If there’s only one thing you make with zucchini this year, let it be these Greek-inspired Vegan Zucchini Fritters. They’re truly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten (and I don’t say that lightly).
They’re perfectly crispy and light on the outside but tender and creamy on the inside. The flavor is so unique and so addictive that I can guarantee you’ve never tasted anything quite like it.
These are a perfect crowd pleasing party snack or appetizer, but they also work wonderfully as a casual side dish. Serve these zucchini fritters with a side of vegan tzatziki and enjoy a delicious taste of summer in Greece.
What are Greek Zucchini Fritters?
These vegan zucchini fritters are inspired by kolokithokeftedes, which roughly translates to zucchini meatballs in Greek. In my pre-vegan days, I feasted on these during my travels to Greece, as well as at our favorite Greek restaurant in NYC.
They’re typically served as an appetizer, often with tzatziki, the Greek yogurt-and-cucumber sauce, as a dip.
Kolokithokeftedes traditionally contain eggs and feta, but these zucchini fritters are remarkably easy to make vegan.
Why this recipe works
The perfect blend of flavors
While standard American zucchini fritters are light on the flavor (think scallions and salt/pepper, sometimes garlic), these Greek zucchini fritters are a flavor explosion.
Here, fresh dill brings an incredible bright and herby flavor, while sweet, cooling mint lingers in the background. Cumin adds warmth, freshly grated nutmeg lends a subtle but special sweet zing, and vegan feta provides the salty, creamy flavor Greek food is known (and loved) for.
I can’t emphasize how freakin good these fritters are. I ate 6 in the span of 10 minutes, and my job involves eating delicious food everyday.
So, yeah, that’s my ringing endorsement!
Crispy on the outside, creamy & tender on the inside
Using a generous amount of panko bread crumbs and pan-frying these fritters over relatively high heat makes them delightfully crispy on the outside. But, the moisture from zucchini and the fat content of the vegan feta gives these fritters a soft and creamy interior. The best of both worlds.
All the good stuff about zucchini, none of the bad
Zucchini is notoriously watery, but this recipe uses a few techniques to ensure a crispy (not watery!) fritter.
First, the zucchini is salted, which draws out water through osmosis (science!).
Next, the zucchini gets a thorough squeeze. To ensure you get the crispiest fritters, please check out the step-by-step photos and detailed written instructions. There’s even a guideline for how much water will be released so you can feel confident.
Finally, the zucchini is the last ingredient added to the batter, which prevents it from releasing more water.
Basically, you get the moisture and tender creaminess of zucchini but not its wateriness.
Zucchini. Obviously! This is best with in-season summer zucchini, but you can make these fritters any time of year because the rest of the flavors are so great.
Flax eggs. Kolokithokeftedes contain eggs, which bind the fritters and add richness. Luckily, zucchini fritters can be made without eggs using flax eggs (just flaxseed meal mixed with warm water until gelled). As for the richness, that comes in through the next ingredient.
Vegan feta. Serves a few purposes: (1) it adds that tangy Greek feta flavor; (2) it adds a nice creaminess; (3) it acts as a binder; without it, the fritters won’t hold together as well. And (4) as alluded above, the feta adds some of the richness that’s necessary in a Greek zucchini fritter.
We’ve tried this recipe with both Violife feta and Follow Your Heart feta crumbles, which are the most readily available options. Both tasted great (FYH is usually cheaper).
If you don’t have access to vegan feta, use an equal amount of vegan cream cheese instead or my homemade Tofu Feta (check out the FAQ section below for deets).
Panko bread crumbs. It’s not a traditional ingredient but panko’s light, flaky texture helps bind the fritters. It also reduces the need to use too much flour, which can dull the flavor and cause the fritters to become dense and sodden with oil (regular store-bought bread crumbs are useless, so don’t use those).
The upshot? A delightfully crispy and light fritter.
To substitute with homemade breadcrumbs, you’ll need a sourdough loaf, baguette, or country-style bread. Slice it up into pieces and toast in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC for 10 minutes, or until a bit toasty. Tear into smaller pieces, add to your food processor, and pulse repeatedly for a couple minutes until you get bread crumbs.
If you’re gluten-free, skip to the FAQ section for instructions on how to make this recipe GF.
Grate the zucchini using a box grater (the side with large holes). Or, shred it in your food processor using the reversible shredding disc.
Add the zucchini to a colander, sprinkle with salt, and toss. Rest for 10 minutes (or for several hours) to release some water.
Add grated zucchini to a nut milk bag, a reusable mesh produce bag, or thin dish towel. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
You’ll need to reposition the zucchini to ensure all of it gets squeezed. Repeat this process a few times until the zucchini is as dry as possible.
It’s essential to squeeze out as much water as you can. Peep how much water was released in photo #6.
