Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

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Enjoy zucchini season and corn season with this Crispy Vegan Zucchini and Corn Casserole! Featuring layers of zucchini and summer squash along with charred corn mixed in a fragrant basil sauce, and layered with marinara, vegan cheese and crispy bread crumbs!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Cooling Time 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
4.6 from 10 votes

You guys, I am so excited about Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole!

I have shared A LOT of summer-themed recipes in the last few months, from light and fresh salads to fruity desserts. I even put together a roundup of 45 seasonal recipes to make this August!

And, I was about to transition into developing fall-themed recipes. But, I got so many requests for zucchini recipes in the last week or two. Zucchini is at its peak right now, and it’s so affordable that many people have bushels of zucchini (or summer squash), but don’t know what to do with them.

I have to admit, zucchini is not my favorite vegetable and for the longest time, I avoided it. That’s because I was used to eating supermarket plastic-wrapped zucchini in the middle of winter. It tasted like mealy water. I used to think, why would anyone want to eat this??

But, I have stood corrected over the last few years. Because zucchini from the farmers market in late summer…that’s pretty dang good. It’s still not my favorite vegetable, but I can now clearly see the beauty of summer zucchini.

And since I got so many requests for zucchini recipes, I started doing some research. I came across one of Love and Lemons’ roundup of 35 zucchini recipes. Jeanine of Love and Lemons is a pro at seasonal recipes, so I knew I could trust her ideas. I saw her Crispy Zucchini Casserole recipe and thought it was so fun that I had to adapt it to my own tastes, ingredients on hand, and veganize it.

Hence, this Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole!

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

Why you’ll like this recipe

Texture, texture, texture! If you like crispy foods, you’re going to love this recipe. The crispy panko bread topping contrasts perfectly with the soft-baked zucchini and the chewy charred corn.

Peak seasonal ingredients. This recipe features four ingredients that are in their peak season right now: zucchini or summer squash, corn, basil, and jalapeños. The flavors are so fresh, bright, and zesty!

Fun to make and crowd pleasing. This is such a fun dish to assemble (see the GIF video below). Plus, it’s a crowd pleasing appetizer for all your summer entertaining needs.

Popular with vegetable skeptics. As you might know, my partner Max is skeptical of many vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, kale, and apparently zucchini). When I told him I was making a zucchini casserole, he turned his nose up at me. But then he tasted it, and went back for thirds! So, I have successfully converted Max into a zucchini-lover.

Layers of flavor. Between slightly smoky charred corn, a subtle spicy kick from jalapeños, fragrant herbaceousness from the basil sauce, and umami notes from the marinara sauce, this dish is packed with lots of delicious flavors!

Watch! How to Make Zucchini and Corn Casserole

Step by Step Instructions

First, make the Basil Sauce.

This is somewhat similar to pesto, but it’s nut-free and thinner. It can also do double duty as a salad dressing! You’ll start by frying shallots and garlic in olive oil, then infusing some dried thyme and salt into the mix. Blend the mixture in a food processor, along with fresh basil, lemon juice, and water.

Second, shave the corn and char it. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels off two ears of corn. Heat up some olive oil in a cast iron skillet, add the corn, and cook for a few minutes until lightly charred.

Next, thinly slice your zucchini and/or summer squash into rounds.

Next, mix the zucchini/squash slices and charred corn with diced jalapeños and the Basil sauce, and toss to coat.

Now, it’s time to assemble the casserole!

First, a layer of marinara sauce goes on the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. Use your favorite store-bought brand, or, if you have homemade marinara sauce, obviously that would be even better.

Next, a layer of the zucchini and/or squash slices in a single layer (slight overlapping is okay). Spoon some of the corn-jalapeño mixture on top. Follow it with a scattering of the vegan cheese (half the amount). Repeat the layers: zucchini slices, more corn-jalapeño mixture, the rest of the vegan cheese.

