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6 Ways to Use Zucchini When You Don’t Like the Taste (And How to Save It for Winter)

Zucchini is an amazing vegetable, but you have to know what to do with it. Maybe you’ve tried zoodles and need more zucchini ideas? Should you hide zucchini? Dehydrate it? What’s the best way to make zucchini? How do you prep zucchini?

what to do with zucchini (when you don't like the taste)

How to Use Zucchini

Oh zucchini, how I love thee! There are so many great ways to enjoy zucchini…fried zucchini, baked zucchini. There are zucchini latkes and zucchini pancakes, zucchini chips, and zucchini fries. There are even the fabulous zucchini-rice muffins and sausage zucchini bake!

While my family generally enjoys a good zucchini now and again, it’s hard to find uses for fresh zucchini when you’ve already exhausted your family’s patience – and Pinterest – trying to find yet another creative way to serve this super vegetable.

what to do with a zucchini

And that’s the tricky thing about zucchini… when it comes in season, it comes like a summer flood. My mother’s garden overflows with it.

What Does Zucchini Taste Like?

What does zucchini taste like?! Apparently people search for this all the time… So here is what the community said about zucchini to help those poor, lonely taste buds out!

Listen to what the community at KS says zucchini tastes like in this video, and the overwhelming answer to what zucchini tastes like is, “It tastes like whatever you cook it with!”

I love zucchini because it’s so versatile and so easy to hide in recipes! Here’s my favorite zucchini recipe.

But how do you prep zucchini to make it last all year long?

What to Do with Zucchini (When You Don’t Like the Taste)

While zucchini is great in the summer, I easily get burned out after a few weeks. This desperation led to a great discovery: zucchini disappears in spaghetti sauceYes, you read that right.

Zucchini disappears in spaghetti sauce.

When zucchini is finely shredded, it will almost “melt” into a cooking sauce – particularly a tomato sauce. The key is to shred it finely, using either a box grater or a food processor.

We discovered this beautiful secret while on a challenge to up our veggie intake. But the principle applies to more than just pasta sauce!

Hiding Zucchini

Take a look at these 6 uses:

  1. Add 1-1.5 cups to spaghetti sauce.
  2. Add 1 cup to the cheese mixture in lasagna (or to the sauce itself).
  3. Add 1/2 cup to ground beef, like when making “cheeseburger helper” (click here for the recipe from the eBook Better Than A Box!).
  4. Add two tablespoons to a smoothie.
  5. Add 1-1.5 cups to chili – including white chicken chili (did you know there are 4 different chili recipes available in the Everything Beans eBook?).
  6. Add 1/2 cup to stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage rolls, and other similar dishes.

If you notice, I use shredded zucchini in small amounts – sometimes as little as a few tablespoons! Which leads to a problem… how do you save time using shredded zucchini when you only use a small amount?

Please – don’t envision me huddled over a blender, carefully shaving off a few spoonfuls of zucchini into my mango-blueberry smoothie. Nobody has time for that!

RELATED: Ways to Hide Bone Broth.

Dehydrating Zucchini

Thanks to the wisdom of Wardeh from Traditional Cooking School, I discovered the secret of always having shredded zucchini instantly on hand — DEHYDRATION. Suddenly, 15 cups of shredded zucchini could be dehydrated down into a quart jar that was shelf-stable in my pantry.

No need to take up massive space in the freezer. No need for freezing and thawing. No need to store in ice cube trays. Want only a pinch of zucchini? No problem! Simply pull out a few tablespoons or half a cup and cook away!

Now you can enjoy the benefits of summer zucchini – even in the winter when you’re ready for a splash of summer. Boom!

This dehydrating trick also is a great way to preserve greens. Dehydrate them when they’re plentiful and cheap at the farmers market, and use them all year long in smoothies, soups, and more!

How do you dehydrate zucchini? It’s actually very easy:

  1. Shred the zucchini (we use a food processor).
  2. Spread 2-3 cups on a dehydrating tray. Make sure to lay down parchment paper or the solid tray that comes with your dehydrator.
  3. Dehydrate at 115*F if you want to preserve the raw enzymes; my dehydrator says to do vegetables at 125*F.
  4. Dehydrate until it is dry and crunchy (so no moisture remains). This may be a few hours, it may be longer — so many factors can influence this.
  5. Store in a sealed container, like a mason jar with a screw-top lid.
dehydrating zucchini

Helpful Hints

  1. When you’re adding dehydrated shredded zucchini to spaghetti sauce (or other sauce-focused dishes), it’s not even necessary to rehydrate the zucchini with water. You can toss in a few crunchy handfuls and it will soften as the sauce cooks.
  2. If you plan to add it to a drier dish (like stuffed peppers), consider rehydrating it with warm water for a few minutes in a bowl so it doesn’t accidentally stay crunchy. Simply drain and toss it in your recipe!
  3. If you’re worried about the zucchini being detectable, crush it in your hands before you dump it in the pot.
  4. Can I share a secret? If you already have bags and bags of frozen shredded zucchini in your freezer, it’s not too late to dehydrate them! Simply thaw and drain – they’ll dehydrate perfectly!

