Grilled Zucchini Ribbons Recipe (2024)

By Steven Raichlen

Grilled Zucchini Ribbons Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour, plus preparing the grill
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Zucchini is the summer vegetable grillers love to hate. We love it for its summery flavor and sheer abundance. We love it less for its unfortunate tendency to become soggy when grilled. Russ Faulk, chief designer at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet and author of “Food + Fire,” has come up with an ingenious method of keeping zucchini crisp during grilling: He slices it thin on a mandolin, then accordions the strips on skewers to grill over a screaming hot fire. The edges char and crisp, giving you the vegetable equivalent of meaty ribs’ burnt ends. I’ve taken the burnt end idea one step further by seasoning the zucchini with a classic barbecue rub — use your favorite — and basting it with spiced butter.

Featured in: How to Grill Just About Any Vegetable

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Yield:6 servings

  • Vegetable oil, for the grill grates
  • 8tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1garlic clove, minced
  • 3tablespoons barbecue rub or spice mix
  • 1teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6medium-small zucchini (6 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

191 calories; 19 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 6 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 6 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 2 grams protein; 451 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Grilled Zucchini Ribbons Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high (450 to 600 degrees). Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it with a tightly folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil and drawn across the bars of the grate with tongs. If using bamboo skewers, soak in cold water.

  2. Step


    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, 1 tablespoon barbecue rub and lemon zest, and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

  3. Cut off and discard the ends of the zucchini. Using a mandolin outfitted with a finger guard, thinly slice one zucchini lengthwise into slices scant ⅛-inch thick. You can also use a chef’s knife to cut slices lengthwise just shy of ⅛-inch thick. (Try folding your first or second strip. If it breaks at the fold, it means it’s too thick.) Lay the slices flat on a sheet pan. Lightly brush the tops with enough barbecue butter to lightly coat and lightly sprinkle with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons barbecue rub.

  4. Step


    Fold a zucchini slice into an accordion shape (like multiple Ws or ribbon candy) and thread it onto a metal or soaked bamboo skewer. Continue threading until all the slices from the zucchini are on the skewer. Slice, brush, season and skewer the remaining zucchini the same way. You should wind up with 6 skewers.

  5. Step


    Arrange the zucchini kebabs, skin sides down, on the grate. Grill (covered if using a gas grill), basting with any remaining barbecue butter and turning to evenly brown, until singed at some of the edges, 1 to 2 minutes per side (4 to 8 minutes in all). Season with salt if needed and serve.



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Cooking Notes


Skillet on HIGHWindows OPENAC on BLASTTesty Manhattan apartment fire alarm BLARINGAll hail the ZUCCHINI


This was really good. It helped to salt down the zucchini slices and let them sit for a while, they became much more flexible, they should not be too thick. You can blot off the salty water before skewering them but it added to the flavor.


Cautionary note: You must have a very hot grill for this to be successful. We have a standard gas grill and the zucchini did not get crispy even though we grilled them at the suggested temperature and longer than the suggested time. The end result, although tasty, was soggy and messy. We won't try this again.

Helen Lloyd

This also works on th ehob with a large griddle or frying pan. Just lay the slices flat and brush with sesoned oil or butter. Cook on first side until browned then flip and repeat. Works all year round in any weather. Sent from Britain, where we don't BBQ often because it rains!

Betty StLouis

Can you use a vegetable peeler to make the slices?


I agree with Em, salting, let sit for 20-30 min, then blotting off excess moisture for zucchini (and eggplant) before cooking is the way to go. learned that from Greek friends when I lived there in the 70’s. works every time ;-)


To state the obvious, although Step 1 can be read as suggesting otherwise, clean and oil the grill grates with your paper towel BEFORE heating the grill to 600 degrees.


Yes. That's how I do squash and zucchini ribbons.

Bryn Mooth

Note that the nature of the zucchini makes a BIG difference … if they have a seedy central core, the slices will fall apart lengthwise. Small, young zukes are better here.


his was really good. It helped to salt down the zucchini slices and let them sit for a while, they became much more flexible, they should not be too thick. You can blot off the salty water before skewering them but it added to the flavor.


Here's a quicker, maybe better idea? Cut the zucs length-wise into 1/8" strips . Prepare a hot frying pan, add butter & or olive oil. Salt and pepper or "whatever" while they sizzle; then flip 'em when they achieve that tasty burnt state. Works just like a pan fried steak and is just as easy.

mamas cookie

I loved the idea but decided on a slightly different variation. Instead of a mandolin, we used a spiral slicer which created a ribbon that was wrapped around and pushed through skewers. Added a bit of olive oil and chili dipping powder and cooked on very high for 3 minutes a side with the grill lid closed. Served with Japanese mayo in less than 30 minutes. A quick go-to pleaser.


Delish! I salted first and then applied the butter. Used a gas grill and it worked perfectly. Will definitely be doing this for friends. It looks so clever and tastes so good with the crispy edges.

Mary Ann

brushed with oil or butter, lie flat on griddle, cook till brown, flip & repeat. also, salt first, blot to soften/draw out water.


Best way to grill zucchini! I soak the slices for at least 30 min before putting on the skewers.


I used a vegetable peeler to make the zucchini ribbons. Worked well. I couldn’t figure what was meant by skin side down; perhaps i should have been more diligent in threading the accordions all in the same direction. While they weren’t crispy, they were delicious.


My Italian friends loved this! I spray a blast of balsamic before serving on a bed of mint sprigs- a scapece!

Sarah in Minneapolis

Slice very thin on mandoline (between 1/16 and 1/8"). Sweat with salt for a few minutes. pat dry. (makes them much more pliable). Then add herbed butter and herb/spice blend (We used what we had on hand). Skewer as directed. High on gas grill. So good!

maria c

I have the same question about “skin side down”


As you plank the zukes you will end up with slices that have skins on their edges. Thread the planks onto your skewer in the same skin/flesh orientation and start the grilling with the skin edges side first.


Arrange the zucchini skewers skin-side down on the grate? The way the strips are folded on the skewer, how is there a skin side? What am I missing?

Lissa Beebe

Yes to spiralizer (use the largest ribbon blade). So much easier than mandolin.


Cooked on gas grill. Used a Bragg no salt herb mix instead of BBQ. Husband declared it the best zucchini he's ever eaten! Given that we grow and eat zucchini a gazillion times a year cooked a bazillion different ways, this was very high praise.


VERY good! Salt zucchini slices and let drain; pat dry and proceed, but with sl less bbq rub than recipe calls for.


I will never cook or eat zucchini any other way. Wowsers.


Qn: would it work to lay a strip of bacon down, then put the zuke slices on top, and then skewer that two-faced ribbon?


The bacon would have to be fully cooked but flexible.


Olive oil was very easy. Wooden skewers. We tried a few different spice rubs and Zataar was actually our fav. Will absolutely make again!


Great way to eat zucchini. I hate zucchini and I cook this all the time!

Bryn Mooth

Note that the nature of the zucchini makes a BIG difference … if they have a seedy central core, the slices will fall apart lengthwise. Small, young zukes are better here.

Johnny B Foode

I used a cheese slicer, and got good ribbons. I used the hottest part of my gas grill, and got delicious mush. Took me a good long time to thread the skewers, and didn’t work out.

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Grilled Zucchini Ribbons Recipe (2024)
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