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Lemon Zucchini Pasta

This lemon zucchini pasta is the perfect summer dish. It’s easy to make and incredibly refreshing. It has fettuccine, spiralized zucchini, and a light lemon parmesan sauce. The fresh parmesan and grilled lemons on top make this an incredibly flavorful dish. Then, I add some herby microgreens for an extra bit of tastiness.

Lemon zucchini pasta takes about 20-30 minutes to make from start to finish. It is perfect for a family picnic or barbecue this summer, whether you make it for just a few or increase the ingredients for a crowd. It is equally delicious served warm or cold.

When you take your first bite of this lemon zucchini pasta, you will be amazed at how flavorful and refreshing it is—even without adding any sauce. The water mixed with the lemon and garlic coats the pasta with intense flavors. Adding freshly grated parmesan cheese on top with more lemon zest intensifies the flavors even more, so you get a burst of flavor in every forkful.

I had a dish like this at a restaurant once, but it was made with linguini and zucchini, which was chopped and cooked. As I tasted it, I realized how well these flavors mix and thought of a way to make it even better. Grating the zucchini means you get its delicious taste throughout the meal. I love serving it with a pitcher of peach sangria for the adults and lemonade for the kids. 

Why you will love this recipe

  • The flavors are incredible: This dish lets you taste every ingredient to enjoy everything you put.
  • You can make it in minutes: In less than 30 minutes, dinner for four will be ready and waiting for your family’s enjoyment.
  • It is so easy: No need to turn on the oven or gather a bunch of pots and pans. You can make this on the stove with one skillet and a pot.
  • It is healthy: You don’t have to tell the kids that they are eating zucchini. They know they are having delicious pasta.

What you’ll need to make lemon zucchini pasta

Spacial items:

  • Grater or spiralizer – To grate or spiralize your zucchini.
  • Colander and towel – To dry the zucchini.
  • Large pot – To cook the pasta.
  • Skillet – For sautéing and heating.
  • Wooden spoon – For stirring without damaging your pots and pans.


  • Fettuccine – I use whole-grain fettuccine pasta, but you can use whatever you like.
  • Zucchini – You need two large zucchinis, washed, dried, and coarsely grated. Leave them in a colander with a dish towel or a strainer over a bowl until ready.
  • Garlic—Instead of mincing my garlic cloves like usual, I sliced them thinly this time. Slicing them gives your dish a rich, garlicky flavor without being overwhelming. 
  • Lemon zest—You need two lemons to get enough lemon zest for cooking and serving. Zesting your lemons just before you use them will give this pasta a bright and refreshing taste.
  • Lemon juice – Zest the lemons before juicing them so it is easier. You need a quarter cup of lemon juice, which usually takes two lemons.
  • Parmesan cheese—Freshly grated right when you need it is the only way to get this delightful dish’s robust and rich flavor.
  • Olive oil – To sauté the garlic. I prefer extra virgin olive oil for the lightest flavor and weight. I do not like my pasta weighed down with oil.
  • Microgreens—whatever kind you like. I grow my kale, basil, broccoli, and arugula at home, but you can buy them at the grocery store or some farmers’ markets.
  • Black pepper—It is important to grind your fresh black peppercorns for this dish. It is one of the main ingredients, and you want it to be extra flavorful.
  • Kosher salt – I prefer kosher salt because it has no additives and no bitter aftertaste.

For garnish:

  • Grilled lemon – Cut lemons into thick slices and grill them on a grill pan or your barbecue pit with olive oil. 
  • Parmesan cheese – Freshly shaved parmesan cheese before serving for the most incredible flavor.

How to make the lemon zucchini pasta?

  1. Grate the zucchini: Wash and dry the zucchini, then grate it with a grater, or use a spiralizer. Let it sit in a colander on a dish towel to dry while you cook.
  2. Cook pasta: Follow the package directions to cook your fettuccini to al dente. Before draining, save ¾ cup of pasta water.
  3. Sauté the garlic: Now, heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-low until hot. Add the sliced garlic and cook for four to six minutes, stirring frequently. When done, it should be light golden brown and very aromatic.
  4. Mix it up: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, zest, parmesan cheese, ¼ cup of pasta water, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the pasta and return it to the stove on medium-high, tossing as the sauce coats the noodles. You can add more pasta water as needed.
  5. Garnish and serve: Last, add zucchini and toss until mixed. Place in four bowls, topped with the microgreens, lemon zest, grated parmesan, and grilled lemon.

Expert tip

Picking the best zucchini

Sometimes, choosing the best zucchini can be difficult. You may get one that looks and feels perfect to find out it is virtually tasteless when you get it home. But you cannot taste them at the store. So here is how I choose the best one. First, do not choose the big ones. We tend to like to get large zucchini, but they often have big seeds and a lot of pulp with almost no flavor. Try to get one no larger than six or seven inches.

You must also choose a vibrant color—green, yellow, or white—and do not get any gashes, nicks, or soft spots. Try to find one with a stem. Zucchini with large stems still attached usually have the best flavor and last the longest. Also, a fresh zucchini has tiny hairs all over it—weird, but true.

