Zucchini Noodles vs. Pasta: What You Need to Know

Zucchini noodles have become quite popular as low-carb diets such as the keto diet are on the rise. Who knew you could make a noodle replacement out of a vegetable?

Of course, I love all things carbs. Bread, noodles, pizza, and more are absolutely delicious and highly enjoyable. They also make a meal more filling and satisfying.

But if you’re on a low-carb diet, limiting calories, or you’re just trying to get more veggies in your diet, zucchini noodles are a great option.

My personal favorite way to eat zucchini noodles is mixed in with regular spaghetti. Substituting half of your portion of pasta with zucchini spaghetti makes your meal lighter and adds some vegetables. Leaving some of the pasta in the dish makes your dish more satiating and delicious. 

So we’ve established that both zucchini noodles and pasta noodles have their benefits. Let’s go over everything you may be wondering about zucchini noodles and how they compare to the pasta we all know and love.


What Are Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)?

Zucchini noodles are exactly how they sound: a pasta replacement made out of summer squash. A noodle shape can be made by shaving off pieces of zucchini or running the squash through a spiralizer. 

Quick Facts: Zucchini Noodles vs. Pasta

Let’s look at the differences between a one-cup portion of each noodle type, according to nutritionix.com.

Zucchini Noodles Pasta
Calories 20 210
Protein 1.4 grams 7.4 grams
Carbs 3.7 grams  42 grams
Total Fat 0.4 grams 0.9 grams
Dietary Fiber 1.2 grams 1.8 grams

Overall, zucchini noodles come out ahead in most of the nutritional categories, though pasta is higher in protein. While pasta also has a higher amount of dietary fiber, it is high in soluble fiber while zucchini is high in insoluble fiber. Both are important for a well-balanced diet.

Of course, some qualities can’t be measured, such as flavor, texture, and how filling or satiating a food is. Traditional pasta tends to come out ahead in those categories, but that is up to personal preference.

Zucchini Noodles on bowl

Are Zucchini Noodles Good for You?

Yes! Zucchini is a nutritious vegetable to include in your meals. It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B. Zucchini is also high in fiber, antioxidants, and potassium. Because of this, the delicious summer squash is known to benefit your eyesight, heart health, thyroid, and more. 

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Benefits of Eating Zucchini Noodles

Fewer calories: One of the main reasons folks opt for zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta is because it is drastically lower in calories than pasta. If you are counting calories, zucchini noodles will certainly help you hit your goals.

Fewer carbs: One cup of zucchini noodles only contains 3.7 grams of carbohydrates compared to 42 grams of carbs in the same portion of traditional pasta. If you are trying to eat low-carb, that is a huge difference!

More fiber: Zucchini contains more grams of fiber per serving than regular pasta, which helps your digestive function, aids in weight loss, helps control blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, and more.

Lighter: Zucchini is not nearly as filling or heavy in the stomach, making it ideal for a lighter meal. 

More nutritious: Zucchini has a lot of nutritional value. It is rich in numerous vitamins and minerals.

Naturally gluten-free: If you can’t eat traditional noodles because of gluten intolerance, zucchini noodles are a delicious and healthy alternative.

Do Zucchini Noodles Taste Good?

This ultimately comes down to personal preference, but I think most would agree that zucchini noodles taste good! Zucchini has a very mild flavor, so zoodles primarily allow whatever sauce and toppings they are tossed with to shine. For the most part, you will taste the flavors of the other ingredients more than you will taste the zucchini.

The biggest difference most people notice when they eat zucchini noodles is the texture. The texture of zoodles can vary based on how long they are cooked and how they are made. Lightly cooked zoodles will be crunchier than pasta and well-done zoodles will be softer. 

Zucchini Noodles on plate

How to Make Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles can be made into different shapes, much like regular pasta. The most common way to make zoodles is to run the zucchini through a spiralizer, which makes a spaghetti-sized zoodle. It is best to use a medium zucchini for spiralized zucchini noodles.

You can also make zucchini noodles into these shapes:

Angel Hair: make this very thin noodle shape by running a julienne peeler down the length of the zucchini.

Lasagna: Make these flat, wide noodles by slicing a zucchini lengthwise on a mandolin set to the thinnest setting. Alternatively, you can run a wide vegetable peeler down the length of the zucchini. 

Fettucini: A popular thicker noodle, fettucini zoodles can be made by slicing a zucchini lengthwise on a mandolin set to its thinnest setting. Once the zucchini is sliced, cut each slice lengthwise into ½ inch or less thin strips.

How to Store Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container. It is best to store them uncooked, but leftovers can be kept in the fridge for about as long. The longer that cooked zucchini noodles sit, the soggier they may get. 

If you are meal-prepping zucchini pasta, be sure to lightly cook them so they don’t get soggy after reheating. 


How to Cook Zucchini Noodles

The best way to cook zucchini noodles is by sautéing them. Toss your zoodles in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil and saute them over medium heat for a couple of minutes, until warm and soft. The exact cooking time depends on how crunchy or soft you want them. 

Because of its high water content, zucchini can easily get soggy. I recommend you air on the side of crunchier noodles if you’re unsure.

What to Eat with Zucchini Noodles

There are many different ways to prepare zucchini noodles. In fact, zoodles can be prepared in all of the same ways you would prepare spaghetti noodles or other pasta! Some of the best ways are:

  • Topped with tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, pesto, or other pasta sauce
  • Tossed in butter, garlic, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese for a simple side dish
  • Made into a low-carb lasagna
  • Tossed with dressing, other veggies, and cheese to make a raw zucchini noodle salad.

More Healthy Pasta Alternatives

There are many different alternatives to traditional pasta noodles, depending on what your purpose is in using a pasta substitute. Here are the most popular options:

Spaghetti squash: Gluten-free, low-carb, and low-calorie.

Spiralized yellow squash: Gluten-free, low-carb, and low-calorie.

Bean or lentil pasta: Gluten-free, high in protein. Still high in carbs and calories.

Rice pasta: Gluten-free but still high in carbs and calories.

Whole wheat pasta: Healthier, but still high in carbs, high in calories, and contains gluten.

Zucchini Noodles vs. Pasta: Which is Better?

Now that you know the nutrition facts for both types of noodles and you have some information on zucchini noodles, the choice is yours! Both types of pasta are delicious and bring different benefits to your diet. As for which is better, that depends on each person’s preferences, dietary needs, and personal goals. 

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