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Creamy Zucchini Pasta

February 10, 2023

Creamy zucchini pasta is our latest favorite way to use up our annual backyard squash deluge.

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Creamy Zucchini Pasta Sauce with pasta in a bowl with basil.

Creamy Zucchini Pasta—It’s Like Alfredo Sauce, But Slightly More Virtuous

A big bowl of this silky, rich pasta—nope, we don’t mean zoodles! We mean real, carb-o-licious pasta—is really hard to beat. It’s the perfect thing for zucchini season! When the weather is starting to turn and you’re ready for a warming dinner, and at the same time, your (or your neighbor’s) garden boxes are overflowing with too many zucchinis, this creamy zucchini pasta recipe is exactly what you need in your back pocket. We dress up a basic cream sauce with plenty of garlic, Parmesan and fresh basil, making it full of flavors both bright and herbaceous and salty and sharp. If you’ve ever made a cream sauce or alfredo sauce from scratch before, the process for making this will be familiar. And if you’re new to making homemade cream sauce, no worries! It’s not hard to do, and we will walk you through it.

zucchini in a bowl, pasta noodles, cream, salt, parmesan, pepper, basil and garlic ingredients
zucchini, cream, salt, parmesan, pepper, basil and garlic in a pot for creamy pasta sauce
zucchini, cream, salt, parmesan, pepper, basil and garlic in a pot for creamy pasta sauce
zucchini, cream, salt, parmesan, pepper, basil and garlic in a pot for creamy pasta sauce

A Simple Zucchini Pasta With Cream Sauce In Just Seven Ingredients

If you’ve got even the most bare-bones pantry—olive oil, salt, pepper, dried pasta—you’re almost halfway to making this super easy creamy pasta recipe. If you’ve got a generous garden (or a generous neighbor) and have easy access to lots of fresh basil and zucchini, you might even be closer than halfway. In addition to the most basic pantry ingredients, here’s what you’ll need deliciously creamy zucchini pasta:

  • Zucchini
  • Shallots
  • Fresh garlic
  • Parmesan
  • Basil leaves
  • Heavy cream
creamy zucchini sauce in a pot with parmesan cheese
creamy pasta sauce in a pot with pasta noodles

How To Make Creamy Pasta with Zucchini

Unlike an alfredo sauce, this creamy pasta sauce relies only on heavy cream and a little pasta cooking water to make it creamy and help it cling to the pasta—there’s no butter in sight! If you’ve never used pasta cooking water in a recipe before, welcome to the world of deliciously silky sauces that cling to pasta just like they’re supposed to! The starch that comes out of the pasta while it cooks gives the pasta cooking water magical creamy sauce-making powers, and using it is a classic trick! Don’t forget to salt your pasta water, too—that’ll make the pasta cooking water even more magical. Here’s how to make this lovely pasta dinner:

  1. Sauté the zucchini, shallots and, after a couple of minutes, the garlic.
  2. Pour in the heavy cream, basil leaves, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring the cream sauce to a very gentle simmer—you never want to boil cream—for about 5 minutes.
  4. Boil the pasta of your choosing—we love to use spaghetti, fusilli or bucatini for this recipe—but don’t forget to save a scoop of the pasta water before you drain it!
  5. Add the pasta water to the zucchini cream sauce and blend!
  6. Zucchini cream sauce + parmesan cheese + pasta = dinner is done! Toss it all together, top with more Parm, and eat up!
creamy zucchini pasta sauce with spiral pasta in a bowl with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

More Ways To Use Up Extra Zucchini

It can feel overwhelming when all of your zucchini is suddenly ready for harvest at the same time. But trust us, it’s a good problem to have! Here are a few of our favorite ways to use up zucchini:

Tools You’ll Need

creamy zucchini pasta sauce with spiral pasta in a bowl with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
creamy zucchini pasta sauce with spiral pasta in a bowl with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Zucchini Bucatini? Zucchini Fettuccine? Zucchini Linguine?

Or all of the above? With a pasta sauce this good, you can’t go wrong. If you make this creamy zucchini pasta recipe, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Creamy Zucchini Pasta

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  8 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 555

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups diced zucchini, from (2-3 medium)
  • 2 medium shallots, siced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound long pasta such as spaghetti, fusilli or bucatini
  • ½ cup pasta water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 20 basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon serving freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat.

  3. Add the zucchini and shallots and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 more minute.

  4. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions, about 8-10 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, stir the heavy cream, basil leaves, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese into the zucchini mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes.

  6. Add ½ cup of the pasta water to the zucchini sauce. Drain the noodles. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until mostly smooth. Alternatively, let the zucchini mixture cool slightly and transfer it to a high speed blender, blend on high until mostly smooth. Season with salt to taste.

  7. Add the noodles to the pot with the sauce and toss to coat. Serve topped with parmesan and pepper.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories555
  • Protein15 g
  • Carbohydrates63 g
  • Total Fat29 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol63 mg
  • sodium212 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Ashley

    Can I use cottage cheese instead of heavy cream and add a bit more pasta water?

    We haven't tried this to vouch for it but you could certainly give it a try.

  • Katie

    We love this recipe!! What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?

    Covered in the microwave or in a pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until hot.

  • Emily

    Could this sauce be frozen for future use?

    Sure!

  • Monica

    I have leftover sauce, can I freeze it?

    It should be ok to freeze.

  • Amanda

    It doesn’t look like you used any of the pasta options listed on this recipe in the dish. What kind did you use? It looks yummy! Thanks!

    We used Fussili! Hope you enjoy Amanda!

  • Autumn

    Super good and easy! I put a splash of lemon juice & zest in there to brighten it up a little more, and it tastes great. 10/10

    Thank you Autumn, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Amy

    Awesome. I cook a lot. Seriously, a lot. I made this tonight for my niece who was here from college and doesn’t love onions or vegetables. She went back for a full second helping. The sauce was just beautiful. Creamy, flavorful. I used bucatini. Made as written. Thanks for a new family favorite!

    This is so wonderful to hear, thanks you Amy!!!!!!

  • Elizabeth

    Wonderful recipe! I have had it many times!! Recently I have gone dairy free and substituted coconut cream for heavy cream and it was still delicious! Would recommend!!

    Thanks Angela, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Ashby

    Delicious and easy! Will become a go-to for us. Thank you

    That's great to hear! Thanks Ashby!

  • Erica

    We love this! We’ve used regular milk, and add a bunch of spinach before blending. So good!

    Thanks Elaine, we are so happy you loved it!