Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

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This Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe is SO easy. You will never know the zucchini is there because the texture is so light. Uses basic pantry ingredients.

pieces of chocolate zucchini cake

The idea of hiding vegetables in baked goods is, in my opinion, brilliant. This chocolate zucchini cake recipe has the most incredible, rich taste, and you cannot taste the zucchini…at all. Not even one little bit. Your kids will love it! Not that tasting the zucchini would be a bad thing, but I’m not sure I’d like it in my chocolate cake. It’s not overly sweet, so the chocolate flavor shines through.

chocolate zucchini cake wet ingredients

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Ingredient Notes

  • Canola or Vegetable Oil: makes this cake very moist.
  • Sugar: adds sweetness and texture.
  • Vanilla: a flavor enhancer. Use pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste.
  • Zucchini: the secret ingredient! The thing about zucchini is that no two are alike. They come in a million different sizes, and they hold a varied amount of moisture.
  • Flour: holds everything together and thickens the batter.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: provides the perfect chocolate taste.
  • Baking soda: necessary for the cake to rise.
  • Salt: another flavor enhancer and helps balance ingredients.
  • Egg: an optional ingredient. Binds the batter and adds moistness.
  • Chocolate chips: a great substitute for frosting.
chocolate zucchini cake dry ingredients

How To Make

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the wire whip attached, combine oil, sugar and vanilla. (Alternately use a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer.)
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • On medium speed, in 3 batches, add flour mixture to oil/sugar mixture. Beat well between batches and scrape sides of the bowl.
  • (Batter will be crumbly at this point, but will moisten when zucchini is added.)
  • Switch to the flat beater attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add zucchini and mix well.
  • Pour batter into prepared Pyrex or glass pan that measures 9 in. x 13 in.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Top with chocolate chips.
  • Bake 10 – 15 minutes more. A knife or toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Do not overbake!
  • Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.
chocolate zucchini cake batter in bowl

Helpful Tips

  • This is one of those cake recipes where you really do need to keep the dry ingredients separate from the wet ingredients. Don’t try dumping everything into your mixing bowl all at once. I confess that occasionally I try the “dump” method, but more often than not, it’s a failure. 
  • Before the zucchini is added, the batter is dry and a bit crumbly. Once the zucchini goes in, the batter becomes very moist. This chocolate zucchini cake batter actually pours right out of the bowl into the baking pan.
  • I shredded my zucchini first, and let it sit in the measuring cup while I gathered the other ingredients. There was a nice amount of liquid present when I added it to the cake batter. Three small or two medium sized zucchini equals two cups of shredded zucchini.
  • If you are using frozen shredded zucchini, once thawed, there will be extra liquid. It’s fine to add this to the batter, or you can drain some of it off. A little extra liquid will just add more moistness to the cake.
  • Get more information on shredding and freezing zucchini.
  • The egg is considered optional, but except for the first time I made this cake, I have added it. It helps moisten and thicken the batter.
  • Don’t overbake this cake. Keep a close eye on it towards the end of the baking time. Check it at 25 minutes to see if it’s done.
chocolate zucchini cake in pyrex baking dish

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bake this in a bundt pan?

Yes! The baking time may need to be adjusted, but feel free to make a bundt cake. Just be sure to prepare the pan properly with Baker’s Joy or butter & flour. A prepared pan is a must!

Can I substitute butter for the oil?

I have never tried it, but I looked online at other recipes, and many use unsalted butter. There are also chocolate zucchini cake recipes that use both unsalted butter and oil. Please leave a comment if you’ve used butter, so we know if it works with this set of ingredients. I would also like to know if your batter comes out crumbly or moist. Thank you!

Can I frost this cake?

I don’t frost this chocolate zucchini cake, but you could. Any sort of chocolate frosting or chocolate glaze would be delicious. Serving it with ice cream or whipped cream would, of course, be amazing too. Another very pretty option is to dust the individual slices with powdered sugar before serving.

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piece of chocolate zucchini cake on blue plate

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pieces of chocolate zucchini cake on parchment paper

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

This Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe is SO easy. You will never know the zucchini is there. The texture is light and moist. Uses basic pantry ingredients.
Rate this Recipe Print Recipe Pin Recipe
4.78 from 27 votes
Servings: 12 pieces
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 large egg (optional)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the wire whip attached, combine oil, sugar and vanilla. (Alternately use a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer.)
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • On medium speed, in 3 batches, add flour mixture to oil/sugar mixture. Beat well between batches and scrape sides of the bowl.
  • (Batter will be crumbly at this point, but will moisten when zucchini is added.)
  • Switch to the flat beater attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add zucchini and mix well.
  • Pour batter into prepared Pyrex or glass pan that measures 9 in. x 13 in.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Top with chocolate chips.
  • Bake 10 – 15 minutes more. A knife or toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Do not overbake!
  • Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.

Notes

I prepare my baking pans with Baker’s Joy.
The addition of a room temperature large egg is optional…but if you want to add one, it helps with the moisture issue. If you want an egg-free cake, it’s wonderful without the egg!

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 343mg | Potassium: 272mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 109IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating




25 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just made this and it’s really tasty. I added the egg and had to add another 1/3 cup of zucchini as it was so stiff it wouldn’t drop off the beater. I just sprinkled 2/3 c. of chocolate chips on top as that seemed like plenty.

  2. 5 stars
    I highly recommend this recipe!! Made it three times in the last month with the abundance of zucchini, but also because it is simply delicious and easy to make! I put the chocolate chips on top and sprinkled a little unsweetened coconut! The best!

