Zucchini Butter with Fresh Herbs

Long-cooked zucchini butter is the perfect way to reduce large amounts of zucchini into a flavorful spread.

Zucchini butter on a baguette slice

Many years ago, I published this recipe for zucchini butter on a food-centric website that I ran as part of my last job. Sadly, they pulled that old site down recently, which left me with broken links and no way to share the goodness of zucchini butter when asked (the recipe is also in Preserving by the Pint, but not everyone has that book at their fingertips).

I learned to cook zucchini like this from my friend Lucy. At the time, she worked as a flower gardener at a historical home in Virginia. On stormy days, the outdoor staff would gather in their little kitchen and cook up produce from the garden.

During one of those cooking sessions, an Italian vegetable gardener taught her to slow cook zucchini with herbs until it melted into a spreadable, succulent paste. I’ve never been more grateful for a second-hand cooking lesson, as this humble little butter is intensely delicious. I like to spread it on toast or toss it with warm pasta.

Zucchini Butter


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, gently smashed
  • 2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
  • 5-6 springs of thyme (rosemary is also good here)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Place the olive oil and butter and allow them to melt together. Roughly chop the smashed garlic and add it to the pan. Add the zucchini cubes.
  2. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the zucchini has begun to soften. Strip the thyme leaves off their stems and add them to the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring often. The goal is to cook the liquid out of the zucchini and melt it into a flavorful, spreadable paste. If at any point, the zucchini starts to brown and stick, add a splash of liquid (water is fine, though if you have an open bottle, a little white wine is also delicious) and reduce the heat a bit more.
  4. Total cooking time should be right around an hour.
  5. Once cooked, divide the spread between two half pint jars. It will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge or a year in the freezer.

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30 Responses to Zucchini Butter with Fresh Herbs

  1. 1
    Angela says:

    This recipe is by far my favorite thing to do with zucchini! I could eat it forever. Thank you for re-sharing.

  2. 2
    Tina says:

    Sounds wonderful! Do you remove the seeds from the zucchini? Also, can you use those baseball bat size ones for this recipe? ? Many thanks!

  3. 3
    Molly says:

    Thank you for reposting this for anybody who hasn’t had the good fortune to try it yet. Alas, my zucchini plants have been stingy this year so I have been dehydrating them to squirrel away for winter. If I can find a good local price on it, I’ll treat myself to another batch of Zucchini Butter.

  4. 4
    Handful says:


  5. 5
    BLDinMT says:

    I am SO excited to learn of this! I mean, what gardener couldn’t use a recipe for taming mounds of zucchini! No matter how we plan or how many plants we grow there always seems to be at least one period where it is hard to keep up. Now I’ve got a game plan.

  6. 6
    Linda says:

    Thank you so much for this delicious sounding recipe! Also for saying how much zucchini in lb’s I home grow mine and sometimes end up with a baseball bat of a zucchini!

  7. 7
    Becky says:

    I love this recipe. And now I’m intrigued by the story of where it came from (knowing an Italian gardener who works at a historical house in my own Virginia town).

    I would add, zucchini butter is also a fantastic pizza topping, used in lieu of sauce.

    • 7.1
      Marisa says:

      Becky, it may be the same Italian gardener. My friend Lucy was the head flower gardener at Monticello for a time in the early 2000s.

  8. 8
    Molly Simms says:

    At the end of my Southern Hemisphere Winter, I still have some grated zucchini in the freezer. Do you think this would work with frozen zucchini?

  9. 9
    Chris says:

    Great recipe, I made it and added some hot peppers! YUM

  10. 10
    margaret says:

    Thank you for these awesome recipes – what a great way to use up the tons of zucchini I have and make sure nothing goes to waste. really grateful for your postings

  11. 11
    Kat says:

    An inspiring recipe that uses a good amount of zucchini from an overgrown yard after only a week of being away! What is it about this crazy veg that makes it grow at neck breaking speed? Wish my roses would do the same… I grilled the large 1/2 medallions of two large zuchs on the bbq and then chopped them. I followed the recipe from there and added 3 cloves of black garlic mashed in a mortar with ground pepper and pink salt midway through cooking, deglazing with a 1/2 cup of wine and cooking according to recipe. Let it cool and ran it through a few short pulses through the food processor. Made a thin crust, rustic, part whole wheat pizza dough and spread a thin layer of this smoky “butter” on each pizza round. Baked, let it cool slightly and topped with a few ribbons of Italian Prosciutto and fresh baby spinach. Heavenly!

  12. 12
    Susy says:

    Hi can I jar to preserved it out of the fridge?

    • 12.1
      Marisa says:

      This recipe can only be frozen or kept in the fridge. It is not safe for canning.

      • Tara says:

        Why is that? You can’t use a pressure canner on this recipe?

        • Marisa says:

          It’s a pretty dense product and so I don’t believe that the heat of the canner with reliably be able to penetrate to the center of the jars.

          • Meg says:

            I would bottle it while hot and place straight in a water bath, I can’t see how that wouldn’t seal the jars for preservation on the contents?

            • Marisa says:

              This isn’t a recipe that is safe for canning. It doesn’t have enough acid to prevent the possible germination of botulism. It must be frozen for long term storage.

  13. 13
    Cynthia Hodges says:

    I tried this for dinner tonight…I needed to add a lot more salt to make it taste right. Also, I finished it with a splash of white wine….definitely needed an acid at the end. Lemon juic would work well too. I loved it! Thanks

  14. 14
    Simone says:

    I will be trying this soon as it sounds wonderful. However I am wondering if I could sub in coconut oil for the butter as I am dairy allergic.

  15. 15
    Rhonda says:

    Do you serve this hot or cold or both?

  16. 16
    Tina says:

    Can this be frozen? Or suggestions on how to preserve it?

  17. 17
    tammyg says:

    Do you peel the zucchini?

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