Is your garden overflowing with zucchini (AKA courgette) that you need to use, or are you just trying to fit more of this delicious and healthy vegetable into your diet? Do you have a hard time getting your kids to eat zucchini? Give these delicious zucchini pancakes (fritters) a try! They’re crisp on the outside and moist in the middle, with an extra crunch and flavor pop from the bacon. Absolutely delicious, and great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
My mother and I both love potato pancakes, and I’ve perfected a recipe over the years. One of the most important ingredients is bacon – without it, they can be bland. Occasionally I grate up an extra zucchini or a bit of cauliflower and add it to the mix, and the results are always fantastic. Out of those experiments, zucchini pancakes were born.
I have two little boys, and on the whole they are great eaters. They’re usually willing to try new things, and they each have several vegetables that they’ll happily mow through, Unfortunately, I can’t get either of them to eat a bit of zucchini. It’s one of my favorite veggies, and I don’t make it very often because the kids won’t try more than a bite – I think it’s a textural thing.
Zucchini fritters are the solution! Grated zucchini, mixed with onion, garlic, seasoning, crisp bacon, and parmesan cheese, is pan-fried in bacon fat until lightly browned with a crispy exterior. Serve them warm, maybe with a dollop of sour cream.
What is Zucchini? Is it a Fruit or a Vegetable?
Zucchini, also known as courgette, and all members of the squash family are technically fruits rather than vegetables. Botanically, they belong to the pepo family of berries, along with watermelon and cucumbers. They contain seeds and develop from the (edible) flower of their respective plants.
Zucchini and most other squashes are usually treated as vegetables in recipes, and they are savory rather than sweet. Zucchini is classified as a summer squash, along with yellow crooknecks, zephyrs, and pattypans. Yellow squash are the closest in flavor and texture to zucchini, and the two can be used interchangeably in recipes. They are often cooked, but can also be sliced and eaten raw.
How to Select Zucchini
Bigger is not better. When choosing a zucchini at the store or farmer’s market, look for zucchini that are no more than about 8 inches long. Zucchini become watery and flavorless if allowed to become overly large. Look for richly colored skin free of blemishes, and an intact stem.
Is it a Fritter or a Pancake?
What’s the difference between a fritter and a pancake? Are these zucchini pancakes, zucchini fritters, or both?
What is a Fritter?
According to Merriam-Webster, a fritter is “a small mass of fried or sautéed batter often containing fruit or meat.” The word comes from the French friture and the Latin fritura, which both translate as “fried.” It’s an extremely broad category. Fritters can be doughy, a la apple fritters, or crispy, like a Southern corn fritter. They can be sweet or savory, contain fruits or vegetables, and be encased in dough or dipped or mixed into batter. They can be deep fried or crisped in a pan.
What is a Pancake?
As the name indicates, pancakes are cooked in a pan. Batter often consists of a starch, eggs, and dairy, with varied mix-ins or toppings. Different kinds of pancakes exist in cultures across several continents. Like fritters, they can be sweet or savory, and can contain a variety of ingredients. They only need to be made from batter and to be cooked in a pan.
Are Zucchini Pancakes also Fritters?
Yes! “Fritter” and “pancake” are both really broad categories of food. Not all pancakes are fritters, and not all fritters are pancakes, but some fit into both categories. Pan-fried cakes made with grated vegetables and a binder qualify. This recipe is based on the concept of latke-style potato pancakes, and can rightfully be called either a pancake or a fritter – I’ll use the terms interchangeably.
How to Make Zucchini Pancakes
Shred and Drain Vegetables
The first step is to grate your zucchini. Use a box grater or food processor, whichever you prefer. I use a mix of regular zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, but if you only have one or the other that’s fine. I also grate my onion. Put the shredded veggies into a colander, and sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt. Toss the colander a few times to make sure everything gets salted.
Use the time while the salt is doing its work to prepare your bacon. I usually fry bacon in a cast-iron skillet for this recipe, since that’s the pan I will be using later to cook the pancakes themselves. You can also bake your slices if you prefer. Pick any method you like, as long as it’s one that will leave you some bacon fat at the end to cook the fritters in. Don’t microwave or bake on paper towels for this recipe, please. You can find instructions here, at How to Cook Bacon. If you’re interested in making your own bacon like I do, check out my complete beginner’s guide.
How to Avoid Soggy Fritters
Now wait. You need to give the salt at least 20 minutes to draw some of the moisture out of the shredded zucchini. Once the time is up, squeeze the veggies in a clean dishcloth or series of paper towels until you’ve removed all the moisture that you possibly can. It’s a lot. Be prepared. If you skip this step, or aren’t thorough about getting the zucchini as dry as possible, your fritters won’t work. They’ll either fall apart in the pan or refuse to brown. Spend a few minutes making sure you’ve done a good job.
Transfer the drained zucchini to a medium sized bowl. Add shredded parmesan cheese (I use the small diameter side of my box grater), flour, egg, and minced garlic. Stir to combine. Add a small pinch of salt and several turns of ground black pepper, along with the Aleppo pepper. If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, you can substitute paprika, cayenne, or a mix of the two – depending on your tolerance for heat. Aleppo pepper is very mild. My kids hate spicy food, and they eat dishes made with Aleppo pepper a few times a week. Finally, crumble in the cooked crispy bacon. Stir with a fork until well combined.
Fry Zucchini Pancakes
In a mix of half vegetable or other neutral oil and half bacon fat, start to fry the zucchini pancakes. Use a quarter cup measure to turn the batter into the pan, and flatten them a bit with the back of the measuring cup. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, over medium heat, or until golden brown. Make as many batches as needed, but do not crowd the pan. I make a few batches in a cast iron skillet for my family of four, but if you prefer feel free to use an electric skillet. They may be held in a warm oven while the remaining batches are being cooked.
What to Serve with Zucchini Pancakes
Zucchini pancakes are one of those foods that work well for any meal of the day. They can be breakfast, alongside eggs and fresh fruit. They can be lunch, alone or with a salad or soup. For dinner, they can be served with or without meat, but go nicely with lighter offerings. Serve them with meat that’s been baked, roasted, or grilled. Think grilled salmon or pork chops, baked or roasted chicken, or even a nice steak. I’d avoid heavy sauces, fried or breaded meats, or pastas. A few ideas from my site would be Bacon-Wrapped Scallops or Grilled Strip Steaks with Bacon Butter.
Please let me know how the recipe worked if you’ve tried it, and ask me any questions that you may have. Pin it for later, and share it with your friends if your family enjoyed it. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Crisp Zucchini Pancakes with Bacon and Parmesan
- 4 zucchini OR yellow squash – medium, grated
- 1 white onion medium, grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper May substitute paprika, cayenne, or red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices bacon cooked
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp bacon fat
- Place grated zucchini and onion into colander in sink. Sprinkle liberally with tsp salt. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, transfer drained vegetables to clean dish towel or stack of paper towels. Squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Change towels out if needed, and squeeze out again.
- Transfer vegetables to a medium bowl. Add minced garlic, grated parmesan, egg, and flour. Season with minimal salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and Aleppo pepper. Crumble in cooked bacon. Stir until well-combined.
- Heat combination of 1/2 oil and 1/2 bacon fat over medium heat. Use 1/4 cup measure to scoop zucchini batter into pan. Flatten each pancake with the back of the measuring cup. Cook in batches, 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
- May hold in warm (200F) oven for up to 30 min, or serve immediately. Enjoy!