Tuesday, 19 July 2011 | 46 comments

Zucchini fritters

I know, I know: enough with the squash already, woman! My only response is to humbly ask that you remind me, next year, in the event that my gentleman friend and I plant separate gardens again, to not both plant summer squash. On paper, in my garden notebook, it seemed a great idea to proudly only include native, heirloom varieties in my own garden, turning my nose up at the plain ol’ crooknecks Ben was planting. Now it’s summer, and I’ve got a changed heart and an armful of squash.

So! More squash.

It might seem a bit blasphemous to make “fritters” without actually frying anything, but I played around with this one awhile and baking at a high temperature seems the best way to go. I like pan-frying things, I really do. Here, though, I just couldn’t seem to slake the zucchini’s thirst for oil. It seemed to keep on soaking it up, and never browning to the crispy finish I envisioned.

The cornmeal in these gives them some old-style Southern appeal. If you, like me, are a sucker for any food with a fun-to-say name (I recently discovered the “pan-dowdy”–even if it weren’t so good, it’s worth making for the sheer pleasure of announcing that you are making a pan-dowdy), then these are for you.

Put on your best Virginia drawl when they’re done, perhaps reading some Tennessee Williams for inspiration, and call out something along the lines of, “Land sakes! It’s hotter’n an’oven in this kitchen, but at least the fritters are on the table.” Fan yourself for effect. If you’re channelling Scarlett O’Hara, perhaps cry out for someone to fetch you your smelling salts, but I wouldn’t count on anyone actually bringing them to you.
Not that I actually tried that.

Zucchini fritters

You will need

    2 cups grated summer squash (I used zucchini, you could use yellow squash, too)
    1/4 cup all purpose flour
    1/3 cup cornmeal
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    1 egg, beaten
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Press the squash between layers of a clean tea towel to get rid of excess moisture. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. It should form a sticky mass. If at first it seems dry, continue to stir—the salt will cause the zucchini to ‘sweat’, and it will get wetter.

    Drop heaping spoonfuls onto the parchment paper, and then flatten with the spoon to form 2-3 inch rounds. You don’t want these to be very thick, as we want them to crisp up.

    Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the fritters are deep golden brown on the bottom. Then broil on high for 2-3 minutes, until the fritters are completely crunchy on the outside, and still give a bit on the inside.

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§ 46 responses to Zucchini fritters

  • I love that these are baked and not pan fried. Beautiful! Now I know what to make with the abundance of squash in my garden.

  • Wow – these look fabulous! So excited to try a baked fritter!

  • Ii know what you mean about your zucchs soaking up the oil over and over. Do you have a potato ricer? Because this kitchen implement is just brilliant for getting the water/moisture out of grated zucchini. Grate the zuke, then pop the gratings into the ricer – squeeze and you find an incredible amount of moisture comes out,

    This method is also great for getting the excess water out of grated potatoes for hash browns and potato rosti, and grated cucumber for tzatziki (scuse spelling). And for grated fresh apple for pork meatballs (drink the apple juice, please).

    Apologies for raving on – only my potato ricer gets used way more on raw grated veg and fruit than on cooked potato. I just had to share this woth you.

    Wishing you happy cooking and joyful eating, Michelle downunder in Wellington ,NZ

    • Hi Michelle—The recipe calls for squeezing out excess water with a tea towel, which is something I do as a general best practice when I do the whole grated-squash thing because it’s so wet. Same with eggplants and other spongy-ish veggies. If I don’t grate them, then I let them ‘sweat’ for a bit in a colander with some kosher salt. This is all just because it makes things better to cook with.

      But it’s interesting to me that you equate getting out the excess moisture with soaking up less oil. Why is that? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems counterintuitive that by making the veggie less saturated to begin with, it will cease to soak up liquids. Shouldn’t it work the other way around? As in, shouldn’t squeezing out the excess moisture make it soak up more oil because it’s less saturated with something to begin with?

      Maybe this is overly pedantic, but I’m interested. Anyone know? I’m off to Google.

