Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Also try this double chocolate zucchini bread!

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

We haven’t had a double dose of chocolate in awhile. Two weeks is long enough, right? Actually, I stand corrected. Today we experience a triple dose of chocolate.

What you saw in that recipe video was:

√ super chocolate cake

√ with chocolate chips

√ and milk chocolate fudgy frosting

Ok… quadruple…

√ with chocolate goodies on top (choc chips and ch0c sprinkles!)

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Can you just look at how rich and moist this cake is? It tastes even better than it looks, I swear. The real secret behind it are the hidden vegetables inside. If you’re one who believes veggies should have nothing to do with dessert, keep an open mind. Carrot cake, anyone?!

(Seriously veggies and fruits (apple!) produce the moistest cakes on the planet. I love it!)

I will say this: the thought of a dessert like black bean brownies has me running for the hills. But chocolate zucchini cake? Now that’s something worth sticking around for. And hey. Maybe you can change my mind about the bean brownie thing. Is it really that good?

The best part about this chocolate zucchini cake? You don’t even realize there’s zucchini inside of it. When in reality– there’s 3 cups of it!! THREE!! The chocolate completely masks any and all signs of vegetables. This is totally the way to get your greens.

Let’s discuss a few things before we begin.

If you’re looking for a mellow dessert, this isn’t it. For mega chocolate flavor, use both natural unsweetened cocoa and chocolate chips inside the batter. Cocoa powder takes place of some of the flour– and make sure you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutched cocoa. Remember why? And I know I linked to this article recently as well: the reason why I use both baking soda and baking powder in baked goods. The two are related as most of the leavening occurs with the natural cocoa powder (acid) and baking soda (base). Ok enough about that!

Chocolate chips are key to those melty pockets of chocolate in each slice. Because melty pockets of chocolate are always the right choice.

To accentuate the chocolate flavor, add a dash of espresso powder. This ingredient is totally optional, but I highly recommend its addition. The chocolate zucchini cake won’t taste like coffee. Rather, the espresso powder helps bring out the intense chocolate flavor.

Cocoa powder can dry out baked goods– much more than flour. Did you know that? To compensate for it, let’s ensure there is plenty of moisture in the cake batter.

  1. Eggs. 4 of them. Remember room temperature is important.
  2. Sour cream or plain yogurt– the real moist-makers!
  3. Brown sugar instead of all white sugar. Brown sugar not only provides moisture, but flavor as well. Fave ingredient in the kitchen!
  4. 3 cups of shredded zucchini. Testing how much we can get away with… without actually tasting it! 3 cups is perfect. Zucchini is pure magic in cakes. Nothing but flavorless moisture.
  5. 1 cup of oil. Now you can try replacing *some* of the oil with unsweetened applesauce. I’ve done this with chocolate cakes and muffins and the result is wonderful, but I do not recommend replacing all of it. Regardless of the zucchini inside, this isn’t health food. It’s dessert! Don’t make it something it’s not! 🙂

Make sure you’re using 9×2 inch cake pans– at least 2 inches high is the minimum because these cakes can rise up quite tall. Just bought these cake pans and I’m obsessed with them (not sponsored, I’m recently addicted to USA Pan!). High quality, sturdy, and all-around even baking on my cakes.

As an alternative, you can make this into a sheet cake or even a big batch of cupcakes. See my recipe notes.

For frosting, let’s go with a smooth, silky, and creamy milk chocolate fudge frosting. OR you can totally do a creamy vanilla buttercream instead. There was just enough frosting to frost the entire layer cake AND a little leftover for some fun piping on top! Totally optional; decorate however you’d like!

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I used Ateco #30 tip for the piping.

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deep, dark, luxuriously rich, crazy moist, and weirdly loaded with vegetables that you absolutely can’t taste. Is this cool or what?! Start collecting your 3 zucchinis NOW.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (63g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium)*
  • 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9x2 inch cake pans. (Make sure they're at least 2 inches high, deep dish style.) Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder (if using), and salt together in a large bowl. In another large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and zucchini together until combined. Pour into dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until completely combined. Beat in the chocolate chips. Batter will be slightly thick.
  3. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 25-32 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  4. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Pipe any leftover frosting on top. (I used Ateco #30 tip.) Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or mini chocolate chips if desired. Slice and serve.
  5. Cover any leftover cake and store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature when ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.

Recipe Notes:

*Give the shredded zucchini a very light blotting with a towel. Don't squeeze too much moisture out, just a little blot before adding to the wet ingredients. I own and love this box grater-- works quickly!

