Oh, hello summer’s most versatile produce — zucchini. Are you going to be in something deliciously sweet, spiraled into noodles, or my favorite — baked into crispy zucchini fries.
When it comes to easy vegetarian appetizer recipes, maybe this multifaceted summer veggie doesn’t immediately come to mind (you know, loaded baked sweet potato fries or kimchi fries might be more your style). But let me tell you, my friend, these baked zucchini sticks are something else.
They’re crisp-tender, easy to make with no frying involved, and dairy-free. You can easily make them gluten-free too, because there’s no flour, and you can find gluten-free breadcrumbs or panko.
And just when you didn’t think it could get any better, there’s this aioli for zucchini fries. Dip them in a creamy, tangy, spicy lemon-chili aioli and prepare to fall in love. This dip takes the super-easy route, similar to my roasted garlic aioli recipe, to save you time in the kitchen so there’s more time to eat!
What You’ll Need
To make the fries themselves, you’ll only need six ingredients – many of which I’m sure you can find in your pantry right now!
- Zucchini: of course! When you’ve got too much summertime zucchini, this is the recipe for you! And if you don’t have a garden that’s overflowing…head to the store and grab a few because you most definitely need this recipe for snack time.
- Panko: a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is courser than traditional breadcrumbs (although you could use them if needed). It crisps up wonderfully while baking and is what makes these fries so crispy!
- Garlic and Onion Powder: to season the panko, which gives the just-right flavor to these fries. Oh, and of course you know we’re adding some salt, too.
- Eggs: they crisp up when baking, helping to contribute to the crispy texture of the zucchini sticks and it helps the panko adhere to the fries.
How to Cut Zucchini Fries
In a few simple steps, you’ll have perfectly cut zucchini fries that are ready to bake.
First, trim the ends
You won’t need either end of the zucchini, so trim it off, going as close to the end as possible to reduce food waste.
Next, slice the zucchini into planks
Laying on its side, vertically cut the zucchini into long planks (i.e. long rectangles). Depending on the size of your zucchini, you should be able to get 3 to 4 planks per vegetable. Make sure they’re about 1/2 inch in size.
Cut the planks into sticks
Lay each plank flat on your cutting board, and slice it vertically into about 1/2 inch sticks. Again, you’ll likely get about 3 to 4 sticks per plank.
I then cut each stick in half, which I would recommend unless you have very small zucchini. The important thing to note is to try to make them as even as possible so they all cook at the same rate.
Remember to use your bear claw hands when cutting, with the fingertips down to prevent any accidents (mine could definitely be better in that pic!).
How to Make Zucchini Fries Crispy
Let’s make them then, shall we? The key to making crispy zucchini fries lies within the coating (panko + egg) and the cooking method (high heat + flipping).
Before you begin, set up your “dredging” station: egg(s) whisked in one bowl, and the panko and spices in another bowl. You’ll also want a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.
Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 450°F, too, so it’s nice and hot by the time the fries are done prepping.
Pat the zucchini strips dry before you begin the dredging process. They have a lot of moisture in them already, so this will help the rest of the ingredients stick.
Place a few sticks of zucchini in the whisked eggs until coated, then lift and allow the excess to drip off before transferring them into the bowl of panko and spices. Use your other hand to toss the zucchini stick in panko until coated.
Place the coated fries on the prepared baking sheet and continue with the rest of the zucchini, working in batches. Be sure you leave room between the fries on the baking sheet so that airflow can properly circulate.
Using one hand for the egg and one hand for the panko keeps things as mess-free as possible.
Baked Breaded Zucchini Fries
Once they’ve all been prepped, it’s time to bake! The oven is hot, so stick them in and let them do their thing for about 10 minutes. Then, it’s time to flip!
Flipping the zucchini sticks makes sure that no side gets soggy, and it helps crisp up the panko evenly. If you don’t want to flip them, consider using an oven-safe cooling rack as we do with crispy cauliflower bites.
Bake them for another 10 minutes or so until golden and crispy. While they bake, you’ll want to make sure you get started on that dipping sauce…
Lemon Chili Aioli
Ok, so this dip for zucchini fries might just be one of my favorite things. It’s tangy and slightly spicy yet creamy and absolutely irresistible. It’s a downright wonderful pairing for the mildly flavored zucchini.
And it’s super freaking easy to make (WIN!). To reiterate, we’re using my easy aioli shortcut here and instead of emulsifying eggs ourselves, we’re simply using mayo.
Stir together mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chili garlic sauce until combined. Taste test and adjust as needed – for both flavor and consistency. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add a little more lemon juice. Want it spicier? Add more chili sauce.
Find chili garlic sauce in the Asian foods aisle of your local grocery store. It’s great to have on hand for many recipes in addition to this one – like crispy cauliflower, veggie pad thai, and loaded kimchi fries.
Make them in the Airfryer!
I first developed this recipe back in 2018, and since then, the beloved air fryer has found its place on our kitchen countertops. This means it’s about time I shared the good news with you: yes, you can make them in the air fryer! I knew you’d ask.
The prep is the same for the fries, but making them in the air fryer doesn’t require any flipping, as long as you’re using the crisper rack.
I have this 4-Quart air fryer, and I need to make multiple batches of the fries so that they have sufficient breathing room while baking. If your air fryer is larger, you’ll likely be able to make fewer batches.
Air fry them at 390F for about 7-8 minutes; if your air fryer is already preheated (like if you’re on batch 2 or more), then they will only take about 5-6 minutes to crisp up.
Et voila, crispy zucchini fries straight outta your air fryer.
You can 100% enjoy these fries on their own as an appetizer or snack! They are healthy as some would say, right?! But I’m really just about flavorful, texture-filled foods around here, and that’s what they are.
Moral of the story: if you’re gonna enjoy them, then do it!
Storage & Reheating
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. They’re best reheated in the air fryer or in the stove (convection if you have it) at 375°F until crisp again. Do not microwave or they will get quite mushy.
If you know you won’t be able to enjoy them all at once, I do recommend saving the zucchini sticks – unbreaded – and preparing them once you’re ready to enjoy.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Baked Zucchini Fries & Aioli Dip (Not Soggy!)
- Cut zucchini into sticks by cutting off both ends, then vertically cutting into 3-4 ½-inch planks. Cut each plank into 3-4 ½-inch sticks, and cut those in half to make approximately 3-inch sticks, as desired.
- Preheat oven to 450°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine panko, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs (you can start with just 1 if you're not sure you'll need 2).
- In an assembly line fashion, dip the zucchini slices in the egg, letting any excess drip off before dipping them panko mixture, tossing and pressing the panko on to coat evenly. Place the fries on the prepared baking sheet, leaving room between each one.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, flipping halfway between cooking time, until golden and crispy. Serve with aioli immediately, preparing it while the fries bake.
- Aioli: Whisk together mayo, lemon juice, chili garlic sauce, and salt. Add salt to taste, adjusting the other ingredients if needed. Store leftover aioli in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
By the Way…
This recipe is part of our easy vegetarian appetizer collection. Check it out!