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Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipes

Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipes

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake Shopping Tips

There are so many varieties of chocolate on the shelves today it can be overwhelming to pick one – as a general rule of thumb, the fewer the ingredients, the better the chocolate.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Cooking Tips

When melting chocolate, use a double boiler and stir occasionally to avoid scorching chocolate at the bottom of the bowl.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You'd never know there's zucchini in this ultra-moist, rich chocolate cake.


  • 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups (347g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (113g) sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (298g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa, Dutch-process or natural
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional but tasty
  • 3 cups (363g to 450g) shredded zucchini (about one 10" zucchini)*
  • 1/2 cup (85g) chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until smooth.

Stir in the sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt alternately with the flour.

Perfect your technique

What to do with all your zucchini

Add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth.

Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.

To ice the cake, slide the cake out of the oven, sprinkle it evenly with the 1 cup chocolate chips, and return it to the oven for 5 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, and use a cake spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate chips into a smooth glaze. Cool on a rack.

Why Everybody Should Add Zucchini to Their Chocolate Cakes, Always

There's a sweet story in the introduction to The Harvest Baker that explains how cookbook author and baking expert Ken Haedrich became obsessed with recipes like chocolate zucchini cake. It was the early 1980s and Haedrich was the cook at a group home for boys in New Hampshire. There was a groundskeeper on site who nursed a thriving vegetable garden, and heɽ hand over bundles of tomatoes, onions, kale, and zucchini to Haedrich almost faster than he could use them.

That was sort of identity-forming for Haedrich. "I’m just a vegetable guy," he says now. "I’m just a produce guy."

Summertime Is Zucchini Bread Time

Haedrich left that job in New Hampshire a long time ago, but the zucchini keeps coming. "This is the time of year when people start dropping zucchinis off on your doorstep," he told me over the phone a few days ago. "They think they're doing you a big favor, but you have to figure out what you’re doing to do with these things."

Haedrich's solution is, of course, to bake with them: in The Harvest Baker he's included recipes for a savory ratatouille cobbler, a zucchini taco pie, and oatmeal zucchini bread.

But when I was faced with my own zucchini glut last week, I flipped past all of those and landed on his Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Glaze.

It was the headnote that lured me. Actually, let's be honest: it was the fact that it's a chocolate cake that lured me. But the headnote helped. In it, Haedrich promises that this will be "maybe the moistest chocolate cake you've ever had."

I like a recipe that makes a bold statement, so on a very hot summer night I turned on my oven and baked the cake for myself.

What came out of my oven was a rustic, square cake that was both sweet and tangy (thank you, sour cream) and, yes, very, very moist. The next day, it was even more so.

That, Haedrich told me, is all thanks to the zucchini. "It adds a tremendous amount of moisture and staying power to the cake," he said. "What happens is that the zucchini just slowly releases moisture into the cake. It sits around for three or four days, and it gets even more moist. I love that."

This is the power of using vegetables in cake. And chocolate zucchini cakes are particularly good, because the chocolate hides any vegetable flavor—the zucchini is there for texture, not taste (and certainly not for health, though go ahead and fool yourself if you want to).

Of course, zucchini season is only so long, so my strong suggestion is to make this cake now. (Right now. Leave the office. Go!) Make it until zucchini season is over, and then move on to a different chocolate cake. Haedrich has one that's a good contender. It's full of beets.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

Just a couple of days ago I tore off yet another page from the big family calendar hanging on my kitchen wall to reveal a fresh, new month. There’s something cathartic about that process of tearing off the messy scribbles from a month finished, to reveal a pristine new one. That simple experience gives me unexpected pleasure. The first thing I always do to the clean new page is go through and mark significant days. Today, August 3rd, got a sparkly flash of glitter washi tape. I put it on there without even thinking because I’ve been doing that for 30-something years now. August 3rd is my Mom’s birthday. She would have turned 61 today.

As I spoke at her funeral last fall, I spotted my grandmother, her Mom, near the front of the chapel and I smiled at her while I recounted a vivid memory. I was probably 13 or so when my Grandma was in town for a visit. She had made her famous chocolate-chocolate-chocolate bundt cake the night before (the inspiration for this holiday version) and when I came down to the kitchen the next morning I found my Mom in her pajamas, digging into a big slice of cake. Because if there’s one thing she taught me, it’s that chocolate cake makes the best breakfast.

