June 6, 2018

Sautéed Zucchini (Oil-Free)

This soft, slightly sweet Oil-Free Sautéed Zucchini is delicious, nutritious and a healthy plant-based dinner side.

Health Benefits of Zucchini

Before we get to the recipe, let's talk about the health benefits of sautéed zucchini. Zucchini has a high nutrient-density; it packs a ton of nutrients in a low calorie count. A small zucchini has over 20% of your RDA for vitamins A and C. It also has vitamin K, folate, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. Talk about healthy.

Especially during the summer months, when you can get fresh zucchini, the squash is a great option. And there are so many ways to cook it!

Sautéing without Oil

How do you cook sautéed zucchini without oil, you may ask. The solution is both easy and tasty: vegetable broth. Many recipes use oil to sauté because you need some sort of liquid to ensure the vegetables don't burn in the pan. Oil does the job just fine, but you don't need it! To avoid the high calories and artery-clogging consequences of cooking with oil, you can simply replace the oil in the recipe with another liquid.

Personally, I like to use vegetable broth; it gives the dish a lovely flavor depth. If you don't have vegetable broth, don't worry! Any liquid will do. If I'm out of vegetable broth, I just use water. It doesn't end up as flavor-filled, but it keeps the veggies from burning (and that's important).

Sautéed Zucchini

How to make Oil-Free Sautéed Zucchini

Step 1. Roughly chop the onion and garlic. I LOVE adding onion and garlic to dishes. The strong, spice of garlic, combined with the sweet, crunch of onion is irresistible. Plus, garlic and onion are both filled with gut healthy nutrients. It's a win win!

Step 2. Slice the zucchini. You can chop the zucchini into chunks or slice into rounds like I did. My rounds were about 1/8" thick. The thinner you slice, the quicker the zucchini cooks.

Step 3. Heat the vegetable broth in a large pan. Use a non-stick if you have one. Then add the garlic. Wait until you smell the beautiful aroma of cooked garlic and then add the zucchini. Cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally.

Your zucchini will start out looking raw and opaque. You'll know it's done when it is soft and turning translucent.

At this point, depending on how soft you want your sautéed zucchini to be, you can remove it from the heat and enjoy. I prefer firm veggies, so I keep a close eye on my zucchini to make sure it doesn't get mushy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sauté without oil?

Sautéing without oil is a little different than a traditional sauté. Use just a splash of water or vegetable broth when you first start cooking to prevent the zucchini from sticking to the pan. As the zucchini cooks it will release its natural liquid, so you won't need to add much more broth or water.

Let the zucchini cook until the water has evaporated. This may take a bit longer than you are used to with a traditional sauté.

Can I use onion and garlic powder instead?

It's ideal if you chop up whole onion and garlic -- it adds more flavor and texture. But it's totally fine to use onion powder and/or garlic powder. If you have freeze dried onion or garlic available, those are preferable to the powders.

What should I eat with this Sautéed Zucchini?

I suggest pairing this zucchini with a protein and a starch. You could eat it along side Tofu Apricot Skewers or Crispy Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

Or for a simpler dish, try whipping up some tempeh or tofu and adding a starch like sweet potatoes or quinoa.

Recipe Prayer

Jesus, thank you for the gift of food. We marvel at your wonderful creation. Thank you for giving us Zucchini, filled with vitamins and minerals to nourish our bodies and keep us healthy. Let us be mindful of you as we eat them and give glory and praise to you always. Amen.

Related Recipes

Love zucchini? Try these tasty zucchini recipes next:

Tried this recipe?

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Sautéed Zucchini (Oil-Free)

This soft, slightly sweet sautéed zucchini is delicious, nutritious and a healthy plant-based dinner side.















  • 1 Small Onion
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 6 Small Zucchini
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth


  1. Roughly chop the onion and the garlic. Slice the zucchini into rounds.
  2. Heat the vegetable broth in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When it starts to steam, add the onions and cook until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  4. Add the zucchini, cover and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes or so. When the zucchini is soft, it’s done. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If the veggies start to stick to the pan, add more broth.

