Recipes

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries Recipe (or Yellow Squash)

These crispy oven-baked zucchini fries are made with freshly ground parmesan cheese and Italian spices. This versatile zucchini recipe makes for a delicious side dish or healthy snack.

When zucchini season arrives, our vegetable garden is blooming with these delicious vegetables. Zucchini (and yellow squash) are capable of becoming more than just companions to bread recipes. Yes, even the newborn baby-sized ones that get away from you sometimes. 

This recipe allows for zucchini (or yellow squash) to shine as the main star ingredient. With a few variations to accommodate your specific dietary needs (or low pantry supplies). 

Zucchini Versus Yellow Squash

Zucchini and yellow squash are cousin plants. All zucchini are squash but not all squash are zucchini. Confused yet? 

Zucchini is like the Cher’s and Madonna’s of the world. You don’t hear many people walking around saying they had zucchini squash for dinner. Just zucchini, thank you.

Yellow squash and zucchini are part of the gourd family which is further categorized into two species- summer and winter squash. Both zucchini and yellow squash are summer squash. Unlike winter squash (think butternut, acorn, spaghetti, etc), summer squash have soft, edible exteriors that you can easily cut through. 

Yellow squash is zucchini’s doppelganger hence why the confusion when it comes to squash and zucchini. Both taste similar (look similar besides color) and can be used interchangeably in many recipes

In this recipe, for example, you can either use zucchini or yellow squash. Same taste, ingredients, and flavorful results. 

5 Ingredient Baked Zucchini Fries

five ingredient zucchini fries

With only five ingredients, likely ones you have in your fridge and pantry, you’ll love how easy these zucchini fries come together. 

  • 2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup real, parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs or Panko
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

And that’s it. You can swap the breadcrumbs and Panko with almond flour or go completely without and double the cheese. Also, nut or dairy milk works great as a substitute for the egg. This recipe uses simple real, whole food ingredients with optional alternatives. 

Go For Quality Parmesan Cheese Over Convenience

Hold the sawdust, please. Get the real deal cheese to avoid additives like cellulose commonly found in many store brand pre-grated parmesan cheeses. For my savvy nutrition label readers, you may have noticed this ingredient.  

Here’s the scoop on cellulose. It is a natural dietary fiber found in the cell walls of plants like fruits, vegetables, and naturally occurs in cereals. However, in processed foods like pre-grated parmesan cheese, companies use cellulose as an anti-caking agent- but not from fruits and vegetables. 

Instead, they use a less healthful and much cheaper version- wood pulp (aka sawdust) or cotton lint

The Centers for the Public Interest shares that “some companies fraudulently use it as a cheap filler in their 100% grated parmesan cheese.” Plus, parmesan cheese became quite controversial a few years back.

Nonetheless, you can avoid this nonsense by grating your own parmesan cheese. Look for the legally designated Parmigiano-Reggiano on the rind. This guarantees you’re getting real, high-quality, Italian cheese. 

Did you know? Parmesan cheese takes between 18-36 months to age to perfection. This nutty-flavored cheese works well as a coating for zucchini fries as it contains less moisture than other cheeses thus sticks better.

Can You Eliminate the Breadcrumbs?

Absolutely! I actually make mine a few different ways depending on what I have on hand. These zucchini fries do call for breadcrumbs (or Panko) but if you need a gluten-free alternative, simply swap with almond flour. You’ll need 1/2 cup. Or drop the breadcrumbs altogether and just use parmesan cheese. You’ll need to double the parmesan cheese to 1 cup.

Can You Use An Egg Substitute?

Yes! Whether your fridge is low on eggs or you’re allergic to them, your best alternative is milk (nut, oat, or dairy). You’ll need about 1/4 cup or more.

Can You Use Italian Style Breadcrumbs?

Yes, however, read the ingredient label. Select one with the least amount of ingredients and less science-y words.

Want to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs?

A great way to ensure you’re eating real, whole food ingredients is to make your own breadcrumbs. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare use this easy 10-minute breadcrumb recipe. It’s my go-to. 

HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS IN 10 MINUTES

  • Take the crust off 2 slices of whole wheat (or Ezekial) bread
  • Cut into cubes
  • Add to a food processor
  • Place crumbs on baking sheet in single layer
  • Set oven to 300° and bake for 10 minutes until toasted

Tips For Making Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

Create delicious, cheesy flavored zucchini fries with a few simple tricks. 

