cheesy zucchini rice on a plate

A friend and I were recently laughing over the things we said we’d never do after having kids, and how we now do, uh, all of the above (er, below).

Pre-baby: My kids will NEVER eat chicken nuggets! Post-baby: Oh hey there, freezer full of gluten-free nuggs! Love ya’, mean it.

Pre-baby: My kids will NEVER play with electronics at restaurants! Post-baby: “Yes, you can play ski ball on my phone if it means I get to finish my glass of wine.”

Pre-baby: My kids will NEVER be bribed! Post-baby: Ha. Hahaha. HAHAHA! Ok honestly we try and watch this but man oh man, the things one or two jelly beans can accomplish!

Wow, this is kind of fun – for better or worse, I could go on all day! ? At any rate, it’s clear I had no clue what it takes to raise a child until we had Lincoln, but one thing I won’t bend on is feeding him healthy and nutritious meals (minus the occasional chicken nugget + jelly bean power combo!) You guys know I love cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients, but my absolute favorite recipes are ones that are infused with vegetables but don’t taste like they’re infused with vegetables. Because, kids. And honestly, adults too!

The most recent dish to join the lineup of healthy eats that don’t taste healthy? Creamy Parmesan Zucchini Rice, aka the side dish you’ll be making all spring, summer, and fall long (thank goodness zucchini has a long growing season!)

close up photo of a scoop of creamy parmesan zucchini rice

This five ingredient (plus salt,) simple, scrumptious, and secretly healthy side dish is rice cooked in chicken broth then flavored with butter, freshly grated parmesan cheese, a little salt, plus a WHOOOOLE lotta shredded zucchini. Smells like buttered popcorn, tastes like mac and cheese, is full of potassium and vitamin C and, most importantly, does not scream VEGETABLES! (Only I do that.)

That said, if you’ve got little ones that can pick out a wee speck of green in a dish from a mile away, simply peel the zucchini before shredding! You’ll lose a little bit of the nutritional benefits, but as I always say – some vegetables are better than no vegetables, and the zucchini will melt right into the rice both visually and texturally. Two birds and all that!

forkful of cheesy zucchini rice

Start by shredding 1 small zucchini to get roughly 2 cups shredded zucchini (a little over or under is fine.) You could use the shredding blade that comes with your food processor, or go the old fashioned route and use a box grater.

Creamy Parmesan Zucchini Rice is a quick and easy, vegetable-packed side dish recipe calling for just 5 ingredients (plus salt!) #glutenfree |

Next add 1 cup long grain white rice to 2 cups chicken broth that’s been brought to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Place a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium-low, then simmer for 13-15 minutes or until the rice is al dente. Turn the heat off then stir in 2 Tablespoons butter and a heaping 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. I use a microplane to get really fine shreds.


Finally, stir in the shredded zucchini then place a lid on top and let the pot sit on the burner with the heat off for five minutes, or until the zucchini has slightly softened. (Since Lincoln is allergic to dairy I usually stir in the zucchini first and let it steam, then scoop some out and stir in the butter and parm at the end, but I like the method described above best.)


Last step is to taste then add salt (and maybe a little more parm if you’re feeling frisky!) then scoop onto plates and serve. This seasonal side dish recipe goes wonderfully with any grilled dinner. Add a side salad, and you’re set!

overhead photo of a scoop of creamy cheesy zucchini rice on a plate with grilled chicken

Creamy Parmesan Zucchini Rice

4.5/5 (3 REVIEWS)


Creamy Parmesan Zucchini Rice is a quick and easy, vegetable-packed side dish recipe calling for just 5 ingredients (plus salt!)


serves 4-6

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (I used Jasmine rice)
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups shredded zucchini)
  • heaping 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • salt


  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan then add rice and cover with a lid. Turn heat down to medium-low then simmer until rice is al dente, 13-15 minutes. Turn off heat then stir in shredded zucchini, parmesan cheese, and butter then place a lid back on top and let sit for 5 minutes on the burner with the heat off. Taste then add salt if necessary, and then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

photo collage of creamy parmesan zucchini rice