Grilled Zucchini

5 from 5 votes
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Grilled zucchini is a quick, healthy summer side dish, ready in 10 minutes! It’s seasoned with savory spices for maximum flavor and cooked until lightly charred and tender.

Grilled zucchini slices with brown char marks from the barbecue grates.

Recipe Science

  • Grilling zucchini at high heat chars the outside, enhances flavor through caramelization, and retains a tender interior.
  • The grilling cooking method concentrates zucchini’s flavors by reducing water content and preventing sogginess.
  • Lightly oiling zucchini before grilling helps create a non-stick surface and adds a crispy, flavorful crust while locking in moisture.

Why It Works

Most markets sell various types of squash year-round. Zucchini is one of the easiest side dishes to prepare. It has a neutral taste with a hint of sweetness that develops when cooked. For this recipe, I slice it in half lengthwise and then add olive oil and a blend of dried seasonings to enhance its flavor.

Toss the zucchini on the grill and let it sizzle! Stunning grill marks will form in a few minutes, and the slices will soften and tenderize. For a complete meal, serve with perfect grilled burgers, cedar-planked salmon, crisp corn on the cob, or grilled BBQ chicken.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients to season and cook zucchini on the grill.
  • Zucchini: Choose emerald green zucchini that feel firm, with no soft spots or bruising. Summer squash’s peak season is from May to July, but you can often find it throughout the year as it’s grown in various warm-weather regions. Pick a zucchini about 7 to 8 inches long and 9 to 10 ounces in weight.
  • Oil: I use a fruity olive oil to coat the slices of zucchini and grease the grill.
  • Seasoning: You can keep the seasonings simple with salt and black pepper, but I also add onion and garlic powder. The dried and ground alliums add a pleasant roasted, earthy taste. I use Italian seasoning for a concentrated herbaceous flavor.
  • Cheese: I like to sprinkle salty parmesan cheese on top to enhance the savory flavor of the grilled vegetable. Omit to keep the dish dairy-free.
  • Garnish: Add fresh herbs to the side dish with chopped parsley on top.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Squash: Yellow squash or calabacita (Mexican squash) tends to be slightly thicker-skinned with a smaller tapering end. Calabacita is lighter green in color and a bit sweeter.
  • Herbs: Add individual dried herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, or thyme.
  • Make it Spicy: Sprinkle on red pepper flakes, chili powder, or chipotle chili powder.
  • Add a Topping: Toast up some bread crumbs, nuts, or pine nuts for a crunchy element.
  • Serve With: Try a homemade pesto, green goddess dressing, tzatziki sauce, or ranch dressing.

How to Make Grilled Zucchini

Fresh slices of zucchini on a wooden cutting board.

Step 1: Cut the Zucchini 

Cut the zucchini for grilling lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices. Slice it wide enough to preserve its structure so it can easily lift off the grill and not fall through the grates. This squash is comprised of over 90% water and will get mushy and hard to handle if sliced too thin. 

Leave the skin on to hold the interior together while cooking on the barbecue. Alternatively, you can cut the vegetable on a diagonal to yield smaller pieces. If you prefer sticks, they can also be quartered lengthwise into batons.

Pro Tip: Typically, depending on width, one large zucchini of this size can yield three to four ½-inch slices. For smaller zucchini, it may be best to halve them.

Dried seasoning mixture in a small bowl.

Step 2: Combine the Seasonings

Dried seasonings are concentrated in flavor and very low in moisture. They prevent adding extra water to the vegetable, which could dilute its taste and make it steam on the grill. Combine salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Brushing olive oil on the surface of a sliced summer squash.

Step 3: Season the Zucchini

Coat the sliced squash with olive oil to help the spices stick to the surface, not the grill. This will also help the fat-soluble flavor compounds in the seasonings dissolve for a better taste.

Slices of zucchini on a sheet pan with seasoning sprinkled on top.

Evenly sprinkle the seasoning over the oiled zucchini.

Several grilled zucchini slices cooking on a barbecue.

Step 4: Grill the Zucchini

To achieve stunning char marks, preheat the barbecue and grease the grill grates to prevent sticking. Heat the grill to medium, about 350 to 375°F (160 to 177°C). Add the zucchini at a 45-degree angle to the grates to get a nice design and prevent them from falling through. A grill pan works great if you prefer to cook the zucchini on a stovetop.

