Best Zucchini Substitutes to Cook Flavorful Dishes

Zucchini is a versatile vegetable perfect as an ingredient to many dishes. This squash is rich in minerals and vitamins making for a nutritious and delicious addition to your recipe. In case you don’t have any in your pantry or the closest market is out of it, you can buy these zucchini substitutes that work just as well.

Zucchini substitutes

1. Golden Zucchini

Golden zucchini, also called yellow zucchini, is similar in both shape and taste to the classic green zucchini.

You can cook yellow zucchini the same way you do with green ones: add it in hearty dishes, saute it with olive oil, serve it raw as sides, or mix it in salads.

This summer squash retains the mild sweet flavor of zucchini and also shares its firm, crunchy texture. Compared to other kinds of summer squashes, golden zucchini is a bit sweeter and softer.

2. Pattypan Squash

Pattypan squashes have a unique appearance which resembles a flying saucer or a toy top with its round shape, pointed tips, and small size. It’s another variety of summer squash you can use for recipes needing zucchini.

This veggie is delicious on its own whether you saute, grill, or roast it. When used as an ingredient, patty pan also produces a creamy texture and buttery flavor that makes your dish more savory.

Like other summer squashes, patty pan is a great zucchini substitute. It tastes a tad sweeter than zucchini and a little drier in texture but overall works well with many recipes. 

3. Yellow Squash

Yellow squash is another close relative to zucchini. Though it has a different shape and color, it has the same sweet but mild flavor notes. 

Try cooking this veggie on its own or as an ingredient whether baked, fried, steamed, poached, grilled or roasted. Yellow squashes will offer the same vegetable sweetness and texture to your dishes.

Other than sweetness, some would also describe the taste of yellow squash as buttery, a bit nutty, and slightly peppery. Unlike zucchini where its water content is a good variable in cooking, removing the excess water in yellow squashes is preferable. This makes its flavor more pronounced and creates a creamy texture.

4. Chayote squash

Chayote squash or vegetable pear is frequently eaten in Asia but supposedly originates from Central America. This veggie has a gourd shape resembling pears and avocados. It has a transparent white, crunchy flesh that tastes mildly sweet. 

Also known as mirliton, chayote has a flavor likened to a combination of cucumber and squash. You can eat chayote raw like cucumbers or add it to vegetable salads. It can also be cooked in various savory recipes including soups and stews. 

While zucchini can be eaten peeled or unpeeled, chayote, although its skin is also edible, it’s tougher to cook or eat the skin so it’s best to have it peeled. Also, the thick flesh of chayote does not provide the same crunch as zucchini but it makes for a satisfying bite.

Other Zucchini Alternatives

1. Cucumbers

Many would confuse cucumbers and zucchinis for one another because of how similar they look. A good thing is if you buy cucumbers instead of zucchinis, it can still work for your meal.

Cucumbers have a similar outer appearance to zucchinis but they do have different textures and flavors. Cucumbers’ flesh tends to be crispier and juicier while zucchinis’ are typically denser and a bit bitter.

Cucumbers are the perfect zucchini alternative when eaten raw or pickled. It’s especially great on salads and added to sandwiches.

2. Celery Stalk

Celery stalks have the same water content as zucchinis, so if you’re in a pinch, this veggie can do. You can use celery leaves too but if you’re after the same crunch, just use the stalks.

Celery stalk is considered a staple in various recipes like soups, stews, salads, and stuffings. It is also delicious as a veggie stick dipped in ranch or other salad dressings.

This alternative can provide a green, mildly bitter flavor to your dishes. When eaten raw, it tastes salty, bitter, and has a tang that ranges from mild to strong. Overall, it would be a good substitute for zucchini.

3. Eggplant

Eggplants may look completely different from zucchini but it is an efficient ingredient for many recipes needing the latter.

Eggplants have a similar texture as zucchini but it has a bit more flavor. Its flesh is tender, lightly sweet, and also a bit bitter. When prepared raw, eggplants have a firm and spongy texture but when cooked, it becomes tender and may melt.

