These baked zucchini fries are golden and crispy outside, tender inside, and bursting with summer flavor!
They are the perfect crunchy low-carb snack or side dish, made with keto and gluten-free panko and Parmesan breading!
Easy to make in the air fryer or baked in the oven, these low-carb zucchini fries are so delicious and honestly even better than French fries, plus perfect for dipping.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Baked in the oven or in the air fryer: I’ll give you detailed cooking instructions for both, and no matter which you choose these will be as golden and crisp as if they were deep fried!
- Great for dipping: These zucchini fries are super dippable and stay crispy! Try them with this 2-minute keto marinara sauce or a creamy ranch dipping sauce (that you can make yourself with my homemade ranch seasoning mix).
- Keto and gluten-free: These zucchini fries are breaded with pork panko and Parmesan, so they are low-carb and free of gluten.
- Great macros: This is a fairly high protein zucchini recipe with up to 20 grams of protein and under 3 net carbs per serving!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Zucchini: you’ll need two large or three medium zucchini
- Keto & gluten-free panko: Pork panko is the best way to substitute breadcrumbs on keto!
- Egg white powder: This ingredient is super sticky when wet. When mixed it into the keto breading it turns almost into glue! Use it and you won’t be the one asking “Why my breading isn’t sticking” or “Why is my breading falling apart”.
- Parmesan: For a delicious cheesy flavor and an even crispier coating!
(Optional ingredient) Pea protein powder: Pea protein powder is by far the best keto-friendly ingredient I found for dredging before breading. I tested several: lupin flour (gets wet), oat fiber (also gets wet) and egg white protein powder (gets wet and clumps up).
It’s common practice to dredge the food that’s going to be breaded in wheat flour or corn starch as a first step before dipping it into the beaten eggs. This creates a drier and uneven surface on the food that helps the breading stick.
But this breading recipe already sticks very well thanks to the egg white powder mixed in, so you can skip this step if you wish. I still wanted to share with you how good pea protein is for dredging in case you’d like to do it, though 🙂
And a bonus: This recipe is already fairly high protein at 14 grams per serving, thanks to the pork panko and egg white powder. Adding pea protein isolate takes it over 20 grams of protein per serving (while under 3 net carbs!) so you’ll have some serious high protein fries 💪
Can I substitute almond flour?
You can, but the recipe will taste like almond flour. I chose pork panko instead of almond flour because of its neutral taste. Almond flour has a sweet aftertaste that can feel out of place in savory snacks.
Do you have to cut the skin off zucchini?
It isn’t necessary to peel zucchini. The skin is edible and contains nutrients and flavor. Not to mention, it adds texture and color to your dishes!
Just wash them thoroughly, preferably with a vegetable brush, like a kawashi.
Even if a particular zucchini has very tough or waxy skin, a rough scrub with a vegetable brush can make it a bit thinner and smoother without the need to cut it off completely.
Do you need to remove zucchini seeds?
It depends on the zucchini. If the seeds are very numerous and large, it’s better to remove them because they add a lot of moisture (which can make the fries soggy).
If there are only a few seeds and/or they are very small, you don’t need to remove them. In this recipe, I did not remove the seeds and my zucchini fries were ultra crispy!
How to make step by step
If making the zucchini fries in the oven, start by preheating your oven to 230 °C (450 °F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it with cooking spray or olive oil.
No previous preparation is needed for baking the zucchini in the air fryer.
There’s no need to peel off the zucchinis. So, wash them thoroughly – I like to scrub them with a vegetable brush. Trim off the ends, and let’s start slicing the fries:
1. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, then slice each half into approximately 1/2-inch thick sticks.
2. Use paper towels to pat the zucchini slices dry, and let them rest on paper towels while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Letting the zucchini rest on the paper towels will help remove the excess moisture while you prepare the ingredients for the breading station.
3. In a wide bowl, combine the panko, egg white powder, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until well combined.
Optional step: Dredge the zucchini slices in pea protein powder for the breading to stick better.
The easiest way to do it is using a sealable plastic bag. Place all the zucchini sticks in it, then add the pea protein powder inside, close the bag and shake it until all slices are well coated.
5. Prepare the breading station: Set the beaten eggs and breading bowls side by side, and place the air fryer basket or lined baking tray nearby to receive the breaded zucchini.
