These appetizers are favorites all over Italy. Come springtime, menus are chockfull of regional variations. This is a classic filling, but other herbs and seasonings would work well, too. Use your imagination–and what’s on hand. A sprinkle of chile flakes certainly wouldn’t go amiss.–Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers


Squash blossoms start to show up at the beginning of the summer. Often, home gardeners will grow a crop of zucchini just for the flowers rather than the summer squash themselves, that’s just how delicious they are. When choosing blossoms, you’ll want to pick up the ones that are brightly colored and not shriveled up. Use them as soon as you can, as they definitely don’t get better with age. Then you can prep them for cooking. Since the actual flower is the only edible part, you’ll first need to remove the spiny leaves around the bottom with a sharp knife. Then you just need to gently pull out the pistil or stamen from inside the blossom. Some cooks prefer to leave a bit of the stem on, to provide something to hang on to when dipping and eating but that’s entirely up to you.

A large pan covered with parchment paper and 8 deep fried zucchini flowers, sprinkled with lemon zest, salt, and chile flakes.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

5 / 2 votes
Stuffed zucchini flowers are a favorite all over Italy. This version is filled with a traditional ricotta and basil filling, then deep fried until crisp. Use them as an outstanding appetizer or as a substantial garnish.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories257 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 45 minutes


For the batter

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 egg whites, organic

For the zucchini flowers

  • 1 cup soft ricotta
  • 20 zucchini flowers
  • 4 tablespoons basil leaves
  • 3 cups sunflower oil
  • 2 lemons


Make the batter

  • Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the center, pour in the olive oil, and stir to combine. Loosen this paste by slowly adding enough warm water, slightly less than 1 cup, to make a batter the consistency of heavy cream. Add 1 teaspoon salt, cover and leave for at least 1 hour.

Prepare the zucchini flowers

  • Remove the stamens and the green bits at the base.
  • Season the ricotta. Push 1 teaspoon of ricotta and a basil leaf inside each flower. Press together.
  • Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C) in a deep skillet. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the batter.
  • Dip the flowers one at a time into the batter. Tap gently to knock off excess, and carefully place as many as you can without touching into the hot oil. Fry until light brown, then turn to crisp the other side.
  • Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with lemon.
Italian Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

Adapted From

Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 257 kcalCarbohydrates: 23 gProtein: 9 gFat: 14 gSaturated Fat: 5 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 8 gCholesterol: 21 mgSodium: 61 mgPotassium: 138 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 gVitamin A: 387 IUVitamin C: 12 mgCalcium: 100 mgIron: 2 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2004 Rose Gray | Ruth Rogers. Photo © 2004 dolphytv /123RF Stock Photo. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The batter on these fritters is extremely light thanks to the whipped egg whites. The filling is classic and is delicious as is or you can add some garlic paste or lemon zest for a little extra punch of flavor.

I grew zucchini this year with the sole purpose of frying the flowers, so I was really excited to see this recipe. The batter was fantastic! I’m used to seeing batters that use fizzy waters to lighten them, so I was very interested in the egg white technique. The resulting batter was super light and incredibly crisp and the fermenting time gave it a great taste.

The stuffing was also incredible. The whole leaves of basil made it so herbaceous. And, the shower of fresh lemon at the end was the perfect punch of acid. This is an amazing recipe that I will definitely be returning to all summer. This would be a great appetizer for 4 people. We had it as a meal and it served 2 people really well. I did dip some okra in the extra batter, and it was fantastic.

We primarily grow zucchini in our home garden for the main purpose of harvesting the flowers. We fry them and add them to pasta dishes, salads, or just use them as an edible garnish for a variety of dishes. Despite constantly harvesting the flowers (both male and female) we get more actual zucchini than we really need but always have a use for them or find friends who are grateful to take them off our hands.

When we fry them, we simply dip them in flour and a beaten egg thinned with a little milk. While stuffing them is the classic Italian method to prepare them, this was our first attempt at this type of preparation. It was a little challenging to remove the stamens without tearing the flowers open. My advice is to have a few extra flowers on hand in the event of breakage. While we tried frying some of the broken, stuffed ones, they did not hold up very well and most of the ricotta floated into the cooking oil. That said, we did end up with 20 well-made intact flowers and they were quite good.

The egg whites folded into the batter just before frying created a very light and crisp coating. The basil leaf added a nice punch of flavor. Overall, we really enjoyed this recipe and feel that “practice will make perfect.” Not a problem at all, since even the “broken” ones were delicious.

Based on my personal experience with this recipe, I can offer a few tips: First, when making the batter, I found that using a whisk works better than a spoon when mixing the flour with the oil and water. Second, to fill the flowers with the ricotta, use a piping bag with about 1/2″ of the tip cut off. If you don’t have a piping bag, then a zip-loc bag (a la Sandra Lee) with about 1/2” cut off one of the bottom corners will also work. This allows you to insert the piping bag into the flower and avoid the possibility of breaking the flower open.

Lastly, make a little extra batter and cut your actual zucchini into sticks or rounds and fry them the same way as the flowers. This will help use your abundance of zucchini at this time of year and will allow you to create a nice appetizer assortment of fried zucchini flowers and fried zucchini rounds and/or sticks. Don’t forget to salt them as they come out of the frying oil and drizzle them with a bit of lemon juice.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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