      Update! So, despite the fact that a lot of sites claim that removing water helps things like eggplant to absorb less oil, it’s not removing water that does it—-it’s the actual act of pressing your vegetables. It collapses air-pockets, meaning there is less actual area to soak up oil.

  • Silly me – I forgot to say that the grated zucchini will soak up way less oil if you’ve removed as much moisture from it as you can – hence my potato ricer tip.

  • I prefer my fritters to be baked as well! They soak up way too much oil when pan-fried. Love the addition of cornmeal!

  • I am wondering if you juice the squash–like in a juicer like mine with a “pulp ejector” and then use the pulp if this could work? I will drink some zucchini juice for you and let you know…

    • It sounds like it should work—I don’t have a juicer (I’m a bit worried it would be a gateway kitchen appliance). A pulp ejector sounds intense. My only worry is that the “pulp” would be too fine and the batter wouldn’t stick together…but definitely worth a try!

  • I usually use a mandoline to grate my squash, but I do the same basic thing, letting it “sweat” with salt in a colander and pressing the moisture out. I like your addition of cornmeal to these fritters! I’m looking forward to giving them a try.

  • Mmm, these look great, especially since they’re baked! I’ve never used cornmeal in zucchini fritters but it looks delicious! I’ll try it next time for sure!

  • Sarah, these are fantastic! Zucchini and summer squash is a delicious, fresh pairing and I just love the use of cornmeal here = your fritters look light and scrumptious. I say, bring on the squash!!

  • Lauren

    Sarah, these were great! They came out a little dry though and I’m wondering how you prevent that. In your recipe it says “mix everything together except the olive oil” …but the ingredients don’t include olive oil! Could you help clarify? Maybe I just took out too much moisture from the zucchini?

    Otherwise fantastic!

    • Lauren—thanks so much for the catch. The olive oil was something I brushed on the top of the fritters before baking in earlier batches, but decided I didn’t want it ultimately. I will fix this.

      Regarding why yours were so dry—did the zucchini begin to ‘sweat’ a little as you stirred? With my batter, it was dry as I began to mix it up, but the salt drew out some of the moisture left in the zucchini. Perhaps you were more fastidious in squeezing out the water than I was :) The batter should be fairly sticky. If not, I’d probably add more egg or water next time around…Sorry they didn’t turn out perfectly for you!

  • Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I tried them last night. Didn’t squeezed out any liquid (too lazy :-)), and they worked out just fine! Instead of an onion I added two chopped, spring onions. That flavor was nice too, and it added some color next to the yellow skinned zucchini.
    I’ll be following your blog from now on, I always need more recipes for the harvest from my modest allotment :-)

    • It’s true, after all the talk here about it, you can absolutely get away with not working hard to get rid of more water. Cheers to making the most of modest allotments :)

  • Shannon

    My Mother made (correction: tried to make) zucchini pancakes today. Instead of being perfectly formed pancakes, they were soggy and goopy and ridiculous to try to flip because they were, well, soggy and goopy. I suggested that perhaps she had not cooked them long enough, but she said that she had cooked them low and slow for about 45 minutes. There was burned ‘stuff’ on the bottom of the pan, yet the pancakes were far from firm. She said that she tries to make them every now and again, and then wonders why she does because she always ends up with the same result. Any ideas?

    • Hi Shannon,
      If you read up in the comments a little, there’s a lot of enlightenment about pressing the moisture out of the zucchini before cooking it, and in addition, these are baked, not fried, which I think helps them to crisp up nicely. These aren’t really zucchini “pancakes”—they’re held together by the zucchini and egg more than anything. I bet if your mom tried taking out the moisture, things would work a little better.

  • Nadine Roberts

    This looks like something that I would like to try with eggplant. Do you think it might work?

    Also, I have already frozen the eggplant that I had in the garden this year. I peeled them, halved them and then sliced the halves into slices about an inch thick. What would be the best way to make it into small pieces…. or would it be best to just start with fresh and use the frozen for a different recipe?

    • Hoo boy, lots of good questions, Nadine. First, yes, I think it could work with eggplant. You may have to adjust amount of binding agent (eggs, in this case) and cooking time accordingly, but with some tweaking, I bet you could do it.