9x13 cake: Interested in making a sheet cake instead? This batter will fit into a 9x13 pan. The bake time is long-- at least 45 minutes to ensure the thick cake is baked through. Same oven temperature.

Cupcakes: This recipe yields 24-30 cupcakes. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with no wet batter. Same oven temperature.

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Also try these as cupcakes! Directions in the recipe notes.

Chocolate zucchini cupcakes! So moist, rich, and easy! Topped with milk chocolate frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Super moist and rich chocolate zucchini cupcakes with chocolate frosting! You won't taste the zucchini and everyone FLIPPED for these cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

205 Comments

Comments

  1. Claudia on September 30, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Hello Sally! I love your site and got your baking addiction book for my birthday and cannot get enough!! I am going to try this recipe for a birthday, and I was wondering what is the frosting you used on this cake ? I saw you had a link to the chocolate fudge frosting but when I clicked it brought me to the Milk chocolate frosting …. is that the same ? Thanks a lot !!

    • Sally on September 30, 2017 at 10:05 am

      It’s the same 🙂 Happy birthday!

      • Claudia on October 8, 2017 at 2:16 pm

        Thanks so much! 



  2. Mari Eriksson on October 4, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Dear Sally, Your blog is amazing. I love your photography and your recipe are all wonderful. I did your Chocolate zucchini cake for a dinner party and it was a super hit with everybody. It is a very nice feeling when people tell you things like this reminds me of my mother when she decorated cakes when I was little. Thanks for your very informative text and gorgeous recipe. All the best from Sweden

  3. Natalie on October 4, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Sally just wonder if you have the conversions for a 8 inch tin pleaseee? X

    • Sally on October 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

      I don’t– sorry!

  4. Jill on October 9, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Sally, 

    Could I use coconut oil in place of canola or vegetable oil? 

    Congrats on your little girl, she is beautiful!

    • Sally on October 10, 2017 at 8:21 am

      Thank you so much for the congrats, Jill! Yes, you can use melted coconut oil instead.

  5. J! on October 20, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Have done this cake multiple ways and it is always yum! This time I changed out the oil for 2 avacados, the sugar for sucanat (1c) and honey (3/4), used sprouted spelt flour, added some cin and apple pie spice just cuz I could, added about a cup more zuchini because I wanted to finish it, put it in a 9 x 13, left it in until I could smell it (quite a bit longer) and everyone loved it!…could this be a fool proof cake?

    • J! on November 2, 2017 at 11:47 pm

      side note, the zucchini was blended with all the wet ingredients in a blender (I did not shred it, just put in the big chunks and let the blender do the work, I find this makes zucchini very fluffy (great for pancakes too) especially since I couldn’t find my baking soda…extra side note life hack, to clean the blender put water in, turn on…then rinse, done.

  6. Destiny on October 24, 2017 at 5:35 am

    I have a question:  Are the pans in the video the same as the round pans under Shop The recipe?  The round pans in the video look deeper.  If so I am interested in knowing the brand so I can purchase them.

  7. Suzanne on November 29, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Sally,I just wanted to let you know thanks to you yet agian, I am a very popular lady. I made this for my husbands Thanksgiving work luncheon and it was a HUGE HIT! Eyes roll back in head /the best Chocolate EVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Comments like that come to mind that were passed onto me when he came home. They said that I can send anything to them and they get excited on what i will make. And my best friend has informed that I need to make this for her youngest sons Grooms cake in May as he is getting married. So I am thinking of making a triple or four layer of this maybe. I just have to make sure it will travel six hours. I may be making your White cake too but not sure yet. I have to give them options on other cakes to pick from. Oh I did find out the hard way, yes i can have a stupid moment. Dont dump the cakes out of hot pans on to cooling racks until they are cool. Trust me just listen to Sally’s instructions and dont do it. Make sure to give yourself time and not have too much going on at once. If you do then it will try and come apart. And when you are trying to impress people with your amazing works of art it just doesnt go so well. Hmmm more icing comes to mind. I was making two kinds of cakes and came out with the skin of my teeth with just enough confection sugar. But i saved it. So yeah for that. Oh I did cut back to half cup cocoa instead of 3/4 cup and still great. I used your milk chocolate icing too. Thank you so much.

  8. Holly on December 11, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Just made this cake over the weekend and it was gorgeous. I would like to experiment with different frostings as the sponge is perfect so I would like variations. It is the perfect recipe whether you make it as bread, muffins, cupcakes or cake so it’s now a favourite of mine and my husbands. Thanks Sally! 

