Perfectly Grilled Zucchini : Step By Step

nakiri knife beside green veggies

Perfectly Grilled Zucchini : Step By Step

  1. Preheat the grill pan to medium-high. Oil the grates accordingly.
  2. Cut the zucchini into thick, uniform strips.
  3. Rub both sides of each strip with your preferred seasoning.
  4. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side.

grilled zucchini with grilled red pepper

Content Table

  1. A Few Facts About Zucchini
  2. How To Grill Zucchini
  3. The Best Easy Grilled Zucchini Recipe
  4. Spices And Sauces That Pair Well With Grilled Zucchini
  5. Best Knives To Cut Zucchini
  6. Frequently Asked Questions About Grilled Zucchini

    Zucchini is healthy, versatile and an excellent garnish for our favorite recipes: steak, burgers, chicken, fish, or other vegetables. As a child, the zucchini garlic bites my mom used to make were my favorite treat.

    But as an adult, I discovered that grilled zucchini is my favorite grilled veggie. It has that smoky flavor we love and the best part is that it’s extremely easy, and can take as little as 15 minutes. 

    Let us discover the simple, yet delightful world of grilled zucchini, along with a few ideas to enhance this delicious dinner idea. Don’t forget your apron!

    1. A Few Facts About Zucchini

    nakiri knife with chopped veggies and sliced zucchini

    Zucchini is a type of summer squash. It belongs to the same family as cucumbers and gourds, and it usually comes in a dark green color with an elongated shape. The flavor is quite soft, adapting to the technique and ingredients used to cook it.

    The first thing you should know about zucchini is that the whole fruit is edible and nutritious: the skin, the flesh, and the seeds.

    The second thing you should know is that it is high in fiber, low in calories, and has vitamins that help boost the immune system and improve vision, gut health, and blood sugar levels.

    Zucchini is in season during the summer months. 

    2. How To Grill Zucchini 

    grilled zucchini in a pan

      1. The formula for a perfect grilled zucchini starts with choosing the best specimens.  Seasonal vegetables taste better. The best zucchini are harvested in summer. Choose small, brightly colored zucchini. Medium zucchini, smaller than 15 centimeters, are firmer, have more and better flavor, and their skin is edible, so there is no need to peel them. They also have smaller seeds, which is more appetizing for some people.
      2. Preheat grill to medium-high. The grill grate should already be clean and oiled. You could use either a charcoal grill or an indoor grill pan.
      3. Place zucchini on a cutting board and slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick elongated strips using a sharp, good-quality knife. Thicker, uniform zucchini strips have more consistency and will grill evenly; they are easier to handle and will not fall through the grate. Also, wider pieces will have more space for grill marks, where all the smoky flavor concentrates. 
      4. Rub both sides of each zucchini slice with olive oil and whatever seasoning you prefer (like lemon, garlic, basil, etc. More on that later). Olive oil helps the spices and seasonings to adhere and is also the key to a better browning.
      5. Place zucchini on the grate and grill the zucchini over direct heat. The ideal temperature is about 350ºF.
      6. Your cue will be when those black grill marks appear on the surface. When they start to appear, turn the slices and wait a few more minutes for them to appear on the other side.  This takes approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side. Try to turn the slices only once.
      7. Serve the Zucchini with drizzled vinaigrette. 

      Zucchini can be sliced and prepared a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator until the next day.

      How do you prevent zucchini from getting soggy?

      Because zucchini is 90% water, there is always some degree of risk that it ends up too soggy. There are a few things you can do to help your chances with any grilled vegetable:

      • Cut larger pieces. Larger pieces will retain more water.
      • Some people say you should add salt at the end, instead of the beginning. Others say it’s best to salt zucchini ten minutes before cooking and let the zucchini sweat. The important thing is salt and pepper! not only in terms of flavor; salt is important to pull out the moisture and achieve a better texture. 
      • Don’t overcook them. It shouldn’t take longer than 4-5 for each side to be ready.

      3. The Best Easy Grilled Zucchini Recipe

      nakiri knife beside green vegetables

      To be fair, I don’t know if this one is the best. There may be several “bests” because grilled zucchini is a simple, delicious, fool-proof, and easy recipe. 

