Recipe Review

These Oven-Baked Zucchini Curly Fries Are Impossibly Crispy (I’m Honestly Blown Away)

updated May 11, 2022
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zucchini fries on a pan next to sauce
Credit: Patty Catalano

Every year I embark on a quest to find the best zucchini recipes. Grilled zucchini and banana bread have proved winners in the past, but would EatingWell’s curly oven-baked zucchini fries be good enough to be enshrined in my Zucchini Recipe Hall of Fame? There was only one way to find out. Here’s what happened when I gave it a go.

Credit: Patty Catalano

How to Make EatingWell’s Baked Parmesan Zucchini Curly Fries

Begin by heating the oven to 425°F. Line a pair of rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, then coat the parchment with cooking spray. Next, set up a dredging station. I like to use pie pans for this, but any shallow dishes will work. Add cornstarch to one and egg whites to another, then mix panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and dried oregano in a third.

Next, cut spiralized zucchini noodles into 5- to 6-inch pieces. You can purchase these in the produce or freezer section of the grocery store, or you can buy whole zucchini and use a spiralizer. I tested this recipe with both fresh and thawed frozen zucchini noodles, but I found that the frozen noodles were too waterlogged and limp to coat in the breading.

Dredge a few zucchini noodles at a time: First in cornstarch, then the egg white, and finally in the panko-Parmesan mixture. Make sure to shake off the excess from each step before moving onto the next. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets, then spray them with cooking spray. Bake until the fries are browned and crisp, then sprinkle with salt. Mix light ranch dressing and marinara sauce in a small bowl and serve as a dipping sauce with the fries.

My Honest Review of Eating Well’s Baked Parmesan Zucchini Curly Fries

These are a really tasty and light addition to a summer supper, and I’ll definitely be making them again. I couldn’t believe how crispy they were! The use of egg whites in the breading is super smart, because the fat from egg yolks can often soften the crust (egg whites, on the other hand, consist of protein and water, which contribute to crispy breading). The herb-flecked panko-Parmesan layer also gave the fries great flavor and an audibly crunchy crust, and coating both the parchment and fries with cooking spray definitely helped with the crispiness, too.

With that said, EatingWell’s focus on the nutritional profile of their recipes means they call for the bare minimum of breading, so I had to double the amount of cornstarch and panko-mixture to cover all of the zucchini noodles. Unless you’re looking to keep the nutrition facts the same as the original recipe, you’ll want to do the same.

I should also warn you that these take a long time to prepare. Twelve ounces of zucchini noodles is a lot to work with! After meticulously working with a few strands at a time, I attempted to see if I could bread a larger handful in one go, but the noodles tangled together in the egg white and the panko breading clumped and didn’t adhere to the zucchini. The best option really is to go slow and do a few at a time, shaking well to remove the excess after each step — especially after dipping in the egg white.

If You Make Eating Well’s Baked Parmesan Zucchini Curly Fries, a Few Tips

  1. Double the cornstarch and panko. Doubling the cornstarch and panko-Parmesan mixtures will ensure you have enough to cover all of the zucchini noodles.
  2. Shake off extra egg white: The instructions specify to shake off the excess of each step of the breading process, and this is especially important for the egg white. Leaving too much on the zucchini strands moistens the panko layer, preventing it from crisping in the oven.
  3. Dip a few at a time. Dredge, dip, and bread only a few zucchini strands at a time. Working in large batches can make it difficult to separate the noodles and cause the panko mixture to clump together rather than adhering to the noodles.
  4. Arrange zucchini noodles in spirals before baking: For that signature curly fry look, arrange the breaded noodles in the swirled and spiraled shape before baking. Once the crust crisps, there’s no way to adjust their appearance.
  5. Bake in a single layer. While the recipe instructions call for spacing the zucchini strands apart, the video shows a packed and piled baking pan. Piling the zucchini on top of one another will cause the fries to steam, rather than crisp. Avoid soggy fries by spreading the zucchini out — even if it means baking in multiple batches.

Have you tried Eating Well’s Baked Parmesan Zucchini Curly Fries? Let us know in the comments!