Greek Zucchini Balls are delicious fried pancakes or fritters with grated zucchini, crumbled feta cheese, and fresh mint served as a vegetarian appetizer with homemade tzatziki sauce.
It’s the peak of summer, and that means 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.
After several days of mysterious zucchini deliveries to our front steps, I decided that it was time for a dinner of Greek zucchini balls. Fried with feta and mint, this is one of my favorite recipes for the summer zucchini harvest.
I learned to make these zucchini appetizers at a cooking class in Greece, where they’re called kolokithokeftedes. Here in the States, you might find them referred to as zucchini balls or zucchini pancakes.
Whatever you call them, this is a refreshing summer appetizer that’s cheesy, crispy on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside.
Greek Zucchini Fritter Recipe Ingredients
You only need a few staple ingredients to make a fresh batch of zucchini balls at home. Especially if you already have a bumper crop of zucchini in your garden!
Here’s what else you need for this light zucchini appetizer recipe:
- Crumbled Greek feta cheese. Opt for a high-quality block of feta, if you can find it. The cheese adds a wonderful salty and melty element to these pancakes.
- Eggs, which bind the batter together.
- Green onions and mint, two classic Greek flavors.
- Self-rising flour, which can be found in most grocery stores and ensures that your patties are light and crisp.
- Finally, choose an inexpensive olive oil for frying. I don’t recommend using high-quality extra-virgin oil for this recipe. However, a lighter, unrefined bottle will do.
Do I Need to Drain Zucchini Before Frying?
Yes, the first step in making this Greek zucchini balls recipe is to grate and drain the zucchini. This step removes excess water, which allows the fritters to crisp up better during frying. Moisture is the enemy of crispiness in the kitchen, so the more water you can remove from the vegetables now, the better.
To drain your zucchini before making the batter, grate, and salt the vegetables in a colander. Use 2 teaspoons of salt–I know it’s a lot, but don’t worry, most of it will drain away. Let the zucchini drain for 15-30 minutes, then squeeze it gently with your hands or a clean dish towel to remove most of the water.
How To Make Zucchini Pancake Batter
While the zucchini is draining, prepare the rest of the batter. Combine the sliced green onion, crumbled feta, chopped mint, black pepper and eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Fold in the drained zucchini and just enough self-rising flour to form a soft dough.
The zucchini ball dough should not be too stiff. Rather, it’s light and fluffy, which allows the balls to rise up as they cook. I would say it’s a little stiffer than muffin batter.
With a soft dough, it can be difficult to form a perfect ball shape. If you love a perfectly round ball, you can always add more flour, but the end result will be a little denser.
How to Make Fried Zucchini in a Deep Fryer
You can make this recipe using a deep fryer or a stove. If you’re using a deep fryer, preheat the oil to 375 degrees.
Before you start frying the fritter batter, line a large plate with 3-4 layers of paper towel nearby. This will become your landing pad to drain off any excess oil when the fritters cook.
When the oil is hot, drop tablespoons of batter into the hot oil. Do your best to form a ball shape, but don’t worry if they’re not perfect. I use a rounded measuring tablespoon.
To avoid crowding the pan, cook 4-5 zucchini balls at a time for 2-3 minutes. The fried zucchini is done when it’s medium golden brown in color. You don’t want them underdone or doughy in the middle.
Use tongs to carefully turn the patties during cooking so they cook evenly. When the Greek Zucchini Balls are golden brown, transfer them to your paper towel-lined plate.
How To Make Greek Zucchini Balls on the Stove
If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can also quickly fry up the zucchini batter right on your stove.
Fill a large skillet with about 1/3 inch of oil, 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 also check the temperature by dropping a small amount of dough into the oil. It should start to bubble and sizzle immediately, but the oil should not be smoking hot.
Cooking the batter on the stovetop will give you a little more of a zucchini pancake or fritter shape.
What to Serve with Zucchini Balls
Serve these Greek Zucchini Balls with authentic Greek tzatziki sauce. They make a perfect party appetizer or even a light vegetarian meal. And since this is such a tasty warm-weather recipe, why not turn it into a full Mediterranean feast, with complementary dishes like:
Greek Zucchini Balls (Kolokithokeftedes)
- 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. Put the grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and mix to coat evenly. Place the colander in the sink and let the zucchini drain for 15-30 minutes. Gently squeeze the zucchini with your hands to remove as much water as possible.
- While the zucchini is draining, combine the eggs, green onion, mint, feta, and black pepper in a large bowl. Add the drained zucchini. Mix in enough self-rising flour to make a soft dough, about 1 1/2 cups.
- Deep fryer cooking instructions: If using a deep fryer, preheat the oil, preferably olive oil, to 375°F. Line a large plate with 3-4 layers of paper towel.
- Drop the dough, one 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 with tongs as necessary evenly.
- Remove the zucchini balls from the hot oil with tongs, a slotted spoon or a spider strainer. Place them on the paper towel-lined 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°F.
- If you don't have a frying thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a small amount of batter. The batter should start to bubble and sizzle right away, but the oil should not be smoking hot.
- When the oil is hot, drop tablespoons of batter into the oil. 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. Flip the zucchini balls with tongs halfway through the cooking time. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to cool.
- Serve the zucchini balls with Authentic Greek Tzatziki Sauce.
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