Chocolate Zucchini Cake

By Maria Lichty

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Quick Summary

This moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake with chocolate frosting is easy to make and a family favorite dessert! You will never know there is zucchini in this chocolate cake because it is SO good!

chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate frosting cut into squares.

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I LOVE baking with zucchini, especially during the summertime when I have lots of garden zucchini to use up. A few of my favorite zucchini recipes are my Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Zucchini Brownies, Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies, and Lemon Zucchini Bread.

Whenever I am craving a decadent dessert I love making my Chocolate Zucchini Cake. You might be thinking zucchini doesn’t belong in chocolate cake, but I am here to tell you it definitely does.

The zucchini makes the chocolate cake SUPER moist and I promise you won’t even know it’s in there. It is the secret ingredient.

I make the cake in a 9×13-inch pan so decorating is easy and so it will feed a lot of people. The ingredients are basic, you should have all of them on hand.

I top the cake with a luxurious chocolate frosting that takes the cake to a whole new level. The silky, smooth, rich chocolate frosting really is the icing on the cake!

Chocolate lovers will go crazy for this moist, decadent chocolate cake! If you love my classic chocolate cake and easy chocolate cake, I know you will love this one too! It’s the perfect summer dessert and a great recipe for using up all of the garden zucchini.

ingredients in bowls to make chocolate zucchini cake.

Cake Ingredients

  • Flour– use all-purpose flour.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder– sift before using to avoid any clumps.
  • Baking soda– to give the cake a nice lift.
  • Salt– to enhance all of the flavors.
  • Brown sugar– to sweeten the cake.
  • Oil– you can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil.
  • Melted butter– cool to room temperature. I like using a mix of oil and butter. The oil keeps the cake moist and the butter adds great flavor.
  • Buttermilk– at room temperature!
  • Eggs– use large eggs for baking.
  • Vanilla extract– use pure vanilla extract, the good stuff!
  • Zucchini– use a box grater or food processor to shred the zucchini. I never peel it.
  • Chocolate chips– to stir into the cake batter. Bring on the chocolate!
ingredients in bowl to make chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

  • Butter– at room temperature.
  • Confectioner’s sugar– also called powdered sugar.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder– You can sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa together to guarantee a super smooth frosting.
  • Milk– to thin out the frosting. Heavy cream will also work.
  • Vanilla extract– a splash!
  • Salt– just a pinch!
flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder being whisked together in mixing bowl.

How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
liquid ingredients being whisked together in mixing bowl.
  • In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil, melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
chocolate zucchini cake batter in mixing bowl with wooden spoon.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients until barley combined, it is ok if there is still some flour not mixed in.
chocolate zucchini cake batter in mixing bowl with spatula.
  • Gently squeeze out some of the moisture in the zucchini. You want the zucchini to still have some moisture, but not full of liquid. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
chocolate zucchini cake batter being spread in pan.
  • Pour the cake batter in the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center or the cake.
chocolate zucchini cake cooling in pan.
  • Let the cake cool completely.
chocolate frosting in bowl with spreader.
  • While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioner’s sugar and the cocoa powder. Add the mixture to the butter and beat, slowly adding in the milk. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Stop and scrape down the sides. Beat until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
chocolate frosting being spread on top of chocolate zucchini cake.
  • Frost the cooled chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate frosting.
  • Cut the cake into squares and serve.

Recipe Tips

  • You need 2 cups grated zucchini for this recipe, about 1 very large zucchini or 2 medium.
  • You don’t need to peel the zucchini before shredding it. I use a box grater with a medium grate.
  • If your zucchini is full of moisture, squeeze it out a little bit, but don’t squeeze it dry. Large garden zucchini tends to have more moisture and smaller store bought zucchini. You don’t want to get rid of all of the moisture or you will have a dry cake. Just give it a gently squeeze before adding it to the cake.
  • I use all brown sugar in this zucchini cake recipe because it keeps the cake super moist and adds nice flavor.
  • The cake is made with oil and butter. The oil keeps the cake super moist and the butter adds great flavor.
  • Make sure your buttermilk and eggs are at room temperature. Melt the butter and let it cool down a little before adding it to the other liquid ingredients.
  • Don’t over mix the cake. Once you add in the zucchini and chocolate chips, stir just until combined.
  • I bake this cake in a metal 9×13-inch pan. If you want to make a layered cake, you can pour the batter into two round cake pans.
  • Make sure the cake is cooled completely before frosting it with the chocolate frosting.
chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with knife on board.

