This 4 ingredient zucchini pasta is one of my go to pasta dishes in the summer. It is light, easy and takes under 20 minutes to make. This zucchini spaghetti is a healthy dinner that will make everyone want to come back for more.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Fresh Flavor - This lightened up recipe is bursting with fresh flavor from the fresh ingredients! It uses zucchini and garlic making it the ultimate summer dinner! Top it with fresh lemon zest or fresh basil for a heightened experience.
Quick and easy. This lemon garlic pasta is a simple recipe with simple ingredients. It only takes 20 minutes to prepare! Keep this pasta recipe on hand for busy weeknights, fast meal prep, or lazy dinners. For more delicious pasta recipes, try my Lemon Garlic Pasta, Creamy Truffle Pasta, Vegan Gigi Hadid Pasta, Quick Spaghetti Arrabiata, and Vegan Shrimp Scampi.
Can be made gluten free. If you are gluten free or serving gluten free dinner guests, prepare this zucchini pasta dish with your favorite gluten free spaghetti made from brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, etc. Some of the best brands of gluten free pasta are Jovial, Banza, or Trader Joe's.
Easy to make for a crowd. If you are having a dinner party, this 4 ingredient zucchini pasta is an excellent choice because it is easy to double or triple the portions without compromising flavor or taking a lot more prep work!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Fresh Zucchini- Use fresh, not frozen, zucchini for this recipe. Fresh zucchini will sauté the best, and will give the dish a fresh flavor. Frozen zucchini will be water logged and can become mushy when cooked.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- I prefer to sauté my zucchini slices in olive oil, but you can certainly use unsalted butter in place of it or any neutral oil.
Pasta (and Pasta Water)- I like to use spaghetti or something of that nature for this recipe, but any pasta will work. Gluten-free pasta will also work for this recipe or protein pasta. Don't forget to save the starchy pasta cooking water to add into the zucchini mixture to make a delicious sauce.
Garlic Clove- Using fresh garlic cloves is the best choice. Garlic powder will give your zucchini pasta dish a very different flavor profile. If you are in a pinch, pre-minced garlic will also work!
Additional Adds Ons/Toppings
The great thing about this 4 ingredient zucchini pasta dish is that you can jazz it up to your own liking, making it perfect for picky eaters! Here are some of my favorite add ons and toppings.
Lemon- Whether you want to squeeze 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice into the pasta before mixing or sprinkle lemon zest on top of it, adding lemon is a great way to add more fresh flavor to this dish and make you feel like you are on the Amalfi coast.
Basil- Another way to fresh up this dish is by adding in 3-4 fresh basil leaves! I prefer to chop mine, but the whole leaf can be added as well.
Cheese- Who can say no to a little grated cheese on the plate? Sprinkle parmesan cheese or pecorino Romano on top to elevate this simple recipe! You can also add small mozzarella balls or even burrata into it for the ultimate melty cheesy goodness!
White beans- One of my favorite ways to add more protein and fiber into my pasta dishes is to add white beans. All you need to do is drain and rinse ½ cup and add it into the sauce pan at the same time as the pasta!
Heavy Cream- Add a splash (or two) into the pasta mixture to make a creamy sauce with the pasta water, olive oil and garlic.
Spices- Kosher Salt, black pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes can be added for taste.
Step By Step Instructions
1. Cook the pasta of your choice according to the package instructions. Cook until al dente, and drain. Do not forget to save the pasta water!
2. While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice the zucchini into ¼ inch slices and mince the garlic. If you want a perfect zucchini rounds, you can use a mandoline slicer. However, just a sharp knife and cutting will work too though! Try to make the slices as even depth as possible so they all cook for the same amount of time.
3. Place a non-stick skillet or frying pan on the oven over medium heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet then add garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant. If the olive oil cooked off, add another tablespoon olive oil then add in the thin slices of zucchini.
4. Sauté the zucchini on the each side until the zucchini is soft, about 4-5 minutes on each side. If you notice any of the olive oil was absorbed or cooked off, add ½ tsp to coat the pan.
5. Add the pasta and pasta water into the frying pan with the zucchini slices. Mix to coat the pasta in the garlic olive oil mixture. Plate the pasta and enjoy! You can top it with a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper, fresh basil leaves, lemon zest or cheese! Check out all my additional topping recommendations in the section directly above!
Time Saving Hacks
To save on time, slice the zucchini beforehand and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before making the pasta. You can also pre-mince the garlic and place it in olive oil before you are ready to cook it.
Storage and Reheating
This delicious pasta recipe will stay fresh in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.
To heat, place 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook for about 2-3 minutes, tossing it often in the pan. Depending on the pasta you use, it can become a slightly dry, so add a little olive oil or butter to it before heating.
If you prefer to use zucchini noodles or zoodles in place of the zucchini in the dish, you certainly can. They noodles may take additional time to sauté though!
Absolutely! Use your preferred pasta for this dish.
Can I fry the zucchini instead of sauteing it?
Yes! Instead of sautéing, you can add a neutral frying oil, such as avocado oil, into the frying pan and fry each slice. I recommend using a slotted spoon to remove the fried zucchini and placing the slices onto a paper towel after to absorb any extra oil. Then, heat olive oil and garlic together in a sauce pan, then once it is warm, add in the fried zucchini, the pasta water and the pasta.
- Use fresh ingredient. Fresh zucchini and garlic will sauté the best and provide the most flavor.
- Add your favorite toppings. This 4ingredient zucchini pasta is delicious on its own, but can be taken to the next level with different toppings, such as grated cheese, lemon, basil or red pepper flakes.
MORE PASTA RECIPES
4 Ingredient Zucchini Pasta Recipe
- ½ lb pasta of your choice
- ¼ cup reserved pasta water
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup zuchinni sliced (appox 1 med zucchini)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Before draining, be sure to keep ¼ cup of the pasta water!
- While the pasta is cooking, slice the zucchinis into approximately ¼ inch slices (coin shaped).
- In a large frying pan heat the olive oil over medium to low heat. Once the olive oil is heated, add in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add in the zucchini slices and sauté until they are soft, approximately 4 minutes on each side. They should be soft enough to cut with a spatula.
- Once the zuchinni is sauted on both sides, add in the reserved pasta water and pasta. Mix until the pasta is coated with the olive oil mixture. Enjoy!See recommendations below for additional add ons and toppings.