Zoodles Marinara Recipe

This zoodles marinara recipe is a healthier twist on classic Italian comfort food. Transformed into a light and nutritious meal, the zucchini noodles, also known as 'zoodles', are crisp, tender and perfectly al dente. The sauce is a simple and robust marinara that gets a kick from garlic and a burst of fresh flavor from basil.

Zoodles Marinara Recipe
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Most of these ingredients can be found in a standard grocery store. Zucchinis, tomatoes, onions, and basil leaves are all common produce. However, if you are not accustomed to cooking Italian food, you might not have tomato paste and red pepper flakes readily available at home. When shopping, look for tomato paste that comes in a tube, which will stay fresh longer once opened. As for the zucchini, consider using a spiralizer to make your zoodles. It's a handy tool that turns veggies into noodle-like strands.

Ingredients Required for Zoodles Marinara

Olive oil: The base of the sauce and used for sautéing the onions and garlic to bring out their flavors.

White onions: Add a sweet, mild flavor to the sauce.

Garlic cloves: Adds a pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens with cooking.

Tomatoes: The main ingredient for the marinara sauce, adding a sweet and slightly tangy flavor.

Tomato paste: Used to thicken the sauce and deepen the tomato flavor.

Basil leaves: Adds a sweet, peppery flavor to the marinara sauce.

Salt: Enhances the other flavors in the dish.

Black pepper: Adds a mild heat to balance the sweetness of the sauce.

Red pepper flakes: Adds a spicy kick to the marinara sauce.

Zucchinis: Spiralized into 'zoodles', they are the star of this dish, acting as a healthy substitute to traditional pasta.

Parmesan cheese: Sprinkled on top for a savory, nutty flavor.

One reader, Darda Boothe says:

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This zoodles marinara recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are so rich and the zucchini noodles are a perfect healthy alternative to pasta. It's quick and easy to make, and the marinara sauce is bursting with deliciousness. I can't get enough of it!

Darda Boothe

Culinary Skills Needed for Zoodles Marinara Recipe

How to sauté onions and garlic: Sauté the onions in olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant.

How to make marinara sauce: Combine tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a pan. Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thickened.

How to cook zucchini noodles: Add spiralized zucchini to the sauce and toss until evenly coated. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are slightly softened.

How to garnish with parmesan cheese: Sprinkle the zoodles marinara with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

How To Make Zoodles Marinara

Zucchini is the primary ingredient for this rich and light pasta dish topped with a savory and flavorful marinara sauce. Try this zoodles dish at home now.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes



  • 2tbspolive oil,extra virgin
  • ½cupwhite onions,diced
  • 6garlic cloves
  • 28oztomatoes
  • 2tbsptomato paste
  • ½cupbasil leaves
  • tspsalt,coarse
  • ¼tspblack pepper
  • tspred pepper flakes
  • 2largezucchinis,spiralized
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until fragrant.

  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until fragrant.

  3. Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, then stir to combine. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer.

  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the oil on the surface is a deep orange and the sauce is reduced and thickened. Taste, and season the sauce with additional salt and pepper if needed.

  5. Add in the spiralized zucchini and toss until it is evenly coated with sauce. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the noodles are slightly softened.

  6. Remove from the heat and serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan cheese.


  • Calories: 145.33kcal
  • Fat: 7.77g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.15g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 5.02g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.06g
  • Carbohydrates: 17.82g
  • Fiber: 4.86g
  • Sugar: 11.14g
  • Protein: 4.67g
  • Sodium: 935.78mg
  • Calcium: 68.03mg
  • Potassium: 1032.15mg
  • Iron: 1.65mg
  • Vitamin A: 113.87µg
  • Vitamin C: 61.28mg

Expert Advice for Perfecting Zoodles Marinara

To ensure your zucchini noodles, or zoodles, don't end up too soggy, try salting them before cooking. After spiralizing the zucchini, sprinkle them with salt and let them sit in a colander for about 10 minutes. The salt will draw out some of the moisture. After 10 minutes, gently squeeze the zoodles to remove any excess water. This will help them maintain a firmer texture when you add them to the sauce.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Zoodles Marinara

Prep ahead: Chop vegetables and measure out ingredients in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonders: Opt for recipes that can be made in a single pot or pan to minimize cleanup time.

Batch cooking: Make a large batch of sauce or marinara and freeze the extra for future use.

Use kitchen tools: Invest in a spiralizer to quickly create zucchini noodles for the recipe.

Time-saving gadgets: Consider using a food processor to speed up the chopping and blending process.

Efficient organization: Keep your kitchen organized to easily locate ingredients and utensils while cooking.

Substitute Ingredients For Zoodles Marinara Recipe

  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a similar mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for olive oil in this recipe.

