How to Spiralize Vegetables Like a Pro
Get tips for making veggie noodles using a spiralizer, the best vegetables for spiralizing, delicious recipe ideas, plus ways to spiralize without a spiralizer.
Spiralizing can be a fun way to use everyday vegetables in new and exciting ways. In about 5 minutes, you can have the start of a perfect pasta dish or the base for a vegetable-heavy salad. Make healthier homemade curly fries to serve up with your favorite protein, like steak or grilled sausage. Many of the vegetables that you can spiralize do not even need to be cooked before using.
In terms of spiralizers, there are a few on the market ranging from a $15 hand-held machine to a $30 tabletop spiralizer, all the way up to an $80 stand-mixer attachment. The tabletop spiralizers often offer the most versatile size options for the price, with attachments for small and large noodles and a straight blade for ribbon cuts. Once you find your spiralizer, get to know what you can spiralize!
How to Spiralize with a Spiralizer
Step 1: Wash Your Veg
To start spiralizing, choose your vegetable then give it a good wash.
Step 2: Peel & Trim
Peel the vegetable if it has a thick outer layer (e.g., winter squash and broccoli stems), then trim both ends to create a flat base.
Step 3: Choose Your Blade
Machines typically come with variations on three options:
- thin noodles
- thick noodles
- flat noodles
The thin blades create spaghetti-size noodles while the thick noodles look more like pappardelle or curly fries and the flat blade works for ribbon-width noodles. Most vegetables can be spiralized with any-size blade but most recipes will specify which to use. Also, your given machine's guide will have in-depth information about the blades included and how to safely use them.
Step 4: Spiralize!
Once you assemble the spiralizer and safely secure the blade, push one end of the vegetable onto the spiralizer to secure it in place, then start spinning. Having just the right touch is important while spiralizing-push too gently and your noodles won't form; push too hard and your noodles will break and the machine will clog. Push forward with a firm, steady grip, but allow the machine to naturally guide the vegetable through versus forcing it. If you need to trim down the length of your noodles for slaw or salads, place a loose pile on a cutting board and chop every few inches or so with a chef's knife.
How to Spiralize without a Spiralizer
If you don't have a spiralizer, there are a couple of ways to get noodle-like strips with items you might already have in your kitchen.
- Vegetable peelers can achieve the flat noodles. Run the vegetable peeler down the length of vegetable, creating long strips.
- Julienne peelers look like vegetable peelers with teeth, allowing you to create thinner, spaghetti-like noodles.
When it comes to spiralizing beets, any variety will do. However, yellow and Chioggia have less chance of staining compared to the red beet. Beets can be spiralized without peeling, but peeling the beets creates a nicer presentation. Once the beets are spiralized, use them raw in salads or sauté or roast them to use as noodles or a side dish.
Recipe to Try: Spiralized Beet Salad
Spiralizing gives you the perfect reason to look for broccoli with the stems. Broccoli stems can be every bit as delicious as the florets. To spiralize broccoli, trim the ends flat and peel the outer layer. Broccoli stems are best used fresh as the older, softer stems do not spiralize as well. Use the spiralized broccoli raw or sautéed.
Recipe to Try: Use-All-the-Broccoli Stir-Fry
3. Butternut Squash
If you're looking for an alternative to pasta, spiralized butternut squash is the perfect veggie solution. Peel butternut squash before spiralizing and use the neck of the squash only, reserving the hollow part for another use. Avoid older, late-season squash; they tend to be too soft to work with the spiralizer.
Sauté or roast the spiralized squash for a solid pasta or side dish. Butternut squash can also be boiled or cooked in a soup; however, overcooking will make the noodles fall apart.
Recipe to Try: Coconut Curry Cup of Noodles with Butternut Squash Noodles
Similar to beets, any variety of carrot will work when spiralizing. However, it's often easier to spiralize the larger varieties. Scrub the carrots well and you can get by without peeling. Spiralized carrots are great sautéed, steamed or roasted but are also delightful raw. Use the raw carrots in noodle bowls, spring rolls or salads.
Recipe to Try: Carrot-Peanut Noodle Salad
Homemade oven fries are reason enough to invest in a spiralizer. The vegetable slicer allows you create perfect even-thickness curly fries ready for the oven in minutes. Use the larger noodle attachment and start slicing-you don't even need to peel potatoes before spiralizing. Beyond fries, potatoes are great sautéed or roasted for hash browns.
Recipe to Try: Oven-Baked Curly Fries
6. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are the perfect vegetable noodle that can be steamed or boiled, just be sure not to overcook the sweet potato noodles if boiling. The noodles should be cooked just long enough to be tender but not falling apart.
Recipe to Try: Sweet Potato Carbonara with Spinach & Mushrooms
7. Summer Squash & Zucchini
The most forgiving vegetables for spiralizing, zucchini (aka zoodles) and summer squash can be spiralized into every size and used in about every way. They don't need to be peeled before spiralizing.
Summer squash and zucchini are wonderful raw or cooked as salads, noodle bowls, tossed in a stir-fry. If you plan on using the noodles raw, you can skip salting. If you plan to cook the noodles, lay out the spiralized squash on a tea towel or paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let the moisture draw out of the squash and pat it dry before using.
This often-overlooked vegetable is one of the easiest to spiralize. Trim the ends and peel if the outside looks rough or thick. Spiralized turnips can be used raw, roasted or sautéed. Try them raw in salads or use as noodles. Turnips are also great when added to a stir-fry.
Recipe to Try: Pork & Turnip Miso Ramen
Spiraling cabbage is the fastest way to prep slaw. Trim the stem at the base and attach it to the crank side of your spiralizer, while pointing the top of the head toward the blade. With some pressure toward the blade, slowly start turning the crank to spin the cabbage into the blade. Beautiful ribbons of sliced cabbage will begin to flow out the other side of the blade. You can pick up a little speed with the crank once the cabbage catches on the blade and you get a good rhythm. Spiralize as much of the cabbage as you can, until the crank stops, then compost whatever remaining stalk is left over (or use it for making homemade veggie stock).
Thank you, spiralizer. No more onion tears! First, remove the outer peel from the onion and trim the top of the onion. Leave the root intact and use that end to attach the onion to the crank handle of the spiralizer, while pointing the top of the onion toward the blade. With a little pressure toward the blade, start slowly turning the crank to slice the onion.