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.

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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


  • 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)


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


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.


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.

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140 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Louise

    This cake was outstanding…chocolatey and moist!!! I didn’t have orange peel so I used orange extract instead and omitted the nuts and it was still great. I served it to my husband, son and his family and they all loved it. I didn’t tell my grandkids (12 & 9) that there was zucchini in it. They loved it and asked for seconds!! Afterwards, when I told them what the secret ingredient was, they admitted that they wouldn’t have eaten it had they known beforehand!!! lol The 9 year old loved it so much she asked if I would make it for her next birthday cake!!! Thanks for the great recipe Elise!!


  2. Louise

    Can I use lemon zest for the orange? Or would dit be better to omit it entirely? Thanks!

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  3. J.Mc

    Just tried this today the batter was really wet, certainly didn’t look like the pictures.
    I let the zucchini drain tje whole time I was preping, got about 3/4 cup of liquid off it. How long are you supposed to drain the zucchini for?

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  4. Susan

    This is the very BEST zucchini cake I’ve ever made or tasted.
    Thank you for sharing the recipe


    Show Replies (1)
  5. Michelle

    this recipe is pretty amazing. !!! follow the recipe and its a hit. I baked it in my air fryer toaster oven. love it ! I will make it again!


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