Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini

Summer is the best season of the year, but it also brings with it a lot of difficult decisions.Which bathing outfit is appropriate for today’s beach outing? Should I go outside and have a popsicle or finish this job assignment? What should I drink next that’s cold?I realize that life is full with difficult challenges.

One of the biggest summertime puzzles, “How in the world am I going to use up all this darn zucchini?” has an answer in this dish.This spaghetti will help you transform summer squash that is overflowing in your garden into a truly tasty and easy weeknight supper. You would never guess that it’s packed with hearty vegetables because it tastes so creamy and opulent. It’s the perfect way to encourage a finicky eater to eat more veggies.

I discovered Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini pasta recipe, which has become one of my favorite ways to cook zucchini. She grates the raw squash and then sautés it, letting the moisture boil off gradually, until the zucchini is jammy and spreadable. It looks like a mountain of squash at first, but trust me—it cooks down quite a bit.

You Only Need One Pot


This recipe’s brilliance is that everything may be prepared in a single pot. You’ll cook the pasta with cream cheese in just enough water to allow it to simmer without creating a pool of liquid after the zucchini has caramelized.

You can always add an extra splash of water if the pasta is still uncooked after all the liquid has cooked off. After adding the cooked zucchini back to the pot and adding some zest and lemon juice, you have a satisfying bowl of pasta perfect for summer.

Riff Your Way

If you want to jazz this recipe up, there are a million ways that you can riff. There are no wrong answers when you’re providing a solution to the greatest summertime dilemma of them all.

  • Swap in vegetable or chicken stock for the water for a boost of added savory flavor.
  • Use any short pasta shape that you like—I would avoid using any long noodle or any “frilly” shape that might break from excessive stirring, like trumpets or cascatelli.
  • Trying to use up some fresh herbs? This pasta would happily accept a handful of fresh basil, mint, parsley, dill, or chives.
  • Love garlic? Grate in a few cloves to your zucchini mixture.
  • Feel free to swap your favorite toasted nut or seed for the walnuts.
  • If you want to finish the pasta off with some grated Parm or Pecorino, I am certainly not going to stop you.
  • Want to use a mix of summer squash and zucchini? Be my guest.

Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini

COOK TIME25 mins



  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large or 5 medium zucchini (2 pounds), coarsely grated
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1 pound dry rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts


  1. Cook the zucchini: 

    Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook the zucchini, stirring occasionally, until it expels liquid, the liquid cooks off, and the zucchini caramelizes into a jam-like, spreadable consistency, 10 to 12 minutes.

    If you start to notice any browning at the bottom of your pot, reduce the heat to medium. Once jammy, transfer the zucchini into a medium bowl and set it aside.

    Grated Zucchini in a Pot for One Pot Pasta
  2. Cook the pasta: 

    In the same pot (don’t worry about wiping off any browned bits or pieces of zucchini that might be left in the pot), add 3 1/4 cups water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Season the water with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

    Once water is boiling, add the pasta and cream cheese, and reduce the heat to medium-high. Break up the cream cheese with the back of a wooden spoon to disperse throughout. It’s okay if the pasta isn’t completely submerged in liquid. Cook, stirring frequently until the pasta is al dente and liquid is reduced and creamy, 11 to 13 minutes. If all the moisture cooks off and the pasta is still undercooked, add a splash of water.

    Cream Cheese and Pasta Boiling for One Pot Pasta with Zucchini
  3. Add the zucchini back in: 

    Add the cooked zucchini, lemon zest, and lemon juice and cook until warmed through, 2 minutes. Add a splash of water to create a thin, glossy sauce, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Divide between bowls and top with toasted walnuts. Serve.

    Though it’s best enjoyed immediately, you can always refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days and reheat it in the microwave or in a saucepan with a splash of water.

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    Pot of Zucchini Pasta
    Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini on a Serving Plate


Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini is a culinary delight that harmonizes the simplicity of a one-pot dish with the rich, creamy flavors of a comforting pasta recipe. The dish is not only a time-saver in the kitchen but also a canvas for creativity and adaptability.

The straightforward preparation involves sautéing aromatics, adding pasta and zucchini, and allowing the ingredients to meld in a single pot. The result is a luscious, creamy pasta that perfectly incorporates the mild sweetness of zucchini.

This recipe is a celebration of convenience without compromising on taste. The creamy texture is achieved effortlessly as the pasta cooks, absorbing the flavors of the broth, cream, and Parmesan. The addition of zucchini brings a refreshing and vibrant element to the dish, complementing the richness of the creamy sauce.

Furthermore, the adaptability of this recipe ensures that it caters to various dietary preferences. Whether you follow a vegetarian, vegan, or traditional diet, simple substitutions allow everyone to indulge in the creamy goodness of this one-pot wonder.

In conclusion, Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini is more than just a convenient meal; it is a testament to the idea that delicious, satisfying dishes can be created with minimal effort. It invites you to savor a comforting bowl of pasta that not only nourishes the body but also brings joy to the palate, making it a go-to recipe for busy days or leisurely evenings.


1. How do I make Creamy One Pot Pasta with Zucchini?

  • To make this dish, sauté garlic and onions, add sliced zucchini, and then combine with pasta, vegetable broth, and cream. Simmer until the pasta is cooked, and finish with grated Parmesan and herbs.

2. Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

  • Yes, this recipe is versatile, and you can use various pasta shapes. Adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the type of pasta you choose.

3. Is it possible to make this dish vegan?

  • Absolutely. Substitute dairy cream with coconut cream or a plant-based alternative, and use nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan for a delicious vegan version.

4. Can I add other vegetables to the dish?

  • Certainly. Feel free to customize by adding vegetables like cherry tomatoes, spinach, or bell peppers for added color, flavor, and nutritional value.

5. How do I store leftovers, and can I reheat them?

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently on the stove with a splash of broth or water to maintain the creamy consistency.



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