The Cozy Cook

Zucchini Parmesan

This breaded Zucchini Parmesan is fried until crispy and baked in a casserole dish with layers of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

Have more zucchini in your garden? Try my creamy zucchini soup recipe next!

A spatula pulling up cheese zucchini parmesan from a casserole dish.

Zucchini Parmesan

This is definitely one of my favorite ways to make use of garden zucchini during the summer. The preparation takes a little bit of time before you assemble it in the casserole dish and bake it, but the effort is SO well worth it.

I prefer to fry the zucchini prior to baking it in the casserole dish with cheese and marinara, but I do have instructions in the recipe card notes if you want to bake or air fry it instead.

Be sure to check out my Pro Tips below where I share some key advice that I learned during my testing efforts for this recipe.

Should You Salt Zucchini Before Cooking?

  • Zucchini is 95% water. Salting them extracts a lot of this moisture which gets absorbed by paper towels on the top and bottom of the zucchini rounds. 
  • This makes a huge difference between having firm, sturdy bites of zucchini, vs. a limp and watery consistency.
  • Let them sit for at least 30 minutes after salting to allow the maximum amount of moisture to get extracted. I usually let them sit for 1.5 hours if time allows.

How to Make It

*See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch slices, no thicker. Salt each side and place in between paper towels for up to an hour to extract water. Pat each one dry before dredging.

Dip each slice into beaten egg whites & garlic powder. Transfer to breading mixture and coat generously.

Dipping sliced eggplant into egg whites and breadcrumbs before baking or frying for zucchini parmesan.

Fry in preheated 350° oil until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a cooling rack.

*Note: The recipe card at the bottom of this post has instructions for baking or air frying the zucchini if preferred.

Breaded Zucchini Parmesan before and after bring fried.

Spoon marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Add a layer of fried zucchini and top with marinara and mozzarella.

Layering breaded Zucchini Parmesan with marinara sauce and cheese in a casserole dish.

Add additional layers of zucchini, marinara, and mozzarella until you’ve used all of the zucchini. You can do this in clean stacks or overlap them within the casserole dish.

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and begins to brown slightly. Serve!

Cheesy Zucchini Parmesan in a casserole dish before and after being baked.

Do You Peel Zucchini?

  • There is no need to peel the zucchini unless it’s jumbo sized, in which case the skins could be tough/bitter. 
  • The ideal size for a ripe zucchini is about 6 inches.
  • I like to slice these into thin, 1/4 inch slices for a nice crispy consistency. Otherwise it’s harder to get the middle to cook through.

Pro Tips

  • Don’t let them sit too long after being breaded. Give them another dip in the breading mix if any moisture starts to creep through before they’re fried. 
  • Make sure the oil has reached 350° (medium-high heat) before you add the zucchini. If it’s not hot enough, the breading will fall off. You can then adjust up/down during cooking as needed.
  • Watch them carefully as they fry, once they start to turn brown it happens quickly.
  • To keep the zucchini crisp: Place them on a cooling rack after frying/baking/air frying.

Using Egg Whites For The Breading

  • Traditionally, Chicken Parmesan or Eggplant Parmesan is dredged in seasoned flour, then eggs, then in a breadcrumb mixture. I tried this method with the zucchini as well, but felt like the zucchini got lost in the breading this way, the zucchini to breading ratio was off.
  • So instead, I like to dip the the zucchini in egg whites because it allows the zucchini to hold on to the breading, but isn’t heavy enough where the egg will bleed through. From there it goes into a seasoned breadcrumb/flour mixture with a bit of Parmesan cheese mixed in.
  • This is a nice, light breading which compliments the thin slices of zucchini well.

Storage

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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A white plate with slices of cheesy Zucchini Parmesan on it with a fork in the background.

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A cheesy stack of crispy breaded Zucchini Parmesan on a spatula.

Zucchini Parmesan

5 from 9 ratings
Breaded Zucchini Parmesan is fried until crispy and baked in a casserole dish with layers of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2-3 egg whites, beaten until frothy
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 20 oz. vegetable oil, for frying

Breading

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Bread/Fry the Zucchini

  • Note 1: There is no need to peel the zucchini unless they are jumbo sized, in which case the skins could be tough/bitter.
    Note 2: See notes section on instructions for baking or air frying the zucchini instead of frying. This is done before the casserole is assembled with marinara sauce and cheese.
  • Wash the zucchini and pat dry. Slice into ¼ inch slices, try not to cut thicker than that, or they won’t be as crispy. Place over paper towels and sprinkle evenly with a light layer of salt. Flip and repeat with more salt. Top with more paper towels. Let is for 30+ minutes, preferably up to an hour. Pat them each completely dry prior to dredging.
  • Beat the egg whites and garlic powder until frothy.
  • Combine the breading ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Dip each zucchini into the egg whites, then coat generously in breading mix. Use the back of a spoon to pat the breading onto the zucchini. Flip, and repeat.
  • Heat vegetable oil to 350° (medium-high heat), preferably in a cast iron skillet. Use enough to cover them about halfway. Add more oil while they cook as needed.
  • Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Leave room around each one so they will crisp on the outside. Watch carefully as they fry, once they start to brown, it happens fast.
  • Set aside on a cooling rack, this allows air to circulate around them and keeps them crisp.

