Zucchini Cakes

I think it’s safe to say that the zucchinis have won. Dan and I are officially sick of the stuff — we’ve eaten zucchini in some form or another every single day this week. Roasted, mainly, but also sauteed, mixed in with scrambled eggs, and cut into strips for fries. These zucchini cakes were a last ditch effort to keep the fruits of last weekend’s labor from going to waste, but there’s still one gigantic squash left. Thankfully, my parents were happy to take that off our hands before it started festering in a dark corner of my fridge.

Tired as I am of zucchini, these cakes were still pretty tasty. Kind of like crab cakes, only filled with zucchini instead of crab meat. I seasoned them with Adobo spices for a little zest, and that helped temper the intense zucchini flavor. If I weren’t so zucchini’d out, I would actually really be a huge fan of these — they’re tender, flavorful, and relatively healthy. Definitely a great way to allow zucchini to be the star of the dish.

Zucchini Cakes
Recipe type: Appetizer/Side Dish
Like crab cakes...made with zucchini!
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Adobo spices
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Remove excess liquid from freshly grated zucchini by placing them between paper towels and squeezing. (There will be a LOT of excess liquid, so I suggest you squeeze over the sink.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat a large pan on medium, and spray with Pam. Shape spoonfuls of the zucchini batter into 2-inch (diameter) patties, and drop onto the sizzling pan. Cook each side for about a minute and a half, or until the outside is golden brown.
  4. Finish the cakes off in the oven — stick them on a baking pan and broil them for 1-2 minutes. (I skipped this step when I made my cakes, so the sides were still kind of soft — not really a problem in terms of taste, but if you want a nice crust to form on the sides too, finishing them off in the oven should do the trick.)
  5. Serve hot, alone or with ranch dressing.

** Hey! These cakes caught the attention of Glamour Magazine! And SHAPE Magazine!**


  1. Corina says

    These look gorgeous. I love zucchini but my husband isn't keen so I have to make zucchini dishes for one when he is out!

  2. sweet road says

    This is perfect! I have so many zucchini at home and no ideas of what to do with them! I've been making a lot of things with zucchini in them, but nothing that features zucchini.

  3. Lisa (this litttle piggy) says

    They look really tasty. Am a bit over zucchini myself but would try making these.

  4. Maggie @MaggieCooks says

    I first saw this on Giada de laurentiis, your version looks so good, but im intrigued about them, Can't wait to try them! Pretty pictures 😀

  5. Abundantyogi says

    It is a good vegetarian dish.
    For gluten-free diet,I am going to try rolled oats instead of panko.

    Eat Love and Pray.
    I am proud of you, Tina!!!

    Juliana (Leslie's mom )

  6. Sam says

    Congrats on the fashionable link! Well on your way to glamour, fame, and fortune. I can say that I knew you when…

    Whenever I see zucchini cakes I think of the recipe in Amy Sedaris's cookbook. It says something like "after you think you have squeezed out all the water, keep on squeezing, because I can promise you, you didn't."

  7. Kelly Leigh says

    Thanks for the recipe! We too have tons of zucchini and I based dinner off this tonight, except I added feta and sun dried tomatoes! Sooo good. Thanks again!

  8. justputzing says

    Thanks, everyone!

    @Juliana: Let me know how the rolled oats taste in the cakes. Sounds intriguing!

    @Sam: I squeezed FOREVER. Who knew zucchinis had so much water in them? I basically went through 3 paper towels' worth and then gave up.

    @Kelly Leigh: That sounds really good! I love feta! I bet goat cheese would be a good substitute too.

    • Elva Sarver says

      Try using a ricer to squeeze out the excess moisture. I use one when I make spinach dip to remove the excess moisture from the spinach, and it makes the job so much easier!

  9. Digital Printing says

    This has always been a favorite at our house. Even the children like it! I always buy Zucchini and store it in our kitchen. I suggest that you add some whipped cream

  10. ringr says

    We have been sharing in our neighbor's bumper crop of zucchini and I love this idea for a yummy tasty zucchini dish! That feta idea sounds amazing as well, I may make a tzatziki type dressing to go along with this!!

  11. says

    How I adore zucchini, but in a “cake”- I wasn’t sure, but since your photos looked so good, I decided to take the plunge and make a batch. WOW! Good stuff, my only regret is that I didn’t find your recipe sooner! For all you zucchini lovers, I warn you, these are quite addictive! :)

    • justputzing says

      I’m so glad you liked these! I made them on a complete whim, but they’ve turned out to be surprisingly popular. Who knew so many people loved zucchini?

