Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Tried and true moist chocolate zucchini cake with shredded zucchini, orange peel, pecans, and a sugar glaze. It's a flavorful dessert perfect for family gatherings or potlucks.

Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake
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

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 70 mins
Servings 10 to 12 servings
Yield 1 bundt cake


  • 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

Special Equipment

  • 10-inch bundt pan or tube pan


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. 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.

    Elise Bauer
  3. 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
    Elise Bauer
  4. 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
    Elise Bauer
    Mixing the wet ingredients for Chocolate Zucchini Cake
    Elise Bauer
  5. 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
    Elise Bauer
  6. Prep the pan and add the 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
    Elise Bauer
  7. 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
    Elise Bauer
    Unmold Chocolate Zucchini Cake
    Elise Bauer

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

  8. Make the 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.

    Drizzle over the cake and serve.

* 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.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Elise Bauer