Monday, August 20, 2012

Zucchini Crust Vegetarian Pizza Margherita Recipe - On the Grill or In the Oven (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free)

Vegetarian Pizza Margherita, with a crust made of grated zucchini.

Zucchini-Crust Vegetarian Pizza Margherita found on

This seems to be the summer for pizza crust experiments at Chez Kalyn, and this recipe for Vegetarian Zucchini-Crust Pizza Margherita was inspired by the Cauliflower-Crust Vegetarian Pizza I made last month.  After trying that pizza with a crust made of cooked cauliflower, cheese, almond meal, and an egg, I started wondering why you couldn't make a similar type of crust with zucchini.

Jake was skeptical, and it did take us two tries to get a crust we were happy with, but we both loved the way the zucchini added flavor to this crust and really complemented the simple tomato sauce, fresh basil, and fresh Mozzarella that are the traditional toppings for Pizza Margherita.  This is a pizza recipe that's not only vegetarian, but also gluten-free and low carb and it's another answer to that zucchini problem that so many people have this time of year.

We cooked this crust on a pizza stone on the grill (just like we did the Cauliflower-Crust Vegetarian Pizza), but I'm sure you can also cook it in a hot oven, with or without a pizza stone.  Even if you don't have a garden, try not to skip the fresh basil on top, because that adds a lot of flavor to the pizza.  This pizza is so delicious that no one will care that there's no meat, and I think this is a perfect Meatless Monday dinner.

(You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly post spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipe ideas I find around the web.)
Use a food processor, or the large sides of a hand grater to grate the zucchini.

Then put the zucchini into the food processor with the steel blade, and chop it more finely.  (If you don't have a food processor, use a large chef knife for this second chopping.

Once the zucchini has been grated and then chopped, you need 4 cups to make the two small pizzas in this recipe.

Put the zucchini in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 5 minutes on high.

Then put a piece of cheesecloth or a kitchen towel inside a colander and let the zucchini drain while it cools.

While the zucchini cools, make the sauce.  Start by draining a can of good-quality petite-diced tomatoes.

Saute the garlic in half the olive oil, just until it's fragrant.

Then add the drained tomatoes and Italian seasoning and let the sauce cook down over low heat.  (Just before using the sauce, stir in the rest of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.)

When it's cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze as much water as you can out of the zucchini.

Mix the cooked zucchini, grated Mozzarella blend, almond meal, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and egg to make the crust mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil or nonstick spray and divide the crust into two balls.

Then use your fingers to press the mixture out into two crusts, taking care not to make the edges too thin.

Cook the crust on a pizza stone on a grill (or in an oven) that's been preheated to 450F/230C.

Here's how the crust looked when it came off the grill.

Top each pizza with half the sauce, fresh basil leaves, and chunks of fresh mozzarella.

Let the pizza cook a few minutes longer, just until the cheese has melted nicely.  Serve hot.

Zucchini-Crust Vegetarian Pizza Margherita (on the grill or in the oven)
(Makes 2-4 servings, depending on what you serve with it.)

Crust Ingredients:
4 cups grated then chopped fresh zucchini (one large zucchini about a foot long, or several smaller ones)
1/2 cup finely grated low-fat Mozzarella blend
5 T almond meal
3 T finely grated Parmesan
1 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten

Sauce Ingredients:
1 can (14.5 oz.) good quality petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 T olive oil, divided
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Pizza Toppings:
3 oz. part-skim fresh Mozzarella, sliced and then pulled apart into chunks
10-15 large fresh basil leaves

Preheat the grill or oven to 450F/230C.

Grate zucchini, using a food processor or the large side of a hand grater, then chop the grated zucchini.  (I did this with a steel blade in the food processor, but you could chop with a large knife if you don't have a food processor.)  Place the chopped zucchini in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 5 minutes.  Then drain the cooked zucchini into a colander that's lined with cheesecloth or a kitchen towel.  Let zucchini drain until it's cool enough to handle.

While the zucchini cools, make the tomato sauce.  First, drain the tomatoes into a colander placed in the sink.  While the tomatoes drain, chop the garlic, heat half the olive oil in a very small frying pan, and saute garlic just until it's fragrant.  Add the drained tomatoes and Italian seasoning and let the sauce simmer on very low heat until the crust is done.  (Just before using the sauce, stir in the rest of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.)

When zucchini is cool, squeeze out as much water as you can and place the zucchini in a bowl.  Add the finely grated Mozzarella, almond meal, Parmesan, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and beaten egg and stir until the ingredients are combined.

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil or nonstick spray and divide the crust mixture into two balls.  Use your fingers to press out the crust mixture into two circles, being careful not to make the edges too thin (or they will burn).  Bake crust on a pizza stone (on a covered grill or in the oven) just until the crust is firm and starting to brown (about 12-13 minutes.)  You can also bake this in the oven without a pizza stone, but it will take a little longer to cook.