Add to a large bowl: dill, mint, scallions, flour, cumin, nutmeg, salt, pepper, vegan feta, and panko. Mix to combine. Add the flax eggs.
Using your hands, mix the flax eggs into the mixture until it starts to stick together.
Add the grated and squeezed zucchini. Use your hands to combine until you can squeeze the batter between your fingers to roll into balls, but don’t overmix (this causes the zucchini to release more water).
Roll 2 tablespoons (25 to 30g) of the mixture into balls, then shape into patties (a scant ½ inch thick, or 1 cm thick). Spread out on parchment paper to prevent sticking.
To seal the edges, cup the fritters with your hands, gently rotating them in a circular fashion.
Cook the fritters in a hot frying pan with olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to a towel-lined surface to remove excess oil and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy as is, or with tzatziki as a dip.
Tips for making this recipe
Squeeze out a TON of water. Zucchini is 94% water so the most important step is to squeeze out *as much water as possible.* And since zucchini is 94% water, there’s a lot of water to squeeze out!
For 1 ½ pounds of zucchini, we typically squeeze out ~ 1 ½ cups of water (360 to 400 mL)! It will take several rounds and it will feel like a mild arm workout, but I promise it’s worth it.
Not squeezing out enough water = your fritters won’t fry up as crispy and will fall apart easily.
In our tests, a nut milk bag or reusable mesh produce bag worked best (affiliate links). If you don’t have either, a thin dish towel or tea towel will work (don’t use a thick kitchen towel). You may want to use a second towel halfway through, as it will get drenched.
PS: The resulting zucchini water is quite salty, but if you want to reuse it, you can freeze cubes and add it to pots of soup in lieu of some broth.
Let the pan heat up. Allow your pan and oil to heat up for a few minutes. If your oil is not hot enough, the fritters won’t get as crispy and will be on the soggy side. You can test if your pan is hot enough by adding a droplet of water: if it sizzles immediately, you’re good to go.
Note: if you’re using a stainless steel or cast iron skillet, you may need more oil to prevent sticking.
Don’t skip the vegan feta. While I try to avoid using store-bought vegan cheeses in my recipes (they can be hit-or-miss and hard to find for some folks), this is one of my few recipes where vegan cheese is essential. Vegan feta, to be precise.
It adds that salty Greek flavor, creaminess, and helps bind the fritters. For a substitute option, check out the Ingredient Notes section.
Use a kitchen scale, if you have one. I find it easier to weigh the batter for each fritter (~25 to 30g) instead of measuring it out with 2 tablespoons. If you don’t have a scale, it’s not needed. It just makes the process a little quicker and smoother.
Bite, don’t pull apart. When eating fritters, they hold their shape better when you bite into them (or cut with a fork and knife) rather than if you pull them apart with your hands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Vegan cream cheese (unsweetened, plain flavor) works quite well. Leave the cheese at room temp while you prep other ingredients, then break it apart with your fingers into chunks.
Or, you can use my homemade Vegan Feta. It does require you to make it a day or two in advance. Add the feta to a strainer, drain the brine so it doesn’t add too much liquid, then crumble the cubes with your hands.
Yes! You need to make 3 primary changes to the recipe:
(1) When making the flax egg, use 2 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed meal + 5 tablespoons of water (gluten-free ingredients need more binding).
(2) Use a gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of regular flour, ideally a blend with xanthan gun (we used King Arthur’s measure for measure 1:1 blend).
(3) Use gluten-free panko (Kikkoman sells it in many stores, or find it online) (affiliate links).
Excess water is the culprit! As I mention in the tips and in the recipe card, it is essential to *really* squeeze out a ton of water, as much as you literally can. Zucchini is 94% water, after all! It will take several minutes and rounds of squeezing.
If you notice that your batter feels wet and doesn’t stick together that well, add a tablespoon more of flour at a time until you can press the dough between your fingers into a ball shape.
We do not recommend air-frying these. In our tests, they came out dry and with a lot less flavor.
We did not try baking in the oven, but honestly, you will be missing out on what makes these fritters so fantastic: the crispy exterior with the moist, creamy interior.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. I like to reheat them in a frying pan (no extra oil is needed), but if you have an air fryer, that works too. Or, you can reheat on a sheet pan in the oven at 350ºF/175ºC until hot.
You can try freezing them, but they never last more than a day in our house! Stack them between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge, then reheat in the oven or in a pan.
How to serve Vegan Zucchini Fritters
- As an appetizer with tzatziki! You can find my vegan tzatziki recipe in the 2nd recipe card below. Or, you can use vegan aioli or vegan sour cream as a dip, or just vegan yogurt mixed with lemon juice and salt.
