It’s the peak of summer, and that means it’s zucchini season. Our family loves zucchini, and we could eat it just about every day, but this year we didn’t grow any in our little vegetable garden. Luckily, my husband’s parents are expert gardeners, and they’ve been keeping us supplied. Recently, my mother in law posted this photo on Facebook with a simple one-word caption, “Help!”
I guess she felt totally overwhelmed by the massive amount of zucchini in the garden! The next day, a mysterious bag of zucchini appeared on our front porch, and it took us a little while to figure out my husband’s parents had left it there. That’s when I decided it was time to make Greek zucchini balls, one of my favorite recipes for making the most of the summer zucchini harvest.
I learned to make these Greek zucchini balls when I took a cooking class during a vacation to Greece last year. My husband, daughter and I learned to make a bunch of Greek dishes, but I think this one was our favorite. Greek zucchini balls are crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside. They’re flavored with salty feta cheese, savory green onion and fresh mint.
I made these Greek zucchini balls with my T-fal self-cleaning deep fryer, which I got for Christmas. I love cooking gadgets, and this is one of my favorites! It keeps the oil at the exact right temperature, and when you’re done frying, the oil passes through a filter and into a storage tank so you can use it again. I only use my deep fryer once or twice a month, because deep fried foods are not an everyday thing, but I really do love it. I’ve seen the exact same model used on popular cooking shows like “Master Chef” and “The Great British Baking Show.” If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can make these zucchini balls in a frying pan, and they will be just as good.
The first step in making Greek zucchini balls is to grate the zucchini, salt it, and let it drain. Grate about 2 medium zucchinis using a box grater or food processor until you have 4-5 cups of grated zucchini. Put the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt. It’s a lot of salt, but don’t be too concerned, because most of it will drain away. Put the colander over a bowl so the water can drain out of the zucchini. Let the zucchini drain for 15-30 minutes, then squeeze the zucchini gently with your hands to remove most of the water.
While the zucchini is draining, combine sliced green onion, crumbled feta, chopped mint, black pepper and eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add the drained zucchini. Add enough self-rising flour to form a soft dough. The dough for these zucchini balls is not too stiff, because that allows them to rise up nice and fluffy. I would say it’s a little stiffer than muffin batter.
With a soft dough, it’s difficult to form a perfect ball shape, but it gives the zucchini balls a light texture. You can use a stiffer dough, so you can form perfectly round balls, but the texture of the balls will be more dense.
If you are cooking your zucchini balls using a deep fryer, preheat the oil to 375 degrees. It’s best to cook these zucchini balls in olive oil, but don’t use extra virgin olive oil. Use a cheaper, light olive oil that’s intended for frying. Before you start frying, cover a large plate with 3-4 layers of paper towel so you can place the zucchini balls on it to drain.
Drop the dough, a tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil, doing your best to form a ball shape. I use a rounded measuring tablespoon. Cook 4-5 zucchini balls at a time for 2-3 minutes until they are medium golden brown. You don’t want them underdone or doughy in the middle. Turn the balls during cooking with tongs so they get done on both sides. Remove them from the hot oil with tongs, a slotted spoon, or a spider strainer.
If you’re making the zucchini balls on the stove, put about 1/3 inch of oil in a large skillet, and heat over medium high heat. If you have a frying thermometer, the temperature should be 375 degrees. If you don’t have a frying thermometer, you can check the temperature of the oil by putting a small amount of the dough in the oil. It should start to bubble and sizzle right away, but the oil should not be smoking hot. Cooking the zucchini balls on the stovetop will give you a little more of a pancake or fritter shape:
Here’s the finished product cooked using the frying pan method:
Serve these Greek zucchini balls with authentic Greek tzatziki sauce. These Greek zucchini balls are perfect as a party appetizer, or as a light meal. They’re a lot of fun to make and eat, especially during zucchini season. Give this recipe a try, and leave your comments below!
Greek zucchini balls are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, flavored with salty feta and fresh mint. Perfect as a light meal or party appetizer.
- 4-5 cups grated zucchini
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (preferably Greek)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 green onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups (approximately) self-rising flour
- Olive oil for frying
- Wash the zucchini and cut off the ends, but do not peel. Grate with a food processor or box grater. It takes about 2 medium or 4 small zucchini to yield 4-5 cups grated. Put the grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and mix so all the zucchini pieces are salted. Place the colander over a bowl so the zucchini can drain for 15-30 minutes. Gently squeeze the zucchini with your hands to remove most of the water.
- While the zucchini is draining, mix together the eggs, green onion, mint and black pepper. Add the drained zucchini. Mix in enough self-rising flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups, to make a soft dough.
- Deep fryer cooking instructions: If using a deep fryer, preheat the oil, preferably olive oil, to 375 degrees. Cover a large plate with 3-4 layers of paper towel.
- Drop the dough, a tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil, trying to keep the dough in a ball shape. Fry 4 or 5 zucchini balls at a time for 2-3 minutes, until they are medium golden brown. Turn the zucchini balls during cooking as necessary with tongs.
- Remove the zucchini balls from the hot oil with tongs, a slotted spoon or a spider strainer. Place them on the paper towel covered plate to drain away excess oil.
- Stovetop cooking instructions: If cooking the zucchini balls on the stovetop, put about 1/3 inch of olive oil in the bottom of a 12-inch skillet, and heat over medium high heat to 375 degrees.
- If you don't have a frying thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a small amount of the batter. The batter should start to bubble and sizzle right away, but the oil should not be smoking hot.
- Put the batter in the hot oil a tablespoon at a time, as with the deep fryer directions above. Zucchini balls will have more of a patty or fritter shape if cooked in a skillet. Cook 4-5 zucchini balls at a time, about 2 minutes on each side, until medium golden brown. Turn the zucchini balls over with tongs halfway through cooking time. Remove to the paper towel covered plate to cool.
- Serve the zucchini balls with Authentic Greek Tzatziki Sauce
Use a light colored, inexpensive olive oil for frying.
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