Spread each small pizza with half the sauce, then top with half the basil leaves and half the fresh Mozzarella chunks.  Put pizzas back into the oven or on the grill and cook just until the cheese is nicely melted, about 3-5 minutes more.  Serve hot.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This pizza would be approved for all phases of the South Beach Diet.  It does contain some nutrient-dense foods like tomatoes and almonds, but the crust is relatively high in fat, so use portion control.  It's also important to use low-fat Mozzarella for the crust and part-skim fresh mozzarella to top the pizza if you're making it for South Beach eating. 

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. 

More Interesting Vegetarian Pizzas You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Pizza from Budget Bytes

Julia Child's Eggplant Pizzas from Kalyn's Kitchen

Fully Loaded Vegetable Pizza from Danica's Daily

Cauliflower-Crust Vegetarian Pizza with Mushrooms and Olives from Kalyn's Kitchen

Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza from Smitten Kitchen 

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. I've always wanted to try one of these type of crusts! Thank you for experimenting and coming up with the best recipe!

  2. I love how this crust is not only good for you but tasty too! I've been wondering about these veggie crusts and I think it's time I tried one!

  3. Thanks Pam and Joanne. We liked both the cauliflower crust and the zucchini one.

  4. Love this idea for the crust. One question: when you cooked the crust first on the grill, did you flip it? or does that nice browning come naturally from the lid of the grill being closed?

  5. Lydia, we loved it. No need to turn the crust over, it browns from the heat inside the closed grill.

  6. Thanks for figuring this out! I have made casseroles with shredded zucchini. I'm curious whether both the shredding and chopping steps are necessary. What is the drawback of just using the chopping blade? Uneven chunks?
    I have a huge zucchini in the garden right now. I'm going to make this tonight or later this week.

  7. ValerieAnne, we did try it with just shredded zucchini and like it better with both shredding and chopping the zucchini for even-sized small pieces. Not sure if you could get that with just a chopping blade.

  8. Do you think this could be made without the cheese?

  9. Did you know that Margherita Pizza is what got Cade and I cooking? We loooove it!

  10. Kinder106, of course you could leave off the cheese (your choice), although I might mix the basil in with the sauce if you did that.

    Carrian, so fun!

  11. I've tried the meatza and its good but this looks lighter and just better somehow. I cannot wait to give it a whirl!

    Erin -

  12. Looks yummy - can't wait to try it.

    Was this a pizza you can pick up and eat by hand or do you need a fork?

  13. CleanDiva, hope you enjoy!

    Whatchachewing, this is not as crisp as a thin pizza crust, but you can definitely pick it up in your fingers if it's cut into pieces.

  14. I would never think to use zucchini in a crust so I'm glad you came up with the idea and figured out how to do it successfully

  15. It really looks good. This summer we have eaten sometimes in a vegetarian restaurant in our places of holiday. We loved it!!!

  16. Kalyn, I am so excited about this! Which did you prefer - the cauliflower or the zucchini?

  17. Thanks Jeanette. Hope you try it!

    Cacharreando en mi cocina, so much good food is vegetarian.

    Sheila, I really liked both, but the zucchini was perfect with the basil and mozzarella.

  18. This sounds perfect to fit into our Paleo diet (but maybe with some sausage on it) Thanks, cant wait to try it.

  19. Another ting for my post-retirement To-Do List.

    What fun to have Jake interning!

  20. PaleoBob, adapt in any way that works for you!

    Mimi, it is so fun cooking with him. We're a good team.

  21. Just found your site as I was looking for new ideas with Swiss Chard Stalks which we love. Great site and I will now be following you. Thanks for the ideas. Diane

  22. What does the microwave step accomplish? We don't have one.

  23. The microwave cooks the zucchini so it mixes into the other crust ingredients a little butter. You could saute it in a non-stick pan if you don't have a microwave

  24. This is the second zucchini crust pizza I've seen this week. I think the message is coming loud and clear. Must get zucchini at the farmer's market this week! Your naturally gluten-free, grain-free pizza looks totally fabulous, Kalyn. :-)


  25. Hi, since almond meal is a bit expensive, I was wondering if there was anything I can use as a substitute? The recipe sounds amazing though!

  26. You can grind your own almonds if you have a spice grinder or food processor. I haven't tried it with anything else so I don't know what else would work.

  27. Would this work without eggs? We are allergic :-/

  28. I"m guessing you need the egg To hold it together but I don"t know for sure. You could try it; would love to hear how it works.

  29. My daughter is allergic to all nuts. I know it negates the gluten-free aspect of this recipe, but would whole wheat flour work?

  30. Oh dear, I'm looking at my reply above and seeing how many typos I make when I try to reply on my phone!

    Virginia, I haven't tried it, but I think it would work with whole wheat flour. You might need a little bit of baking powder if you use flour. Would love to hear how it works if you try it.

  31. Hi Kalyn! I have been following you for quite awhile on pinterest. i went primal a little over a year ago and i finally tried a recipe of yours (i have pinned a ridiculous amount). i started a new food revolution at my home to help my kids and i just wanted to thank you for having a super fantastic blog. it is truly inspiring. to help me stick with the "change", i plugged myself into an electrical socket and starting my own blog on sunday. literally. HA! i just took my pizzas out (i used cauliflower) and bon appetit! you rock sister. thanks a bazillion. xo

  32. Hi Lindsey, Thanks for all the nice feedback. So glad you are enjoying the blog.

  33. Since my hubby's on a low carb diet, this recipe suits us just fine. I can't wait to try it...I'm sure it's as delicious as it looks in the photos. Thanks so much!

