These Vegan Zucchini Fritters topped with a dollop of dairy-free Lemon Cashew Cream sauce are an easy way to use up your (or your neighbor's) zucchini bumper crop. Bonus: they're gluten-free!
Summer means that gardens across the US are bursting with deep green zucchini.
If you grow zucchini, you've probably had this experience. You go out early in the morning to harvest everything. There are a few good medium-sized zucchini. You keep searching, but decide that the rest are a little too small to pick.
The next morning, you do it all again. Except searching through that zucchini plant, suddenly there's a MASSIVE baseball bat sized vegetable. How did you miss it yesterday? It's huge!
Big might be better when it comes to fat and juicy tomatoes or thick onions. But it's not always the best sign of a flavorful squash. Big often means watery. And full of large seeds.
These aren't the zucchini you want to spiralize into zucchini noodles.
However, big zucchini still make excellent meals. When we have a really large one, we like to shred it up in the food processor. Then, we'll use it for zucchini bread, muffins, or this simple and crispy vegan zucchini fritter recipe.
Here's how to make the most of your giant zucchini.
These vegan zucchini fritters come together quite quickly. However, for best results you'll do a bit of pre-work for the batter and lemon cashew cream.
Salt zucchini before cooking
As with most zucchini recipes, we recommend salting your squash and wringing out as much moisture as possible before cooking. That's especially true if you're working with a huge one. The bigger the squash, the more liquid it contains. And the more liquid, the less crispy your fritters will get.
For these fritters, you'll first grate the zucchini on a box grater or in your food processor. Then, you can add all the grated squash directly to a clean dish towel and sprinkle it liberally with salt.
Let it sit for up to 30 minutes, or at least 10 minutes. After that, simply fold up the dish towel and wring out as much liquid as possible over the sink. You might be surprised by how much water comes out.
All of that is liquid that won't be sogging up your fritters!
Soak cashews for the sauce
The vegan lemon cashew cream in this recipe also needs a bit of prep.
Luckily, it's mostly hands-off. Simply soak one cup of raw cashews in room temperature water. The longer you can let them soak, the creamier your lemon cream sauce will get. We recommend soaking your cashews for at least an hour, and up to four.
Soaking softens up the nuts so they break down into an ultra creamy whipped dip to top your fritters.
If possible, we recommend blending your vegan cashew cream sauce in a small blender or food processor. A smaller container will help to blend the cashews into a smooth purée.
Or, you could make a double batch of cashew cream in a regular-sized blender. If the blender is too large for the amount of cashews, the sauce won't get quite as smooth.
However, a double (or larger) batch is never a bad idea. The vegan cream sauce freezes well and it's great to have on hand to top weeknight dinners.
There are dozens of ways to mix up the flavor of your cashew cream sauce. We went with lemon and garlic to accompany the pesto flavor of our zucchini fritters.
However, you could throw in any of your favorite fresh herbs, dried spices or spice blends. Our secret is a bit of miso for the ultimate umami kick to make the best vegan cashew cream.
Pan fry the fritters
The final step, the actual cooking part of this recipe, is the quickest.
First, make a simple flax egg to use as a binder. You can read more about why and how to use flax for plant based recipes in our guide to flax eggs.
Then, combine the rest of your batter ingredients, give everything a thorough stir, and form your fritters! It helps to keep them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet before frying. This gives them enough room so they don't stick together. And, it's easier for you to cook in batches.
These little guys fry up nicely into golden brown cakes. Thanks to gluten-free chickpea flour and that flax egg keeping everything together.
You could also skip the vegan cashew sauce and try some new fritter toppings. Here are some we love:
- Vegan sour cream. You could make your own with this recipe from Cookie + Kate. Or find great store-bought options.
- Hot sauce. Drizzle these cakes with your favorite store-bought or this 15-minutes homemade hot sauce.
- Quick Pickles. These cakes go well with all kinds of pickled vegetables. Make a jar of your favorite veggies using our guide to all kinds of quick pickling.
Here are some our favorite vegan and gluten-free entree recipes to accompany your zucchini fritters:
- Spicy Black Bean Cauliflower Tacos
- Vegan Ceviche
- Grilled Vegetable Fajitas from Coniferous Veg (just sub corn or grain-free tortillas to make gluten-free!)
- Coconut Corn Chowder with Crispy Dates
- Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri
If you make these vegan zucchini fritters, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
Vegan Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Cashew Cream
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Makes 6-8 fritters 1x
- Diet: Vegan
These Vegan Zucchini Fritters drizzled with dairy-free Lemon Cashew Cream sauce are a delicious way to enjoy your summer bumper crop of zucchini and basil for a satisfying vegan side.
For the Lemon Cashew Cream:
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour and up to 4 (the longer the better)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 lemons, zested
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp white miso paste
- You may need ¼ cup cashew soaking water or more, to blend
For the Zucchini Fritters:
- 4 cups grated zucchini
- 3 tbsp scallions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water
- ¼ cup gluten free all purpose flour
- ¼ cup plain gluten free regular or panko style bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 ½ tsp salt plus ½ teaspoon more to season mixture
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼-½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tbsp of olive oil for cooking
For the Lemon Cashew Cream:
- Drain the cashews, reserving soaking water in case you need it to blend the sauce.
- Combine the cashes, garlic, all the lemon zest, juice from one lemon, salt, and miso in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding cashew soaking water one tablespoon at a time if necessary to achieve a creamy sauce.
To make the fritters:
- Grate zucchini. Place in a mesh colander inside a bowl and toss well with 1 ½ teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 35 minutes. Be sure to toss and squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini 3-4 times while it is sitting. (The zucchini will release a lot of moisture!) After 35 minutes, transfer zucchini to a clean dish towel and squeeze out as much remaining moisture as possible.
- While the zucchini is sitting, mix together the flour, bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, ½ teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
- Add flax meal to a bowl with water, stir and let sit for 20 minutes. Stir once or twice.
- Add zucchini to a bowl with scallions and basil. Mix well, then add in all of the dry ingredients. Add flax + water mixture and mix well. Let mixture sit at room temp for 20-30 minutes so the flax egg has some time to bind the mixture together. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if desired.
- Heat a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup so patties are the same size. Form into a ball in your hand and press flat, about ¼-1/2 inch thick. Cook for 4- 5 minutes on each side over medium heat, until golden brown and crispy.
Make sure to remove as much moisture as possible from the zucchini – this is what makes them crispy.
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Pan Fried
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 Fritter with cream
- Calories: 195
- Sugar: 3.6 g
- Sodium: 448.8 mg
- Fat: 12.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.3 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 16.3 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 6.9 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: vegan zucchini fritters
Updated September 7, 2019
This looks delicious! What would be another good GF substitute for the chickpea flour if we don’t have any? Almond, coconut, buckwheat, all purpose?
Thank you so much, Jamie! I haven't tried any alternatives, but my first thought would be all purpose - I don't think almond, coconut or buckwheat would work quite as well in this recipe. Let me know if you give it a try!