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Spicy Garlic Chinese Zucchini Recipe (Quick + Easy)

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This healthy Chinese Zucchini Recipe is refreshing, nutty, and spicy, and will leave you wanting more! You’ll love this as an easy side dish, or add your favorite protein to make it a main meal. This raw recipe can be eaten uncooked, giving you the optimum nutrition from each ingredient, or easily turned into a zucchini stir fry.

Chinese Zucchini in a white bowl sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

This post was originally published on March 26th, 2019, updated on Mar 8th, 2022 with new photos, and finally re-edited on April 13th, 2023.

❀️ Why you will love this recipe

  • Healthy: It’s raw! Whole30, paleo, low carb, and keto compliant.
  • Easy recipe: This is such an easy side recipe to throw together. All you have to do is cut the fresh zucchini into noodle shapes and strain out the excess moisture. Then mix it with the delicious nutty sauce and it’s ready! So simple!
  • Quick side: It’s ready in just 35 minutes.
  • The crunch of the courgettes is refreshing, but the spices and herbs add a complex flavor.
  • Perfect for the whole family: This was my favorite zucchini recipe growing up – it’s so good! You can skip the hot spices if needed, and it’s naturally vegan-friendly

πŸ—οΈ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Zucchini: Known as courgettes if you’re in the UK, cut into noodle shapes (aka zoodles or courgetti spaghetti). My mum recently bought my electric spiralizer from Morrisons for £2.50 (!) in a sale, regularly a fiver. Worth it. Make sure you use firm zucchini when cutting it in a spiralizer. When the zucchini has a soft texture, it tends to not work very well in my experience.
  • Salt: This key ingredient draws the moisture out of the zucchini so that it isn’t soupy. I’ve used sea salt and pink Himalayan salt. Any salt will work.
  • Sesame oil: For a lovely nutty flavor and mouthfeel.
  • Tahini: You can substitute another nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter to keep it Whole30 and paleo-friendly.
  • Chili powder: Feel free to add more or less to suit the right amount of spiciness for you or your family. Red pepper flakes are a great substitute if you’d prefer.
  • Fresh garlic: Finely chopped garlic cloves pack in a ton of flavor! As this is a raw recipe, the garlic has a bit of a bite to it. It’s so tasty! Garlic powder doesn’t have quite the same taste so I recommend using fresh garlic when possible.
  • Chili oil: Just for a little extra heat. Omit it or swap it for extra sesame oil if needed.
  • Coconut aminos: This ingredient is a great way to incorporate Asian flavors into any meal on a paleo or Whole30 diet. If you’re okay with soy sauce, you can swap it 1:1 with low sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce. For dark soy sauce, use about 1/2 of the amount listed in the recipe card. I recommend adding a little extra honey if you use soy sauce.
  • Honey (optional): Just for a little sweetness, but this is entirely optional. Substitute maple syrup to make this vegan.
  • Green onions and sesame seeds (optional): Optional garnishes to finish off the recipe before serving.
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πŸ₯£ How to make Chinese Zucchini

1. First, make your zoodles. You can use a spiralizer, or mandoline slicer, or just cut the zucchini into small noodle shapes or zucchini slices.

Spiralizing the zucchini with an electric spiralizer.

2. If you’re using a spiralizer, cut the zucchini noodles into shorter lengths (scissors work really well). This will make it easier to mix and eat later.

3. Toss zoodles with salt and place them in a colander (strainer) over the sink (or a pot or towel) for 30 mins.

4. Next, add all other ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix them together to form a simple sauce.

Mixing the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.

5. After the zoodles have sat for 30 mins, gently squeeze out extra moisture and add them to the sauce mixture.

Zucchini being mixed with the nutty spicy sauce in a mixing bowl.

6. Mix well to combine and serve.

7. Tip: I like to make it the night before and serve it cold straight from the fridge. The flavors intensify and it tastes amazing!

Chinese zucchini in a white bowl.

