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Ricotta Zucchini Meatballs Recipe

Experience the melt-in-your-mouth magic of vegetarian zucchini meatballs, expertly made with ricotta and parmesan cheese and deliciously topped with warm tomato sauce. This easy zucchini recipe is the perfect solution for utilizing your summer zucchini harvest!

Zucchini Meatballs served on a dinner plate over some noodles and topped with tomato sauce and grated parmesan.

Delicious Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs

Also known as Polpette di zucchine e ricotta, these vegetarian zucchini meatballs pack a punch of flavor that’s so good and irresistible. Prepared with zucchini and ricotta, they are a light treat that combine health and indulgence. Made from freshly grated zucchini, these “meatballs” offer a wonderful way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. The zucchini lends a light, delicate flavor to the meatballs while ensuring they remain moist and tender.

The addition of ricotta cheese, an Italian whey cheese, has a soft texture and slightly sweet, creamy flavor that beautifully complements the zucchini. It provides the meatballs with a richer, smoother consistency and adds a delicious creaminess.

Ricotta Zucchini Meatballs served on a dinner plate and topped with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

Why I Love This Zucchini Recipe

  • Vegetarian-Friendly: This recipe offers a fantastic vegetarian alternative to traditional meatballs, making it a great choice for those who are vegetarians or simply looking to reduce their meat consumption.
  • Healthy and Nutritious: Zucchini is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making these meatballs a nutritious choice.
  • Versatile: These vegetarian zucchini meatballs can be served in various ways – over pasta, on a sub for a vegetarian meatball sandwich, or even by themselves as a hearty appetizer or snack.
  • Seasonal and Sustainable: Using seasonal produce like zucchini not only ensures the dish tastes its best, but it’s also a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice.
Shredded Zucchini mixture in a bowl being prepared for making zucchini meatballs.

How To Make Zucchini Meatballs

  1. Grate zucchini and onions using a box grater or food processor. Mix in garlic.
  2. Bundle grated veggies in a cheesecloth or paper towel, twist and squeeze to remove excess water, then set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, egg, panko crumbs, seasoned salt, black pepper, Italian Seasoning, and basil. Add the drained zucchini mixture, mix well.
  4. Form the mix into 12 golf-ball sized meatballs.
  5. Preheat the broiler. Heat an inch of oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat.
  6. Cook the “meatballs” in batches in the skillet for about 5 minutes, until browned on all sides. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate.
  7. Once all the meatballs are cooked, place them back in the skillet, pour tomato sauce over, and broil for 4-5 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and meatballs are fully cooked.
  8. Serve the meatballs over whole wheat pasta, garnished with freshly grated parmesan and chopped basil.
Cooking zucchini meatballs in a cast iron skillet.

Tips and Swaps for Zucchini Meatballs

  • Water Content: Zucchini has a high water content. To ensure your meatballs don’t become soggy, drain the zucchini well after grating. Use a clean dish towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
  • Cheese Swap: If you can’t find ricotta or prefer a different cheese, you can substitute with cottage cheese. It has a similar texture and will still lend a nice creaminess to the meatballs.
  • Bread Crumbs: The recipe calls for panko breadcrumbs, but you can also use regular breadcrumbs if that’s what you have on hand. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, almond meal could work as well.
  • Frying Oil: If you’re not a fan of coconut oil, you can use other high-heat oils such as canola oil or avocado oil.
  • Serving Options: While these meatballs are delicious with pasta, they’re also great with my recipe for spaghetti squash for a low-carb option, or you could serve them with a side of polenta, risotto, steamed vegetables, or a fresh salad.
  • Freezing: If you have leftovers, these meatballs freeze well. Simply place them in a freezer-safe container. They can be reheated in the oven or microwave when you’re ready to serve them again.
Zucchini meatballs are cooking in a cast iron skillet and in tomato sauce.

Thus, embrace the joy of this magical green veggie, complemented by the bliss of cheese, onions, garlic, herbs, and seasonings. This array of ingredients ensures we make good food choices without compromising taste.