- A great main dish to serve alongside these fritters is a classic Greek salad: chopped cucumbers and tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes), kalamata olives, sliced red onions, and capers. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Add my Greek-Stye Vegan Feta and canned chickpeas or cannellini beans for additional protein.
- You can also serve them as a side dish with another Greek-inspired or Mediterranean dish, like this Tomato and White Bean Casserole. If you have my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, these fritters would be SO good paired with the Gigantes Plaki (Greek giant beans) in Chapter 3.
- For more plant-based Greek recipes to serve with these zucchini fritters, please check out my friend Maria Koutsogiannis’ blog, Food by Maria!
- Or make a mezze platter: serve zucchini fritters alongside my vegan tztaziki and Homemade Hummus or Lemony White Bean Dip with crudités and crackers. Finish with mixed nuts, fresh and dried fruit, and a variety of olives.
If you love these Vegan Zucchini Fritters as much as we do, please rate and review the recipe with your feedback below :) It’s always very much appreciated!
- 1 ½ pounds (680g) zucchini, peel kept on
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
- ¾ cup (12g) fresh dill, tough stems removed and finely chopped*
- ¼ cup (4g) fresh mint leaves finely chopped
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced (bruised tops trimmed)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- ⅓ cup (43g) all purpose-flour**
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (90g) panko bread crumbs (or homemade bread crumbs; don't use regular store-bought bread crumbs)
- 1/2 cup (75g) vegan feta, crumbled***
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed to cook the second batch
- Flaky sea salt for finishing
- Vegan Tzatziki (optional, recipe below)
- Grate the zucchini. Use the wide holes on a box grater to grate the zucchini. Leave the top nub of the zucchini on so you can use it as a handle while you grate. For a faster option, use a food processor if you have a reversible shredding disc.
- Add grated zucchini to a colander. Sprinkle with 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt; toss to combine. Drain for at least 10 minutes, or for a few hours.
- Make the flax eggs. In a small bowl, mix together the flaxseed meal and 4 tablespoons of warm water. Whisk well, then set aside for 10 minutes to gel up.
- In a large bowl, combine the dill, mint, scallions, cumin, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, several cracks of pepper, flour, panko, and feta. Stir to combine.
- Squeeze out the water from zucchini. Add the zucchini to a nut milk bag, mesh produce bag, or thin dish towel. Over a bowl, use your hands to squeeze out as much water out as you can (almost like you're using an icing bag). Move the zucchini around a bit and reshape into a ball. Squeeze the zucchini in sections to release more water. If needed, use both hands to squeeze. Repeat a few times, moving the zucchini around so all of it gets evenly squeezed.****
- Finish the zucchini batter. To the herb/flour filling, add the prepared flax eggs and stir to incorporate with your hands. Finally, break up the squeezed zucchini and add it to the filing. Use your hands to incorporate the zucchini until just combined and you can squeeze the batter between your fingers to roll into balls. Don’t mix too much, as this causes zucchini to release more water.
- Shape the fritters. Line a large plate with parchment paper. Scoop 2 tablespoon (25 to 30g) portions of the batter (we find it easier to just weigh it using a scale). Using your hands, compact the dough tightly before pressing with your palms to form a patty (this ensures they stick together). Slightly flatten the patty (it should resemble a double stuffed Oreo in size), a scant ½ inch thick (1 cm thick). Place the patties on lined plate. For smooth edges, cup each patty with your hands, gently rotating in a circular fashion to seal edges and round the shape.
- Preheat the pan. Line a large plate with paper towels. Heat 3 TBSP olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes to heat up. To test, add a drop of water; if it sizzles immediately, it’s ready.
- Cook the fritters. Carefully add the patties to the pan, as many as you can fit without overcrowding (12 fritters will fit a 12-inch frying pan). Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, lightly pressing down on each patty with your spatula halfway through. Once the bottom is golden brown, flip and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bottom is also golden brown (slight charring in spots is okay). Some fritters will be done a bit sooner than others.
- Transfer fritters to towel-lined surface to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture, adding 2 to 3 more tablespoons of oil to the pan (with a 12-inch pan, you should be able to fry the fritters in 2 batches).
- Serve warm as is, or with vegan tzatziki for dipping.*****
- 5 ounces (140g) unsweetened vegan yogurt, ideally a thick coconut yogurt or a Greek-style yogurt*
- 4 ounces (112g) cucumber, unpeeled**
- 1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh dill (or fresh mint)
- 1 fat garlic clove, grated or crushed in a press
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as desired
- Use the wide holes on a box grater to grate the cucumber. Add the grated cucumber to a thin dish towel or cheesecloth. Squeeze or wrap it tightly, and wring out as much water as you can.
- Add the yogurt to a medium bowl. Add in the grated cucumber, dill, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice, salt, pepper to taste, and olive oil. Taste for seasonings. If possible, rest in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.