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Easy Baked Zucchini Balls

These Easy Baked Zucchini Balls are light, fluffy, and full of fabulous flavor. Enjoy them as an appetizer, snack or for dinner as a vegetarian alternative to meatballs!

Made with grated zucchini, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic, eggs, basil, and parsley, these meatless meatballs are baked in the oven without a drop of oil. And you won’t miss it because they’re absolutely delicious!

It may not be zucchini season just yet, but oh yeah, I’m getting ready for it.

The seeds have been planted and, before I know it, my garden will be overflowing. I’ll be looking for all sorts of new and different ways to use them up.

You can never have too many quick and easy zucchini recipes!

Plus, even if you don’t have a garden, zucchini is such a wonderfully versatile vegetable (well, technically, it’s a fruit). It’s almost always available in grocery stores, so you can enjoy it all year long.

If you like zucchini, these cheesy, garlicky zucchini “meatballs” are a must-try. And I dare say that, even if you have some on-the-fence-about-zucchini customers, these might just change their mind.

They’ve had a permanent place on my Meatless Monday rotation for years. I boil up some spaghetti, top it with marinara sauce and a few of these zucchini balls, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese, and we’ve got an out-of-this-world vegetarian dinner!

baked zucchini balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Ingredients You Need

  • Zucchini
  • Seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • Eggs
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Dried basil
  • Dried parsley
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card below.

For those of you who would rather photos instead of a video, here’s a quick look at the steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Grate the zucchini.
  3. Place the grated zucchini in the center of a clean kitchen towel, then gather up the sides and wring out as much water from the zucchini as possible.
  4. Transfer the grated zucchini to a large bowl and add the panko breadcrumbs, eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper; mix until well-combined.
  5. Form the zucchini mixture into 20 equally sized balls and place them on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully flip the balls (use tongs or a spatula).
  8. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the balls are golden brown on the top and bottom and feel firm.
  9. Your zucchini balls are ready to enjoy!
3 numbered images, number 1 is a graphic of an oven with a text overlay that says 400 degrees Fahrenheit, number 2 is of zucchini being grated on a cutting board, and number 3 is of the grated zucchini in a white kitchen towel and then being wrung out over a bowl
3 numbered images, number 4 is of the grated zucchini in a bowl, then with the other ingredients added, and then the mixture being stirred together, number 5 is of the formed uncooked balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and number 6 is a graphic of an oven with text overlay that says 400 degrees Fahrenheit
3 numbered images, number 7 is of the zucchini balls being flipped on the baking sheet with tongs, number 8 is a graphic of an oven with text that says 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and number 9 is of the finished cooked zucchini balls on the baking sheet

Note: The above video and photos are just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • I use a box grater to grate my zucchini, but you could use a food processor instead.
  • It’s really important that you get as much water out of the grated zucchini as possible. If you don’t, you may end up with wet, soggy zucchini balls that fall apart.
  • The zucchini mixture will be wetter than what you might be used to when making meatballs, but as long as the balls hold together, it’s totally fine. Add more panko breadcrumbs if needed (just enough to get them to hold together; you don’t want to make them dry).
  • When forming the zucchini balls, I find that they can be a little sticky and don’t roll quite as easily between your hands as a meatball would. So, I lightly squeeze them into shape instead. It works much better!
  • I use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to make each ball; it’s the perfect amount to get 20 balls.
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the zucchini balls from sticking to the pan without using any oil. If you don’t have parchment, you can spray the baking sheet with cooking spray instead.
  • I use and recommend a lighter colored baking sheet so that the balls don’t get too brown. If your pan is dark, you may want to use one of the racks in the top section of your oven.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Regular seasoned breadcrumbs can be used instead of panko breadcrumbs (but the texture of the zucchini balls might be a little more dense; the panko really makes them light and fluffy).
  • Make them gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • Fresh basil and parsley can be used instead of dried herbs. The general rule is to use 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as dried. For example, instead of 1 teaspoon of dried basil, you would use 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of fresh basil.
  • For a spicy kick, add some crushed red pepper flakes to the mix.
baked zucchini balls on a white plate with a small bowl of marinara sauce

Make Ahead, Storing Leftovers, Freezing & Reheating

Make Ahead

These zucchini balls reheat well and are also excellent as leftovers, which means that you can bake them hours or a day or two ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy them!

