Vegetarian Zucchini “Meatballs”

Transform your summer zucchini into flavorful zucchini meatballs! Made with homemade breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and lots of herbs for fresh flavor. These vegetarian meatballs are simply delicious and are a great way to sneak some veggies into weeknight meals!

When summer squash is overflowing in the garden, it’s time to make zucchini meatballs! They’re perfectly moist, full of fresh herbs, and a super satisfying vegetarian alternative to standard meatballs. Homemade breadcrumbs add that perfect texture and bite, and since you can use whatever bread you have on hand, this recipe is easier and healthier too.

My favorite way to serve these meatballs is with whole wheat or chickpea pasta and of course tons of marinara! They even pleasantly surprised the meat-eaters in my family who are pretty traditional when it comes to Italian cooking.

I’m quite certain you and your family will enjoy these just as much as we do!

Ingredients – What You Need

Below you’ll find the full list of ingredients needed to make this recipe. Plus some ingredient tips too!

Ingredients for zucchini meatballs arranged on a dark background.

Zucchinis: I like to use green zucchinis for the recipe, but yellow works too.
Parmesan cheese: use fresh parmesan cheese for the best flavor and moist texture! I don’t recommend using pre-shredded parmesan because it’s usually pretty dry and has little moisture.
Breadcrumbs: I like to make my own breadcrumbs with healthier bread, but you can also use store-bought panko breadcrumbs too.
Fresh herbs: I use lots of fresh basil in these meatballs and fresh oregano too! I don’t recommend using dried just because the flavor is different. You can also use fresh parsley too!
Egg: used to bind the ingredients together.
Garlic cloves & powder: I use both fresh garlic cloves and a touch of garlic powder to layer the flavors.

How to Make Zucchini Lasagna

Step 1 – shred the zucchini with a cheese grater into small pieces!

Step 2 – cook the shredded zucchini with the oil and garlic in a pan for about 5-7 minutes.

Steps one and two showing how to make zucchini meatballs.

Step 3 – once the zucchini is cooked, transfer it to a fine mesh strainer and lightly press some of the excess moisture out.

Step 4 – then add the zucchini to a bowl with an egg, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, chopped herbs, salt & pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix together.

Steps three and four showing how to make zucchini meatballs.

Step 5 – Use a cookie scoop to measure meatballs, then toss them back and forth in your hands until they form a ball (meatballs should be measuring roughly around 3 inches). Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375F. If the meatballs are bigger, aim for 25 minutes.

Step 6 – They should be slightly golden on the outside, with a tender inside. Serve with marinara and pasta!

Steps five and six showing how to make zucchini meatballs.

Tips for Success

Use a cookie scoop to measure! To accurately measure the meatballs and make a perfect size, use a cookie scoop. This will also help the meatballs be the same size so they can cook evenly at the same time!

Make it gluten-free – I like to make my own breadcrumbs, so if you’re doing that, use your favorite gluten-free bread for the breadcrumbs. If you’re not making homemade breadcrumbs you can also purchase gluten-free breadcrumbs or use almond flour.

Favorite bread for breadcrumbs – You can use any bread you like for the homemade breadcrumbs. But I personally love the results when using a really grainy, healthy bread (Ezekiel bread is what I typically use) because it ends up being dryer when toasted which makes for extra crispy breadcrumbs!

Our Favorite Way to Serve Them

My favorite way to serve up these veggie meatballs is with marinara sauce (and lots of it!) and a healthy pasta noodle such as our favorite whole wheat noodles or chickpea noodles! If you’d like to serve them as an appetizer rather than a meal, you can serve them warm with marinara and fresh basil.

What to Serve it With

These zucchini meatballs go well with anything Italian! If we’re serving the meatballs with pasta, we love having a fresh salad to serve alongside like our Tuscan Artichoke Salad, Italian Salad, or this Summer Farro Salad. Crusty Italian bread is also a must too!

If you tried this Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs recipe or any other recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK for more crave-worthy content.

A bowl with red sauce and zucchini meatballs on a bed of spaghetti. There's a fork twisting spaghetti in the bowl and fresh herbs sprinkled over top.

Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs

Transform your summer zucchini into flavorful zucchini meatballs! Made with homemade breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and lots of herbs for fresh flavor. These vegetarian meatballs are simply delicious and are a great way to sneak some veggies into weeknight meals!

Servings 12 meatballs
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Tags: Italian zucchini meatballs, zucchini meatballs
Freezer Friendly: Yes
Calories: 134 kcal
Author: Bethany Kramer

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini around 2 1/4 cups when shredded
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (see below for my homemade breadcrumb recipe)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped small
  • 1 heaping teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.

  2. Shred the zucchini: using a cheese grater, grate the zucchini until small pieces.

  3. Cook zucchini: in a skillet pan, add olive oil, and garlic (either shred the garlic or use a garlic press so it's cut really fine). Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked down quite a bit. When finished, add the zucchini to a fine-mesh strainer and lightly press some of the exsess water out.

  4. Mix meatball filling: place the zucchini in a large bowl and add the egg, breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix together until it resembles a wet filling.

  5. Form the meatballs: Use a cookie scoop or a spoon to measure. Squeeze and roll the filling back and forth with your hands until a circle forms, roll into a ball, then place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all the meatballs are made.

  6. Bake: then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. I bake mine for around 23 minutes (time will depend on the size). They should be golden on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. Serve with marinara, fresh basil, and your favorite pasta!

Notes

Homemade breadcrumb recipe

  1. Toast 4-5 slices of your favorite bread. Make sure the toast is very toasted (just not burnt). Let it cool for 1-2 minutes. 
  2. Break up the toast into smaller pieces and add them to a high-powered blender or food processor. Pulse/blend until the toast turns into crumbs. Note: if the toast is too soft, too warm, and not really browned, blending it into crumbs won’t work. It needs to be very toasted and completely cooled. 

Favorite bread for breadcrumbs – You can use any bread you like for the homemade breadcrumbs. But I personally love the results when using a really grainy, healthy bread (Ezekiel bread is what I typically use) because it ends up being dryer when toasted which makes for extra crispy breadcrumbs!

Nutrition Facts
Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs
Amount Per Serving (2 meatballs)
Calories 134 Calories from Fat 41
% Daily Value*
Fat 4.6g7%
Saturated Fat 1.8g9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.6g
Cholesterol 35.8mg12%
Sodium 360mg15%
Carbohydrates 16.3g5%
Fiber 1.7g7%
Sugar 3.1g3%
Protein 7.1g14%
Vitamin A 4IU0%
Vitamin C 16mg19%
Calcium 0mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Bethany Kramer

Bethany Kramer is a home cook, recipe developer, and dog mom. She found a deep love for food and nutrition after learning to cook from her mom at eight years old. Since then she’s been developing and sharing recipes from her own kitchen that are bold in flavor and nourishing to the body!

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