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 15 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total 1 hour
5 from 50 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.

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Hence, this Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole!

Table of contents:
1. Why you’ll like this recipe
2. Step-by-step instructions
3. Tips for making this recipe
4. Substitutes for this recipe
5. Watch! How to assemble this casserole
6. Recipe card with notes

Side view of casserole with one piece removed.

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!

If you’ve got tons of zucchini to use up, don’t skip my Greek Zucchini Fritters and my Creamy Zucchini Pesto Pasta!

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!

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 recipe

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).

Close up overhead view of full baked casserole.

Substitutes for this recipe

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.

Overhead view of casserole with one piece removed.

Watch! How to assemble this casserole

Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole
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

5 from 50 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 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
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 13×9-inch (33×22 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.

Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 872mg | Potassium: 459mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 690IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 2mg

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5 from 50 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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79 comments on Crispy Zucchini and Corn Casserole

  1. Helen T

    5 stars
    This was AMAZING! A notch more effort than easy middle of the week meal – but soooo worth it. And so cool how simple ingredients can come together to make something so FANTASTIC! Nisha and her crew do it again:;-)!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Helen! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

  2. Astrid

    5 stars
    Nisha, you can do no wrong. I am eating this dish as I type this. So yummy, so flavorful. The texture of the zucchini is perfect. This screams summer. So easy to put together. This is yet another winner!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Astrid! It makes us happy to know that you enjoyed the recipe.

  3. Jennifer

    What do you think about leaving out the cheese? I just haven’t found a vegan cheese I like.

    1. Kristin

      I would love to see an answer to this question. The recipe looks wonderful, and I’d love to make it. But all vegan cheeses that I’ve found contain oil – and all oils except for olive give me migraines. And dairy causes me this gross mucus build-up. I’d love to find a way to make this recipe without the cheese.

      1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Hi Kristin, you can use this vegan ricotta recipe instead.

    2. Paige

      The notes under the recipe give you an alternative

    3. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jennifer, we’d recommend subbing it with this homemade cashew ricotta!

  4. Mona Sigal

    5 stars
    Just made this casserole, we are having it right now for dinner, along with steamed rice. It’s absolutely amazing, my husband cannot stop raving. Wish I could post a picture of that beautiful dish.
    A couple of comments: the directions indicate to mix zucchini, jalapeño, corn and basil sauce in a large bowl. But in the instructions on how to assemble the casserole, it appears that the zucchini are layered separately from the corn mixture.
    I had everything in one bowl, and it was just fine.
    I also used the same pan to first brown shallots/garlic, and then the corn. I then used about half a cup of water to deglaze all that brown goodness and used it in the blender to make the basil sauce!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Mona! It makes us happy to know you enjoyed the recipe.

  5. Lara

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing flavor!! I picked up all my veggies from my farm CSA today and was wondering what to make. I saw your email from this morning and realized I had everything for this just from my farm visit.
    My husband and I couldn’t stop eating this, it was so delicious!
    Thank you for providing us with such a flavorful recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      It’s awesome to hear you enjoyed the casserole, Lara! You’re very welcome for the recipe :)

  6. Ali

    5 stars
    This dish was outstanding! It took quite a bit of work as I had to make vegan ricotta and vegan marinara sauce (neither of which I had on hand, but the veggies were fresh from the farmer’s market), but it was WELL worth the effort, and just as good cold as it was hot.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Ali! :)

  7. Colleen

    5 stars
    Made this for my family last night and it was delicious. We loved the zing of the peppers. I used regular cheese (my daughter swings between vegan and vegetarian) but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Thank you for your great recipes!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Colleen. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  8. Susan

    5 stars
    So I was a bit confused by the instructions: Combine zucchini, corn and jalapeño with basil mix, then layer half zucchini and top with corn jalapeño mixture. I tossed the zucchini with some sauce and the corn mix with some sauce and moved on. It was amazingly delicious but now I think it could have mixed them all and it would have worked. Thank for another great recipe

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Susan!

  9. Elly Smith

    Hi sounds and looks delicious, however husband doesn’t want the marinara sauce 🤷‍♀️ Any ideas what to use instead please?? Thanks 😊

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Elly, a cashew cream would be fabulous. The original cashew cream recipe in this post would be lovely.

  10. Cindy

    I can’t eat tomatoes. What is a good substitute or just leave it out?

  11. Tina

    5 stars
    This was just OUTSTANDING. I am a new vegan and I’ve cooked several of your recipes over the last few weeks — all of them exceptionally good — but this might be my favorite. Absolutely the best way to eat zucchini!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Tina, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

    2. Rhonda

      5 stars
      My lips can’t stop smacking…opps! Excuse me!
      Delicious 😋

      1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

        So glad you loved it, Rhonda!

  12. Savanna

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! The basil sauce is also a win just on its own

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Savanna!

  13. Marie Shremaker

    This was so good. Love your recipes. I wonder if you have a recipe for Mulligatawny soup. I used to go to India lot and always had a bowl of it every time. Where I live there are no Indian restaurants so I have to make it myself. Thank you so much.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Marie, unfortunately Nisha does not. This one seems to have great reviews, though!:

  14. Sara M

    5 stars
    Just made this, using frozen corn and a serrano instead of jalapeno. It was awesome! A real one-dish dinner. I only had one helping to my hubby’s two because I made your Brown Butter Peach “Clobber” for dessert, and I want to leave room for seconds of that (so yum!).

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Tasty, Sara! Thanks for trying two of the Rainbow Plant Life recipes!

  15. Joel

    5 stars
    Delicious! Everyone in my family enjoyed it. I enjoyed the variety of flavors and textures. Will definitely make again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad to hear that, Joel! Thanks for reviewing!

  16. Angela F

    5 stars
    Looking for something to do with so much zucchini I found this recipe. I had my doubts (corn and marinara together in a dish😬) but this is DELICIOUS! Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So happy the recipe went well for you, Angela! Thanks for the review :)

  17. Jennifer

    5 stars
    This is 5 star taste for sure!
    For prep, I give it 1star. From picking the basil, to charring the sweet corn AFTER slicing it off the cob after shucking it, sautéing the shallot, mixing everything in the food processor, not to mention slicing and peeling the zucchini!!! It’s an arduous process, especially with clean up, but so delicious to eat! It’s at least 2 hours with cooking and cooling time!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sorry to hear it took you so long, Jennifer! Glad you liked the taste nonetheless.

  18. Jennifer Broghammer

    5 stars
    This was delicious! I used regular cheese, but only about half the amount. I also skipped the jalapeños, used frozen corn, and reduced the lemon juice.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Jennifer! Glad you loved the casserole.

  19. Maggie

    5 stars
    Very easy and tasty recipe. As someone suggested in the comments, I will add tofu next time for additional protein.
    Can this dish be actually frozen?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Maggie, one of the biggest appeals of this dish is it’s textures and I’m afraid they’d be lost if it were frozen. Sorry!

  20. Maggie

    5 stars
    Love! Used vegan alfredo sauce instead of marinara. It spent more time in the oven than the recipe called for. My non vegan boyfriend loved it. I can’t wait to try another one of your recipes.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Maggie, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

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