  9. Earl Williams on December 25, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Hello Sally. I want to thank you for this absolutely amazing cake. My family has found what decadent really means. This was a big time hit at our Christmas Eve gathering with so many wonderful comments. And there is still more left for us to eat today. Yeah.

  10. Claudine on December 26, 2017 at 11:29 am

    This is absolutely my new favourite chocolate cake recipe! I’ve been doing it now for quite a while…it always comes out perfect. It’s my seven year old favourite too.
    I use coconut oil & demera sugar. Pure bliss! My friends compared it to the best chocolate cake you can get from the best cake shop in Malta….and guess what mine won! Quite a satisfaction.
    Thanks Sally for your great recipes!

  11. Neha on May 11, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Made these twice and they were an absolute hit both times.

  12. marie douglas on May 12, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I love this recipe!! The zucchini adds that extra needed moisture which I adore!!
    Thank you for sharing!! xx

  13. Red on May 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Have you ever tried using tofu to moisten a cake and can you use this as a substitute in this recipe and if so, what consistency would you use? This recipe looks and sounds delicious!

    • Sally on May 24, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Hi Red! I’ve actually never baked with tofu before, so I’m unsure about using it in this recipe. Sorry I can’t help here!

  14. Vera on May 26, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Hi Sally,

    I’ve tried several of your recipes and so far they worked well and were really delicious! With this cake, though I’ve got a problem. When I stir in the dark brown sugar it turns into lumps just as hard as rock candy. Do you have an idea what I do wrong?

    Greetings and thank you!

    • Sally on May 26, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Hi Vera! Is your dark brown sugar fresh and soft? I find that it hardens quite quickly, so I recommend storing with a piece of white bread (it will let out its moisture into the sugar) or these brown sugar bears. I use the bears and they work wonderfully to keep the brown sugar moist.

      • Vera on May 26, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        Thank you so much for the fast answer. 🙂 I’ve opened a fresh package of sugar, but maybe too much time has passed since I’ve bought it. For now I’ll try the bread, but I’ll definitely buy these brown sugar bears.



  15. Ena Cheung on June 11, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Hey Sally 🙂
    Just wanted to say THANK YOU for giving us such amazing and foolproof recipes to follow. You are such an inspiration! I use your site for every dessert craving I have and it’s safe to say that I’ve NEVER been disappointed. Anywho, just wanted to thank you again for this recipe haha, made this very cake for a special uncle of mine and it was a hit. Whoo! Yippekaiyay for desserts! I’m so glad I found this website and keep on doing what you’re doing cause you’ll always have readers like me craving over your next recipe 🙂

  16. Milena on June 21, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Just what I was looking for! The cake looks scrumptious and so moist. I think I’ll try with olive oil and a dark chocolate frosting. Pinned!

  17. Pola on June 24, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I am planning to make this cake for my birthday’s son. I purchased the cake pans clicking on the link above but I got 8 X 2 (2) pans. Now I am confused because the recipe asks for 2 pans 9 X 2. Can I use the one I got or I would need the 9 X 2 pans?

    • Sally on June 25, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Hi Pola! You can use 8-inch pans instead. The bake time will be slightly longer.

  18. Sherri on June 28, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    I have a terribly difficult question for you… How is it that I am supposed to get this batter into a cake pan before I EAT IT ALL!!!! Oh my gosh… I need help!!. my only switch was to use coconut oil rather than vegetable oil… it is one of my favourite things to use for chocolate cake. Now my further quandary is whether to go with the Chocolate buttercream, Chocolate ganache, or your Peanut butter icing recipe! Decisions!

    • Sally on June 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      HAHAHA! I think you might need three cakes to test all three frostings 😉

  19. Debbie on July 2, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    Made your chocolate zucchini cake yesterday for a friend’s birthday and frosted it with Hersheys dark chocolate frosting because that what I had ingredients on hand to make. I saw the comment above about using ganache and I would like to try that as well, or peanut butter frosting and ganache… what the heck! I used a 13×9 inch pan and it took fully 60 mins. to bake. So thick and dense and moist and chocolatey!!! YUMMO! Thank you so much and I WILL be making this again and again!

    • Sally on July 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Debbie! It would be outrageous with peanut butter frosting and ganache!

  20. Edie B on July 14, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Sally, Sally, Sally! I have yet to bake ANYTHING from your website that wasn’t delicious. This chocolate zucchini cake is no exception. It is extremely moist and if I hadn’t baked it myself, I’d have never know it contained zucchini. I opted for a 9×12 single layer cake and it turned out perfect. Thanks for being my go-to website for delicious recipes. I love baking and knowing I can count on your recipes to be so scrumptious makes it even more fun! I’m on to your cherry pie next… love those summer fruits and veggies!