  • Start with quality ingredients. Skip the pre-grated parmesan cheese with extra fillers. Grab a small slab of parmesan cheese and grate it at home. The taste difference is undeniable. Also, look for plain, whole-wheat Panko or breadcrumbs. 
  • Dry off your zucchini. Did you just pull your zucchini from the fridge? Keep the condensation at bay by simply blotting the sliced zucchini with a paper towel before placing them in the egg wash.

assemble ingredients

  • Assemble everything before coating. Save time by having the egg wash ready next to the cheesy breadcrumb (or Panko) mixture, and baking pan with parchment paper at the end. Slice your zucchini and work down the line.
  • Designate one hand for the wet station and the other for the dry. Use one hand for the egg wash and the other for the cheesy breadcrumb mixture. Keeping your hands separate will allow for less clumping and mess. 
  • Make the coating crispier by toasting the breadcrumbs in the oven. Before assembling all the ingredients, pop the breadcrumbs or Panko in a 425° oven and toast for 1-2 minutes stirring halfway. Be careful not to burn.

  • Use a cooling rack for even baking. Place a lightly oiled cooling rack onto the baking sheet. Put the coated zucchini fries on top of the cooling rack and bake. A cooling rack used in this fashion works like an air fryer allowing the heat to evenly circulate. 
  • Not all ovens are created equal. Every oven bakes differently. Watch your fries as you may have to rotate the pan halfway for even baking. Ultimately, you’ll want to look for a nice golden brown color. 
  • Eat right away! Zucchini consists of mostly water (about 95%). Once cooked, zucchini will release that water (hence why zucchini bread is so moist). The longer zucchini fries sit the softer they’ll get. Try to eat them immediately for the best crispy taste.  

How to Store Zucchini Fries

Zucchini fries are best stored after baking. They’ll keep in the fridge for a few days and the freezer for a few months. To store in the freezer, it’s best to do a quick flash freeze. While separated on a baking sheet, place them in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Then place in a freezer-safe bag (I like these silicone Stasher bags). 

As mentioned above, once cooked, zucchini fries will get softer. You can reheat them using the oven to retrieve some of the crispiness. Don’t worry about thawing, simply place frozen zucchini fries in the oven and bake until warmed through. 

Use As A Side Dish Or Healthy Snack

Zucchini (or yellow squash) fries pair well with my turkey burger recipe. They also work as a great stand-alone afternoon snack, that your kids will love. Eat them as is or with a side of ketchup, tzatziki sauce, or marinara. Enjoy! 

Easy, Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries (or Yellow Squash)

With only 5 ingredients these zucchini fries are easy to make, healthy, and delicious. Crispy, cheesy, and flavorful, you'll enjoy eating these fries as a snack or side dish.
Prep Time 10 d
Cook Time 25 mins
Course dinner, Lunch, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 medium zucchini (or yellow squash)
  • 1 whole, organic egg
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup Panko, plain, whole-wheat (or breadcrumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Optional

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425°
  • For a crispier fry, place a cooling rack inside a baking sheet and lightly oil the rack. (If you don't have a cooling rack, simply place baking sheet paper on a baking pan).
  • Wash, dry, and cut zucchini into slices. Start by cutting zucchini in half (lengthwise), then halved again, then cut the two long slices into four 3-inch sticks. (If your zucchini is bigger you can slice thinner pieces by cutting the zucchini in half and then into quarters and then cutting crossways to create smaller sticks).
    five ingredient zucchini fries
  • Beat egg in a shallow dish (or bowl) with a fork.
  • Combine finely grated Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and Panko in a separate shallow dish (or bowl).
  • Use one hand for the wet ingredients and one for the dry. Dip zucchini sticks into egg mixture then roll in breadcrumb mixture.
    assemble ingredients
  • Place zucchini on baking sheet pan with or without the cooling rack.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. You may need to rotate pan halfway through baking depending on your oven.

Notes

Tips to Consider:
  • Use 1/4 cup of milk (nut, oat, or dairy) in place of the egg. 
  • Substitute Panko or breadcrumbs with 1/2 cup of almond flour or eliminate altogether and double the parmesan cheese. 
  • Be sure to use good-quality parmesan cheese. Grate your own at home to avoid added fillers found in pre-grated cheeses.
  • Toast your breadcrumbs or Panko for 1-2 minutes in a 425° preheated oven before assembling ingredients. This adds extra crispiness.  
  • Eat zucchini fries right away. Once baked zucchini releases water causing the fries to soften as time goes by. 
Keyword baked fries, healthy snack, zucchini, zucchini fries, zucchini recipe

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