For today’s Italian recipe, we’re going to talk about how to cook pan fried zucchini flowers. Zucchinis are commonly used in Italian cooking, but unfortunately many people are unaware that you can eat the flowers along with the zucchini itself.
For many years I’ve heard of using these flowers in cooking, but only in the last few years did I start to make them for myself. Now it’s a common summer staple and I love knowing I can use all parts of the zucchini!
What are Pan Fried Zucchini Flowers
Pan fried zucchini flowers are when you take the zucchini blossoms right after they have closed from being in full bloom and dip them in a batter, then fry them in oil.
Zucchini flowers are sometimes called zucchini blossoms, and they are the same thing. They can also be called squash blossoms since zucchini is in the squash family. Even if you use another type of squash, the process is the same.
As is the case with many zucchini recipes, the goal is to cook the zucchini in a way that will still allow the flavor of the zucchini to shine through. You’ll find this to be the case in many of my zucchini recipes, such as zoodles with breadcrumbs and cheese, zucchini bruschetta, zucchini pizza boats, or baked Italian zucchini slices.
All of those recipes have one thing in common, I do not load them down with unnecessary ingredients. Instead, I rely on simple Italian ingredients that create fresh and delicious dishes full of flavor.
An Easy Zucchini Flower Recipe
If you’re new to making pan fried zucchini flowers, I’ll be stepping you through the process, answering the same questions I had the first time I made these.
The first time I made these, all I had was vague instructions from my Italian mother-in-law. I’ve since modified this recipe to make it very easy for anyone wanting to know how to cook these.
What makes this recipe easy
The good news I am excited to share is the following:
- Yes they are easy to make
- Yes they are quick to make
- Yes they are delicious!
This recipe only uses common ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. Nothing fancy which is perfect in my opinion because you don’t end up masking the flavor of the zucchini blossom itself.
- Zucchini flower blossoms
- Frying pan (cast iron is ideal)
- Olive oil
Does it Matter What Kind of Zucchini to Use?
No, it does not matter. As long as it’s a zucchini flower you are good. There are recipes for squash flowers and pumpkin flowers, but I haven’t tried those nor do I grow pumpkins.
I have used Black Beauty zucchini, Italian zucchini, and other varieties. It doesn’t matter if the variety is bush or vine; they all taste delicious. Whichever type you have will work fine. The ones shown in the image above were grown from seeds that I purchased from GrowItalian.com and RareSeeds.com .
Do You Use Female Flowers or Male Flowers?
You’ll want to use the male flowers. If you’re not familiar with the difference between the two, it’s very easy to distinguish as noted in the image above.
The female flowers grow on the tip of the zucchini itself and you don’t want to pick those because you need them to be pollinated. If you’re picking them early they may not pollinate and the zucchini will die early. Not a good thing.
The male flower grows individually apart from the zucchini itself, on it’s own stem. When you peek inside the flower, it will have a pollen coated yellow stem, while the female does not.
When do You Collect the Zucchini Blossoms to Make Pan Fried Zucchini?
You pick the male zucchini flowers when they are mostly closed up after they bloomed, but before they wilt by the next day. This is in the morning hours before noon and they look so elegant. I’m looking out at my deck now, and some are closed and some are beginning to close.
You can either pinch them off or use a scissors to avoid pricking your fingers.
If you’re not going to plan on using them right away, you can store them in the fridge. I explain how in more detail below.
How to Wash the Zucchini Flowers
Do this step only when you are ready to cook, this is not a “prepare ahead” step. You’ll need to clean the zucchini flowers and this is probably the most difficult part because you don’t want to end up with flowers that are all torn apart.
1. Remove the male stem and any dirt
Many recipes will say to gently open up the flower and try to gently pull the male stem out and any dirt/grit that might be in there. I have a much easier process.
If you don’t use my process it will probably tear as mine did originally. Since we are not stuffing them we don’t need to be concerned with the opening.
Cut the end of the stem so you can easily see inside. No need to mess with trying to open the flowers.
2. Rinse the flowers in water
The next step is to gently (notice my use again of the word gently), rinse them in water. I filled a bowl up with water and put the flowers in there giving them a gentle water bath and doing what I could to remove any excess pollen or anything else that might be in there (like little bugs).
When you are satisfied, place on a paper towel on a plate while you prepare the batter and oil.
Make an Easy Zucchini Flower Batter
If you’re familiar with my recipes, you’ll realize I don’t go crazy on ingredients. I’m about simple… simple cooking, simple ingredients… simply delicious.
