What Is Zucchini?

What is zucchini, you ask? Only one of the most versatile summer squashes around!

It’s a plant! It’s a squash! It’s actually…a fruit? Yep, while many might consider the humble zucchini a vegetable, it’s actually a fruit belonging to the Cucurbitaceae plant family. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

So before you get to making your next zucchini recipe, let’s get some insight into what exactly zucchini is and what makes it so great.

What Is Zucchini, Anyway?

Zucchini is a type of summer squash that is harvested before it’s fully mature, which is why it’s considered a young fruit. It’s usually a dark emerald green on the outside, but some varieties are a sunny yellow. The inside is usually a pale white with a greenish tinge. The skin, seeds and flesh are all edible and packed with nutrients.

Zucchini has a mild taste that verges on sweet, but mostly takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. This is why it’s such a great candidate as a low-carb pasta substitute in the form of zoodles—it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce it’s cooked with! Zucchini desserts have also become popular of late—it adds nutrients and bulk to ordinary, sugar-filled recipes, along with making them moist and delicious.

What Are the Benefits of Zucchini?

Zucchini is a low-calorie, high-fiber food with zero fat, making it a fairly healthy choice. It can help keep your bowels regular and your blood sugar stable, and overall is beneficial for gut health. It also contains Vitamins A and C, though the content varies on whether the zucchini is cooked or raw. Don’t skip the skin—it contains the most nutrients!

How Can I Cook Zucchini?

There are plenty of ways to cook zucchini! You can bake it, grill it, pop in the air fryer or just saute it on the stove. While you can technically eat it raw, the texture is better cooked—but that doesn’t mean you can’t pop it into a zucchini salad.

What Is the Difference Between Zucchini and Cucumber?

When you place them side-by-side, it’s very easy to mix up cucumbers and zucchini. However, while both are members of the Cucurbitaceae family and are considered gourds, zucchini is additionally a squash, with the scientific name Cucurbita pepo.

But of course, there are more differences than that! For one, when you touch them, you can almost immediately tell the difference—cucumbers are hard and cool to the touch, while zucchini tends to be warmer and yielding, with a mild grittiness.

Once you cut them up, you’ll find that cucumbers tend to have more of a green tinge on the inside, compared to zucchini’s relative paleness. Cucumbers also tend to be cooler and have more of a crunch once you bite into them, unlike zucchini.

And of course, cucumber is usually used raw, while most people tend to cook zucchini. You’ll see cucumber in lots of summer salads, but you’re unlikely to be able to use it as a substitute in zucchini bread.

Check Out These Popular Zucchini Recipes
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Amrita Thakkar
Amrita is an Assistant Digital Editor at Taste of Home. As a writer and amateur photographer, she often ends up applying these skills to her one great love: food. She can usually be found researching global cuisines, at the farmers market, doing yoga, or looking up new places to travel to.