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A pan of zucchini parmesan with a wooden spatula in it.

Zucchini Parmesan (Parmigiana di Zucchine)

Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Keyword: zucchini parmesan
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 305kcal
This easy zucchini parmesan is vegetarian and gluten free! No breadcrumbs, no dredging and NO FRYING! It's layered with oven roasted zucchini, and adding smoked mozzarella gives it an unexpected twist.
Print Recipe


  • 2 ½ pounds zucchini
  • 6 oz smoked mozzarella
  • 1 ¼ cups parmigiano reggiano cheese (parmesan)
  • 28 oz San Marzano tomatoes from one 28 oz can
  • ¼ cup olive oil plus more for roasting the zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more for the zucchini
  • 1 bunch fresh basil


  • Note: I've written these instructions so that you can multitask while making this recipe. Grate the cheese while the zucchini drains, make the sauce while the zucchini roasts, etc. So it may seem like I'm going back and forth between things, but if you do it this way, it will be stress-free and take less time.

Prep and roast the zucchini, grate the cheeses

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Use a good chef's knife to slice the zucchini into planks about ¼ inch thick.
  • Place the zucchini slices in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt so that all slices are coated. Allow to sit in the bowl for about 30 minutes. The salt is going to pull a lot of water out of the zucchini which will keep it from making the final product watery.
  • While you wait for the zucchini, grate the parmesan and mozzarella on the small holes of a box grater. Chop the garlic finely.
  • After 30 minutes, the zucchini slices will have released a lot of water, and they should be kind of flappy and pliable. Place them on a clean dish towel, then lay another clean dish towel on top to blot dry.
  • Place the zucchini into a large, DRY bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt so that all of it is coated. Place the zucchini on the parchment-lined baking sheets, but not too close together. We want them to roast, not steam.
  • Roast the zucchini in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until they start to get golden brown in spots and seem to have given up most of their water. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 400 degrees F.

While the zucchini roasts, make the sauce

  • Empty the tomatoes into a large mixing bowl and crush them by hand. Remove any stems from the tops of the tomatoes, as they won't break down while the sauce simmers.
  • Add ¼ cup of olive oil to a large, deep pan over medium heat. I used my Lodge enamel cast iron casserole dish. Once it begins to shimmer, add the chopped garlic and crushed red pepper. Stir frequently for 1 - 2 minutes, just until the garlic becomes fragrant and begins to soften.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and kosher salt to the pan, stir all the ingredients together, and turn the heat up to medium high. Fill the empty tomato can about ¼ full with water and swish it around to get everything out then add that to the sauce as well. Once it gets to a bubbly simmer, turn the heat back to medium and stir frequently, preferably with a wooden spoon, for about 20 minutes.

Layering the zucchini parmesan

  • Layer 1: Put ⅓ of the sauce in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish. Then add ⅓ of the zucchini on top as you would lasagna noodles. Next add ¼ cup of parmesan, then ½ of the smoked mozzarella and a few basil leaves.
  • Layer 2: sauce, zucchini, ¼ cup of parmesan, all of the remaining mozzarella.
  • Layer 3: zucchini, sauce, remaining parmesan.

Bake it!

  • Place the zucchini parmesan in the oven (400 degrees F) and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is beginning to turn golden brown. Let stand 5 - 10 minutes before serving.


  • You can find smoked mozzarella at Whole Foods.
  • I highly recommend grating your own cheese. Once grated, cheese starts to lose moisture and the texture changes. You'll also pay less if you grate it yourself.
  • Do NOT skip salting the zucchini and letting the water drain out of it! This is so important! If you don't do this beforehand, you'll end up with very watery zucchini parmesan and that would be very sad.
  • Yes, you still need to salt the zucchini again before you roast it. You're wiping off most of the other salt when you blot between the dish towels.
  • This recipe is adapted from The Italian Table, by Elizabeth Minchilli
  • Be sure to read the post above for more info on how to choose ingredients and make substitutions. 
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Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 913mg | Potassium: 798mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1007IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 468mg | Iron: 2mg