I followed right along and started serving myself a piece as she walked with her plate into the adjoining butlers pantry to do something. Right at that moment my grandma came down the stairs and in shock and horror, asked what on earth I was doing chowing down on cake at 9am.

“If your Mother only knew what you were doing right now, eating cake for breakfast?!”

Without saying a word I stealthily shifted my glance to the butlers pantry where my Mom was standing just out of sight from my grandma. I will never forget our eyes aligning as she stood frozen, like a toddler caught with her hand in the candy jar. She licked some stray frosting off her lips and with wide eyes and holding in laughter, shook her head in a desperate plea and slowly backed away as if I had never seen her.

I took one for the team that morning and ate a bowl of oatmeal for Grandma. Later we told her what had happened and we laughed hysterically for years afterwards about it. I guess mothers are always mothers!

My mom loved chocolate and any excuse to eat more of it. I’ve decided I’ll eat cake every August 3rd forever. And then for breakfast on August 4th. I was thinking about her when I made this cake because I know she would have loved this.

It’s packed with a generous amount of zucchini, which keeps it incredibly moist, even for days after (again, breakfast!)

Aside from having a rich cocoa flavor, it’s also studded with chunks of chocolate,

and then drizzled with the perfect amount of this fabulous glaze. This is actually the same glaze that goes with the original chocolate-chocolate-chocolate bundt cake my grandma always made.

This is one of my most favorite cakes. It’s great alone, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

And because it’s super rich, you can slice it thin and it feeds a lot of people!

I hope you make it. I hope you love it. And I hope you save a piece for breakfast.

Recipe Summary

  • Cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Glaze:
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 8 teaspoons fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare cake, coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray dust pan with 1 tablespoon flour.

Place sugars, cream cheese, and vegetable oil in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Lightly spoon 2 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour and next 5 ingredients (2 1/2 cups flour through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in zucchini, 2/3 cup chocolate chips, and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons cocoa in a small bowl stir with a whisk. Combine milk, 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, coffee, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave at medium 45 seconds or until chocolate melts, stirring after 20 seconds. Combine powdered sugar mixture with chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this chocolate zucchini cake recipe:

  • Shredded zucchini, of course! It gives the cake an amazing moist texture.
  • Ground flaxseed – A perfect egg substitute. It acts as a binder (and adds healthy fats, too!).
  • Apple cider vinegar + almond milk – Together, they create a vegan substitute for buttermilk. They add moisture and a subtle tangy flavor to the cake.
  • All-purpose flour – For the best results, spoon and level your flour instead of scooping it straight from the canister or bag. Otherwise, you might accidentally add too much flour to the batter!
  • Cocoa powder – It gives the cake a rich chocolate flavor.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – To help the cake rise.
  • Coconut oil – For richness.
  • Maple syrup – It sweetens the cake naturally.
  • Vanilla extract – To enhance the delicious chocolate flavor.
  • And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Death By Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

. more chocolate chips on top of the ganache.

This is a MAJOR chocolate experience you guys.

And the best part is: you're totally getting in your veggies! Not that you'll even notice.

You won't believe there are TWO WHOLE zucchinis in there! And you know what they say– you need 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. So, basically, that means you need 2 and a half cakes per day. Which seems reasonable. Amiright? .

That ganache is practically a superfood on it's own.

I mean, just look at that! Does anyone else get all . . . watching ganache drip down the side of a cake? Be still my heart!

Ganache is so simple to make. I actually wrote a whole post about it here (which I plan to update soon, in fact. But it'll do for now). It just takes two simple ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream. I usually nuke it in the microwave in 30 second increments until everything is warm and melty and stirs smooth. But it's probably a little safer to make it over medium heat on the stove top if you don't work with chocolate much, just to avoid burning or seizing it.

This cake is seriously a dream come true. You are going to be obsessed with it!!

FAQS about this Zucchini Cake Recipe

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I get about this zucchini cake recipe.

What size and shape cake pan can I use?

