into the oil to see if it's hot enough. If bubbles immediately form around it, it's ready to use. Put the breaded zucchini slices into the oil. Fry for about 5 minutes, stopping once about halfway through to flip with a spatula. (Be careful not to move them until they brown.) (Depending on the size of your zucchini and skillet, you will likely need to work in batches. You don't want to overcrowd the skillet, because the zucchini won't brown as well.)Once they are brown all over, move the fried zucchini to a towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Finish with another pinch of salt. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. (Vegan ranch dressing is my favorite!)
- TO AIR FRY: Put the breaded zucchini slices into air fryer basket. Lightly spritz with oil (optional). Air fry at 360 degrees for 8 minutes, stopping once to flip the slices & spray with oil again. Remove from air fryer and serve with dipping sauce.(Depending on the size of your zucchini & air fryer basket, you will likely need to cook in batches. The zucchini browns best when not overcrowded in the basket.)