17 Recipes That Replace Zucchini, Because Zucchini Is Bad

for food lists

The line between right and wrong is a unique demarcation for every person. Things like personal bias, upbringing, religious interpretation, societal influence, and intention adjust the dial in a way that clouds true objectivity. Debate, then, is a fool’s game.

Unless it is a question of whether zucchini is good or bad, in which case debate’s legit and what stands to be gained from it is real truth. Maybe the only truth: that zucchini is bad.

Mey Rude, colleague and friend, thinks zucchini is good. She even ranks zucchini as her second favorite vegetable. Incredible. How can someone so good at selfies be so wrong?

Because zucchini is bad. Zucchini, in fact, is the worst vegetable. Uncooked zucchini exists in a vacuum of flavor. No amount of salt, pepper, or hot sauce can redeem it. Cooked zucchini, on the other hand, tastes like what I imagine hot turtle water tastes like. How you can go from nothing to unholy with the mere introduction of heat is a testament to zucchini’s darkness. Too long has the vegetarian burrito been at the mercy of zucchini’s tyranny. Zucchini is the cantaloupe of vegetables in that it has the ability to infuse itself into everything around it. Zucchini is the vegetable you pair with yellow squash and serve in vats to large groups of people you want to disrespect. Zucchini is a miserable cucumber.

Sure, zucchini is cost-efficient, but we don’t have to live like this! We can still be budget friendly and not punish our palette. Here are recipes that approach the zucchini as the obligatory roasted or grilled side dish, the veggie filler, the stuffed bed or the carb/starch/meat alternative, and prove how life becomes enhanced in its absence.

Chili-glazed Sweet Potatoes


Versatile Broccoli


Greek-Style Braised Green Beans


Steamed Carrots with Garlic-Ginger Butter Recipe


Seared Romaine Spears with Caesar Dressing


Grilled Corn with Mango-Habanero Butter


Grilled Red Pepper and Eggplant


Tofu Tacos with Chili-Lime Slaw and Cilantro-Pepita Crema

Cranberry Orange Bread (Vegan)

Cactus Tacos ~ Tacos de Nopales


Portobello, Broccoli, and Red-Pepper Melts


Quinoa/Feta/Sun-dried Tomato Stuffed Mushroomsmush

Greek Orzo Stuffed Peppers


Roasted Onions Stuffed with Curried Black Quinoa


Root Vegetable Fries


Cucumber Noodles with Coconut Lime Cumin Dressing


Sweet and Sour Thai Carrot and Cucumber Noodle Salad


Hot Beet Noodle Salad


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Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


  1. Ugh, every time zucchini shows up on a plate to ruin another perfectly fine meal it makes me that much sadder.

    Erin For the win!!

  2. I am so with you on this one Erin! I’ve tried so hard to like courgette (especially since going vegan) but I can’t get on with it no matter what you try to mask it with.

    Genuinely, this list has made me realised that I don’t need to try. There are so many vegetables that are actually pleasant that I can enjoy.

    • it’s so true. calling to mind slapchop re:ingredients that just aren’t cutting it: stop having a boring life

  3. Erin you have never been more right than you are about zucchini. Every single one of these recipes looks so amazing and delicious that it almost makes me forget the disgusting mental image I have of a giant vat of steamy, overcooked, oily squash and and zucchini. Miserable cucumber indeed.

  4. Erin, the intro was so funny and well written that you have me convinced – I guess I was a swing voter. :)

    • About those zoodles – I have never eaten or even seen those in real life. Are they a thing? Don’t you sit for hours over those little machine-thingies to prepare them??

  5. Thank you soon much. Zucchini is awful. It is like a rotten cucumber.

    Now I just need to find a list of recipes that replace mushrooms, because fungi are not food.

    I acknowledge zucchini as food (rotten food) but fungi are not fit for consumption. They are not foodstuffs, they are scenery.

  6. I audibly let out a “YESSSSSS” when I read your statements about cantaloupe, one of the worst foods ever.

  7. Meanwhile those of us who do like zucchini now have not one, but two lists of delicious foodstuffs to make. Making out like a bandit over here!

  8. I must say that I’m loving the new competing recipes format here. As there are only a few things I won’t eat, it tends to mean more recipes for me. :D

  9. erin your relentlessly hilarious prose and the scathingly accurate cantaloupe comparison has shaken my faith in zucchini

  10. I’m not a big zucchini fan, but cantaloupe is fucking delicious. Don’t bring cantaloupe into this, Erin. I expected better.

    • You are absolutely correct about cantaloupe! It’s obvious these misguided souls have never eaten a ripe Pecos Texas cantaloupe! To compare cantaloupe to a zucchini????? What?? Erin has definitely stepped into a cow pie this time!