In these photos I use a 9x9" square baking dish. You can bake this in a 9x9" or 8x8" square baking dish - the 8x8" will just take slightly longer to bake. You can also use a 9" round cake pan, or two 6" round cake pans to make a double layer cake.

Why is zucchini used in baking?

Zucchini adds moistness and nutrition to baked goods! Which is why we love baking with it!

Do I have to peel zucchini before baking with it?

No! Please don't peel the zucchini! Much of the nutrition is in the skin!

Can I use a different frosting?

YES! You can use any frosting you'd like, store-bought or homemade. I recommend this vanilla frosting if you don't want something chocolatey! YUM!

How to Make Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Cocoa Powder in Chocolate Cake

Cocoa powder lends more chocolate flavor than melted chocolate. But it can also zap some moisture, so read my tips below for how to make sure your cake is nice and tender and moist. This recipe uses natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process cocoa powder). Learn more about cocoa powder here.

For best results, weigh your cocoa powder and flour to ensure you don’t over measure. This will result in a dry cake. If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, then use the spoon-and-level method.

How to Prepare Zucchini for Cake (IMPORTANT!)

To avoid gummy, dense, or unbaked cake it’s important to remove as much excess water from the zucchini as possible.

Start by washing the zucchini and trimming the ends. Grate using the big holes of a box grater. Scoop up the shredded zucchini and place in a strainer or colander. Move on to prepare the rest of the ingredients and batter for the recipe.

Once you’re ready to add in the zucchini, wrap it in a clean towel or paper towels and give it a very tight squeeze with your hands to wring out excess water. Do this a few times. If your hands aren’t quite strong enough you can also press the zucchini inside a potato ricer or hand held citrus squeezer. This is super effective at getting rid of water.

Once you add the zucchini to the batter, stir gently until JUST combined. Over-mixing can cause tough or gummy texture.

Why use butter AND oil in a cake?

I find this provides the best of both worlds. You get the wonderful flavor from the butter and the moist texture from the oil. This is because oil is a liquid at room temperature so it gives your palate the sensation of moisture. If you don’t have oil you can use 1 stick (113 grams) of butter for all the fat in the recipe.

How to Bake a Moist & Fudgy Chocolate Cake

In addition to the tips above, using ingredients like brown sugar, full fat sour cream, and an extra egg yolk all help to add richness and moisture to this cake. That’s because these ingredients both tenderize and draw and hold onto moisture. You can learn more about how baking ingredients work in my Magic of Baking online class.

Can I substitute the sour cream?

You can use full fat plain yogurt instead!

Metal vs. Glass Baking Pans

This recipe is best baked in an 8-inch metal baking pan. Metal conducts heat more quickly and efficiently than glass or ceramic so you won’t have any issues with an under-baked center. If you must use glass or ceramic, reduce the baking temperature to 325°F and increase the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes! Double all ingredients and bake in a 9 by 13-inch pan and add about 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time. If using glass see note above.

Can you freeze this chocolate cake?

Of course! With all of the baking that I do in this house, I always have to freeze leftovers or else I&rsquoll have too much food to eat in the house.

Simply wrap pieces of chocolate cake in Saran Wrap once the cake is cool and freeze them for up to a month. If you use a vacuum sealer, you can freeze them longer, but they might get squished inside the plastic bag from the vacuum.

When you&rsquore ready to eat them, simply leave them in the fridge or on the counter to thaw or microwave for about a minute.

Grease a 9࡯” baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and espresso powder in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, put melted butter, oil, sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla together, beat well to combine.

Add dry ingreďïệnts to the wet ingreďïệnts and beat until the batter is smooth.

Fold zucchini and chocolate chips into the batter with a spatula until evenly distributed.

Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until the sides are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 25-30 minutes).

Let the cake cool completely on a cooling rack.

Make the chocolate ganache:

Warm 1 cup heavy cream over medium heat, whisking every 30 seconds until it just barely starts to boil. You should turn off the heat before the middle comes to a rolling boil.

Turn off the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken.

Remove from the warm burner and let the ganache cool slightly while whisking.

Pour over top of the cake while the ganache is still warm it will set as it cools. Serve!


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