When you get home, resist the urge to wash or store them in plastic baggies. Remove them from their bag and store them in a paper bag in a fridge drawer. Plastic bags trap moisture and will cause your zucchini to get slimy. If you do not plan to use them within a few days, wrap them in plastic, put them in a freezer bag, and freeze them for up to three months.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • More veggies: To make it heartier, add chopped bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, and onion.
  • Add meat: Instead of all veggies, add some chopped chicken, ham, or turkey.
  • Bacon is better: Give your pasta extra flavor and crunch with crispy, crumbled bacon.
  • Spicy pasta: Toss in some chopped red chiles or jalapenos and sprinkle red pepper flakes to heat this dish.
  • Sweeten it: If you have a sweet tooth, add a tablespoon of sugar or honey to your sauce.   

Serving suggestions:

This lemon zucchini pasta is the perfect meal for summer but also delicious in other ways.

  • Serve with crusty French bread or dinner rolls to soak up delicious sauce. 
  • Add red sauce and homemade meatballs to make it more like a spaghetti dinner. The kids love this, and the lemon zest gives it a wonderful kick.
  • A nice dinner salad with tomatoes and cucumbers would pair nicely with this dish.
  • You can serve whatever veggies you like on the side, too. Either fresh, oven roasted, or grilled.
  • This is the perfect dish to take to a picnic, as it tastes great cold as well.
  • If you are looking for something more indulgent, add some homemade Alfredo sauce to it.

Frequently asked questions

Should I salt my zucchini before using it?

Many people complain about their zucchini having too much moisture. If you get large zucchini, it will have extra water, so try to find them under seven inches. Also, toss them with a half teaspoon of table salt and let them drain in a colander with a clean kitchen towel for 30 minutes before cooking to remove any excess moisture.

How do I get the sauce to stick to my pasta?

Do not add oil or butter if you have trouble getting anything to cling to your fettuccini. Also, do not rinse off the noodles because it removes the starch. I mix the starchy pasta water with garlic and lemon juice in this recipe to make a nice sticky sauce. But if it still does not cling, heat it more. The sauce sticks better to hot pasta.

How do I enhance the flavor of my zucchini?

Sometimes, zucchinis lack flavor. Whether it is because they are overripe or for some other reason, adding herbs and spices is the best way to flavor a bland-tasting zucchini, some of my favorite ways to dress up my zucchini are with thyme and rosemary or smoked paprika and basil. They also go great with any kind of onion, or mixed with other veggies.

How do I know when pasta is cooked al dente?

Al dente means “to the tooth” in Italian, which means it should have a bite. You should be able to feel it when you bite into it. I recommend checking it about three minutes before the recommended fully cooked time on the package. Then, take a bite. It should be tender but chewy, so you have something to bite into.

How to store leftover pasta:

  • Refrigerate: Put leftovers in an airtight container, and they will stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to four days. 
  • Freezing: Put leftovers in a freezer bag to store them for longer than a few days. They can stay frozen for three months.   
  • Defrost: Before serving, remember to defrost your frozen leftovers in the fridge overnight.
  • Reheating: Reheat in the microwave for one minute or in a skillet for three minutes. 

More pasta recipes to try:

Recipe tips:

  • Make sure you clean your zucchini before you grate them.
  • After grating, put zucchini in a colander with a towel and some salt to remove excess moisture.
  • Do not grate your zucchini, parmesan, or lemons for the best flavor until ready to use them.
  • If you do not have a zester, you can also use your grater for zesting your lemons.
  • Be sure to zest your lemons before juicing them.

Lemon Zucchini Pasta

This lemon zucchini pasta is the perfect summer dish. It's easy to make and incredibly refreshing. It's made with fettuccine, spiralized zucchini, and a light lemon parmesan sauce.

  • Prep Time15 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 4 servings


  • 2 large zucchini coarsely grated or spiralized
  • 12 oz. fettuccine noodles
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup microgreens for garnish
  • 1 lemon halved and grilled – for serving


  • It's as simple as this: place a clean dishtowel in a colander or strainer set over a bowl. Add the grated or spiralized zucchini and let it sit until ready to use.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, aiming for al dente. Set aside 3/4 cup of cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until it turns light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Immediately remove from heat and stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup reserved pasta water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper into the skillet.
  • Add pasta, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, tossing until the sauce coats the noodles, adding additional reserved pasta water as needed.
  • Get ready for a burst of flavors and colors! Toss the pasta with the grated zucchini. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
  • Then, divide this vibrant mix among bowls and serve, topped with fresh microgreens, shaved pieces of Parmesan, and additional lemon zest if desired. I also like to add halved grilled lemons to each bowl. Squeeze the lemon and mix it with the pasta before enjoying the dish.

Nutrition Facts

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This looks absolutely delicious and I am wonderful change to our usual tomato-based pasta. Love the lemon added to it. It made the right zest. Thank you for sharing the recipe.



I made this recipe and it was so good! It was very light and fresh tasting! I topped with pecorino cheese instead of parm. Can’t wait to make this again!

Fransic verso

Fransic verso

This looks so yummy, although I don't eat a lot of pasta for the tomato sauce it hurts my belly. It's good to see how to make it without it. Great recipe, thank you for sharing!

barbie ritzman

barbie ritzman

This sounds yummy. This lemon zucchini pasta screams summer! Love the fresh flavors and light sauce. Perfect for a hot day.

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