  34. At what temp would I have to bake the pizza? Most are 350. Would that his true for this? It looks delicious, rest especially since I can't have cauliflower.

  35. If you're going to try baking, I would use the very highest temperature your oven will go, probably 450F/230C for most ovens. If you have a pizza stone, definitely use it. Love to hear how it works in the oven.

  36. I love this recipe. I would not microwave the zucchini since it woulds kill all of the nutrients. I think I will try various methods of precooking the zucchini and then putting into the food processor. Microwaves kill so many of the nutrients causing your body to be hungry shortly after you have eaten.

  37. Michele, I don't share those thoughts about the microwave, but of course it's your choice on how you make it.

  38. Kalyn, thank you! My husband and I loved these little pizzas - especially the crunchy edges! We added some black olives on top and it was fab.

  39. Would the crust hold together alright if the cheese was omitted from the crust recipe? I am trying very hard to eat paleo and am avoiding cheese. This recipe sounds wonderful!

  40. Amanda, I haven't made it without the cheese so I can't say for sure, but truthfully I don't think it would hold together well without it. Would love to hear what you think if you try it though.

  41. I don't have a microwave, any ideas on how to do this step without one? Thanks

  42. Doug you can try just sauteeing in a pan for a few minutes, but truthfully I don't know for sure how it will work since I haven't tried it that way.

  43. Hi Kalyn! Just came across this recipe recently, made it last night and thought it was AMAZING! I was wondering, have you ever tried freezing the "dough balls" for later use? Do you think they would keep and then thaw in the fridge for a few hours like regular pizza dough? Thank you so much!

  44. Cheryl, I am intrigued by the idea, but I have no idea how it would freeze. I know you can freeze zucchini, but it think it gets softer and more watery. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

  45. You had me until "nuke in microwave". Completely strips this recipe of its appeal and organic-ness. Couldn't you use egg to bind the dough instead of drying out the nutrients in the microwave?

  46. Rachel, you're free to try the recipe any way you'd like. But don't lecture me about the way I have made it. And as you can see from the other comments, you're entitled to your opinion, but so is everyone else.

  47. Is there a way to make it without egg? My son is allergic to eggs and all nuts

  48. I haven't tried making it without eggs, so I have no idea if that would work, but I'm guessing the crust will not hold together without the egg.

  49. Kalyn - How crisp is this base when cooked? One of the things my husband most likes about 'normal' pizza is the very crispy base. Will this provide his "crunch factor"? Would love to get him to happily eat more veggies, and this is a good a way :)

  50. Dani, if you really want crispness, I'm not sure you can get that in a vegetable crust. This is definitely not crisp in the way a flour crust might be, sorry!

  51. Hi there! Just curois why you use a baking sheet on top of the pizza stone? Would it be alright to put the crust directly onto the pizza stone?

    Thanks! Can't wait to make this! Hopefully for dinner tonight :)

  52. Since the crust has cheese we were afraid it would stick to the pizza stone.

  53. My reaction after making this is: WOW! I made changes because of our particular dietary needs. I used pecorino instead of Parmesan. I replaced the mozzarella in the crust with another egg. On top I used goat Gouda instead of mozzarella. I did not take the extra step of chopping the zuchinni after I shredded it, and it got cooked in a steamer on the stove. I made one medium pizza. It was in the oven for about 20 minutes and I will put in for more time next time. However, my oven has a very loose relationship with temperature.

    Overall the flavor was incredible. 5/5. Definitely will make again. (A note on size:for a meal this definitely needs side dishes if it's feeding more than two people or feeding two really hungry people)

  54. So glad you were able to adapt it to our needs and that you enjoyed it so much!

  55. This curst was good only issue I had was it got soft fast. I don't think I cooked it long enough in the over to crisp bottom.. also I put it directly on the pizza stone. Thanks for sharing recipe

    Next will try the cauliflower..

  56. Kelly, glad you liked it. This crust is never going to get as crisp as a pizza made with dough.

  57. Thank you so much for this recipe Kalyn! I have multiple food allergies and try to stay away from cauliflower because it can sometimes be hard to digest. SO, your pizza was the perfect solution :) I'm sharing my own spin in an upcoming blog post and will definitely link back to your original recipe. Thanks again!

    1. Megan, so glad it worked for you; look forward to seeing your version.

  58. Hey Kalyn, Thank you for doing all the working out there! Is it easy to find vegetarian mozzerlla and Parmesan where you are? In England, it's got rennet in it making it most definitely not vegetarian :(

    1. Hi Joy,
      It's true there are a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan cheeses here, but I also think that many vegetarians in the U.S. eat cheese (unless they're vegans.) At least I've never heard of a concern about cheese from vegetarians before.

      And this recipe is for Meatless Monday, which is for people who may not be vegetarian but are avoiding meat for one or more days a week.


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