Assemble the Casserole

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Spoon marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish, just enough to coat it lightly. Top with a layer of fried zucchini. Spoon marinara sauce over each one, then sprinkle with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  • Repeat until you’ve used all of the zucchini. You can make clean stacks or overlap them around each other.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and begins to brown. Serve with Cheesy Garlic Bread.°

Notes

Instead of frying the zucchini, you may choose to bake or air fry instead, prior to assembling and baking in the casserole dish:
Baking Method: Arrange on a lightly greased baking sheet and spray each side with cooking spray. Bake at 400 ° for 18-20 minutes, until golden and crispy.
Air Fryer Method: Spray each side lightly with cooking spray and cook in a preheated air fryer at 375° for 8 minutes or until crispy and golden.

Pro Tips:
  • Zucchini is 95% water, so let them sit after salting as long as you can. You'll extract more water and will have a firmer consistency. 
  • Don't let them sit too long after being breaded. Give them another dip in the breading mix if any moisture starts to creep through before they're fried. 
  • Make sure the oil has reached 350° (medium-high heat) before you add the zucchini. If it's not hot enough, the breading will fall off. You can then adjust up/down during cooking as needed.
  • Watch them carefully as they fry, once they start to turn brown it happens quickly.
  • To keep the zucchini crisp: Place them on a cooling rack after frying/baking/air frying.
  •  

Nutrition

Calories: 466kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 29g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 826mg, Potassium: 448mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 700IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 274mg, Iron: 2mg

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19 comments on “Zucchini Parmesan”

  1. Loved this recipe it was a big hit with the family

  2. Can’t believe how good it was. And I say was, cause its all gone. 

    • I’m so happy to hear this was a hit Elaine! This was one of my favorite zucchini dishes this year. Even my meat eating husband liked this one. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!❤️

  3.  Steph, …When I made the Zucchini Parm , HUGE ZUCCKS  btw & I didn’t peel them,  I Used  the Oil recipe!  Planko Seasoned  crumbs with shredded parmesan  mixed in with the Planko crumbs and just a Smidge of flour.  For sauce I used “Jersey Tomato marinara” and “Jersey Tomato Basil Sauce. ” ( yeah I cheated) I alternated the Basil sauce and Marinara layer for layer. I have to say I have picky eaters, mostly Meat eaters, in my house and This was a HUGE HIT!  I also alternated shredded Parmesan and Mozzarella, I was very liberal with the Mozzarella  . I was asked ” Why didn’t you make two 9×13 dishes and when are you going to make this again?”  I got 1 serving, ONE,  that was all the Brats!! LOL! .   I will be making more!!!!   This was Banging!  Thanks!! 

    • I’m so happy the family liked this one so much Carl! It’s funny, my husband is a meat eater too so he wasn’t pleased to hear I was making him this. Now he requests it! I like to give it a healthy dose of Mozzarella too😋. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!

  4. If your using an air fryer do you still put the breading mixture on the zucchini?

  5. I made these twice, absolutely fantastic. Going to make them again tonight to go with BBQ pork chops. 😋😋😋Yum Yum

    • Hi Bonnie! I am so happy that you enjoyed this recipe, serving it with BBQ pork chops sounds AWESOME! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review! -Stephanie

  6. I’ve been making zucchini parm for years, using a very similar recipe. I add a little cornmeal to the breading for a little extra crunch! However, I will be using your tip about the paper towel! My husband loves this!

  7. This was so crispy and delicious! I used your trick with the paper towel to get the zucchini extra dry and I think it made a huge difference. Will definitely make again!

    • I’m so happy to hear that Tori! I agree, the paper towel method is so crucial to get this one extra crispy. Happy to hear this worked our for you so well. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!❤️

  8. Absolutely loved this recipe, my husband and I usually end up having to throw away a lot of zucchini during the summer because we run out of ways to use it. I am definitely making another batch of this before the season is through, thank you for the recipe!

    • I’m so happy to hear that!! We also used to run out of way to use zucchini, but not this year! You’ll have to try my creamy zucchini soup next, I think I like it even better than broccoli cheddar! Take care, Stephanie

    • Consider shredding and freezing your “extra” zucchini at the end of the season!  You can use it all winter in baked goods, soups…I use mine in meatloaf and tacos…

  9. This recipe taste fantastic!! It will be used a lot- thank you!

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