Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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Tried and true moist chocolate zucchini cake with shredded zucchini, orange peel, pecans and a sugar glaze.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My grandmother taught me how to bake when I was very young, and later when I was in high school she sent us a recipe pulled from Sunset Magazine for Chocolate and Zucchini Cake.

Being adventurous, and knowing how good zucchini bread tastes, I tried it and it quickly became my favorite—the standard against which all future chocolate cakes were measured.

Over the years, I’ve modified this cake recipe slightly from the original. I use more zucchini, and a mix of white and brown sugars.

The main distinction of chocolate zucchini cake is its moistness. The zucchini absorbs the cocoa while delivering the full flavor of chocolate, but without the heaviness of some other chocolate cakes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1/2 cup natural, unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 3 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (from about 1 pound of zucchini, or 3 medium zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Glaze (directions follow)

Glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

1 Drain the shredded zucchini: Set the shredded zucchini to drain in a sieve over a bowl. If no moisture drains out and the zucchini feels dry, sprinkle some water over it and let the excess drain.

2 Whisk together dry ingredients: Vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bow, and set aside.

Whisking dry ingredients for Chocolate Zucchini Cake

3 Mix wet ingredients: With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugars until smooth. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel, and zucchini.

Adding egg to chocolate zucchini cake Mixing the wet ingredients for Chocolate Zucchini Cake

4 Mix dry with wet ingredients to make batter: Alternately stir in the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition.

Making batter for chocolate zucchini cake

5 Prep pan, add batter: Spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan or tube pan lightly with cooking spray (or grease with butter). Wipe off the excess. Pour in the batter and use a rubber spatula to level the top of the batter.

Pour batter into bundt pan for Chocolate Zucchini Cake

6 Bake: Bake in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 50-55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean (test at 45 min).

Bake Chocolate Zucchini Cake Unmold Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.

7 Make glaze: Make the glaze by mixing together the glaze ingredients. You can easily do this by hand with a whisk or a spoon. If the glaze is too runny, add some more powdered sugar. If too thick, add more milk.

8 Drizzle glaze over cake.

Cut in thin slices to serve.

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* The original recipe in Sunset Magazine called for 2 cups of white sugar instead of half white half brown, and 2 cups of zucchini instead of 3.

Links:

Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini Cake recipe - for a different take on Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

123 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. MELISSA

    I loved this recipe. Since the cake was made with zest, I substituted orange juice for the liquid in the glaze. It’s amazing!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Christine

    I made this today and found it to be too dry. I baked it according to directions in a bundt pan for 50 minutes. Maybe some oil instead of the butter would make it moister.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  3. nancy

    I’ve had this recipe for 50 years! Every time I’ve made it, it was great. My recipe had me grease & flour 2 loaf pans. I also skipped the nuts since we have allergies. Nancy V

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Dana

    I replaced the pecans with chocolate chips and used all of the glaze, this cake is very dense but it came out so good. I can’t taste or see the zucchini though.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Teresa Heningcamp

    Made this cake today substituted some spices and added raisins because i didn’t have any nuts. very moist, will make it again. Frosted it with a peanut butter glaze. Delicious!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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