Why I Prefer Dehydrating Zucchini

dehydrated zucchini in a jar

While I used to happily freeze my zucchini each summer, I have become a solid convert to dehydration.

  1. It doesn’t take up freezer space, allowing more room for me to make freezer meals!
  2. It doesn’t cost money to store. (It costs money to run the freezer and I can use that space for other things!)
  3. It is instantly ready to use. (I’m a little forgetful… anyone notice how frozen zucchini faintly resembles a cement block when you need to chisel out half a cup??)
  4. It takes up SO much less storage space. Waaaaaaaay less.

But What If I Don’t Have A Dehydrator?

Then go buy one. Now.

In all seriousness, dehydrators are amazing tools. You can often find them at garage sales for very cheap. During the summer, Aldi even offers an inexpensive dehydrator for sale. Try asking a friend if you can borrow theirs. And if you don’t have a dehydrator on hand, you could try using your oven on the lowest setting possible. Just be careful you don’t burn it!

And you could always freeze the zucchini in half cup portions and ice-cube tray portions. Or…you could get a dehydrator. (Seriously. Go now.)

What dish are you going to try adding in shredded zucchini? Is anyone brave enough to try a few tablespoons in their next large pot of oatmeal?
how to hide zucchini, prep zucchini

Want to learn how to dehydrate more than zucchini? Check out Traditional Cooking School’s excellent and comprehensive dehydration class!

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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37 thoughts on “6 Ways to Use Zucchini When You Don’t Like the Taste (And How to Save It for Winter)”

  1. There is an cream shop in Miami…the mom owner discovered if she mixed veggies into ice cream her kids did not notice and they ate their veggies! I don’t know if she mixes zucchini into ice cream but I encourage you to try it!!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s an interesting tactic! Reminds me of a book I read as a kid where a character only ate vegetables dipped in chocolate.

  2. During the heat of summer, I use our car for a dehydrator. (Pick a car you don’t need to use for a couple of days.). Shoo away any flies, roll up the windows. You know how hot a car gets! I use the trays from my electric dehydrator, and prop them up for circulation.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’ve heard of people doing that before, but it’s so humid where I am that I’m not sure it would work. Thanks for sharing Janee!

  3. So if your food is dried and put up in jars. Do you still put them in freezer. Doesn’t make sence

  4. Can you still bake breads and muffins? How would you go about doing that? Thanks for the idea! I saw the dehydrator in Aldi’s ad last week. Going to see if there’s still one left tomorrow.

  5. WOW, what a great post! I was very intrigued with the dried pumpkin idea. How do you use it to make pie? What do you do with the powder? Thanks so much!!!

  6. Yuna-

    Awesome idea on shedding and dehydrating! I’ve made zucchini chips in the dehydrator before and they were delicious!

  7. Love this dehydrating idea! This time of year, I try to salvage all the little extra bits of veggies by dehydrating them in an outdoors dehydrator. (over 100 here). Say I use half a zucchini, the rest I slice and dehydrate. Half an onion, same thing. Too many carrots… I dice some up and dehydrate. Don’t eat all the green beans cooked for dinner. No problem. Dehydrate them. Even that extra bit of fresh parsley or cilantro can be salvaged. Then, I keep a jar in the freezer for all the goodies I dry. I just toss ’em in. Then, I have a quick way to add a veg mix to any soup or sauce in the middle of Winter. Also, it’s shelf stable; but will keep over 5 years in the freezer if it is properly dehydrated so the moisture is minimal.

  8. I sneak shredded carrots into my pasta sauce, now I have something new to sneak in it! I also use them in place of noodles in lasgna when my garden grows.

  9. Can you dehydrate squash (like pumpkin)? I have some in my freezer and would love to get it out!

    1. Katrina, you certainly can. A couple years ago I was at the farmers market and he had a huge sale on pumpkins. I bought 10 of them and he threw in 6 more. Loved the sale but now what to do with them. I cut them in half and baked them cut side down until the inside was soft. Then I took out the pumpkin and mashed them with nothing added to it like butter and such. I made patties and dehydrated them. When they were completely dry I put them in my processor and ground them into a fine powder. All the pumpkins fit into 3 quart mason jars. I use it for everything. Thanksgiving pumpkin pies that were a smash hit. I put it in breads, desserts, smoothies, cookies and sprinkle on the vegetables of the day as I’m cooking it. I know there’s more ideas but you get the gist of it.