    • justputzing says

      I’m glad you enjoyed these! I’ll have to give your serving method a try sometime; lettuce wraps are delicious!

  12. Jenn says

    “Intense zucchini flavor” is not something I have experienced before… but I do like zucchini a lot. haha. I made this double chocolate zucchini cake (with a touch of orange zest) when I have too much zucchini this summer. It is possibly the best quick bread type cake thing I’ve ever made/eaten. Your recipe looks awesome and I will be testing it on my mother who loves all croquet type fried cake things. http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/08/23/chocolate-chocolate-chip-zucchini-cake/

    • justputzing says

      Haha, well it was one of my first few times eating zucchini, so I guess any zucchini flavor would be considered “intense” 😉

  13. says

    I have a niece that won;t eat veggies, but she likes cakes and cookies. Maybe we can “trick” her into eating veggies with these. If not I know I will enjoy them! :)

  14. nicole says

    You all know about spagetti squash. Instead use Zucchini. All you have to do is shred the zucchini and than pan fry it until its golden brown and cooked. Would suggest doing it on a low heat until cooked and than raise heat to brown.

  15. Katrina says

    This looks delicious, however I’m unsure what adobo spices are. I see some recipes online, but they all differ. Can you please suggest what to use for the adobo spices? Thanks so much.

    • justputzing says

      “Adobo spices” are actually sold in grocery stores in the Hispanic Food aisle, so if you want to save some time I’d suggest just going out and buying some. BUT, if you want to make it, all it really is is a mixture of garlic, salt, paprika, and oregano. I’ve never made it myself so I can’t tell you what proportions to use, but you can probably just do it to taste. Good luck!

  16. Caroline says

    These look so yummy! But I have a couple of questions. How many cakes can you get with this amount of ingredients? Can I substitute the panko with normal bread crums? (it will be impossible to get that stuff in my country).

    Thank you so much for sharing!!

  17. Abby says

    These are delicious! Here’s a variation: Omit adobe spices and parmesan cheese; add a heaping tablespoon of diced jalapenos and a tablespoon of reduced fat cream cheese. Make just as above. To the ranch dressing add Tabasco sauce and a tiny bit of milk to thin it out and drizzle over finished cakes. Enjoy!

  18. Logan says

    I just made these for a quick dinner. They were wonderfu and quickl!!! I only had bread crumbs so I used that instead of panko. I can only imagine that they are even better with panko. Thanks for the amazing recipe! I can’t wait to try more recipes from your blog.

  19. Christina says

    I loved these…. made them twice in one week! anyways I’ve never used anything that said adobo on it so i just used my backup for veggies..penzeys northwoods seasoning and i used crushed crakers since I almost never have breadcrumbs… thanks for the recipe

    • justputzing says

      You’re welcome! If you don’t have Adobo (it should be in the Hispanic food aisle at the grocery store), you can just use a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and salt — that’s basically all it really is. Your version sounds delicious though.

  20. Tiffany says

    I tried these today, after finding the link to the Shape website on Pinterest. I added some green onion because it came out of the garden, and some red bell pepper for a hint of color, and ran some Corn Flakes through my food processor since I didn’t have panko. They were delicious.

    I made the mistake of trying to make the cakes too big though, and they did not hold up well when I tried to flip them and/or transfer them to the baking sheet. When I made the smaller size, they were perfect.

    • justputzing says

      Mmm, corn flakes sound like a delicious substitute for panko! I bet Ritz crackers would be good too. Glad these cakes turned out well for you!

  21. Tara says

    I’m planning on making these tonight because they look AMAZING and I’m hopoing I can trick my picky toddler into eating them as well!Just wondering…do you use the large shredding side of the grader or the small one? I’m just wondering if these are shredded or actually grated.

    • justputzing says

      I used the side tht I always use for grating cheese, so not the smallest side, but def not the large one. I ended up getting thin strips of zucchini about 1-2 inches long, if that helps! Hope your toddler likes the recipe :)

    • justputzing says

      I know, we really enjoyed these cakes last summer! I’m gonna need to get another crop going soon…

  22. Jen U. says

    I have made a lot of zucchini cakes in the course of my vegetarianism. Pretty sure this is the best version I’ve yet made. I forgot to buy Adobo spices, however, Mrs. Dash worked great and for New Englanders, I bet if you use your omnipresent Old Bay, you’ll be pretty darn happy with the results.