Storing Leftovers

Store leftover zucchini balls, once cooled, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Freezing

Allow the baked zucchini balls to cool, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or waxed paper and freeze until firm (this helps keep them from sticking together, so you can easily take out only as many as you need). Transfer them to a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 2 months.

Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheating

To reheat, place the zucchini balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with cooking spray) and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until they are heated through. Or you can pop them in the microwave.

baked zucchini balls in a bowl with spaghetti, marinara sauce and parmesan cheese

How to Serve Easy Baked Zucchini Balls

  • As an appetizer or snack: Serve as-is or with some marinara sauce or ranch dressing for dipping.
  • As dinner or lunch:
    • Serve with your favorite pasta, marinara sauce and parmesan cheese (this is, by far, my favorite way to eat them; I can get 4 servings out of one batch).
    • Put them on a sub roll with marinara sauce and some parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese, then toast it under the broiler for a vegetarian meatball parm sub.

Speaking of marinara sauce, I’ve got a recipe for an awesome 15-minute marinara coming up next, so stay tuned for that!

I hope you try this Easy Baked Zucchini Balls recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Zucchini Recipes to Try

Want even more simple and delicious zucchini recipes? Just go to the search box in the menu at the top of the page and enter zucchini.

If you try this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

baked zucchini balls on a white plate

Easy Baked Zucchini Balls

These Easy Baked Zucchini Balls are light, fluffy, and full of fabulous flavor. Enjoy them as an appetizer, snack or for dinner as a vegetarian alternative to meatballs!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 20 balls
Estimated Calories: 47

Ingredients

  • pounds zucchini
  • cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (if using table salt, use less)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (I use a half sheet pan, 18" x 13").
    The parchment paper prevents sticking. If you don't have parchment paper, spray the baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Grate the zucchini using the larger holes on a box grater (or you can use a food processor).
  • Place the grated zucchini in the center of a clean kitchen towel. Gather up the sides of the towel, then wring out as much water from the zucchini as you can (do this as many times as you need).
    This step is really important. If you don't squeeze out as much water as possible, you may end up with wet, soggy zucchini balls that fall apart.
  • Transfer the grated zucchini to a large bowl and add the panko breadcrumbs, eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper; mix until well-combined.
    The mixture will be wetter than what you might be used to when making meatballs, but as long as the balls hold together, it’s totally fine. To test it, gather up some of the mixture and gently squeeze it together in your hand. If it holds together, you're good to go. If it doesn't, add more panko breadcrumbs, a little at a time, just until it does; you're not looking to make them dry.
  • Form the zucchini mixture into 20 equally-sized balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
    When forming the balls, I find that they are a little sticky and don't roll quite as easily between your hands as a meatball would. I lightly squeeze them into shape instead. It works much better!
  • Bake for 15 minutes (use the center rack in the oven).
  • Carefully flip the balls over using tongs or a spatula.
  • Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the balls are golden brown on the top and bottom and they feel firm.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

  • I recommend using a light-colored baking sheet so the zucchini balls don’t get too brown. If using a dark pan, you might want to consider using a rack in the top portion of the oven.
  • I use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion out the zucchini mixture, and it comes out perfect.
  • For an appetizer or snack: Serve as-is or with marinara sauce or ranch dressing for dipping.
  • For a meatless dinner:
    • Serve with your favorite pasta, marinara sauce and some parmesan cheese for a vegetarian version of spaghetti and meatballs.
    • Or put them on a sub roll with marinara sauce and some parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese and toast under the broiler for a vegetarian meatball parm sub.
  • Estimated calories shown are for 1 meatball (without any sauces or other accompaniments).
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
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