How to Store

  • The cake will keep on the counter, covered, for up to 3 days. I actually think it is better the second day. If you want to store it for a little longer, you can store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. I also think it is good cold:)
  • You can make the cake in advance and freeze the cake. Let it cool completely. Carefully wrap the cake in plastic wrap and foil. Place in the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and frost with chocolate buttercream.

More Zucchini Recipes

You can find more zucchini recipes here!

piece of chocolate zucchini cake on plate with fork.

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You will love this easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake! It is so moist and delicious and a great way to use up garden zucchini!
4.74 from 45 votes

Ingredients
  

For the chocolate zucchini cake:

For the chocolate frosting:

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil, melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients until barley combined, it is ok if there is still some flour not mixed in. Gently squeeze out some of the moisture in the zucchini. You want the zucchini to still have some moisture, but not full of liquid. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
  • Pour the cake batter in the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25-32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center or the cake.
  • Let the cake cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioner’s sugar and the cocoa powder. Add the mixture to the butter and beat, slowly adding in the milk. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Stop and scrape down the sides. Beat until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
  • Frost the cooled chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate frosting. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

Video

Notes

Cover the cake and store on the counter for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 485kcal, Carbohydrates: 68g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Sodium: 270mg, Potassium: 244mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 50g, Vitamin A: 380IU, Vitamin C: 2.8mg, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 2.5mg
Keywords chocolate, chocolate cake, zucchini

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Maria

I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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4.74 from 45 votes (20 ratings without comment)

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Comments

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  1. IF I DO NOT HAVE BUTTERMILK WILL REGULAR WHOLE MILK WORK ? I WAS THINKING I SAW WHERE YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTERMILK BUT CAN NOT SEEM TO FIND IT . CAN SOMEONE HELP ME PLEASE ?

  2. I just took this cake out of the oven and although it smelled heavenly baking, I’m a little disappointed in how it looks. It didn’t seem to rise very high.
    Its about 1/2 way up my 9 x 13 pan. Is this how it should look?

    1. It should look like the photos. Did you remember all of the ingredients? Was your baking soda fresh? Did you over mix?

  3. 5 stars
    I halved the ingrediants because I lost my cake tin and only had a loaf tin. It came out fantastic! Soft and moist. No icing because I don’t like to use too much sugar. Thank you

    1. Yes, I know others have had success with a bundt pan. You can make a chocolate glaze or dust it with powdered sugar!

  4. WOW!!! I am sooooo in LOVE!!! I’m pretty much obsessed with chocolate and I love zucchinis… This is just too good!!! I just used some old heavy cream that needed to be used up for the buttermilk and I used King Arthur’s GF flour and cut down on the sugar just a tiny bit in the cake…SO SO SO good!!! My family will be lucky if I share with them HAHA!!!

  5. One batch is in the oven, haven’t tried it yet but the recipe looked good. Simple and straight forward, no fancy cinnamon, different kind of sugars or other unnecessary items that have no place in a chocolate zucchini cake.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this for my sister’s half birthday, it was SO good!! And no one could tell there was zucchini in it! Can’t wait to make it again!!

  7. Hi Maria,
    I would love to try this cake. Any high altitude alterations? I’m at least 2,000 feet higher than you.
    Thanks… can’t wait to taste this.

  8. 5 stars
    Made this. LOVED IT! My 15yo kept asking where the zucchini was because he couldn’t find it in the cake. My family devoured it. 🙂

  9. I have made this recipe for zucchini chocolate cake, three times. The last 2 times I added in substitute for chocolate chips. 2 teaspoons Smuckers Chocolate Topping. Also used like Redpath Golden Yellow Sugar as only 4 grams of sugar. Now my neighbors love my zucchini chocolate cake

  10. Excellent recipe! Everyone loves it. I also bake it in rounds and then make it into a delicious layered cake.

  11. 5 stars
    What a delicious cake! I used gluten free flour to accommodate some of our guests, and I think that made it a bit more dense. I’d love to try with regular flour to see the difference. The frosting is SO good.

  12. Cake and frosting were simple to make. Family loved it, will definitely make this again and not just in the summer because we are able to get zucchinis all year round. Thank you so much for sharing. Also your boys are really handsome.

  13. 3 stars
    I found this recipe to have way too much cocoa in it! I normally use 1/4cup of cocoa when baking my chocolate zucchini cakes. This cake tasted more like brownies to me. I would not use more than 1/2cup if I was to repeat this recipe.

  14. I’m gonna give this a 3 1/2 only because I thought it tasted more like a brownie instead of a cake I followed the recipe exactly as written

  15. 5 stars
    Delicious, chocolatey and moist! My husband doesn’t care for regular frosting so I made his favorite chocolate cream cheese frosting. He can’t get enough of it!

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