Learn an easy way to grate zucchini for quick breads and other recipes in this step-by-step guide with photos.

Elizabeth Laseter

Photo: Elizabeth Laseter

Shredded zucchini adds flavor, texture and a nutritional boost to quick breads, fritters, casseroles and more. It's also a handy way to use up an abundance of fresh zucchini, whether it's from the farmers' market or your own backyard. But what's the best way to grate this popular summer squash?

Hands down, the easiest and fastest way to shred a zucchini is with a box grater. In this step-by-step guide with photos, I'll teach you how to shred zucchini in four easy steps. I'll also give you plenty of healthy shredded zucchini recipes, plus show you how to freeze leftover shredded zucchini for later.

How to Choose Perfect Zucchini

The better-quality your zucchini, the prettier its "shreds" will be. Ultimately, this means a better outcome for your recipe, whether it's a quick bread or frittata. Pick firm zucchini with vibrant green skin. A zucchini with a few scratches on the skin is perfectly fine, but it should not be shriveled or wrinkled. While size isn't a deal breaker, smaller zucchini tend to be a bit sweeter than their larger counterparts.

How to Shred Zucchini

There are multiple ways to shred zucchini, whether it's with a box grater, food processor or blender. While there is no wrong way to do it, I personally do not recommend the last two. Using a food processor or a blender might seem faster, but they actually require more cleanup in the long run. The real issue, however, is that their blades are too aggressive. A simple box grater does a much better job at preserving the integrity of your zucchini.

This is less of an issue for quick breads, where the zucchini essentially "melts" as it bakes. But for fritters, crusts or tortillas (where texture is important), stick to a box grater.

Here is what you'll need for this method:

  • Zucchini
  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board
  • Box grater
  • Medium or large prep bowl

Recipes typically call for a cup amount of shredded zucchini, but they may not always tell you how many zucchini you'll need. While the exact amount will vary, this rule of thumb can help you estimate how much to buy: 4 small or 3 medium zucchini = about 5 to 6 cups shredded zucchini.

Step 1: Wash the Zucchini

Photo: Elizabeth Laseter

Rinse the zucchini under water and wipe dry with paper towels. No need to peel the zucchini beforehand-the skin is mild in flavor and will soften when cooked. Plus, much of zucchini's fiber content is in its skin, so you don't want to throw that away. If you're making fritters or pancakes, zucchini skin will also add a splash of color.

Step 2: Cut Off the Bottom

Photo: Austin Duckworth

Next, slice off the bottom end of the zucchini and leave the stem end intact. Technically, it doesn't matter which end you cut off, but it's useful to have the stem to hold onto as you're grating the zucchini.

Step 3: Shred the Zucchini

Photo: Austin Duckworth

Shredded zucchini is inherently messy, and it helps immensely to prepare a landing spot for it as you're grating. The best way to do this is to place your box grater inside a medium or large prep bowl. Then, once you're finished grating, you have all of your shredded zucchini in one handy place.

Secure the box grater in one hand and the stem end of the zucchini in the other. Using the side of the box grater with the largest holes, grate the zucchini until only the stem remains. (If you need finely shredded zucchini, use the side of the box grater with the smaller holes.) Repeat until you've used all of your zucchini.

Step 4: Use According to Your Recipe

Photo: Elizabeth Laseter

From here, simply measure out the amount of shredded zucchini that your recipe requires. For the best color and texture, use shredded zucchini as soon as possible. If you have leftovers, it's best to freeze those for later.

How to Freeze Shredded Zucchini

Leftover shredded zucchini freezes well-and is perfect for when you're craving quick bread out-of-season. Label a zip-top plastic freezer bag with the cup amount and date, then lay it flat in your freezer. When ready to use, let it defrost in the refrigerator or thaw it by running the bag under room-temperature water. Drain the zucchini well in a colander, then use according to your recipe.

Read More: How to Make Zucchini Noodles

Healthy Shredded Zucchini Recipes and Ideas

Pictured recipe: Cheesy Zucchini Breadsticks

Shredded zucchini isn't just for baking quick bread-and there's an endless list of healthy recipes you can make with it. I'm drooling over these gorgeous Zucchini Pancakes and this crave-worthy Zucchini Pizza Casserole, which is perfect for a crowd. If you're throwing a party, these Cheesy Zucchini Breadsticks (pictured above) are guaranteed to disappear quickly.

Shredded zucchini also makes a delicious and healthy gluten-free crust, such as in this Quiche Lorraine with Zucchini Crust. And if you're looking for a low-carb alternative to corn or flour tortillas, these cheesy Zucchini Tortillas are the perfect vehicles for a variety of taco fillings.

All that said, it's tough to top a freshly baked loaf of zucchini bread. Try EatingWell's Classic Zucchini Bread or make a mouthwatering twist, like Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips or Blueberry-Lemon Zucchini Bread.

WATCH: How to Make Healthy Zucchini Bread

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