  10. Thank you SOOO much. I have been zucchini’d out but there were still two HUGE zucs I couldn’t bear to throw out, but the freezer is full. They are dehydrating as I type. They are quite likely to be added to my tomato sauce, now bubbling away with the last of my tomatoes.

    I had purchased some dehydrated mushrooms but didn’t really like them added to food-so I put them in the blender and they are now a powder that gets added to just about any liquid I cook. I love “sneaky” cooking! 🙂

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Chris – glad to help! Shredding and dehydrating is is PERFECT for those monster zucchinis that you don’t know what to do with (or are tired of eating!!). Enjoy!

  11. Great idea! You had me at “ain’t nobody got time for that”….laughing out loud for real. Last summer we had a great zucchini harvest in our home garden but this summer are living in a high-rise apartment, so, no garden. I will not forget this for future years – a great advanced incentive to definitely plant zucchini again 🙂

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Christie – glad to bring some joy to your day! 😀 Here’s to your future zucchini harvest!!

  12. Last year I tried putting zucchini in everything, including Popsicles (it does not disappear, in case you are wondering). I dehydrated some sliced and seasoned like you would season kale chips. Those were pretty good, but dehydrating plain grated zucchini sounds much easier and it will do a better job of stretching the season. Thanks for the how-to advice!

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Cathy – your comment about the popsicles cracked me up!! I wonder if one was in a time-pinch, they could probably season the shreds (like you seasoned the chips) and enjoy zucchini shreds? Less work, same flavor? Hmmmm. Gets me thinking. Something to try with my overabundance of zucchini!

  13. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    Thanks for this great tip! I just posted yesterday about baking with & freezing zucchini, but you are right about the benefits of dehydration. Thanks!

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Heather – And now you have the double bonus of having more room in your freezer for your delicious zucchini-baked goods! 😉

  14. That makes my decision to grow it next year easier. I never thought about hiding it in anything before. My family doesn’t like it, but I do. Now I won’t feel guilty about growing a plant just for myself.

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Mel – enjoy! Here’s to your little zucchini plant next year! 🙂

  15. For the amounts you gave to add to sauces and such, is that dehydrated zucchini or fresh shredded?

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Jill – great question! The answer is… it can be either. Really, the preference is up to you. I actually rarely measure — dropping the (dehydrated) zucchini in by the handful. If you’re hesitant, I would just start small. 🙂

  16. I love playing sneaky chef, even on myself. We all have trouble liking our veggies around here. I have been pureeing and freezing all sorts of things and I throw an ice cube of frozen whatever in a lot of things that I cook. I had never thought about dehydrating, though. I definitely like the idea of freeing up some of that freezer space.

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Stacy – you will LOVE having the extra freezer space. Plus, it looks so pretty in a jar! Happy “sneaky chef-ing!” 😉

  17. We shred all of our extra zucchini and freeze it. I will dry dehydrating it. We use the shredded zucchini as a filler in place of rice. We have a larger family, so I fry one gallon from the freezer of zucchini with one large onion and two pounds of hamburger then add my taco seasoning to it. It makes awesome tacos.

  18. We were just wondering last night if zucchini could be dehydrated as, thanks to your heads-up, Katie, we just purchased a dehydrator from Aldi’s. Looks like the answer is, “Yes!” I did slice and store some in my vacuum seal bags in the freezer for quick use. It’s good to know we can dehydrate some and use them in other ways.

    I did make a zucchini lasagna with a large zucchini sliced for the noodles. It was so delicious that everyone went back for seconds and was so glad that there were leftovers for the next day. I made sausage-filled zucchini boats last night for supper. They were also a big hit. I’m looking forward to making those again. Another perk about that, is by using the whole package of sausage, I have breakfast sausage ready for this morning. No time-consuming meat cooking, just warm, add chopped onions and eggs. 🙂

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Tammy – great call on the zucchini noodles! I have some zucchini-adverse members in my family, so I usually have to stick to more subtle recipes. Glad you found the dehydrator!

  19. Thanks for the dehydration tip. I’ll be doing that today. 🙂 One way I use up zucchini in a non obvious way is by making it into jam. No one who is not “in the know” ever suspects. Recipe can be found here:

    1. Bethany - contributing writer for KS

      Christina – That zucchini jam/jello is ingenious! I may have to give that a try…

  20. Thank you!! I have been freezing zuchinni for awhile, I never thought about dehydrating! But I certainly will now. :).

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