  • white onions - Substitute with yellow onions: Yellow onions have a slightly stronger flavor than white onions, but they can be used as a substitute in this recipe without significantly altering the taste.

  • garlic cloves - Substitute with garlic powder: If fresh garlic cloves are not available, garlic powder can be used as a substitute. Use 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder for every clove of garlic.

  • tomatoes - Substitute with canned diced tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes can be used as a substitute for fresh tomatoes, providing a convenient alternative especially when fresh tomatoes are not in season.

  • tomato paste - Substitute with ketchup: Ketchup can be used as a substitute for tomato paste in a pinch, as it provides a similar tomato flavor and consistency.

  • basil leaves - Substitute with dried basil: Dried basil can be used as a substitute for fresh basil leaves, with the general rule of using one-third the amount of dried herbs as you would use fresh.

  • zucchinis - Substitute with spiralized carrots: Spiralized carrots can be used as a substitute for zoodles, providing a similar texture and a pop of color to the dish.

  • parmesan cheese - Substitute with nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast can be used as a vegan substitute for parmesan cheese, providing a cheesy flavor and a boost of nutrients.

Plating Ideas for Zoodles Marinara

  1. Elevate the zoodles: Gently twirl the zoodles into a nest-like shape using tongs to create a visually appealing presentation on the plate.

  2. Garnish with basil chiffonade: Sprinkle delicate basil chiffonade over the zoodles to add a pop of color and a fresh, aromatic element to the dish.

  3. Drizzle with olive oil: Artfully drizzle a high-quality olive oil in a circular motion around the zoodles to enhance the dish with a touch of richness and shine.

  4. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan: Generously sprinkle the zoodles with freshly grated parmesan cheese to add a savory, umami flavor and a touch of elegance to the presentation.

  5. Serve on a warm plate: Present the zoodles marinara on a warm plate to ensure that the dish maintains its ideal temperature and enhances the overall dining experience.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Zucchini Noodles

  • Large saute pan: A large saute pan is used for cooking the onions and garlic and for simmering the marinara sauce.
  • Spiralizer: A spiralizer is used to create zucchini noodles, also known as zoodles.
  • Wooden spoon: A wooden spoon is used for stirring the marinara sauce and zucchini noodles.
  • Grater: A grater is used to grate parmesan cheese for garnishing the zoodles marinara.

Storing and Freezing Guidelines for Zoodles Marinara

  • To store leftover zoodles marinara, allow the dish to cool completely to room temperature. Transfer the zoodles and sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • When ready to enjoy, reheat the zoodles marinara in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of water or broth to help loosen the sauce.
  • For longer storage, you can freeze the zoodles marinara. However, keep in mind that the texture of the zucchini noodles may change slightly after being frozen and thawed.
  • To freeze, let the dish cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or resealable bag. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the container with the date and store it in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
  • To thaw, place the frozen zoodles marinara in the refrigerator overnight or for several hours until fully thawed.
  • Reheat the thawed zoodles marinara in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. You may need to add a little water or broth to help loosen the sauce and restore its consistency.
  • If you prefer, you can also freeze the marinara sauce separately from the zucchini noodles. This allows you to prepare fresh zucchini noodles when you're ready to serve the dish, ensuring a better texture.

Reheating Zoodles Marinara for Best Results

  • Stovetop method: heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the leftover zoodles and marinara sauce, stirring gently until heated through. This method helps to maintain the texture of the zucchini noodles while ensuring the sauce is evenly distributed and hot.

  • Microwave method: place the leftover zoodles marinara in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir the dish halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating. Be careful not to overheat, as this can cause the zoodles to become mushy.

  • Oven method: preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Transfer the leftover zoodles marinara to an oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the dish is heated through. This method is ideal if you have a larger portion of leftovers or if you want to add some extra toppings, such as mozzarella cheese or breadcrumbs, for a crispy top layer.

  • Cold serving: if you prefer a cold pasta salad-style dish, you can enjoy leftover zoodles marinara straight from the refrigerator. To enhance the flavors, consider adding some fresh basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese before serving.

Interesting Trivia About Zoodles Marinara

Zoodles marinara is a healthy and low-carb alternative to traditional pasta dishes. Zucchini noodles, or zoodles, are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium. They are also high in fiber and water content, making them a great option for those looking to add more vegetables to their diet. Additionally, zoodles are a gluten-free and low-calorie option for those with dietary restrictions or those looking to cut back on carbs. This dish is a delicious way to enjoy a classic marinara sauce while incorporating more vegetables into your meal.

Budget-Friendly Zoodles Marinara: Is It Possible?