More Zucchini Recipes

Ricotta Zucchini Meatballs served on a dinner plate and topped with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

Ricotta Zucchini Meatballs Recipe

Katerina | Diethood
Delicious zucchini meatballs with ricotta and parmesan cheese, topped with a warm and bubbly tomato sauce!
4.72 from 7 votes
Servings : 4
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 3 zucchini, grated
  • 1 small yellow onion, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fat free ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • coconut oil for frying, you can also use vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 cups tomato/pasta sauce


  • Grate the zucchini and onions on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor.
  • Place in a large bowl and stir in the garlic; mix until everything is well combined.
  • Transfer the zucchini mixture to a large sheet of paper towel or cheesecloth; wrap up the zucchini mixture and twist it tightly into a ball. Squeeze the ball over the sink or a bowl to catch all the water.
  • Unravel the cheesecloth and set the zucchini mixture aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan, egg, panko crumbs, seasoned salt, black pepper, Italian Seasoning, and basil; stir until everything is well combined.
  • Add the zucchini mixture to the ricotta mixture and continue to mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Shape the mixture into 12 golf-ball sized meatballs.
  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Add an inch of oil to a cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • In batches, add the "meatballs" to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, occasionally turning until browned on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Once all the meatballs are done, add them back to the skillet and pour tomato sauce over them.
  • Broil for 4 to 5 minutes or until the sauce is warm and bubbly and the meatballs are completely cooked through.
  • Remove from oven and let stand a couple of minutes.
  • Garnish with freshly grated parmesan and chopped fresh basil.
  • Serve.


  • Thoroughly drain zucchini after grating to prevent soggy meatballs.
  • Cottage cheese can be used if ricotta is unavailable.
  • Breadcrumbs: Regular breadcrumbs or almond meal (for a gluten-free option) can replace panko breadcrumbs.
  • Oil Choice: Canola or avocado oil can be alternatives to coconut oil.
  • Freezing: Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the oven or microwave.
  • To lower the sodium content, use part-skim ricotta, half the seasoned salt, low-sodium panko crumbs, and no-salt tomato sauce.


Serving: 3 meatballs | Calories: 196 kcal | Carbohydrates: 28 g | Protein: 12 g | Fat: 5 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0.01 g | Cholesterol: 57 mg | Sodium: 1444 mg | Potassium: 861 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 11 g | Vitamin A: 1047 IU | Vitamin C: 37 mg | Calcium: 211 mg | Iron: 3 mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: best zucchini recipes, easy zucchini recipes, zucchini recipes
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44 comments on “Ricotta Zucchini Meatballs Recipe”

  1. I want to make these as they look great and the reviews are great. But I need to know an actual measurement for the shredded Zucchini. As we know they come in all sizes. It says 3 zucchinis. I have some out of my garden that are the size of my arm. Great for stuffing but I am sure 3 of them would not be the case for this recipe. Can you please give an estimated measurement?

  2. I tried frying the meatballs & found them sticking to the pan. Very messy. Then I tried a few in the oven on parchment paper, baking at 400 for about 20 min. They worked out excellant! So needless to say, I baked the rest of them. They held they shape much better than in the frying pan.
    Love this recipe! Will be making them again!

  3. Hello Katerina, I’m going to make these tomorrow. 😊 I’m just thinking… Are these 4 servings? Greetings from Germany!

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi! 👋
      This makes about 12 to 15 “meatballs” and a serving is about 3 meatballs per person. I hope you’ll like them! ☺️

  4. Love your recipes. It would be helpful, however, if you also posted the amount of servings for each.

  5. I made these and they were delicious! I used the liquid run off from the zucchini and added it to my tomato sauce and reduced it – it worked great!

  6. Just curious if you can make and freeze these?!?! My thought was to go as far as cooking them in the skillet and then letting them cool and packaging them up to go into the freezer in small batches for future use. I have a million zucchini right now but am unsure how previously shredded and frozen zucchini would work with this recipe after it’s been thawed and drained.