So for the zucchini flower batter, I used two ingredients, flour and water. That’s it. You can add a dash of salt if you want. I choose to limit salt wherever I can.
Will it taste bland? No because the flavor of the zucchini flower itself comes through in its own purity.
When it comes to quantity of ingredients, it depends on how many zucchini blossoms you have.
Flower Batter Ingredients
Since I only have a few plants, I only had a handful of blossoms the day I made this. So I used 1/2 cup flour and about a 1/4 cup water. Just add more water by the teaspoon or add more flour if too watery.
The consistency you want is like a pancake batter. You want to cover the flower in the batter and not have it run off. There is literally no exact measurement for the batter.
Pan Fry Zucchini Flowers Instead of Deep Frying
There are many benefits to pan frying zucchini rather than deep frying. You use less oil, there is less mess, it’s easier, and you still get the crunch when you eat them!
Pan frying is so easy.
Heat the oil
Just use a frying pan or saute pan and add in about 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom about 1/8 of an inch. You really don’t need much.
Dip the zucchini blossoms in the batter
Once the oil is hot, dip the zucchini blossoms in the batter to coat thoroughly and gently add them to the pan. Add as many flowers as you can fit without overlapping.
Pan fry the blossoms
Cook for 2 minutes or until the bottom of the zucchinis are golden brown. Then gently turn them over for another few minutes.
Set aside on a paper towel
Once they are at the degree of crispiness you want, remove and place on a paper towel on a plate to absorb the excess oil.
Serve and eat while warm!
Isn’t that an easy zucchini flower recipe you can now follow?! You can print out instructions below.
How to Preserve Fresh Zucchini Flowers Before Cooking
If you’re familiar with growing zucchini, then you know those beautiful flowers wilt and die within a day of opening. However, you can preserve and save the flowers until you are ready to use them by placing the freshly cut blossoms in an air tight container. Include a paper towel to absorb any moisture.
Your fresh blossoms will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flowers will be ready to use in this recipe as if you had just picked them from the garden that day!
What to Serve with Fried Zucchini Flowers
These zucchini flowers are best served after pan frying. They will compliment many Italian recipes such as a dish of pasta, thinly sliced chicken cutlets, breaded chicken breasts, or pasta with lemon and asparagus.
Here’s the full Italian recipe below, thanks for trying and let me know how you like the recipe!
Italian Zucchini Flower Blossom Recipe
When it's zucchini season, I love making this easy and quick Italian pan fried zucchini blossoms recipe. It's healthier than deep frying and I use ingredients everyone has on hand to keep it simple and easy. The flavor is delicious and is one of my favorite summer recipes!
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 dash salt Optional
- 4-6 fresh male zucchini flowers
- 3 tbsp olive oil
Cut the ends of the blossoms to remove the male stem.
Clean out any dirt and gently rinse and wash the zucchini blossoms, being careful not to tear them too much. Use a bowl of water if that helps, as I mentioned within the post.
Set aside to drain on a paper towel placed on a plate.
Mix the flour and water until a good consistency like pancake batter is reached. Add more if you have a larger quantity of blossoms.
Add the oil to saute pan and bring to a medium high heat. If you add a drop of water, it should sizzle.
When the level of heat is achieved, gently dip the zucchini flowers in the batter and make sure they are fully coated, and add them one by one to the hot pan.
Let them fry for a few minutes until the bottom is golden brown and cripsy, about 2 minutes. Then flip and cook further for a few minutes.
When ready, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel placed on a plate to absorb any excess oil.
A few notes:
- Make sure the inside of the zucchinis are cleaned. I remove anything that is hard such as any thorny/prickly leaves on the outside of the bottom of the blossom.
- Use flowers that were recently open.
- Use the male flowers, not female.
- Try not to tear the flowers, but it’s not bad if you do. It’s more important if you were going to stuff them, but this is not something to stress about when preparing.
- Best when served warm!
Hi Liz, I bought zucchini flowers over the weekend and just happened upon your recipe. I just wanted to let you know I followed your directions and they came out perfect! Thank you very much. I’m going to post pics on my instagram and will give you credit for the recipe. It was so easy and delicious!
If you ever grow your own zucchini flowers they are even better! Thanks for sharing!
This recipe is verbatim to my Mother’s! She never wrote anything down so this recipe is perfect!
I love hearing that! Thank you for sharing!