Zucchini Butter with Fresh Herbs

September 20, 2016(updated on August 9, 2023)

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.

5 from 5 votes

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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Total cooking time should be right around an hour.
  • 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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62 thoughts on "Zucchini Butter with Fresh Herbs"

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    1. 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.

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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!

        1. 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.

          1. 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?

            1. 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • I love this recipe so much! I wind up freezing grated and cubed zucchini because I can’t keep up with using it, and it’s really nice to make in the middle of winter.

    I also have done the recipe using grated yellow summer squash and it turned out fantastic! (though the color is not as nice as the green zucchini)

  • I love this recipe. Will be making it for the my second year. I like it as a base for my pizza. But my husband’s and my favorite is adding it to my Nomato Sauce. It adds a richness and depth to the sauce. It is wonderful!

  • Just wanted to thank you for reposting this recipe-I have used it for at least 10 years. It really is one of your best and most practical! We love this spread-I always add some grated parmesan cheese to make it even more delicious. So good spread on crusty French bread! Thanks again

  • Holy smokes, I was looking for and easy way to cook down the dozen or so zucchini in front of me with minimal effort, and this is exactly what I need! I can see this being a great dip for cauliflower and carrot sticks – veggies dipped in other veggies are my favorite healthy snacks! I’m assuming spiralized zucchini will be fine instead of chopping it – that should speed up the prep quite a bit and the end result is a paste anyway. Guess we’ll find out!

  • I have this cooking down right now and it smells amazing. I didnt have fresh herbs so I’m using dried that I crushed up.
    I did notice i the recipe instructions there is not mention of when to add the salt and pepper. I know when cooking zuch, salt placement in the recipe can mean a flavor change….when do you recommend adding?
    I added it at the 1/2 mark of cooking..

  • Made this last week and oh! did I enjoy it. I used it for “zucchini toast”, topped with an egg and some sliced radish. So delish. Haven’t had the chance to toss with pasta, but I look forward to it!

  • I’m excited! Making it right now ! my daughter has given me baseball bats of zucchini. She has made this and freezes it in ice cube trays. Then she puts them all in a freezer bag. When ever she is making spaghetti or sauce or soup she adds some cubes to thickenand add flavor. And veggie the kids don’t even know they are eating. ????

  • I just finished making this and it is great. I’m looking forward to spreading it on a toasted baguette, and top it with a slice of ripe tomato a and a bit of grated cheese. A few seconds under the broiler and it will be delish!

  • Really enjoyed this. I did throw it in the food processor after an hour of cooking because I’m a texture girl lol But DELISH!

  • Pay close attention to “cut the zucchini in 1/2″ cubes”. I did not, took much longer to cook down. Finally used a potato masher to get the right consistency. But it is delicious!!

  • So i’m actively making this now. What I don’t understand is when cooking down, what happens to the peelings? The zucchini “meat” cooks down to mush, but then there are these hunks of green peeling that do not spread easily. Am I supposed to put this through my food processor, or what?

    1. Typically, the peel breaks down along with the flesh. If you used a really big zucchini with tough skin, you may need to smash it up more with a potato masher or work it with an immersion blender.

    1. I don’t actually think that mint would go well in this particular spread. But you can certainly try it.

  • 5 stars
    Love this recipe, I add a 1/2 cup of diced onion with my garlic and crushed red pepper for some heat my husband loves it. Thanks!!!

  • In the book that you site “Preserving by the Pint” is this recipe pressure canned or preserved some other way?