πŸ«™ Storage Instructions

Store any leftover Asian zucchini noodles in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

✨ Variations

  • Sautéed Asian Zucchini: You can turn this into a zucchini stir-fry. Right before you add the noodles to the sauce, sauté them in a large skillet over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Mix the sauce in a small bowl and then add the sauce to the cooking pan. Mix it well with the stir-fried zucchini.
  • How about trying a different vegetable? Sweet potato (will need to be sautéed), yellow squash, maybe cucumber? Let me know if you try these!
  • If you’re not sticking to paleo or whole30, you can use peanut butter instead of tahini for this Chinese zucchini recipe. That’s what we used growing up =]

πŸͺ„ Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Make it the day before: This is how I prefer it, just throw it together the night before, place it in the fridge, and allow time to work its magic.
  • Be gentle when straining the zoodles: Definitely make sure you salt and strain the zoodles before adding them to the sauce, but don’t leave them too long or squeeze them too much – they’ll go mushy!
  • The garlic is raw. Make sure your family is having dinner with you ; )
  • Add more chili if you like the heat.
  • If you refrigerate leftovers, the flavors will intensify overnight.
  • I like to add some diced chicken breast to the dish for a quick and satisfying meal. Great for lunch!

🍽️ What to serve with this spicy Asian zucchini recipe

To make a complete meal, here are a few recipes I like to serve this with, along with a side of Sesame Broccoli:

❓ FAQs

Is Tahini Whole30?

Yes! It is literally just ground sesame seeds, and the seeds are compliant.

Is sesame oil whole30?

I would say yes but in small amounts. Some oils (soybean, peanut, corn, etc.) are completely off-limits because they break the no legumes/no grains rule. Sesame seeds are not legumes, nor grains so they should be fine. However, for your main cooking oil in other dishes, I would stick to a healthier option like coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil.

Overhead shot of Chinese Zucchini in a white bowl sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

πŸ˜‹ More side dishes you will love

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πŸ“– Recipe

Chinese zucchini in a white bowl.

Chinese Zucchini Recipe

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This healthy Chinese Zucchini Recipe is refreshing, nutty, and spicy, and will leave you wanting more! You’ll love this as an easy side dish, or add your favorite protein to make it a main meal. This raw recipe can be eaten uncooked, giving you the optimum nutrition from each ingredient, or easily turned into a zucchini stir fry.

Ingredients

  • 4 zucchinis/courgettes, cut into noodles (zoodles/courgetti spaghetti)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (or peanut/almond butter)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons medium or mild chili powder, add to your taste
  • 2 teaspoons chili oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup (optional)

Optional garnishes

  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Green onions

Instructions

  1. First, make your zoodles. You can use a spiralizer, or mandoline slicer, or just cut the zucchini into small noodle shapes or zucchini slices. Zucchini being cut into noodles in an electric spiralizer.
  2. If using a spiralizer, cut the zucchini noodles into shorter lengths (scissors work really well). This will make it easier to mix and eat later.
  3. Toss zoodles with salt and place them in a colander (strainer) over the sink (or a pot or towel) for 30 mins.
  4. Next, add all other ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix them together to form a simple sauce. Mixing a sauce together in a mixing bowl.
  5. After the zoodles have sat for 30 mins, gently squeeze out extra moisture and add them to the sauce mixture.
  6. Mix the zucchini well with the sauce to combine. Mixing zucchini with the sauce in a large bowl.
  7. Garnish if desired and serve. Chinese zucchini in a white bowl.

Notes

  1. Make it the day before: This is how I prefer it, just throw it together the night before, place it in the fridge, and allow time to work its magic.
  2. Be gentle when straining the zoodles: Definitely make sure you salt and strain the zoodles before adding them to the sauce, but don’t leave them too long or squeeze them too much – they’ll go mushy!
  3. The garlic is raw. Make sure your family is having dinner with you ; )
  4. Add more chili if you like the heat.
  5. If you refrigerate leftovers, the flavors will intensify overnight.
  6. I like to add some diced chicken breast to the dish for a quick and satisfying meal. Great for lunch!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 569mgCarbohydrates: 8gNet Carbohydrates: 5gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information and calculations will vary with the use of different brands or ingredients. These figures are estimates. Please get in touch if you have questions!

Did you make this recipe?

Have you made this recipe? I’d love to know <3 Tag me (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and Instagram, Pin it on Pinterest, or leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to sign up to the email list for sparkly new recipes in your inbox =]

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