These baked zucchini fries with Cotija cheese are a healthier way to enjoy crispy, crunchy, veggie fries! It’s also perfect for the time of year when we all start drowning in zucchini and summer squash. Not that I should complain about zucchini, it is endlessly versatile – it’s great in pasta, soup, salad, or as a substitute for carbs (like in this lasagna).
What Makes these Zucchini Fries So Good
I usually see zucchini fries with parmesan, so I decided to try them with Cotija – a hard, cow’s milk cheese that originated in the town of Cotija in Mexico. It’s similar to parmesan, but it’s saltier and creamier.
I like salty fries, so I thought this would be a nice way to get more flavor without adding loads of table salt. I was originally concerned these fries wouldn’t stay as crunchy as I wanted them to, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the panko and Cotija crisped up! I think you’ll really enjoy these fries – they’d make a perfect side dish or appetizer for a summer party or Labor Day BBQ or as a light lunch on their own.
What’s the Best Squash to Use?
This recipe will work best with ripe, firm zucchini or summer squash. While you can get zucchini year-round in many places, it’s really at its best from late June through the end of August. On the few occasions I’ve had friends that have grown zucchini, it seems like you’re just inundated with it in August! Usually what happens is that I get too excited at the farmer’s market and buy more than we could possibly eat in a week.
The Best Seasonal Zucchini Recipes
If you find yourself with loads of zucchini to spare, here are a few great zucchini recipes:
- Israeli Couscous Salad with Zucchini, Mozzarella, and Tomatoes
- Roasted Zucchini with Yogurt, Dukkah, and Sumac
- Healthy Zucchini Muffins
- Zucchini and Fresh Corn Farmers’ Market Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
What are your favorite zucchini recipes? Let me know in the comments below!
How to Make Baked Zucchini Fries
- I was skeptical that the zucchini would stay crispy without doing a salt and drain method before cooking, but it’s not necessary if you use a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack. I did not test cooking the zucchini directly on the baking sheet, but I don’t think it would work well.
- These zucchini fries are at their best when they’re warm out of the oven. Once they lose their initial warmth inside they are not nearly as yummy (I mean, we still ate and enjoyed them but they are DELISH for the first hour) and they do not reheat well. If you wanted to make these in advance and serve later, I would not recommend reheating.
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 4 ounces finely crumbled Cotija
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- optional to serve - aioli, chipotle mayo, ketchup
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.
- Combine the panko, Cojita, and paprika in a large bowl. Spread the flour in a shallow bowl.
- Working one-by-one, dredge the zucchini in the flour, then eggs, and finally through the panko mixture. Place on the wire rack/baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the panko is golden brown.
- Serve with any optional toppings or dips.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 377Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 714mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 16g