    • I keep mentally substituting honeydew melon in this thread because i prefer the possibility that this is what Erin might have meant, to the certainty that she did not. I mean honeydew is even green like a zucchini. Honeydew is the most flavorless melon even when perfectly ripe. It’s the least favorite ingredient in fruit salad.

      • After thinking about Erin’s attack on cantaloupe, I find it very suspicious that she chose to associate zucchini with cantaloupe! They are hardly similar in use or taste. Could Erin have had some traumatic experience with a cantaloupe early in life? Someone tell her she had a cantaloupe shaped head? A friend blindfold her and stick her hand inside a cantaloupe at Halloween, and tell her it was cow brains? What can she be hiding?

  11. Okay okay, you’re right. It’s so much easier to come up with tasty recipes that DON’T have zucchini in it. But they’re so easy to grow, Erin! For people with haphazard gardens, zukes pop up like crazy and we have to do something with them!

    May I suggest another a dueling recipe list for cantaloupe though. Because I’m totally on your side there.

  12. if i have to eat one more fucking pile of grilled zucchini, yellow squash, limp grey eggplant and a soggy tomato calling itself the ‘vegan option’ at another wedding i swear to fucking god

    • For real, I was at a bowl-of-stuff style food truck, rice, veggies, meats. The veggie option being just hold the meat. Only by “veggie bowl” they meant JUST ZUCCHINI, not even as part of a bullshit normandy blend, that was the only vegetable (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

    • In my experience (10 years of professional cooking in restaurants and hotels), chefs loathe vegans. I don’t think I met a single one who didn’t immediately start swearing whenever someone asked a server for vegan options (that said, most of the chefs I knew were assholes, anyway). As restaurants, hotels, and caterers are all getting workers from the same pool I can imagine there is little difference in attitude (the average cook tended to not like vegans much, either, and I’ll admit that early on in that career I was much the same; these days I’m much more in “to each their own” territory). So a lot of chefs just aren’t that adept at vegan cooking (even the ones who aren’t diametrically opposed to it).

      • But it’s their job to cater to customers regardless of their personal opinion or beliefs. With the number of vegans on the rise, I think it’s about time chefs became adept at all kinds of cooking. Really, a lot of the time it just feels like a mixture of laziness and stubborness on their part.

        • You have a great deal more faith in customer service than I do.

          That’s chefs for you. Yes, they’ll make something for vegans, but if it isn’t already on the menu they will hate you for it. Substitutions also cause a great deal of annoyance. Basically, if you’re going off-menu in any way, shape, or form they will hate you. They won’t show it to your face (that’s what prep kitchens are for), but it’s there. As for laziness and stubbornness? Yeah.

          Now, most of what I’ve said is from about the period about 6-10 years ago. I don’t cook professionally anymore (thankfully).

  13. Zucchini update: the Lean Cuisine that I brought to work for dinner tonight HAD ZUCCHINI CHUNKS IN IT.

    This is why you don’t go grocery shopping hungover y’all.

  14. I used to be anti-zucchini until I became vegetarian and decided I needed to expand my food options, and it has slowly won me over. Also Mey’s list didn’t include a single mention of Fucking Quinoa, so I’m gonna have to go #TeamZuke on this one.

    However, you win for best vegetable side diss with this comment: “How you can go from nothing to unholy with the mere introduction of heat is a testament to zucchini’s darkness.”

  15. If you don’t like zucchini, that’s more zucchini for those of us who do! Have y’all zucchini-haters tried not eating zucchini but appreciating its existence because it provides joy and nourishment to Mey and lots of other awesome Straddlers?

    Also, if there is zucchini around for #teamzucchini to eat, then we will leave more non-zucchini food for you!

  16. I mean, I’m fully with Mey on this one. Because zucchinis are delicious and also ridiculously cheap. I can get like 4 meals worth of zucchini for 50 cents in summers, and that’s if zucchini is the only thing I’m eating for those four meals. I am but a poor dirtbag kayaker and raft guide and >4 meals for 50 cents is something that means that I get enough to eat that isn’t food I’ve stolen from work which is the exact same thing I’ve gotten for lunch for almost 4 months straight.

    BUT I forgive you for your transgressions against zucchini because literally all but one of these recipes sound amazing (and like…the one with tomatoes doesn’t sound bad exactly, but one of the main ingredients is tomato, so yeah, it’s not for me).

  17. “Cooked zucchini, on the other hand, tastes like what I imagine hot turtle water tastes like.” omg, seriously, i never knew i needed this sentence in my life, so true. thank you for this zucchini debate her on AS.

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