    • Sally on July 16, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks for such a kind comment, Edie! I hope you love the cherry pie as much as this cake! 🙂

  21. JS on July 19, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Made this last night on a late night baking spree. I must have missed the part about the sour cream because it was so late. I used coconut oil melted. I also blended everything together because I was worried my kids would recognize the zucchini! It smells wonderful and looks delicious. Can’t wait to cut into it tonight

    • Sally on July 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      I’ve definitely missed ingredients when trying to bake late at night too! I hope it still turns out for you!

  22. Floyd on July 19, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    When making cupcakes, how much do you put in the liners? I’ve made this recipe for two birthday cakes and they got rave reviews! A totally awesome recipe and my go to for chocolate cake. Thanks!

    • Sally on July 20, 2018 at 6:34 am

      Hi Floyd! I fill the liners about 2/3 of the way full.

  23. Lisa on July 25, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    The chocolate zucchini cake was delicious! I made it GF with Pamela’s and made it xactly as th recipe was written.

  24. Joyce Clark on July 27, 2018 at 9:31 am

    Hi Sally. Recipe sounds great. Going to make it today for a dinner party tomorrow. I would like to make a suggestion. I wrap my baking pans around the sides with wet cloth strips the same depth as the pan. This bakes a straight level cake layer. No rise in the center. What it does is prevent the sides of the pan from getting too hot so the cake bakes evenly. No cutting off the the raised top of the cake.

  25. Brenda Achilles on July 29, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Could this be done in a cast iron fluted pan (bundt? What would be the time? Thanks

    • Sally on July 30, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Hi Brenda! I can’t see why not. I’m unsure of the bake time.

      • Brenda on July 30, 2018 at 11:42 am

        Probably 1 hour should do it.



  26. Ugeshni Khan on August 13, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    I made this cake a couple days ago in two 8 inch pans. The bake time was longer due to the smaller pan. About 40 minutes. The cake itself was amazing! Great texture and taste! I ended up filling it with jam and whipped cream, black forest style. It was heavenly!
    Your recipes never disappoint Sally! Thank you!

Reviews

  1. Neha on May 11, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Made these twice and they were an absolute hit both times.

  2. marie douglas on May 12, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I love this recipe!! The zucchini adds that extra needed moisture which I adore!!
    Thank you for sharing!! xx

  3. Lisa on July 25, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    The chocolate zucchini cake was delicious! I made it GF with Pamela’s and made it xactly as th recipe was written.

Questions

  1. Red on May 23, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Have you ever tried using tofu to moisten a cake and can you use this as a substitute in this recipe and if so, what consistency would you use? This recipe looks and sounds delicious!

    • Sally on May 24, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Hi Red! I’ve actually never baked with tofu before, so I’m unsure about using it in this recipe. Sorry I can’t help here!

  2. Vera on May 26, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Hi Sally,

    I’ve tried several of your recipes and so far they worked well and were really delicious! With this cake, though I’ve got a problem. When I stir in the dark brown sugar it turns into lumps just as hard as rock candy. Do you have an idea what I do wrong?

    Greetings and thank you!

    • Sally on May 26, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Hi Vera! Is your dark brown sugar fresh and soft? I find that it hardens quite quickly, so I recommend storing with a piece of white bread (it will let out its moisture into the sugar) or these brown sugar bears. I use the bears and they work wonderfully to keep the brown sugar moist.

      • Vera on May 26, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        Thank you so much for the fast answer. 🙂 I’ve opened a fresh package of sugar, but maybe too much time has passed since I’ve bought it. For now I’ll try the bread, but I’ll definitely buy these brown sugar bears.



  3. Pola on June 24, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I am planning to make this cake for my birthday’s son. I purchased the cake pans clicking on the link above but I got 8 X 2 (2) pans. Now I am confused because the recipe asks for 2 pans 9 X 2. Can I use the one I got or I would need the 9 X 2 pans?

    • Sally on June 25, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Hi Pola! You can use 8-inch pans instead. The bake time will be slightly longer.

  4. Brenda Achilles on July 29, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Could this be done in a cast iron fluted pan (bundt? What would be the time? Thanks

    • Sally on July 30, 2018 at 11:05 am

      Hi Brenda! I can’t see why not. I’m unsure of the bake time.

      • Brenda on July 30, 2018 at 11:42 am

        Probably 1 hour should do it.



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