Let’s investigate. 

By Corey Williams
June 23, 2020
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The last thing we need in our lives these days is more confusion. That’s why I’m sorry to inform you that one of our favorite veggies, the deliciously nutritious zucchini, is not actually a vegetable at all—it’s a fruit. Here’s what you need to know:

Fruit vs. Vegetable

Ralf Flasch / EyeEm/Getty Images

According to Merriam-Webster, a fruit is the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant. A vegetable, meanwhile, is a usually herbaceous plant (such as the cabbage, bean, or potato) grown for an edible part that is usually eaten as part of a meal.

In layman’s terms, a fruit contains seeds on the inside and a vegetable doesn’t.

A Zucchini Is Technically a Fruit…

Caitlin Bensel

Botanically speaking, a zucchini (a type of squash) is definitely a fruit.

Not only does it have and come from seeds, it grows on the flowering part of the zucchini plant. Fun fact: Zucchini blossoms are gorgeous and edible. 

The zucchini isn’t the only fruit masquerading as a vegetable. In fact, contentious battles have been fought over the tomato’s status (though it’s a fruit, it’s legally considered a veggie). 

...But It’s Treated As a Vegetable

So why do so many people think a zucchini is a vegetable? Well, in a culinary sense, it is. 

When people in the cooking world classify foods as fruits or vegetables, they typically do it based on taste and not science. Since fruits are usually considered sweeter than vegetables, they’re often served in a sweeter context (for example, pies vs. salads). 

While some types of squash do have a certain sweetness to them, they also have an earthy flavor that makes them easy to serve in ways you’d serve a vegetable. 

That said, zucchini certainly can—and should—be used as a baking ingredient. This Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread is all the proof you need.   

Zucchini Nutrition

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine 

Good news, zucchini lovers: The tasty squash is jam-packed with vitamins and nutrients. 

Rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants, zucchini is a good source of water and fiber (which means it’s great for healthy digestion). 

It’s also a good source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, two nutrients that promote eye health. 

Zucchini Recipes

Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Prissy Lee

Hungry for more? Check out Our 50 Best Zucchini Recipes next.