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April 28, 2022
Jean Mastin
Elizabeth: Thank you so much for making my meal times wonderful again. I am 86 yrs plus, and was finding eating dull and dreary. Now it is " scrum delicious time to eat". . Blessings de Jean
Hi Jean - Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you are enjoying my recipes. Please let me know if you ever have recipe requests or if there's anything else I can do to keep your meals delicious!
April 9, 2022
Can you leave nutritional info for your recipes? Serving size/calories would be so helpful! Trying mushroom lentil stew tonight! and looking forward to crispy chickpea stuffed sweet potatoes very soon. Thanks for creating healthy, attractive recipes!
Hi Katie - so excited to hear that you are trying some of my recipes! I'd love to hear how they go. I haven't posted nutritional information for my recipes because I know it can be difficult for some people with disordered eating to see nutrition facts. I've gotten a lot of requests to add them recently, so I'm working on a solution that can provide information for those who want it but not be triggering for others. In the meantime, if you're curious about the nutrient info about a particular recipe, I recommend using Cronometer. It's a website/app to track and understand nutrient info and I think it does a great job of emphasizing all the nutrients (not just macros). I hope this helps! Please let me know if I can help in any other way.
April 9, 2022
U mentioned date sugar on this recipe but it’s not in the instructions. I know u add it but just in case u wanna add to instructions. Love ur recipes! Thank u. I’m thinking of going to vegan a little nervous tho lol
Hi Vickey - thanks so much for catching that! I am updating the post now. So happy to hear you enjoy my recipes. And exciting that you are thinking about going vegan!! If there's anything that I can do to help, please let me know.
March 28, 2022
Sr Maureen Egan
I'd love to try this soup. What are the nutritional values, like how much fat does it contain, carbs, etc.
Hi Sr Maureen - I usually don't post macronutrient information because I know each person has their own goals and I don't want to encourage or discourage anyone's specific goals. But I often use Cronometer as a tool to understand the nutritional profile of my recipes. I plugged the ingredient information for this recipe into Cronometer and got the following nutrient information per serving: 521 calories, 44g fat, 23g carbs, 16g protein. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions and if you try the recipe!
March 26, 2022
Margareta Ahle
This curry is absolutely delicious.
Thank you so much! It's one of my favorites :)
March 23, 2022
Martha maloney
Thank you I have been doing the fruit and oatmeal, etc for years and I love it. I will try the pears. I refrigerate my left over oatmeal and with a touch of milk or fruit juice liquid it’s fine the next day. Just a warning about tofu; it interferes with some medicines especially Thyroid medicine. Thank you for the short prayers, there are lovely.
Hi Martha - thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you like the prayers! As someone who doesn't take any medications I have no issues with eating tofu and encouraging others to eat it too (it's a great source of protein!). That said, you should always consult with your doctor about possible interactions with medications. I have plenty of recipes without tofu, so hopefully you can find things that work for you!
March 3, 2022
Susan Cunningham
I made this for Ash Wednesday and it was delicious. It was also simple and not much work time once the mushrooms and onions were cut.
Hi Susan - I'm so glad you liked it!
March 1, 2022
When you say shape into a rectangular loaf, what dimensions? 1/2 thick by 8 inches long or?
My loaf was about 7" long and 4" wide with about 1" of height. Then I sliced it 1/2" thick along the long end to get 12ish biscotti. I will clarify this in the post! Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any other questions.
January 16, 2022
Tracy Henry
Made this tonight. Absolutely delicious Elizabeth. You got this one just right!
Oh yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
January 16, 2022
L Collins
Hi Could you please confirm two things:1. The amount of salt. Seems like too much. 2. The directions say there is lemon juice in the dressing but it’s not listed under ingredients. ThanksL.
Hi there! Confirming that the two teaspoons of salt in the dressing is correct. I didn't salt the cauliflower when roasting it or the salad after it was done, so this amount of salt was perfect. If you're concerned about it you can decrease the amount of salt in the dressing and then add more at the end if you need it. As for the lemon juice, SO sorry about that! It was a typo in my directions and I've removed it now. Hope this helps :)
December 20, 2021
This looks lovely! Do you have a recipe for the red pepper hummus also? Thank you!
Hi Martha! I don't have a recipe for red pepper hummus on my site. I suggest taking a traditional hummus recipe and blending in roasted red pepper.
November 22, 2021
Amanda J Lehmann
I tried these and they were delicious! A bit dense but flavorful and the "buckeye" blend of peanut and chocolate was on point! Recommend!
Yay! I'm so glad you liked them! -- Elizabeth
December 6, 2021
Hi, these look amazing. I was wondering, could I used powdered peanut butter in place of creamy for the recipe? thanks
Hi Grace! There is already some powdered peanut butter in this recipe, so adding more might make the texture more gluey. Also, the real peanut butter adds some fat, which helps create flavor. That said, if you want to use powdered peanut butter, I would suggest mixing it with a high-fat liquid like coconut cream and then measuring out 2/3 cup. Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes :) -- Elizabeth
November 15, 2021
You mention using vegetable broth in your introduction but it isn’t included in the recipe
Hi Becky - thanks for pointing this out. I have removed mention of vegetable broth from this post. You do not need any vegetable broth. The mushrooms will release natural liquid which will prevent any sticking. -- Elizabeth
September 23, 2021
Tracy Henry
Hi Elizabeth, LOVE you recipes. Please keep them coming. :)I was wondering, can you share what is the vegan chocolate bar you used in this recipe?
August 28, 2021
Henry (Hank) Mader
thank you for the oil free recipe. I'm getting introduced to wild Bolete mushrooms here in Colorado, and everyone sautes Bolete's in butter or olive oil. I'm on a veggie, oil free regimen for heart health reasons. and your recipe suggestion may fill the bill. I can't wait to give it a try.
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This is so fun! Loving your creamy photography :)
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This looks incredible! So yummy and pretty photography