Tips for Perfect Execution: The key is to press the slices down on the hot grates lightly. This process drives off moisture, which could convert to steam, and turns areas in contact with the grate golden brown. Don’t move the pieces. When you see those lines form, give it a flip and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Several slices of grilled zucchini served on a white platter.

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

I like to garnish the grilled zucchini with chopped parsley or thin slices of fresh basil. Add some grated parmesan cheese or crumbled feta on top.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat zucchini skin?

Yes! The green skin is thin and tender. It’s full of fiber and nutrients, so I recommend keeping it on. Squash is also high in moisture, so the skin helps keep the vegetable intact during cooking.

Should you salt zucchini before grilling?

The squash slices need not be pre-salted before grilling to draw out moisture and bitterness like eggplant. I recommend just seasoning with salt and other desired spices before grilling to add a pleasant, savory taste. If y u notice moisture, you can lightly pat dry the squash before cooking to prevent steaming on the grill.

Should I marinate zucchini before grilling?

If marinating, then it’s best to do so after grilling. The cell walls contain over 90% moisture, so a wet, salty, and acidic solution will draw out the water, break down the structure, and make the vegetable mushy if not completely drained and dried. To flavor the surface, it’s better to use oil and dried seasonings first. Add dressing or drizzle with balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or citrus, such as lemon juice, while still warm to brighten the taste before serving.

How do you grill zucchini without getting soggy?

The key is to use high enough heat to get the grates searing the zucchini as soon as it hits the grill. Grilling adds terrific flavor to the surface while quickly cooking the flesh. If you leave the zucchini in the heat for too long, more moisture is released. You’ll notice that overcooked pieces get soggy and mushy in texture. The zucchini should have a tender bite.

How long to grill zucchini?

For ½-inch thick pieces, it takes about 3 to 5 minutes per side. I like to cook the zucchini just past crisp-tender, then let it sit for a few minutes before serving for gentle carry-over cooking. Each grill varies, so watch the vegetable’s visual change closely. They should pierce easily with a fork and retain their structure along the edges. The slices should be glossy with some moisture on the surface. Overcooking will create dry and mushy pieces.

More Grilled Veggies

If you tried this Grilled Zucchini Recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled zucchini is a quick and healthy summer side dish, ready in just 10 minutes! It's the perfect side dish to other barbecued foods.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 pounds zucchini, about 3 large
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing grates
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, or sliced basil
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions 

  • Cut the Zucchini – Trim the stem and end off the zucchini. Slice lengthwise into ½-inch thick pieces. Alternatively, cut into diagonal pieces. Place on a sheet tray.
  • Combine the Seasonings – In a small bowl, combine salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Season the Zucchini – Brush both sides of the sliced zucchini with olive oil. Evenly season both sides with the salt mixture.
  • Grill the Zucchini – Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium heat between 350 and 375°F (160 to 177°C). Clean the grates and grease with olive oil. Place the zucchini slices at a 45-degree angle to the grates. This will give a nice char mark pattern and prevent the pieces from falling through the grates.
    Lightly press down to make contact with the grates. Cover and cook until golden brown lines form, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip, cover, and cook until tender but not mushy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • To Serve – Transfer the pieces to a serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley and parmesan cheese (if using).

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Cover and store grilled zucchini in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave on high heat in 15 to 30-second increments until warm.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 70kcal (4%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 7g (14%)Fat 3g (5%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 1mgSodium 318mg (13%)Potassium 1054mg (30%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 0.04gVitamin A 1210IU (24%)Vitamin C 79mg (96%)Calcium 69mg (7%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Matt H. says

    When you say “cover” in the grilling instructions, do you mean just closing the lid on the grill, or laying foil over them, or do you use some other method?

  2. Robert H. says

    Another delicious side dish from Jessica! As a matter of choice, I increased the amount of garlic and onion powders to 1/2 tsp, and added 3/4 tsp of smoked paprika to the salt mixture for added flavor. Instead of grilling directly on the grates. I tried the recipe inside a grill rack, in a grill pan and also on a grill mat. This prevented any slices from falling through the grates and all methods worked equally well – and there’s no need to oil the grates. Grill marks appeared with a mat, but they’re sacrificed when using a pan or rack. My total grill times for each method was 7 minutes on a 10 minute preheated grill. I then plated the hot slices, drizzled them with balsamic glaze, sprinkled with Parmesan and covered them with foil to keep warm and melt the cheese.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for sharing your experience using different grilling options. The balsamic and parmesan sound delicious!