For most recipes, you can substitute zucchini with eggplant. This purple veggie is delicious on its own whether you bake it, fry, grill, stir-fry, braise or roast it. You can also add it to pasta, stews, salads, soups, and dips.

4. Bell peppers

Bell pepper is one of the best ingredients that can add more flavor to your recipes. Whether you prefer green, red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, this veggie is a nice addition to taste and appearance for your dish. 

You can use bell peppers for a variety of meals including pasta, pizza, stews, soups, skewers, and roasts. It’s also possible to eat it raw or mix in salads and make sure to remove the bell pepper seeds and membranes first.

Bell peppers have thick flesh and a sweet, mild flavor like zucchini. It tends to be crunchy and juicy when eaten raw or slightly cooked. It has a good amount of water content as zucchini so it won’t dry out during cooking.

5. Carrots

Carrots have high water content like zucchini but the flesh tends to be denser. It does not have the same kind of crunch as zucchini but when it’s cooked, the flesh softens and can offer a similar satisfying bite. 

You can use carrots in place of zucchini in a variety of soups, stews, salads, and even bread. However, carrots have a distinct taste that is far from bland so it may affect your recipe if you’re only after a subtle veggie flavor.

It’s best to use carrots for savory dishes or recipes with other ingredients. It can also serve as a veggie snack or side but its carroty flavor will keep it different from zucchini.

6. Apple

Apples are sweet and can provide the same crunch as zucchini to your meal. This fruit also has a mild flavor so it won’t overwhelm other ingredients. Still, it’s best to be wise in choosing which recipes you’re using it for.

Dishes that only need zucchini for its mild sweetness and hearty texture can benefit from apples. You can use apples instead of zucchini in certain recipes like bread, salads, and sauteed dishes. 

7. Pumpkin

This sweet veggie is a good alternative to zucchini not because it shares a lot of similarities, but because its versatility is good for many dishes. It does share a few things with zucchini being in the same family of field squashes.

Unlike zucchinis that can give a refreshing taste to recipes during summer, pumpkins are winter squashes that can be added to make warm hearty meals for the cold season.

Pumpkins have different flavor notes compared to zucchini but it does the same thing which is adding some veggie sweetness to your dish. You can cook this squash in a variety of ways like adding it to a pie, soups, bread, and savory dishes.

8. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a winter version of summer squashes. Since it comes out during the cold season, veggies like this tend to be physically hard, with tough seeds and outer Even so, this close relative to zucchini would be a good replacement.

Butternut squash is a delicious replacement for zucchini. It especially goes great in soups and purees. If not, you can also have it steamed, roasted or baked.

Like zucchini, butternut squash is edible from its rind to its flesh. However, this winter squash has a more distinct flavor to zucchini. It can taste nutty and a little bit like sweet potatoes. Also, the skin is typically peeled away for a better texture and easier cooking. 


What does zucchini taste like? 

Zucchinis have a mild taste that is both sweet and a little bitter. It has a crunchy texture when eaten raw and becomes a bit more tender when cooked. It adds a sweet flavor and a satisfying bite when it is used as an ingredient in your dishes.

This veggie can be prepped and cooked in many ways. You can grill, roast, bake, sauté, stuff, fry, blanch, or prepare it raw. Due to this versatility, there are plenty of alternatives to zucchini that you can choose from.

What are the closest substitutes to zucchini? Summer Squashes!

Zucchini is one variety of summer squashes. These vegetables have thin skin with light to dense flesh. These summer veggies are perfectly edible in their entirety.

Other varieties of summer squashes mostly have a mild flavor like zucchini. Their tastes can range from slightly bitter to nutty or sweet. Since these veggies fall under the same category, they easily become the closest replacements for zucchini. 


If you’re looking for the most direct zucchini substitutes, you can consider the choices under summer squashes. Those options share the closest taste and texture to zucchini so it’s easy to use them interchangeably for your recipes.

In case you are up for a tasty discovery, try out the non-summer squash alternatives with distinct flavors like pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, carrots, and bell peppers. It can be a good cooking and eating experience.

As for all replacements, nothing beats the original and they can only be as good as the real thing depending on the use. Ultimately, it’s your recipe so feel free to choose your preferred zucchini alternative.

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