Zucchini Meatballs

These zucchini "meatballs" are a perfect meal to serve to friends and family of all different eating lifestyles. They are a fantastic stand in for traditional meatballs in texture and are a little better for you than all beef or pork meatballs from a health standpoint.

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A large green platter with spaghetti and zucchini meatballs in marinara with parsley on top

Vegetarian Meatballs

These zucchini meatballs are a delicious meal for everyone – vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, and I love them for that very inclusive quality. Vegetarians will love them because they are hearty, satisfying, tasty and filled with good vegetable ingredients. Meat-eaters will love them for the same reasons – hearty, satisfying, tasty and honestly such a great stand in for regular meatballs that you won’t even miss the meat.

Grated zucchini in a kitchen towel, having been wrung out.

Prep the Zucchini

The first step in making these meatballs is in preparing the zucchini. Zucchini has a high water content and it’s important to extract some of that moisture so that the meatball is not too wet. This just involves grating the zucchini, sprinkling it with salt and letting the salt draw out the water. Then, wring the zucchini as dry as you can with a clean kitchen towel. It’s not difficult – it just takes about ten minutes.  

ingredients in a stainless steel bowl with salt, a wooden spoon and a wooden peppermill on a wooden table.

Ingredients for Zucchini Meatballs

The other ingredients in this recipe are breadcrumbs, eggs, grated onion, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano and salt and pepper – all common kitchen staples. Toss all these ingredients together and then start shaping the mixture into twelve little balls – each a little smaller than a golf ball. 

raw zucchini meatballs on a sheet pan with olive oil drizzled on the pan.

Cooking the Zucchini Meatballs

You can bake the meatballs in the oven or make them in the air fryer. If you’re using your oven, pour a little olive oil on a baking sheet and roll the meatballs around to coat. Bake at 375˚F for about 30 minutes, giving them a couple of turns during the cooking process to brown evenly. If you plan on using your air fryer, spray or toss the meatballs with oil and air-fry at 375˚F for about 20 minutes, rotating the meatballs halfway through.

Cooked zucchini meatballs on a sheet pan. Zucchini meatballs in a saucepan with marinara sauce and a blue and white striped towel in the background.

Vegetarian Meatballs and Marinara

You also have options when it comes to serving these meatballs. You could offer them with marinara sauce, eating them over rice, or as a meatball sub, or just with some bread to mop up any leftover sauce. 

Zucchini meatballs in marinara sauce on a white plate with basil on top and serving utensils on the side.

Spaghetti and Zucchini Meatballs

You could also serve these zucchini meatballs over spaghetti for a traditional spaghetti and meatball dinner. Add a side salad or a caesar salad on the side. This is a dinner that is a hit with everyone – vegetarian or not. 

Zucchini Meatballs on spaghettini on a grey plate with more in the background.

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Zucchini “Meatballs” - Oven Version

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:
    4
    makes 12 meatballs

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 cups grated packed zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Quick Marinara Sauce or jarred sauce

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Line a colander with a clean kitchen towel. Add the grated zucchini and onions. Sprinkle the salt over top and let the colander sit in the sink for 10 minutes to draw out the moisture. Wring the kitchen towel tightly to squeeze out the water.
  3. Transfer the zucchini to a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, parsley and eggs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix until well combined.
  4. Shape and roll the mixture into 12 balls. Pour two big glugs of olive oil on a baking sheet. Place the shaped balls on the baking sheet and roll to coat all sides with olive oil.
  5. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Rotate the balls a few times during the cooking process to evenly brown all side of the balls.
  6. Bring the quick tomato sauce to a simmer on the stovetop and add the zucchini “meatballs” to the pan.
  7. Sprinkle the fresh basil over top. Serve the zucchini “meatballs” over pasta, with toasted Italian bread, or on their own with ricotta or Parmesan cheese if desired.

Zucchini “Meatballs” - Air Fryer Version

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:
    4
    makes 12 meatballs

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 cups grated packed zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Quick Marinara Sauce or jarred sauce

Instructions

  1. Line a colander with a clean kitchen towel. Add the grated zucchini and onions. Sprinkle the salt over top and let the colander sit in the sink for 10 minutes to draw out the moisture. Wring the kitchen towel tightly to squeeze out the water.
  2. Transfer the zucchini to a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, parsley and eggs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix until well combined.
  3. Shape and roll the mixture into 12 balls. Pour two big glugs of olive oil on a baking sheet. Place the shaped balls on the baking sheet and roll to coat all sides with olive oil.
  4. Air-fry at 375°F for 20 minutes. Rotate or turn the meatballs a once or twice during the cooking process to evenly brown all side of the balls.

  5. Bring the quick tomato sauce to a simmer on the stovetop and add the zucchini “meatballs” to the pan.
  6. Sprinkle the fresh basil over top. Serve the zucchini “meatballs” over pasta, with toasted Italian bread, or on their own with ricotta or Parmesan cheese if desired.
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Comments (5)Post a Reply

  1. 4 stars
    These are absolutely wonderful. I thought they were a bit salty but I think I may have overdone it with the salt. You would never know they were zucchini exept for seeing it.

  2. I left out the parmesan and added more bread crumbs and a chopped roasted hatch chili pepper for my vegetarian guests. I’m glad I doubled the recipe because my meat-loving guests gobbled it up in addition to the beef meatballs I also made.

  3. 5 stars
    Yummy! I made the air fryer version and they worked perfectly! I used thickly grated Parmesan and that added little cheesy morsels inside – a treat. I made chicken to go with them, but next time they’ll work for a dinner on their own,

  4. 5 stars
    This is a delicious recipe for using our zucchini,summer or any other season of the year!! Made them in September for the first time and everyone loved them!! Making them today,for a repeat performance! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes with us!!!

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