Crispy Fried Zucchini with Marinara is a crunchy, delicious snack that makes a perfectly dip-able alternative to potato chips or raw veggies. Paired here with a quick and easy marinara, they are also great with cold tzatziki. See below for marinara recipe too!
The Trick to Perfectly Crispy Fried Zucchini
How do you keep fried zucchini from getting soggy? There are a couple of things that will guarantee a crispy, not soggy, piece of fried zucchini.
First, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut in half again to shorten the halves. Use a mandolin or knife to slice the zucchini. A mandolin cuts consistently-sized slices. The slices used in this recipe were about ¼" thick. Consistency in the thickness of the slices helps with anticipating frying time and yield. Next, pat the excess moisture off the zucchini after slicing it, and allow it to sit on of a paper towel, on top of a dish towel. This helps with extra absorption immensely. The less water the zucchini has retained before frying, the better.
Use a pan that can handle high heat and is deep enough to allow for 2" of oil on the bottom. Preheat the oil (about 2 inches of oil) over medium-low heat. Preheating with medium-low heat ensures the oil temperature doesn't increase too quickly and burn the oil. Watch the temperature with a thermometer and when it is 350°F, it is ready to fry.
Also, maintain a constant oil temperature of 350°F for frying throughout the frying process. The breading will burn quickly if oil is much hotter than 350°F, so the oil needs to be monitored and adjusted. If the oil temp drops way below 350°F, raise the heat to increase the temperature. At lower than 350°F, the slices will have to sit in the oil for too long to fry and absorb too much oil.
Crispy Fried Zucchini with Marinara Video
Prepping the Zucchini and Marinara
After slicing and patting the zucchini dry, sprinkle salt on the slices and lay them in a single layer of paper towel, and on top of a dish towel. As the zucchini slices dry off on the paper towels, begin prepping the marinara sauce (assuming you're using it).
In my last post, I talked about how having a really, really good homemade marinara sauce is a fantastic ace card to have in your pocket. This recipe, as I explained, was a collaboration with my sister. My sister loves to cook, married an Italian guy, and is frequently with his Italian family that does a lot of cooking. We customized this one, drawing from a lot of different recipes from family and friends. We both agree that this simple marinara is the go-to. It's easy, it's quick, and it's fantastic. I served it in my last post with the Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread and the first comment I got was "ooh, can we have this with pasta too?" My answer is, absolutely! I served it with pasta and adding a few more ingredients to it makes a great vodka or Suprema sauce.
*NOTE: I went very light on the garlic in the marinara so that the garlic flavor did not overwhelm the fried zucchini pieces. Normally, I would also saute fresh garlic in olive oil before adding the balance of the ingredients.*
Making Marinara Great: San Marzano Tomatoes > Regular Tomatoes
San Marzano tomato products instantly upgrade a marinara. In my opinion, San Marzano tomatoes simplify the recipe and yield the most consistent results. This is because San Marzano tomatoes are sweeter and richer than other tomatoes and because they are lower in acidity. Typically, sugar is used to offset the acidity when San Marzano tomatoes are not used, but that adds a whole new variable to the consistency of your results. For this recipe, I used crushed San Marzano tomatoes and a small can of sauce to add a richer base. (Paste is also an option).
Marinara: Garlic and Seasonings
Since we are not using the fresh garlic in this instance, we are going to skip right to tomato sauce. After adding a heavy drizzle of olive oil to a sauce pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan), follow it with the small can of tomato sauce. Allow the tomato sauce to warm up, and follow with adding the crushed tomatoes, sea salt, parsley, basil, granulated garlic, and stir in the tablespoon of chicken soup base. Because the soup base packs so much flavor in one little, critical tablespoon, it needs a little time to fully work its magic. Simmer this mixture on low heat for approximately 15 minutes. The sauce will be hot and bubble a bit on the edges, but keep the temperature low and do not bring to a full boil.
Simmer for min 15 minutes, but you can simmer longer for even better results. Use the simmering time to prep the egg wash, breading/seasonings, and oil for frying. Remove the sauce from low heat when you're ready to serve.
Back to the Fried Zucchini: Breading/Seasonings and Egg Wash
The breading and seasoning mix sticks to the zucchini on its own, but using an egg wash produces a crispier, golden result.
Prepare the seasonings by adding flour, Panko bread crumbs, regular bread crumbs, cayenne, sea salt flakes, paprika, parmesan, and fresh ground pepper to a medium sized bowl. Stir well to combine.
Prepare egg wash by adding cold water water and eggs in a separate, medium-sized bowl and whisk together.
Now, prior to egg washing or breading preheat your oil to 350°F. Use a pan that will allow for about 2 inches of oil at the bottom. Slowly raise the temp, start heat out at medium-low.
As the oil preheats and approaches 350°F, begin dipping the zucchini slices by fully submerging them in the egg wash. Allow some of it to run off, and then dip in the breading/seasoning mix on both sides of the slice. Pat zucchini slice into the breading mix on both sides to maximize the amount of breading each side of the slice gets. Immediately, carefully, place the slice in the preheated oil. Fry until golden brown on each side. Turn the slice over in the oil after about 1 minute on each side.
Place the crispy fried zucchini pieces on a folded paper towel on a plate. This will absorb excess oil into the towel and prevents the fried slices from getting soggy. Transfer to a clean dish or serving platter and serve hot with warm marinara!
MORE SUMMER RECIPES:
click photos for links!
- Creamy Fiesta Corn Dip
- Antipasto Pasta Salad and Italian Vinaigrette Dressing
- Vanilla Bourbon Peaches and Mascarpone Whipped Cream
- Garlic Parmesan Monkey Bread with Marinara
- Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
Crispy Fried Zucchini with Marinara
- Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then cut in half again to shorten the halves. Use a mandolin or knife to thinly slice the zucchini.
- Pat the excess moisture off the zucchini after slicing it, sprinkle it with sea salt flakes, and cover it with a towel. The less water the zucchini has before frying, the better. Set aside to allow time for extra moisture absorption, and prepare marinara sauce
- Combine tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, granulated garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, chicken soup base, and sea salt flakes in a sauce pan.
- Stir and leave it to simmer over low heat.
- Add flour, Panko bread crumbs, regular bread crumbs, cayenne, sea salt flakes, paprika, parmesan, and fresh ground pepper to a medium sized bowl. Stir well to combine.
- Prepare egg wash by adding cold water water and eggs in a separate medium sized bowl and whisk together. Heat oil to 350°F over medium-low heat.
- Fully submerge a slice of zucchini in the egg wash. Allow some of the egg wash to run off, and then dip the zucchini slice in the breading/seasoning mix on both sides of the slice. Immediately (and carefully) place the slice in the oil. Repeat for each slice and fry until golden brown on both sides.
- Place the crispy fried zucchini on a folded paper towel on a plate. This will absorb excess oil into the towel and prevent the fried slices from getting soggy.
- Serve warm with marinara or tzatziki and ENJOY!
Marinara Dipping Sauce
- Drizzle a small sauce pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the bottom of the saucepan.*Normally, this would be where we'd sauté fresh garlic, but we removed it from this recipe because the sauce is being served with flavorful crispy, fried zucchini.
- Add tomato sauce to the pan and allow it to get to a warm temperature.
- Add crushed tomatoes, granulated garlic, parsley, basil, sea salt and chicken soup base to sauce pan. Stir well (so ingredients are distributed throughout) and allow it to simmer for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better). Stir frequently so the sauce does not burn.
- Remove sauce from heat and allow it to cool a few minutes before serving.
- Serve warm with Crispy Fried Zucchini