Finally, top with the panko bread crumbs. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on top, a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through to ensure even browning on the top. The panko topping should be nicely golden brown and crisp (the olive oil drizzled on top aids in browning). If it’s not browned enough, turn on your oven’s broiler and broil it for just a minute or two. Allow to cool for 20 minutes for digging in.

Tips for making this Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds, but not paper thin. If they’re too thin, they’ll get soggy in the oven.

Use your hands to arrange the zucchini slices in a single layer, instead of just spooning the zucchini-corn salad on top. Yes, it takes a little extra time, but you want a single layer. Plus, it makes for a beautiful presentation.

If there’s extra liquid in the zucchini-corn salad when you’re done layering the zucchini, don’t add it to the mixture – you don’t want extra liquid to water down the casserole.

Speaking of the zucchini-corn salad, if you have leftover zucchini or corn, do not try to fit them all in the pan. The best part is that the salad is DELICIOUS and makes an excellent snack.

After adding the panko bread crumbs, drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil aids in the browning and crisping-up process, so don’t skip it (see those beautiful browned pockets below – those are thanks to the olive oil).

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

Substitutes for this Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

For the basil sauce, if you don’t have shallots, use 1/2 of a small onion. If you don’t have dried thyme, you can omit it or substitute with dried oregano.

As you can see from the photos, I used both zucchini and summer squash. They are basically the same. You can use both, or just one or the other.

If you don’t want to buy vegan cheese or can’t find it, I recommend using my Tofu Ricotta recipe, which you can find in this blog post. Instead of sprinkling on the shredded cheese, spoon dollops of it on top (it’ll be difficult to spread out, but try as best you can).

If you are gluten-free, you can try gluten-free panko bread crumbs, though I haven’t tried it myself. I do recommend panko (Japanese bread crumbs) instead of regular bread crumbs, as they make the texture extremely crispy and light.

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

If you give this Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

4.6 from 10 votes
Enjoy zucchini season and corn season with this Crispy Vegan Zucchini and Corn Casserole! Featuring layers of zucchini and summer squash along with charred corn mixed in a fragrant basil sauce, and layered with marinara, vegan cheese and crispy bread crumbs!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Cooling Time 20 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: casserole, corn, nut-free, soy-free, zucchini
Serving size: 6



  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 3 cups of thinly sliced zucchini (about 3 small-medium)*
  • 2 medium-large ears of corn (about 1 1/2 cups corn kernels)
  • 2 small jalapeños, finely chopped (omit seeds for a very mild version)
  • Basil Sauce (recipe below)
  • 2 cups (228g) shredded vegan cheese (I used Violife mozzarella)**
  • 1 cup (240-250g) of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 heaping cup (65-70g) panko bread crumbs
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper for serving
  • Thinly sliced basil, for serving

Basil Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups tightly packed (32g) basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 (120 mL) cup water


Casserole Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C.
  • Make the Basil Sauce (recipe below).
  • Prep the vegetables. Slice the zucchini and/or squash into rounds, but don’t slice too paper thin, or they’ll get soggy in the oven. Using a sharp knife, shave the kernels of each ear of corn.
  • Char the corn. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. Add the corn kernels. Cook the corn for 3-5 minutes until charred in spots, tossing just once or twice to get a nice char on them.
  • In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and squash slices, charred corn, and jalapeños with the Basil Sauce. Mix well.
  • Assemble the casserole. Pour the marinara sauce on to the bottom of a 13x9-inch (33x22 cm) baking pan. Spread out half of the zucchini/squash slices on top in a single layer (slight overlapping is okay). Then spoon some more of the corn/jalapeño mixture on top. Sprinkle the zucchini with half of the shredded vegan cheese on top (or dollop with blobs of the Tofu Ricotta, if using). Repeat the layers one more time, zucchini slices and corn first, then cheese.
  • Sprinkle the top with the panko bread crumbs, a light sprinkle of flaky sea salt, some freshly cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (the olive oil aids in browning, so don’t skip it). Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through to ensure even browning on the top, or until the top is crispy and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Top with sliced basil.

