This Italian Zucchini Fritters Recipe is the best! It features pan-fried zucchini without bread crumbs in a simple batter of flour, eggs and seasonings. Don't miss this family favorite from Naples handed down from my Nonna!
I'll never forget the day Mom and I nailed down Nonna's batter-fried zucchini recipe. It had never been written anywhere, of course.
Mom had watched Nonna make these enough times to be able to whip them out, just by look and feel. But, I needed more details, something concrete.
So, let's peek behind the scenes of that day in 2014 when I attempted to document this legendary family recipe.
Me, talking to Mom on the phone: "So how much flour do you put in the batter?"
Mom, relatively calm: "I don't know, maybe two cups."
Me: "How many eggs?"
Mom: "Maybe two. It has to look like it's not enough."
Me, slightly confused but pressing on: "So how should the zucchini be sliced?"
Mom, starting to get impatient: "They have to be thin."
Me: "So, would you say half an inch wide?"
Mom: "HOW THE HECK WOULD I KNOW? WHY DO YOU ASK ME THESE THINGS?"
Me, holding the phone six inches away from my ear: "Because I have a food blog?"
So we hung up, and I attempted to make the recipe from my sketchy notes.
Except it wasn't enough. The batter, I mean.
My fritters were falling apart. They tasted okay, but something was definitely off.
So, I called Mom again.
Me: "The ratio is off. There's too much zucchini and not enough batter."
Mom: "Maybe I use three eggs."
Me, to myself: "I'm not trying this again without her."
So Mom and Dad came over for a cooking session. Of course, Mom brought the vegetables, eggs, oil, her own pans, and paper towels, just in case I didn't have any. #italianmothers
Type of oil to use
Mom uses corn oil for frying, but I prefer canola. Vegetable oil or avocado oil also would work, since they have high heat points. Don't use olive oil for frying, because it will burn.
How to make zucchini fritters
Mom and I made these together, and I took notes as we went. It was a little stressful, since Mom would "forget" I needed to measure everything first. Ha!
But then...oh my goodness, there they were -- Nonna's zucchini fritters, made just like in Naples, coming out of my kitchen for the first time! Dad and I couldn't wait for them to cool, so we were shoving them in our mouths while they were still hot and crispy.
I added more salt to mine at that point, because when they're that hot, you can't fully taste the depth of flavors yet. When they cool off and soften, your taste buds will be greeted with the best battered zucchini of your life.
To die for!
What to serve with them
The leftovers are great for breakfast, packed lunches or just an anytime snack.
Just make these at some point in your life. I want you to know what you've been missing!
Can you make these in the oven?
I tried making these fritters in the oven, but they just weren't the same. They really need to be fried in a pan (affiliate link) for authentic Italian texture and flavor.
Go big, or go home with this one!
(Recipe Source: My Nonna, via my Mom, who had to show me how it's done. Originally published on October 6, 2014 and updated now with a new title, ingredients photo and additional text.)
Italian Zucchini Fritters Recipe
- 2 ¼ pounds zucchini (see notes)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ⅓ teaspoons salt (plus 3 shakes of salt on eggs)
- ⅓ teaspoon pepper (plus 2 shakes of pepper on eggs)
- 4 jumbo eggs
- 1 ¼ cups canola oil (Or vegetable oil, corn oil, or avocado oil). Do not use olive oil, because it will burn.) See notes.
- Rinse zucchini and pat dry. Trim off ends. Cut them horizontally into thirds (if your zucchini is small, you can just cut it in half horizontally.) Next, cut each piece in half the long way. Then cut each of those pieces in half the long way. (See photos in post.)
- Using a small knife, trim off the layer of seeds (if there are any) from each plank of zucchini. (The seeds affect the flavor.) Next, thinly slice each plank, starting along the side with skin. You should end up with strips of zucchini about 3 inches long, ⅛ inch-to-¼ inch thick, and around ¾ inch wide. Each strip should have an edge of green skin on it.
- Place the zucchini strips in a large mixing bowl as you slice them. Let the strips sit in the bowl to dry out for at least 30 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour with 1 ⅓ teaspoons salt and ⅓ teaspoon pepper. In a small bowl, crack your eggs and sprinkle salt and pepper on them. Beat the eggs with a fork or whisk.
- When the zucchini has had time to dry, add the seasoned flour to the zucchini bowl. Mix with your hands, making sure to reach the bottom of the bowl. Then pour the beaten eggs over the floured zucchini, and mix everything with your hands.
- Wash your hands well and set up your frying station. Besides your frying pan and oil, you will need two large spoons, a spatula, if desired, and baking sheets lined with paper towels.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium high. (You need enough oil to reach half an inch up the sides of your pan.) Test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a pinch of batter into the oil. If it sizzles and bubbles, the oil is ready.
- Use a large spoon to scoop some zucchini and batter (maybe five strips of zucchini at a time, but they don't all have to be the same). Use the other spoon to gently scrape the zucchini and batter into the oil. Continue adding spoons of zucchini and batter to the pan in a single layer, not letting the fritters touch each other.
- Cook the fritters on the first side until you start to see the batter turning golden around the edges. This should take around 4 minutes.
- Use a spatula or (spoons) to check the other side and see if it is golden. If so, it is ready to flip. Cook the fritter on the other side for 1-2 minutes, until the batter is golden on the bottom. As each fritter is done, remove it from the pan and place it on the paper towels so the oil will be absorbed.
- Continue frying all of your zucchini fritters, adding extra oil if the level gets low in your pan. (When making large quantities, discard oil when it darkens and replace it with fresh oil.) Blot the tops of your cooked fritters with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Wait a couple of minutes before tasting them and be careful, because they will be hot. Add extra salt to your portion if needed. Wait to add salt to the rest until they cool completely. At that point, you should be able to taste the full depth of flavors, and you may not need any more salt.
- Serve as an appetizer (usually three per person) or as a side dish (maybe five per person). Enjoy them with some added salt or dip them in marinara sauce.
- Store leftovers covered with foil (not plastic or they will become too moist) in the refrigerator for up to three days. Do not reheat leftovers. Rather, eat them cold or let them come to room temperature.
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