      But I enjoy this one very much and I think it’s a sure shot if you’re looking to try your first grilled zucchini recipe.

      Servings

      Prep Time

      Around 3 hours to marinate, 10 minutes to prepare, and 8 minutes for cooking time 

      Ingredients

      • 3 sliced zucchini in ½ inch long strips
      • 2 yellow squash cut in the same length
      • ⅓ cup olive oil
      • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
      • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or herbed vinegar for even more flavor)
      • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (this one is optional, and some prefer oregano, mint, or tarragon)
      • Salt and pepper to taste
      1. Mix the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and your other spice of choice (I do love it with thyme) to prepare a vinaigrette. Some people like balsamic vinegar too. Set about three tablespoons aside. 
      2. Marinate the zucchini and yellow squash in the vinaigrette at least three hours ahead of time at room temperature, or even overnight in the refrigerator. A zip-lock bag works great here. Stir them to mix and soak them well.
      3. Heat the grill over medium-high heat. When hot, lightly oil the grates.
      4. Place the zucchini and squash perpendicular to the grates to get those sought-after grill marks.
      5. Grill the zucchini for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the zucchini is tender, brown, and crisp.
      6. Serve the zucchini on a platter and drizzle with the reserved vinaigrette.
      7. Grilled zucchini can be served warm or at room temperature. Add some lemon wedges! 

      4. Spices And Sauces That Pair Well With Grilled Zucchini

      sliced grilled zucchini on a plate

      Because grilled zucchini absorbs the flavor of the recipe you choose, you can get as creative as you wish! But here are a few hints:

      • Sea salt or kosher salt 
      • Extra virgin olive oil
      • Garlic / Garlic Powder (garlic enhances the flavor of zucchini!)
      • Crushed red pepper flakes
      • Lemon zest
      • Fresh lemon juice
      • Lime juice
      • Roasted nuts
      • Seeds
      • Chopped fresh herbs (a must during the summer)
      • Capers
      • Ranch dressing
      • Green creamy dressing
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • Basil / Fresh basil leaves
      • Red wine vinegar
      • Balsamic vinegar
      • Dried herbs
      • Finely chopped parsley 
      • Italian seasoning
      • Butter (even better: garlic butter or lemon butter)
      • Chives
      • Rosemary
      • Oregano
      • Thyme
      • Dill
      • Not a sauce, but grilled zucchini goes great with cheese in general: fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, feta, or goat cheese with pine nuts.

      Making balsamic grilled zucchini is another great idea with a wonderful taste. To make your balsamic grilled zucchini mixture, similar soak your zucchini in balsamic vinegar before grilling. 

      5. Best Knives To Cut Zucchini 

      Chef's Knife 8" Gladiator Series

      Chef's Knife 8" | Gladiator Series

      A chef's knife is kind of almighty. It can do it all: chopping, slicing, dicing, and everything in between. When it comes to cutting zucchinis, this Dalstrong’s Gladiator can be perfect for those elongated slices.

      PROS:

      • Ultra sharp blade for blunt cuts on the first go.
      • Maximum grip comfort and control.
      • Highly resistant to wear, heat, and cold.
      • Affordable yet high-quality.
      • Comes in different colors.

      CONS:

      • I love this knife’s performance, but I do tend to go for flashy designs. If you’re on my team, you might look at another series like Frost Fire or Phantom; or get this one with another handle color.
      • This one is perfect for beginners, but professional cooks might be looking for something that feels more “elite”.

      Chef's Knife 9.5" | Quantum 1 Series

      Chef's Knife 9.5" | Quantum 1 Series

      Not only has this knife the potential to become the most breath-taking piece in your kitchen; it also happens to be a versatile, functional chef’s knife suitable for both home and professional chefs. Quality and functionality will make the task of cooking much more pleasant.

      PROS:

      • Forged from high-carbon American steel with vacuum heat-seal treatment.
      • The blade has a unique pattern design that minimizes friction and food drag while maximizing its cutting ability. 
      • The avant-garde Dragon Skin handle design of this series provides total control and is impervious to heat, cold, and moisture.
      • The knife comes with a stunning leather and carbon-fiber sheath. 

