Crispy Baked Zucchini

This simple baked zucchini is the best summer side dish! The zucchini is layered with pesto & tomato sauce and baked with a crispy panko topping.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini

And the summer squash blogging continues…

If you have lots and lots of zucchini and/or yellow summer squash to use up, this is your recipe! Alternatively, if you’re just looking for ideas to use zucchini because it’s healthy and delicious, this is also your recipe.

How to cook zucchini

How to make this simple baked zucchini:

  1. Toss thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash coins with sliced onion and pesto.
  2. Layer the mixture into a baking dish with tomato sauce.
  3. Top with panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and bake!

The trick is to slice your squash evenly so that it bakes evenly. A mandoline is great for this.

Instructions for how to cook zucchini

Pesto Baked Zucchini in a casserole dish

As it bakes, the center gets saucy and bubbly while the top gets crispy. It’s a delicious, healthy summer side dish that’s simple to put together.

Crispy Pesto Baked Zucchini

Serving Suggestions

As a side dish, this serves 3 to 4. I suggest serving any of these main courses with it:

5.0 from 2 reviews

Crispy Baked Zucchini

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This simple baked zucchini is the best summer side dish!
Recipe type: Vegetable
Serves: 3 to 4 as a side
  • 4 cups zucchini/yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced yellow onion
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts or hemp seeds
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if desired
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and brush the bottom of a 9x12-baking dish with olive oil.
  2. Set the sliced squash on a kitchen towel to drain some of the excess moisture while you prep everything else.
  3. Make the pesto by pulsing the nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor. Add the basil and lemon juice, and pulse again. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse again (you want a chunky pesto for this dish).
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini, onions with ½ cup of the pesto.
  5. Layer the baking dish with ½ cup tomato sauce, then the squash/onion mixture and spread it into one even layer.
  6. Sprinkle the top with panko, parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and pinches of red pepper flakes. Bake until the zucchini is tender (but not mushy) and the top is crispy and lightly browned - about 25 minutes. I like to turn my broiler on for the last few minutes to help the topping become browned and crisp.
  7. Remove from oven and let it cool 20 minutes before slicing.


Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Bring on the zucchini! I love the crispy and baked parts of this, forces me to stray from my usual cutting and roasting!

  2. Eileen from

    What a great way to eat up some of the massive late summer zucchini extravaganza! I love it. 🙂

  3. Elyse from

    So simple and delcious! I have an abundance of courgettes (sorry just cant bring myself to call them zucchini yet!) Will certainly be trying this, thank you.

    • jeanine

      it’s ok, courgette is so much prettier 🙂

  4. I have zucchini coming out of my ears! I’m making this tonight, it looks great. Zucchini brownies for dessert too I guess (recipe on my site)!

    • jeanine

      mmm, sounds delish – love chocolate and zucchini together!

  5. Jessica

    Thanks for posting! I cook for a family of 5 and only one of us is Vegan, so when it comes to finding family-friendly vegan recipes I love your site! This is reminiscent of pizza for my brothers and they love it 🙂
    I replaced the cheese with some nutritional yeast instead, but I also wanted to try it with some cashew cheese too!

    • jeanine

      so glad you liked it! I love nutritional yeast, I’ll have to try that next time, thanks for the tip!

  6. Ella from

    This sounds wonderful! I love pesto… I don’t think I’d be missing anything by vega-fying it 🙂 per the above comment, I might try with some nutritional yeast! Thanks for sharing!

    • Elise

      I made it with nutritional yeast & it was as good as you’d think! Give it a try! I mixed the nutritional yeast in with the breadcrumbs.

  7. Bryan from

    I need more understanding friends like you have. Mostly vegan and mostly gluten free would get me uninvited 🙂 Great recipe! Of course, I’m a gluten meat eater.

  8. This looks phenomenal! Simple, delicious, loads of veggies, and pesto – love it!

  9. Nicole B.

    I just had zucchini for the first time a few months back and became obsessed with it. My husband agrees that this really tasty. Pinned for future making!

  10. Meghan from

    This is almost a sort of inverted vegetable lasagna, simplified. I love it!

  11. Serena from

    Yum that looks delicious – what great way to use courgettes. Can’t wait to try it! Gorgeous pictures as always

  12. Elizabeth from

    I love new ways to use up Zucchini (Australian) as we always have an over abundance in the garden 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Liz x

  13. simple recipe with a lot of flavor.
    Love the zucchini series.. Cheers!

  14. Linda from

    Must make this – it looks delicious!

  15. sara from

    This looks incredible! Wow – such a great dish!

  16. Paula

    Thank you so much for the recipe! But since it contains zucchini, my advice is to buy only veggies that are shorter than 8 inches because the longer ones can be bitter 🙁 A while ago I’ve noticed that some zucchinis are just more bitter than other and then I’ve found this explanation:

  17. Sally

    What a great idea looks tasty 🙂

  18. Elise

    I made this last night & it did not disappoint! Even my boyfriend, who has a very pronounced distaste for zucchini & squash, went back for seconds. We were both blown away by the delicious layers of flavor & how healthy of a dish it is. I made it vegan & added cashews to the pesto instead of pine nuts then combined nutritional yeast with the breadcrumbs on top. We made half of the dish with breadcrumbs & half without – both were completely delectable.

    Thanks for a recipe that tastes as good as it looks! This would be a perfect potluck dish & I wish summer wasn’t almost over so I could keep making it!

    • jeanine

      I’m so glad you liked it – thanks for coming back to let me know! I’ll have to try it with nutritional yeast & breadcrumbs next time 🙂

  19. Meg

    Just threw this is the oven! Just some notes on the recipe – you never mention to toss the squash in with the pesto, it’s just referred to as “pesto-ed squash”, which was confusing. Also, you didn’t say what to do with the onions, which I didn’t realize until I’d already put the panko layer on top. I tried to squeeze them in under some of the zucchini, but had to leave out most of them. I’m excited to have it tonight, just thought I’d pass along a few critiques!

  20. Geneviève

    Just tried it tonight, it was delicious! I never though zucchini could taste that good!


  21. Agne

    I just love zucchini. I just always wanted to try something new. (till now i’m just making zucchini pancakes, bake them in the pan with batter and sprinkle with garlic anr parsley and sometimes make omelet with them) thank you for this recipe. This was reaaaaally tasty! will try something else!

    • jeanine

      so glad you liked this one too!!

  22. Shelley from

    My son who is new to cooking made this today. It was pretty good. while we were cleaning up I noticed a pile of sliced onions on the counter! He took your suggestions to set the onions aside very seriously and did not add them to the zukes when he stirred in the pesto. I’m pretty sure that the onions would have been a great addition, you might want to edit the instructions for new and very literal cooks 😉

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Shelley, just fixed it – thank you for pointing that out!

  23. Sweta

    I just made this using stuff from the farmers market, and instead of making the pesto from scratch, I made the tomato sauce from scratch 🙂 It was really good!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.