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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Shred the zucchini: using a cheese grater, grate the zucchini until small pieces.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.