      CONS:

      • The knife is a bit longer than the standard home knife; it may be challenging for non-professionals to maneuver. Home cooks are advised to go with an 8” chef knife.
      • The price may exceed a few budgets, especially if you’re only looking to cut your zucchini!

      Paring Knife 3.5" | Shogun Series

      Paring Knife 3.5" | Shogun Series

      This paring knife is a precision specialist and nearly as versatile as the chef's knife. Just the right size to perfectly slice zucchini and everything else like fruits, vegetables, bread, pastries, meats, and other ingredients.

      PROS:

      • The perfect edge for clean, detailed cuts.
      • Ultra-premium Japanese steel.
      • Ergonomic handle that also allows maximum hand control and a natural, comfortable non-slip grip.
      • The handle is quality and very sturdy due to its full tang. It is also triple riveted for extra strength.
      • The Tsunami Rose pattern, exclusive to the Shogun series, engraves to the blade, not only looks great but minimizes surface resistance.
      • This knife is built to last a lifetime.

      CONS:

      • The size makes it extremely practical, but I wouldn’t blame you for wanting a bigger sword. 
      • It's a bit more expensive than the average paring knife (but in this case the price is equivalent to quality).

      4" Paring Knife | Omega Series

      4" Paring Knife | Omega Series

      Buying a new knife like this feels like buying a new car. Food preparation becomes quick and easy with this nimble, versatile, very precise knife. Cutting zucchini, as well as those lemons or herbs you’re planning to season them with; will become quite the experience.

      PROS:

      • The blade is slightly longer than average and that improves agility.
      • Perfect weight and feel.
      • The non-slip handle allows for a truly natural grip.
      • Easy to clean. 
      • Unbelievably sharp out of the box.

      CONS:

      • This knife has developed something like a fan club and has become a high-demand item. That means it may be out of stock when you need it. If you see that it’s available, act fast!
      • Some people are not into the blade pattern and prefer a smooth, cleaner style.

      Nakiri Vegetable Knife 6" | Phantom Series

      Nakiri Vegetable Knife 6" | Phantom Series

      The Nakiri is a Japanese specialty knife, a favorite among Asian blades. And this 6" vegetable knife from the Phantom Series is no ordinary specimen. This is a sleek, agile and exceptional instrument that many professional chefs prefer for cutting not only thin, uniform vegetable slices;  cuts of grilled chicken, sausages, ribs, tuna slices, and more.

      PROS:

      • The knife is forged from a single piece of premium quality Japanese steel.
      • 58 HRC (that means longer sharpness retention and easier to sharpen when needed).
      • The rectangular blade with a flat, blunt tip, makes this Nakiri safer and at the same time, perfect for push-cuts.
      • Also, the width of the blade allows you to pick up and transfer food easily.
      • The hollow divots on the blade prevent food from sticking.
      • Its traditional Japanese D-shaped handle fits perfectly in your hand.

      CONS:

      • This knife is not ideal for more precise cuts or rocking motion.
      • This is a specialty knife; and not everyone can afford to own a knife that is this specific. 

      6. Frequently Asked Questions About Grilled Zucchini

      small sliced and grilled zucchini

      Is zucchini a fruit or a vegetable?

      Contrary to popular belief, zucchini is a fruit, not a vegetable!

      Is zucchini the same as summer squash?

      Zucchini is a variety of squash but different from summer squash in shape and color. The taste is similar too, but not quite the same.

      How do you cut zucchini for kebabs?

      Cut off the ends of the zucchini and slice crosswise into 1-inch thick pieces or half-moons.

      How can you store leftover grilled zucchini?

      Have them cool down completely and then move them to the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days. You can use them later for a vegetable pizza, an omelet, a stew, or inside a sandwich or wrap.

      Check Out Top Quality Kitchen Knives Today

      Written by Eva Contreras
      Food & travel writer based in Buenos Aires. Superpowers include relentless curiosity and high tolerance to spicy foods.