Genius Recipes

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter

By • July 24, 2013 • 53 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A simple preparation turns zucchini into the best version of itself: butter.

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter from Food52

We've turned bananas into ice cream, white chocolate into caramel, cauliflower into steak -- for our next bit of alchemy: zucchini will become butter! Or at least convincingly butter-like.

Zucchini butter is simpler than you'd ever think, and tastes richer than any vegetable has a right to. The technique comes via The Kitchn from a caterer in Los Angeles named Jennie Cook (also known, incidentally, for her Funny Cake).

It's barely a recipe at all, but a concept you'll find yourself returning to as your counter keeps piling up with summer squash. I'm sharing it with you now, while squash is still new and you still find little crooknecks and pattypans and their cousins with equally cute names irresistible.

Whenever you come home with a bundle of squash, this is the best, purest way you can distill it. (And then in about a month, when we're overrun, it will still be a happy way to dispense with lots of them at once.)

Here's how you make butter out of squash: Take a little olive oil or butter (or both), melt in some minced shallot or garlic (or both), then dump in a lot of grated squash. You can pre-salt and wring it out it if you want to, but it's really not necessary.

It turns out zucchini wants to be butter. Grated fine, it cooks down quickly, pooling into a soft, freckly green pile. (Food52er inpatskitchen, who first tipped me off to zucchini butter, does the same trick with radishes.)

More: Another place to put grated summer squash? In Summer Weekend Pasta, with corn and basil.

If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, that's actually great. You can keep deglazing with a little water, scraping up the stuck-on bits as you splash it in. You might end up with something a bit more caramelly brown than what you see in the photos here, and it will rock your world.

How to use it? Spread it on toast in place of actual butter. Cake a thick layer in a sandwich with salted tomatoes or soft cheese. Sauce a grilled pizza. Consider it a side dish. Or just eat a big heap of it, right out of the pan, like we did.

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter from Food52

Jennie Cook's Zucchini Butter

From Jennie Cook by way of The Kitchn

Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra -- cooking times will vary)
1/4 cup olive oil or butter
2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
Salt and pepper

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: genius recipes, genius, zucchini, squash, zucchini butter, jennie cook, the kitchn, zucchini

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Comments (53)


8 months ago Lily CC

Just made this, delicious by itself, but even better when made into pesto! Blend it together to make it smoother with plenty of basil, some nutritional yeast (or cheese) and some pine nuts, and it's a gorgeous vegan pesto.


10 months ago Carolyn Cope

Thanks for the reminder about this! Loved it last year but had forgotten about it.


over 1 year ago Turbeville Green

Any tips on how to reheat? I want to make it ahead of time and spread it on baked chicken.


over 1 year ago Loreleis

Very yummy!Thank you Kristen.


over 1 year ago dymnyno

Fresh is always best! Given the abundance of zucchini why would you want to preserve it?


over 1 year ago Magdalene

Has anyone tried canning this?
I am just about to make zucchini relish and can it, and would like to try this insetad.


over 1 year ago Betsey Walker Culliton

This is really delicious! I also added smoked sea salt to it with fantastic results.


over 1 year ago Cynthia M.

Does anybody know if you can freeze this successfully?


over 1 year ago Elizabeth

Hi there! I've been looking around and this website says it freezes for up to a year:

I'm going to put it in jars and put it next to my freezer jam!


over 1 year ago Joyce Parks

This is so good! I've been telling many people about it and is always a hit!
Joyce P.


over 1 year ago SusanR

Okay, there is one issue with this recipe. My husband wants to eat it by the bucket! Seriously delicious and simple. Thanks!


over 1 year ago Kathryn Lafond

Discovered how great this recipe tastes the year we were inundated with giant zucs although never called it zucchini butter before. Thanks for reminding me of just how much I loved it!


over 1 year ago taylor.troxell



over 1 year ago Zozo

I love doing this with leeks in winter, but zucc butter sounds freaking awesome!


over 1 year ago alene cohen

there's not a time of day that i can't eat zucchini butter. it hits whatever spot i need


over 1 year ago Chilled Onions

such a good idea!!!!!!!


over 1 year ago Chrisp

I use this mush to make a tasty omelette when I don't have time to make a "real dinner".


over 1 year ago A Taste of Brazil

This looks amazing. This is definitely going to be on the menu for the next dinner party, or drinks night! Can't wait to try it.


over 1 year ago skooj

Just finished making this and it is delicious. I recommend letting it scorch a bit on the bottom. Those browned bits make it taste all the better.


over 1 year ago Ceecee Lee

Great idea! WIll be trying it this weekend.


over 1 year ago grillintime

Great idea, can you freeze it? How long?