This zoodles marinara recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. Zucchinis are affordable and the other ingredients are pantry staples. The dish is nutritious, delicious, and can be made for approximately $10, serving 4 people. The zoodles provide a healthy alternative to traditional pasta, and the marinara sauce is packed with flavor. Overall, I rate this recipe a 9 for its affordability, taste, and health benefits.

Is This Zucchini Noodle Dish Healthy?

This zoodles marinara recipe is a healthier alternative to traditional pasta dishes. By using zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta, the dish is lower in carbohydrates and calories while providing a good source of fiber and nutrients. The tomato-based sauce is rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. The use of olive oil provides healthy monounsaturated fats, and the garlic and onions offer additional health benefits.

However, the recipe could be further improved to make it even healthier:

  • Use a low-sodium tomato sauce or prepare the sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes to reduce the overall sodium content
  • Increase the amount of vegetables by adding more zucchini noodles or incorporating other vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach
  • Use a lean protein source like grilled chicken or shrimp to make the dish more balanced and satisfying
  • Replace the parmesan cheese with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a dairy-free, low-fat alternative that still provides a cheesy flavor
  • Add a sprinkle of nuts or seeds, such as pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, for an extra crunch and a boost of healthy fats and protein

Our Editor's Take on This Zucchini Noodle Recipe

This zoodles marinara recipe is a delightful and healthy twist on a classic pasta dish. The combination of fresh zucchini noodles and flavorful marinara sauce creates a light and satisfying meal. The use of fresh ingredients like garlic, basil, and tomatoes adds a burst of vibrant flavors to the dish. The cooking process is simple and straightforward, making it a great option for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner. The addition of parmesan cheese at the end adds a rich and savory touch. Overall, this recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy a lighter, vegetable-packed version of a traditional marinara pasta.

Enhance Your Zoodles Marinara Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: Savory garlic bread with a crispy crust and soft, buttery center, perfect for soaking up the marinara sauce.
Caprese Salad: Fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and fragrant basil drizzled with balsamic glaze, a light and refreshing complement to the zoodles marinara.
Grilled Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears lightly charred and seasoned with a hint of lemon, a delicious and healthy side to pair with the zoodles marinara.

Similar Recipes to Try If You Love Zoodles Marinara

Grilled Vegetable Skewers: These skewers are a perfect way to enjoy a variety of vegetables in one dish. The combination of flavors from the grilled veggies is sure to be a hit at your next barbecue.
Chicken Alfredo Pasta: Indulge in a creamy and savory pasta dish with this classic chicken alfredo recipe. The rich and velvety sauce pairs perfectly with tender chicken and al dente pasta.
Berry Cobbler: This sweet and fruity dessert is a delightful way to showcase the season's best berries. The warm and juicy filling topped with a buttery crust is a comforting treat for any occasion.

Appetizer and Dessert Ideas to Complement Zoodles Marinara

Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and crispy for a delicious start to any meal.
Caprese Skewers: Impress your guests with these elegant and refreshing skewers featuring cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. Drizzle with balsamic glaze for a burst of sweet and tangy flavor.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Berry Tart: Create a beautiful and delicious berry tart, filled with a mixture of fresh berries and a sweet glaze. The combination of tart crust and juicy berries makes for a delightful dessert that is perfect for any occasion.

Why trust this Zoodles Marinara Recipe:

This zoodles marinara recipe is a delicious and healthy choice for anyone looking to enjoy a satisfying meal. The use of fresh zucchinis as a substitute for traditional pasta makes this dish a nutritious option for those seeking a low-carb alternative. The tomatoes and tomato paste provide a rich and flavorful base, while the addition of garlic and onions infuses the dish with aromatic depth. The inclusion of basil leaves adds a refreshing herbal note, and the finishing touch of parmesan cheese brings a delightful umami flavor. Trust this recipe for a wholesome and tasty dining experience.

Want to share your own healthy pasta recipes or discuss this zoodles marinara dish? Head over to our Recipe Sharing forum and join the conversation!
How do I make zoodles?
To make zoodles, you'll need a spiralizer to turn the zucchini into noodle-like strands. Simply trim the ends of the zucchini, place it in the spiralizer, and twist to create the zoodles.
Can I use store-bought zoodles?
Yes, you can use store-bought zoodles if you prefer. This can save time and effort, especially if you don't have a spiralizer.
How can I make the marinara sauce less spicy?
If you prefer a milder marinara sauce, you can reduce or omit the red pepper flakes. You can also adjust the amount of black pepper to your taste.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the marinara sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you're ready to serve, simply reheat the sauce and toss it with freshly spiralized zucchini.
What can I serve with zoodles marinara?
Zoodles marinara pairs well with a variety of proteins such as grilled chicken, shrimp, or meatballs. You can also enjoy it as a standalone dish or with a side of garlic bread.

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