Kolokithokeftedes are Greek-style zucchini fritters made with grated zucchini, dill, mint, green onion, egg, and flour. Serve with Greek yogurt or tzatziki for a snacky lunch, as a starter for a dinner party, or a simple side dish.
When I describe my favorite Greek-style zucchini fritters, the first thing people ask me is, "Kolo-kitho-kefte-des, what is that?"
And with good reason: A super long Greek word must have a decent explanation. Broken down into two words, kolo-kithi means "zucchini" and kefte-des originates from kofta, meaning "meatball." Thus, the Greek translation of the word kefte is used for both meat and zucchini fritters!
These zucchini fritters, just like with beef or chicken kofta, are more of a flat shape rather than a ball so they get nice and golden brown all over. Their crispy exterior gives way to a deliciously soft, cheesy, and flavorful interior. All this to say, Kolo-kitho-keftedes might be a mouthful to say, but they are a delightful mouthful to eat!
These fritters are the epitome of a healthy quick snack. I find myself making them over the summer months when zucchinis are in season and herbs are overabundant in my garden. Truth be told, I double the batch because while I fry them I simultaneously find myself eating every second fritter, hot off the pan.
Zucchini fritters, if you are like me, go best with a glass of iced ouzo. Why not feel as though you are on a Greek island overlooking the Mediterranean Sea?
Table of Contents
Zucchini Fritters Ingredients
This zucchini fritter recipe is an authentic dish with flavors that will transport you right to Greece. Luckily, all of the ingredients for kolokithokeftedes are found at any major grocery store!
- Zucchini: Also known as courgettes, zucchinis are the star ingredient.
- Breadcrumbs: Help soak up any additional liquid and add a great crunch and texture. My preference is Panko as they are thicker and get crispier, but any other (including gluten free breadcrumbs) will suffice.
- All-purpose flour: Helps give structure to the fritter and acts as a binding agent. You can substitute with corn starch or gluten free flour.
- Baking powder: Helps the fritters puff up while frying.
- Semolina flour: Give the fritters a crunch and helps with binding the mixture together. If you are gluten free, substitute with cornstarch.
- Fresh herbs: Freshly chopped mint and dill add vibrancy and freshness to the fritters. You could substitute the dill with freshly chopped Italian parsley if you prefer. Whatever you do, do not reduce the amount of herbs or the fritters will be bland.
- Green onions: Release a subtle and sweet onion flavor. Don’t use yellow, white or red onions, as their flavor and texture are too intense for the fast cooking method.
- Whole eggs: Eggs help bind and add creaminess to the mixture.
- Feta cheese: This is a must! A zucchini fritter cannot be complete without creamy and salty feta cheese.
- Parmesan cheese (optional): If you’re a lover of extra cheese, parmesan adds an additional salty yet savory note to the fritter. I recommend you add it!
- Salt: Salt helps bring out the flavor of ingredients and helps liquid drain from the grated zucchini, which ensures it gets crispy and golden brown rather than steamed.
- Pepper: Pepper adds depth of flavor and a little spice to the fritters.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Is always my choice for frying. It adds a great overall flavor. Use a high quality olive oil, like our Greek Private Reserve.
How to Make Zucchini Fritters
These zucchini fritters are easy and virtually fail-proof. To get the best texture, always drain the zucchini well. And, make sure your pan is super hot before frying.
- Grate: Using the large side of a box grater, grate the zucchinis. Add to a strainer with 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to rest for 30 minutes to release any liquids.
- Chop: Finally chop the fresh dill, mint and green onions to yield ¼ cup of each. Place in a large bowl.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients: To the bowl, add 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, 5 tablespoons of AP flour, 3 tablespoons of semolina flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Lightly whisk 2 eggs and add, along with 3 ½ ounce of crumbled feta and ¼ cup of grated parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the zucchini: Take the zucchini out of the strainer and gently squeeze between your palms to release any further liquid, then add to the bowl with the other ingredients.
- Mix: Mix gently, being careful not to over-mix nor entirely crumble the feta. The batter should be thick and sticky, holding its shape when dropped from a large spoon into the oil. If the batter is too wet add one tablespoon more flour.
- Fry: Take a non-stick skillet and add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom. Heat over medium high. Once it’s very hot, add heaped tablespoons of the zucchini mixture. They don’t have to be perfectly round, just level out with a spoon to create a pancake shape. Fry the fritters for a few minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain any excess oil and continue cooking the remainder of the batter.
- Serve: Serve the kolokithokeftedes warm or cold with a side of Greek yogurt, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a garlicky tzatziki sauce.
Tips for Making Kolokithokeftedes
Zucchini fritters are a simple recipe that’s easy enough to make with the whole family, kids included! Here are some of my tips to make kolokithokeftedes extra crispy and delicious:
- Get ahead by grating zucchinis and allowing them to drain in a strainer overnight. This removes far more liquid which helps get an even crispier fritter.
- Use a box grater to grate the zucchinis, not a food processor. A food processor will cause them to release far too much liquid and they won’t hold their shape when fried.
- Use a non-stick or cast-iron skillet and make sure to heat it up very well. If the oil isn’t hot when you add the fritter, it will absorb the oil and get soft rather than crispy.
- Once you make the batter, fry the fritters right away. If the mixture sits too long the liquid will continue to be released and the fritters will be soggy.
Cook the kolokithokeftedes in a few batches to avoid overcrowding your pan. Overcrowding the pan causes the heat to drop, so the fritters get crispier if you give them some space.
What to Serve with Zucchini Fritters
For a summery lunch, serve these zucchini fritters with lemon wedges and Greek yogurt or tzatziki. They're filling enough on their own, but a fresh salad, like Traditional Greek Salad, rounds out the meal. For a dinner party, serve as an appetizer with more finger foods, like Greek salad skewers and dolmas, and ice cold glasses of ouzo.
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Kolokithokeftedes (Zucchini Fritters)
For the Fritters:
- 5 –6 zucchinis (2 ¾ pounds), grated
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup finely chopped dill
- ¼ cup finely chopped mint
- ¼ cup finely chopped green onions
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 3 ½ ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil, for frying
- Lemon wedges
- Tzatziki or Greek yogurt
- Salt the zucchini. Place the zucchini in a strainer with 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes so juices can be released. After 30 minutes, squeeze out any extra moisture with your hands and place into a bowl.
- Make the dough. To the zucchini, add the breadcrumbs, flours, baking powder, dill, mint, green onions, eggs, feta, parmesan, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are incorporated. If the batter is too wet, add a little more flour.
- Get ready to fry. Heat the oil in a shallow wide pan over medium-high heat until it’s very hot.
- Fry the fritters. Add spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil. They don’t have to be perfectly round, just level out with a spoon to create a pancake shape. Cook the fritters in batches without overcrowding the pan (I do 4 fritters per batch). Add more oil if it is too dry. Cook until golden and crispy, 3-4 minutes per side.
- Drain. Transfer the cooked fritters to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Serve. Serve either hot or at room temperature, with lemon wedges and Greek yogurt on the side.
- Use a box grater to grate the zucchinis (not a food processor) otherwise they will release far too much liquid and will not hold their shape when fried.
- Mix the batter until just combined so your fritters stay nice and light (overmixed=dense fritters). The batter should be thick and sticky and hold its shape when formed into a fritter.
- Make sure your oil is very hot to ensure the fritters cook quickly and do not become soggy.
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