    The key for these really is squeezing the every loving heck out of the zucchini. I used my food processor to shred, then lightly salted the shreds and let them sit for about 10 minutes. After that I busted out the paper towel & went to town. They don’t have to be perfectly dry but you want the difference to be obvious. I also kept mine a bit flatter than the picture to make sure they cooked through which helps keep the mush down. :)

    • justputzing says

      Great advice! I’ll have to give Mrs. Dash a try, although I don’t like Old Bay so I’ll have to pass on that one 😉

      • Jen U. says

        I live in Chicago and Old Bay isn’t a “thing” here. Adobo you can practically buy on street corners though. :)
        A previous recipe I tried was actually called Zucchini “Crab” Cakes where the zucchini replaced the crab and they used Old Bay. No matter what I did that recipe was always mushy though. I think it might have been because of the onion it called for… so, I guess, beware to anyone who thinks about adding onion. :)

  23. Niki says

    Fresh tarragon aioli (I made mine from scratch) is fantastic with this in case anyone wants a different dipping sauce. 8oz of oil per egg yolk, lemon, salt, fresh chopped tarragon, fresh minced garlic.

    • justputzing says

      Adobo spices are store-bought spices that can be found in the Hispanic food aisle at the grocery store. All it really is is a mixture of garlic, salt, paprika, and oregano, so you can easily make your own. I’ve never made it myself so I can’t tell you what proportions to use, but you can probably just do it to taste. Good luck!

  24. MARCIA FORMAN says


    • justputzing says

      I’m not sure what effect freezing would have on these cakes, b/c I didn’t have any leftovers to freeze. The recipe makes about a dozen or so appetizer/side-dish sized cakes though, so I don’t think you’d have very many leftovers. If you do, they will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

      As for the size of the zucchini, I did not measure it in terms of cups, but if I remember correctly it should be about 2-3 cups after the excess fluid is removed.

      Hope that helps. Good luck!

  25. says

    Thank you very much for this recipe. Like you mention this being ‘zucchini season’ we need as many inspirations as possible so we can keep from getting totally sick of the versatile veggie. Love this recipe. I did a calculation of the calories for this recipe (since I’m on a diet) and found that each little cake has about 43 calories. Not bad. Good addition to a healthy meal with amped up flavor. Think I’ll try these for lunch :).

  26. tmaryso43 says

    I made these today however had a different spin as I didn’t have Zucchini. I had another summer type squash (the skin was like iron will not do it again. Need squash with a softer skin or shell) I didn’t have the spice and couldn’t find in the store but looked it up on line and determined some of the flavors in the Adobo. Instead I used garlic pepper, Crazy mixed up salt, fresh ground oregano and another pepper that had green and red pepper in it. They came out good and I like them. Thanks for the recipe!

  27. allysia says

    I got a ton of yellow summer squash in my bountiful basket and so I made these with yellow squash, Italian bread crumbs, and egg…it was really good! All my kids loved them!

    • justputzing says

      We definitely love salt in our food in this house, so tbsp is correct. For everyone else, scaling back to 1/2 tbsp and going from there may be a good idea :)

  28. says

    Just wanted to say thanks! Made these a few weeks ago and husband LOVED them! I started dairy free the first day I made them and forgot and added the parm-next time I’ll add it on top for him so I can try them. :)

  29. marcia says

    my sister made these vegan and they were very good, i am going to make them by your receipe to see if there is a lot of difference.

  30. Sue says

    When I have a bunch of zucchini, I shred it all at once, fill quart~size Ziploc bags, set them upright in the refrigerator overnight. Next day take each bag, hold it over the sink and clip one corner (a small clip~~dont want to lose your shreds down the sink!!!) off and gently squeeze! Most of the excess water comes out the bottom of the bag and zucchini is ready to use!

  31. Dawn Vaughn says

    When we get tired of zucchini or they get real big. We make Zapple Pie it tastes great and if you don’t tell anyone it’s zucchini they probaly can’t tell. I’m going to try this with the shredded stuff from the frezzer.

  32. Tracy Hadfield says

    I made these for the second time last night…I added some chopped onion, chopped seeded tomatoes (to also keep the moisture out of the mix) and fresh corn!!! It was even better with the added ingredients! I also used my panini type grill with the flat attachments and it makes them cook even faster!!! They are delish!

  33. Liz says

    Wow, I thought these were incredibly over-salty. Am I the only one? Other than that I liked the concept.

    • justputzing says

      Sorry you found these to be too salty – we love salt in our house. In the future you should definitely salt based on your own personal tastes :)

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