This tasty zucchini garlic bites recipe combines shredded zucchini with garlic, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, and is served with a marinara dipping sauce for an Italian inspired twist.
Ah, zucchini…It is the crop that just keeps on giving throughout the growing season. This recipe is one more way to transform it into a scrumptious bite that can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or even a kid’s meal.
It’s late summer, and the kitchen is busy with preserving the harvest. Right now, the counters are filled with tomatoes and zucchini harvested from the garden. Both are in heavy rotation as I turn the ripe tomatoes into canned sauce or salsa, and the zucchini into zucchini lasagna, zucchini bread, or preserved for later. Once the counter is cleared, I have only a short moment of satisfaction before it begins filling up once again with newly picked fruit.
With football season approaching, I wanted to add something different to our weekly finger food spread. Since weekends spent preserving the harvest usually stretches well into fall, it had to be something tasty but easy to throw together.
Faced with a counter full of newly harvested zucchini, and the aroma of tomato sauce filling the kitchen as it simmered on the stove, it was then that I remembered one of those cooking videos on Facebook. It was some sort of shredded zucchini combination to resemble tater tots. I wanted to try something similar but with an Italian inspired twist.
I began chopping up some fresh parsley, oregano, and basil. I thought about adding minced onion and garlic, but worried about the texture since they wouldn’t have time to soften. Instead, I added chopped chives for a mild onion flavor and grated the garlic that infused into the mixture. A little Parmesan cheese added a slight nutty flavor.
This flavorful Italian style zucchini garlic bites are easy to make and taste delicious dipped in a classic tomato marinara sauce.
How to Make Zucchini Bites
This recipe was originally published back in August 2014 and continues to be one of the most popular recipes here at Grow a Good Life. It was time for a refresh with new photos and video just in time for summer. The recipe remains the same, and can be found with ingredients and full instructions at the bottom of the article.
I have addressed the most common questions, added a few variations, including air frying, how to make ahead and freeze for later, and ways to substitute ingredients for keto, gluten free, and vegan options.
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Gather the ingredients: zucchini, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, chopped chives, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce for dipping.
Step 2: Remove Moisture from the Zucchini
Key to the success of this recipe is to squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the shredded zucchini. This will result in a bite that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Rinse your zucchini well under clean running water. Trim off the ends and shred the zucchini by sliding across the large holes of a box grater. If you are using a big zucchini, cut in half and scoop out the seeds before grating.
Place the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and twist the towel to wring out moisture.
Step 3: Combine the Ingredients
Once the zucchini feels somewhat dry, add it to a medium sized prep bowl. Chop your herbs, peel and grate the garlic, and add to the bowl along with the egg, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Mix until well combined.
Step 4: Form the Zucchini Balls
Scoop out one tablespoon of the zucchini mixture, shape into a small ball, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
Step 5: Bake in a Preheated Oven
Bake until golden and serve warm with a tomato dipping sauce.
If you happen to have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, pop them into a preheated 400˚F oven and bake until warm, about 5 to 8 minutes.
How to Freeze
Follow the recipe and let zucchini bites cool. Place in a single layer on a large baking sheet and flash freeze for one hour. Once the zucchini balls are frozen, place them into a freezer bag. Store up 4 months in the freezer.
Reheat by preheating your oven to 400˚F. Place the frozen zucchini garlic bites on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and crispy on the outside, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most common asked questions about this recipe:
Question: Can these be cooked in an air fryer?
Answer: Yes, you can air fry zucchini garlic bites. Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 375˚F. Place the zucchini balls in the air-fryer basket leaving space in between. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden. Check it half way and give the basket a shake to flip so they cook evenly.
Question: Can this be made ahead and baked later?
Answer: Yes, just keep the mixture refrigerated and form your zucchini balls when you are ready to bake.
Question: Can these be made gluten-free?
Answer: Yes, swap the regular breadcrumbs with the same amount of gluten-free breadcrumbs. Others have substituted almond meal and almond flour with good success. You could also try crushing up almond crackers.
Question: Can these be frozen?
Answer: Yes, you can freeze the zucchini garlic bites after baking, and then pop them into a preheated oven or air fryer and cook until hot. Preheat your oven or air fryer to 375˚F. Place the frozen zucchini garlic bites on a baking sheet and bake until heated through and crispy on the outside.
Question: What if you do not have fresh herbs? How much dried herbs would you use?
Answer: Yes. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor than fresh. For this recipe, I would substitute half dried for the fresh: 1 tablespoons dried chives, 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. It doesn’t have to be exact.
Question: I’m vegan. Do you think this would work with a flax egg?
Answer: You could try substituting a flax egg for the egg. Combine 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture set until thickened, about 10 minutes. You may have to add more breadcrumbs to form a firm ball. Swap the cheese for a vegan cheese.
Question: How well these would go with spaghetti instead of meatballs?
Answer: These zucchini bites are delicious as spaghetti and zucchini meatballs! They don’t hold up to simmering in the sauce, but we add them to the top of the pasta and spoon on extra tomato sauce at mealtime.
Question: I don’t have Parmesan cheese. Can I use another cheese?
Answer: Yes, you can substitute other cheeses. Parmesan adds flavor and helps bind the zucchini balls together. Softer cheeses may flatten out your zucchini bites, but they will still taste delicious. You may also need to add more salt.
Question: Can I use frozen shredded zucchini?
Answer: Yes, but you will need to thaw and drain off the moisture before mixing with the other ingredients. You may have to add extra breadcrumbs.
Zucchini Garlic Bites
- 1 cup shredded zucchini drained well
- 1 clove garlic grated fine
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (or 1 tablespoon dried chives)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- pinch of salt and pepper
- tomato sauce for dipping
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Use a box grater to grate the zucchini into a clean towel. Roll up the towel and twist to wring out the moisture.
- Grate the garlic using the small holes on the box grater.
- Add the shredded zucchini, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan, chives, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to a medium bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Shape a tablespoon of the mixture into your hands, pat into small balls, and place on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes in the preheated oven until golden. Serve warm with marinara sauce. Recipe makes about 16 bites.
This recipe was originally published on August 30, 2014. It has been updated with clearer instructions, new photos, and a video showing the process.
You May Also Like:
- Crockpot Tomato Sauce Recipe
- Seasoned Tomato Sauce for Home Canning
- Grilled Tomato Salsa Recipe
- Garden Fresh Zucchini Lasagna Recipe
- 3 Easy Ways to Preserve Zucchini
- How to Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash Vertically
Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.