Basil Sauce Directions

  • In a small skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic just starts to turn golden.
  • Add the thyme and salt. Cook for 30 seconds, tossing frequently to combine and to prevent burning. Remove from the heat.
  • Transfer the shallot mixture and oil to a food processor. Add the basil, lemon juice, and water. Blend until the mixture is relatively smooth, adding a bit more water if needed to bring the sauce together. Taste for seasonings and add more salt or lemon juice as needed.


* I used a mix of zucchini and summer squash. For reference, the slices weighed 360g.
** If you don’t want to buy store-bought vegan cheese, I recommend using my Tofu Ricotta recipe and dolloping blobs onto the zucchini.

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10 comments on Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

  1. Melissa

    I was not of this recipe at all. It didn’t feel like a meal. I was more like a topping for a meal. It was alor of work for alot of nothing.

  2. Carol Paine

    I made this tonight and it was WONDERFUL! I can’t wait for the leftovers tomorrow. I served it as a side dish with ham for the carnivores but it was delishus as a main dish. I really need to plant more basil because I want to make this dish more often!

  3. nomadicvegan

    This casserole is amazing!!! My non-vegan family had second helpings. Thank you!!!!

  4. Shuvya

    This is probably one of my most favorite recipes on this entire blog! It’s so freaking good and tastes even better as left overs! I’ve made this many times and am always left wanting more.

  5. Easynutfreevegan

    I have made this dish at least 6 times since the summer (thank you fresh farm veggies)!! Each time I have served it to non vegans (vegetarian and meat eaters), and they all loved it! I have served it solo, with pasta on the side, with salad on the side, and bread on the side – all amazing! The recipe has been shared with my friends and friends of friends. This is a winner! It’s so easy (esp for busy households) and so flavorful. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  6. Camilla Swenson

    I want to try this recipe for Canadian Thanksgiving! But all I have left is zucchini that I froze from my garden. Can I use the frozen zucchini or will it be too mushy?

  7. ashley

    I loved this casserole! Great use of all my fresh farmer’s market produce. I was kind of haphazard about slicing the zucchini and they definitely weren’t all the same size, so I was nervous about sogginess. But it ended up not making a difference in the end and it turned out perfect. Reheated well for lunch the next day, too!

  8. Tenli

    This was so amazing! I only used one jalapeño as I don’t like things too spicy and it was the perfect amount of spice for me. I used the Violife Mozzarella and really liked the texture and flavor of it in this dish. I normally stay away from vegan cheese but this definitely was an important ingredient in the dish. I only had about 11/2 cups of basil but the sauce was still really tasty. This recipe is now a favorite and I will make it again soon.

  9. Sharada

    OMG! This recipe is absolutely delicious! It’s one of those things where you spend very less time, but get amazing rewards! Loved this. I’m addicted to the pesto! I had left overs of it which I used for spreading on my toast the next day. Also, this didn’t last at all because the of two just devoured almost 3/4th of it for one meal! Thanks for this yummy recipe! :) <3

  10. Fiona

    I made this recipe last night and YUM! A great summer recipe that incorporated many of my CSA ingredients this week. I used your tofu ricotta substitution because I had the ingredients for that on hand but didn’t have any vegan cheese and it worked out really well. It was the first time I’ve made a vegan ricotta and it’s sooo good!! I also did all the sautée/char steps in a cast iron skillet and baked the casserole right in the skillet. I would definitely recommend that if you want to cut down on the number of dishes/don’t have a casserole pan!
    I was surprised by how quickly this recipe came together. I thought that because there were quite a few elements (basil sauce, tofu ricotta, charred corn, etc) that it would take a while but it was in the oven in less than 45 min.
    Thanks for a great recipe Nisha :)

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