      As far as the eggplant you’ve already stored away (sounds perfect for eggplant parm!), you could use a food processor potentially—-just pulse it a few times to still have a relatively coarse texture. Too long and I imagine it collapsing into a gloppy mess. If you were careful, you could probably still use the box grater, too. (And, as you suggest, this could probably all be circumvented by getting some whole eggplants…but where’s the fun in that? :) )

      Let me know how it turns out! I’m intrigued.

  • Martina

    Thanks for the lovely baked version. Hope you dont mind but I pinned it. Australia is in early autumn and zucchinis are still around.

  • Carrie

    You mention salt in the directions but none in the recipe ingredient listing or when or where to use it. Please clarify because I want to make them tonite! Love the idea of not frying since I am on weight watchers!!!

    • Hi Carrie,

      Salt is listed in the ingredients, but not an amount. You’ll notice it says ‘mix all ingredients together’ in the directions, too. I should have specified an amount of salt though. I’d go with 1/4 to half a teaspoon of kosher salt here; less if you’re using iodized table salt. Use a few good grinds of black pepper, too. Thanks for the comment.


  • Just made these and they are wonderful. I did not have Parmesan cheese, so I used Queso and with a little sour on top. Yummy!!!

  • Bob

    I love to cook and found the above recipe originally for yellow squash 2 years ago which I jumped on since it sounded so tasty. I’m not a big summer squash eater. I froze yellow squash to make the fritters all winter. Then I tried it with zucchini. Also tried it with both yellow summer squash and zucchini. All this time I’ve been using oil and praying the paper towel would soak up a lot of the extra oil. I’ve never squeezed the squash to remove the liquid. BUT, now that I see I can bake them … this will become more of a regular yummy around the house. Thanks for letting me stumble onto this page.

  • Ali

    These look amazing! Just wondering though how many you get in a serve?? is it only 6 or did you just picture only some of the mixture? It makes it harder to guess how many a recipe makes and can feed without a servings guide. Thus my need to check. Thx!They look tasty!

    • Hi Ali,

      It makes several batches of those six you see. I wish I could remember exactly, as this was awhile ago! I’ll need to go back and test to make sure. But it does make more than one sheet pan. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Susan

    Have you tried using any other flours instead of white four and cornmeal?

    • Hi Susan,
      I have not. I imagine you could sub other flours for the white flour, but end up with a substantially different texture/flavor. I really like the cornmeal in these, so I wouldn’t recommend changing that, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Let me know what you end up with! —S

  • Casey

    Our CSA box has been packed with zucchini for the past couple of weeks. My go-to way to prepare them was grilling, but they were always mushy in the middle. Armed with 3 big zukes, I did an online search for new recipes and found this. I had all of the ingredients so I made them right away. I subbed whole wheat flower for the AP flower, and it worked fine! Just took a bite of one right out of the oven…delicious. Totally worth burning my tongue!

  • First off, I love your pictures so much!! And also I think this is such a healthier way of making fritters-baking them instead of frying them in oil. Love your blog :)


  • Bob

    Thanks for the awesome recipe! I made these and they are great. I was wondering I you had any ideas as to a yummy sauce that would pair nicely to these. Thanks

    • Hi Bob! Glad you enjoyed. I like them with a garlicky yogurt sauce. Just grate a clove of garlic into a bowl of greek yogurt, then add a little salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar or lemon juice to taste.

  • Shayla

    Love this recipe!

    One question: I never know with veggie fritters if they’ve cooked all the way through. Mine were browned and crunchy on the outside but a little mushy on the inside… Is this just a result of the zucchini texture or should I cook them longer? Thanks.

    • Hi Shayla—They should definitely be tender inside, and a bit moist because of the zucchini, but if they’re very wet, I would continue cooking a lot longer. Hope that helps. —S

  • Mary Clare

    I am eating these now as I type (fingers covered with delicious fritter grease). I made them with yellow squash and they are really quite amazing. Your recipes always remind me how simple food can taste just so good.

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