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Gail! I have never tried freezing the meatballs so I don’t know for sure if it will work, but I do have a couple bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer and intend to use it to make these meatballs again. 🙂

      1. Hi Katerina – did you determine that shredded zucchini that has been frozen will work in this recipe?

        1. Katerina - Diethood
          Katerina Petrovska

          Hi 👋
          Yes! As long as it’s thawed and well drained. You can place the zucchini in paper towels or a kitchen towel; wrap it around the zucchini and wring out as much water as you possibly can.

    2. Gail I have baked these in the oven and froze them and they have worked out great, family really liked them.
      I also added some red crushed peppers as well, as the family likes things with some kick.

  7. Could you please give a measurable amount of grated Zucchini? I am guessing about 3 cups? I have tons (literally) of Pattypan Squash, I am also going to assume I could substitute that for the Zucchini? Thanks.

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi!! Can’t go wrong with squash around this time of year! 🙂
      I didn’t weigh the zucchini – it was just normal sized 10-ish inch zucchini. But here’s what I found: 1 medium sized zucchini is about 8 inches long, 2 inches in diameter and weighing about 5 ounces. When grated, you end up with about 2/3 cup of zucchini. Does that help at all? I hope! 😀

      1. I too would like more clarification about the amount of zucchini. Are you saying 2/3 cup for the whole recipe? – or 2/3 cup per zucchini, for a total of 3 cups? Most helpful would be the weight of the zucchini, before trimming or grating. My ‘meatballs’ didn’t stick together well at all, though they tasted delicious anyway.

        1. Katerina - Diethood
          Katerina Petrovska

          Hi Eileen! Sorry you had issues with them sticking together! It’s the water in the zucchini – I lost all feeling in my arms using all my strength just trying to squeeze out that water! 😀
          But, yes, I’m saying 3 cups grated zucchini.

          1. For 3 zucchini at 2/3 cups each, that would be 2 cups. Best idea? Go by consistency.

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Christie!! I tried that twice, but they fell apart both times. If you have any luck with it, plllleeeease let me know! 😀

      1. You can absolutely bake these. Here’s what I did:
        1. Make smaller balls (I made 27)
        2. Put them in the fridge for 30-60 mins to firm up.
        3. Put them in a 350 oven for 20-25 minutes on a greased baking sheet.
        4. Halfway through the cooking time, flip them with a THIN spatula as they will stick but you can pry them off as long as it is thin.

        I would recommend halving the salt in the main recipe. I wish I had seen the note at the bottom before I made them as they came out salty.

  8. This is brilliant! And a great way to use up more of that mountain of zucchini waiting in my kitchen.

  9. Avatar photo
    Holly N @ Spend With Pennies

    I’m so excited to give these a try! Zucchini is one of my favorite ingredients in any recipe (sweet or savory) and I love that they’re the star of this dish!

  10. Three zucchini? Like the size when you *should* pick them (about eight inches) or the size your neighbor leaves on your front porch in the dead of night (baseball bat size).

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Bertrice!! You made me laugh out loud! 😀 I was talking about the size when you “should” pick them. But, I do have a neighbor like that – it’s my mom. haha 😀

  11. Avatar photo
    Cookin Canuck

    I can’t stop making things with zucchini either – so many recipes, so little time! These meatballs need to be on my list.

  12. I love the recipe (less the fat-free ricotta cheese and it looks sooooo delicious…. but I am concerned about the sodium 1156.2 level…UGH!

    1. Katerina - Diethood
      Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Pamela!! I agree about the sodium :/ … you can try to skip the seasoned salt or reduce it by half and also use low sodium panko crumbs. You might be able to find low sodium tomato sauce, too.

      P.S. I updated the recipe card with all the alternatives. 🙂 Thank you, Pamela!

  13. Avatar photo
    Melinda Gladstone

    The Zucchini meatballs sound great UNTIL I read fat-free Ricotta!! Good Lord….PLEASE be a label reader. The FF products are filled with chemicals and fillers NO ONE should put in their body!


  14. Oh my goodness1 At first glance, I couldn’t even tell this was a meatless recipe! I agree with Jocelyn… it’s perfection!

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