  3. Pamela J. Brittain says:

    Ive been making this cake for years! my family loves it!

  4. Donna Murray says:

    5 stars
    This zucchini cake was soooo good🤗
    I make it but put pecans with chocolate chips. Thanks so much for such a delicious and different recipe.

  5. Michelle Carey-Schmidt says:

    5 stars
    I love a cake like this to bring to a friend because you don’t have to worry about transporting a frosted cake.

  6. 5 stars
    What a great way to get your husband or children to eat their vegetables!!!! Super good! Thank you

  7. 5 stars
    Love any recipe that lets me use up some of the zucchini I have. This one rates the best. Did not use chocolate chips, rather a thin glaze of basic creme cheese frosting.
    Your recipes are always so simple – which I greatly appreciate.

  8. Paula Warren says:

    5 stars
    What I had for breakfast this morning!! So moist!

  9. Janet Skokowski says:

    5 stars
    This zucchini cake is a wonderful treat! My whole family loves it! The chocolate chips add just enough sweetness. I also made one for my neighbor who generously shares her garden surplus with me every summer! It is a keeper recipe!

  10. Janet Skokowski says:

    5 stars
    I made this chocolate zucchini cake! It is a wonderful treat! My whole family loves it! I also made one for my neighbor who generously shares her garden surplus with me every summer! It is a keeper recipe!

  11. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight. We loved it! It wasn’t too sweet, and had wonderful flavor. I added two eggs as you had mentioned and powdered sugar to my pieces, but my hubby liked it plain. Thank you for this recipe! I will add it to my favorites. 😁

  12. Nadine Mysker says:

    I did not drain the zucchini because the recipe said it was not necessary. The cake was spectacular! Do leave in the liquid otherwise you may end up with a dry cake!

  13. Annette D. says:

    5 stars
    Chocolate Zucchini Cake — So Good! Did not add eggs. Will definitely make again. Topped with vanilla frozen yogurt. Look forward to trying more of your recipes.

  14. 5 stars
    Just made with last year’s zucchini and it is wonderful!
    Gonna dust half and ice half.

  15. 5 stars
    Delicious. I frosted. Love this 5 star recipe and I will make again soon.

  16. My CZC recipe has a teaspoon of cinnamon in it which I like! I also enjoy it chilled, the entire loaf cut in 3 or 4 layers, each layer spread with whipped cream or Cool whip, the reassembled. Looks like an $8 restaurant dessert! It’s not too shabby given a few seconds in the microwave with a nice layer of cream cheese spread on it for breakfast either! I’ve also been known to bake mine in a Bundt pan, slice it into 2 layers, “frost” that middle layer with whoopie pie filling, then douse the whole thing with a can of cherry pie filling; shades of Black Forest Cake! Guaranteed to get compliments. Can you tell I like recipes that look like I worked hard–but didn’t?

  17. Deborah Oldiges says:

    My garden is booming with zucchini right now so I decided to try your recipe for chocolate zucchini cake. It is marvelous! Can’t believe how good turned out to be. After mixing in the shredded zucchini into the batter it was still so… dry and lumpy. I even showed my husband and asked him what he thought. We were both very skeptical. I told him that I did substitute the canola oil with coconut oil, and I didn’t melt it. The oil was room temperature and very soft though. Anyway, I thought I’d try baking it and I’m glad I did. The raw batter looked like chunks of dirt, but while baking it and watching it through the oven window it melted down pretty nicely. I also made a little bit of butter cream frosting to hid the not so smooth surface, and sprinkled some mini chocolate chips on top. Yum-Yum. I shared it with my neighbors. Very good! I want to make another one and take it to work. Thank you. PS I did decrease the sugar to 1 1/4 cups.

  18. Palma Lindsay says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for the wonderful zucchini chocolate cake recipe. We all loved it and it was the perfect way to use up some of the zucchini we have been growing in our garden. The added bonus is that the cake is vegan, so everyone in our family got to enjoy it. We loved it with a sprinkle of powdered sugar dusted over a paper doily. We will definitely be making this one again! :)

  19. 5 stars
    Thank you Ann! Bumper crop of zucchini that I trying to use and this is perfect! I absolutely love it! It has been two days and it still is soft and tasty. A ++ recipe!

  20. Deborah Fletcher says:

    5 stars
    Made this today and it was so delicious and very moist. I have one zucchini plant in the backyard and I get two zucchini’s everyday. This was a great way to use it. Also will try your freezing method. I hope it will work for me! Anyway, my batter was dry even after I added the zucchini. Guess mine were so fresh maybe the liquid was not as much….I don’t know. I was leery since the batter was so thick….I was tempted to add some liquid. I didn’t and it turned out great. Thank you for a great and fast receipe👍

  21. Patricia Robertson says:

    5 stars
    This cake is delicious. Very easy to make. I’m taking this cake to a meeting today, but of course I had to sample it . It has a deep chocolate flavor and a nice texture. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you Ann.

  22. Can I use a large cookies sheet instead of a baking dish, for the choc zucchini cake?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Lynda…I tried to answer you by email but it bounced back and I could not get it to go through. I’m answering here in the off chance you might check back. If you mean a jelly roll pan with sides I think that would work. Just decrease the baking time because it won’t be as thick. If you try it let me know…thanks!

  23. Cheryl Bissler says:

    5 stars
    Hi Ann,
    Tried your Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe and you asked for feedback. I am not usually one to share my opinion, but this recipe deserves a big, ” whoop- whoop”! It is truly amazing and although the ingredients are pantry items, the end result is truly something special. I believe I have a new go-to recipe!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Yay!! I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you so much for letting me know. <3