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Panko Parmesan Zucchini Fritters

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zucchini fritters garnished with parm on a plate
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

It isn’t summer in my house without freshly-fried zucchini fritters on a weekly (or sometimes daily) rotation. This Italian summer staple transforms the best of the summer garden — plump summer squash and fragrant fresh herbs — into crispy, cheesy, veggie-packed patties.

Panko Parmesan Zucchini Fritters

Just the smell of them frying takes me back to my childhood. My grandparents had a huge garden with an abundance of squash, beans, tomatoes, and eggplant, and whenever we visited in the summer, you can bet my grandma was frying up a fresh batch of these fritters. Sometimes she would throw in the zucchini flower, too, which I highly recommend if you’re using homegrown zucchini. As a kid, I was hesitant at the idea of eating a vegetable-packed fritter, even if it was fried, but once I tasted these there was no going back. Trust me when I say you’ll want to make them immediately.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

How to Make the Crispiest Fritters

  • For extra-crispy fritters, it’s important to squeeze out as much of the water from the zucchini as you possibly can. Start by salting the grated zucchini and let it drain for 15 minutes, then wrap it in a kitchen towel, twist tightly, and wring out the liquid. When it’s time to mix up the batter, you’ll want to eyeball the amount of milk depending on how wet your zucchini is. Start with 1/2 cup and add a splash or two more as needed. The batter should be wet, but still hold its shape. 
  • My second trick is to use panko bread crumbs in place of flour. While this isn’t traditional, it helps make the fritters extra crispy.

As soon as they come out of the oil, sprinkle them with flaky salt and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and eat up! They’re best eaten hot and fresh, either on their own or with a dollop of plain yogurt. If you’re feeding a hungry family, go ahead and make a double batch — they’re pretty irresistible.

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Panko Parmesan Zucchini Fritters

This Italian summer staple brings the best of the summer garden — zucchini, basil, and parsley — into a freshly-fried patty.

YieldServes 4 to 6, Makes 12 fritters

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2

    medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped fresh parsely leaves

  • 1 clove

    garlic

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 1/2 ounces

    freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 cup

    whole milk

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup

    panko bread crumbs

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons

    canola or grapeseed oil, divided

  • Flaky salt, for serving

Instructions

  1. Grate 2 medium zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Place in a colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt and toss to combine. Let drain for 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding to a large bowl as you go: Finely chop until you have 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves and 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves. Grate 1 garlic clove. Finely grate 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup). Add 2 large eggs and 1/2 cup whole milk and mix until well combined.

  3. When the zucchini is ready, press on it with your hands or a wooden spoon to push out some of the liquid. Transfer the zucchini to a clean kitchen towel, wrap it up, and squeeze out as much water as you can to get it as dry as possible. You should have about 1 1/2 cups.

  4. Add the zucchini, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl. Stir until a batter just comes together.

  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Drop 4 (1/4-cup) portions of the batter into the pan. Press each portion down lightly with the bottom of the measuring cup to flatten slightly. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes more.

  6. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat frying the remaining fritters, adding 1 tablespoon canola oil to the pan between batches. Garnish with flaky salt and more grated Parmesan before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The zucchini can be salted, drained, and squeezed up to 1 day in advance, keep in the refrigerator.

Storage: These fritters are best enjoyed fresh, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days. Reheat in a 375ºF oven until warmed through.

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