Hot tip for mess-free breading: Choose one hand to dip the zucchini into the beaten egg (the wet hand), and another hand to bread it (the dry hand). Don’t mix hands!
6. With the wet hand, dip the zucchini slices into the beaten egg. Allow any excess egg to drip off.
7. With the same hand, drop the egg coated zucchini into the breading bowl.
8. With the dry hand take a pinch of the breading from around the zucchini slice and pour over it to cover. (This will help this hand remain egg free).
9. Then roll it around a couple of times and pat on it to help the breading stick. Make sure it is coated on all sides.
10. As you go, place each breaded zucchini in the air fryer basket or the lined baking tray, in a single layer and with some space left in between them.
Oven baked zucchini fries instructions
These zucchini fries are as crispy in the oven as they are in the air fryer, and there’s the advantage that you can fit a lot more of them in the oven at once.
Plus, you can use more than one baking sheet or rack at the same time, just swap their positions towards the second half of the cooking time.
So, especially if you don’t have a large air fryer, or don’t care for cooking in batches, oven baking zucchini fries is the way to go!
For the crispiest oven baked zucchini fries, make sure the oven is fully preheated to 230 °C (450 °F). Bake them for about 25 minutes, until they are golden brown.
Once the zucchini fries are cooked, remove them from the air fryer or oven and let them cool for a few minutes before serving. They are best enjoyed while still warm and crispy.
Should you flip the zucchini fries in the oven?
It’s often recommended to flip them over halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. I personally don’t do this.
After having tried this recipe both ways (flipping halfway through and not flipping), I didn’t notice a difference in result that makes the effort worth it.
Also, the zucchini fries are still soft at this point, so they easily break when turned, or the breading might come off if you poke them wrong. I suggest you leave them be 🙂
Air fryer cooking instructions
Air fry at 200 °C (400 °F) for about 15-17 minutes, until the zucchini fries are golden brown. Repeat with the next batches, you might need two or more, depending on the size of your air fryer.
It’s possible that when you finish air frying the last of the zucchini the first batch will have grown cold. You can reheat by adding all of them together into the air fryer for a couple of minutes before serving.
Do you need to shake the air fryer basket?
I tested the recipe in the air fryer with shaking and not shaking the basket, and the results are similar to the oven: not a significant difference, apart from the zucchini sticks that were in the shaken basket looking a little beaten up.
If you follow the directions of placing them in a single layer with plenty of space in between them for the air to circulate, you do not need to shake the basket to get all-around crispy and evenly cooked zucchini fries.
Tips for the best crispy zucchini fries
Pat dry the sliced zucchini: Zucchini is rich in moisture which can cause the fries to get limp and soggy, and the wetness also makes it difficult for the breading to stick (it makes the beaten eggs slide right off).
I gently pat them dry with paper towels and let them rest in between sheets of paper towels as I prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Cut zucchini evenly: Slicing the zucchini fries in similar sized pieces will allow them to cook and brown uniformly, so they will all be equally crispy when the cooking time is finished.
Don’t overcrowd: Bake or air fry the breaded zucchini in a single layer, and arrange them in the sheet pan or air fryer basket neatly so that they don’t touch one another.
This will let the hot air circulate between the zucchini pieces and promote even browning, without you having to flip them around or shake the basket. They will also cook faster!
What to serve with zucchini fries
Honestly, these zucchini fries are already great by themselves. They are perfectly golden and crispy and just make your taste buds dance!
But they are wonderfully dippable as well, with their super crunchy texture. So let’s not waste this opportunity!
Some dipping sauces that go hand in hand with these baked zucchini fries are keto marinara sauce, ranch dressing or ranch Greek yogurt dip (that you can make yourself with my homemade ranch reasoning mix), or garlic aioli.
Baked zucchini fries make a delicious side dish as well, and they are a great alternative to French fries to accompany keto or low-carb meals.
Storage and reheating
These zucchini fries are definitely at their best right out of the oven or the air fryer. While still warm and crispy! If you do have leftovers, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
You’ll need to reheat them in the air fryer or in the oven so they will crisp up again, as they get moist and soften with time. Don’t try reheating them in the microwave, as they will lose the crispy texture completely.
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