Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Super moist and indulgent chocolate zucchini cake is studded with chocolate chips and topped with chocolate fudge frosting. Made with three cups of shredded zucchini (you can’t taste it!), this is the most decadent way to eat your greens.

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

Today, we have a triple dose of chocolate in the form of luxuriously rich chocolate zucchini cake. No, you can’t taste the zucchini. No, you can’t see the zucchini. Yes, it’s unbelievably delicious and I’m showing you exactly how to make it!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Video Tutorial

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?!

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

Why You’ll Love This Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • Just as loved as my chocolate cake
  • Super moist and rich with mega chocolate flavor
  • Easy to make
  • Uses up summer zucchini
  • 3 cups of vegetables hiding inside– you don’t even taste it!
  • Covered in chocolate buttercream

Overview: Chocolate Zucchini Cake Ingredients

This decadent cake is made with fresh summer zucchini and pantry basics. Did you know that cocoa powder can dry out baked goods much more than flour? To compensate for this, we ensure there’s plenty of added moisture in the cake batter. Let’s review:

  • Flour: Sturdy all-purpose flour is the base of this cake recipe. Do not use cake flour– when combined with ultra-light cocoa powder, cake flour is too fine.
  • Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder: Cocoa powder takes the place of some flour. Just as in my regular chocolate cake recipe, make sure you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa powder instead of dutch-process cocoa powder. If you’re interested, see dutch-process vs natural cocoa powder for an in-depth explanation.
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder: Use both baking soda and baking powder for lift.
  • Espresso Powder: Espresso powder accentuates the chocolate flavor. While optional, I highly recommend using it. The chocolate zucchini cake won’t taste like coffee. Rather, the espresso powder helps bring out the intense chocolate flavor.
  • Salt: Salt balances the flavor.
  • Oil: Oil adds moisture. 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 don’t 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! 🙂
  • Sugar: We’ll use a combination of brown sugar and white granulated sugar. Brown sugar not only provides moisture, but flavor as well.
  • Eggs: 4 eggs bind everything together and add moisture. Remember room temperature is important.
  • Sour Cream: You can use sour cream or plain yogurt. Either add moisture.
  • Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract adds flavor.
  • Zucchini: There are a whopping 3 cups of shredded zucchini in this recipe. Testing how much we can get away with… without actually tasting it! Zucchini is pure magic in cakes– nothing but flavorless moisture. Same goes with my zucchini bread, too!
  • Chocolate Chips: For mega chocolate flavor, add chocolate chips to the batter. They’re key to those melty pockets of chocolate in each slice. I use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but mini chocolate chips or even dark chocolate chips would pair wonderfully.

Overview: How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This chocolate zucchini cake comes together quickly and easily! Simply whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and beat the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips. The cake batter will be slightly thick thanks to all of the zucchini! Divide the batter between two 9-inch cake pans or you can make a quarter sheet cake using a 9×13 inch cake pan. See my recipe notes for details.

  • Need cupcakes instead? This recipe yields about 24-30 cupcakes. See recipe note.

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

Chocolate Frosting

We’re topping and filling this chocolate zucchini cake with smooth, silky, and creamy chocolate buttercream. We’re using my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe, but increasing the quantity. We do this for my regular chocolate cake, too. If you would rather top this cake with vanilla frosting, use the vanilla frosting included in my white cake recipe. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll have enough frosting to frost the entire layer cake AND a little leftover for some fun piping on top. Decorate however you’d like! 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. After one bite you’ll be convinced this is the best way to eat your veggies! You’ll love my zucchini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, too.

More Chocolate Recipes

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slice of chocolate zucchini cake on a black plate with a fork

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This super rich and moist chocolate zucchini cake is topped with milk chocolate fudge frosting- you won’t even taste the vegetables!


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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9×2 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.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Box Grater, Glass Mixing Bowls, KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid Hand Mixer, Round Cake Pan, Cupcake Liners, Cupcake Pan, #30 Ateco Closed Star Tip, and Disposable Icing Bags
  3. Blot the Zucchini: 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!
  4. 9×13 Cake: Interested in making a sheet cake instead? This batter will fit into a 9×13 pan. The bake time is long– at least 45 minutes to ensure the thick cake is baked through. Same oven temperature.
  5. 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.

Keywords: chocolate zucchini cake

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

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

432 Comments

  1. Kimberly Runnells says:

    I’ve made this twice in the last week, once for my coworkers & once for my kids & it was a hit! However, for my kids I substituted half the flour for ground rolled oats, decreased the sugar by 1 cup and increased the chocolate chips by 1/4 cup and omitted the frosting. They couldn’t get enough! Thanks Sally! I’ve been using your recipes for years!!

  2. Made this just as written and it was wonderful. Will definitely make it again.

  3. Thanks again Sally! This recipe has saved me going bonkers with an overflow of zucchine. A mahoosive hit with my italian friends, family and neighbours who had never considered zucchini as a cake ingredient! I used a paleo ganache instead of the frosting as also very simple and easier to just pour and chill – coconut milk, chocolate and a pinch of salt!
    Last question is how diabetic friendly is it? I have made it gluten free a few times but not sure how to make it diabetic friendly

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sheena, We are so happy that this recipe was such a hit with your friends and family! We haven’t tested it with any sugar substitutes but let us know if you try.

  4. can this be made in a bundt pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, We haven’t tried this as a bundt cake but readers have had success. Bake at 350 degrees F for well over the baking time the layers require. Keep your eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  5. How can I make this gluten free!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gayle, we haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour. If you try anything let us know how it goes!

  6. Joyce Ferguson says:

    Hi..this is a wonderful recipe..l used organic coconut sugar instead of white granulated..and used 3/4 cup demera brown sugar.l used grapeseed oil..it all worked together super good..just a nice moist texture..will be making this often..thank you…

  7. Hi Sally! Could I use some of my grated frozen zucchini for this cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Annie, Yes, you can use frozen zucchini. Thaw, then squeeze out most of the excess liquid.

  8. Unfortunately I don’t like chocolate, but I made cupcakes for a family get together and everyone LOVED them! I will definitely make them again… they were super moist and no one noticed the zucchini!

  9. Melissa Akers says:

    I have now made this cake a number of times and we as a family adore it!! Always the same great result, I would recommend ( and have done ) it over and over.
    Thank you Sally for another great recipe!!

    1. Christine Diekema says:

      This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made! Super moist and lasted for days on the counter. Not overly sweet and wonderfully chocolatey. Texture is fantastic (I prefer denser cakes over really airy ones).

  10. I’ve made this cake three times since July. Each time we shared it with either family or friends, and each time we were asked for the recipe. Excellent chocolate cake.

  11. Super good!
    Did muffin tins and it made 29 muffins, cooking for ONLY 19 MINUTES, so be sure to keep an eye on these smaller quantities, and check with a toothpick as instructed.

  12. Karen Campbell says:

    Mine is in the oven right now. Taking on vacation with us. Hope it turns out. Never baked with zucchini before. And didnt know there was a tip section at the very bottom of the page. I didnt get any liquid out of the zucchini. Would be great if that was mentioned right in the recipe. I’m sure first time zucchini users would appreciate this. We’ll see how it turns out.

  13. Made this cake for the first time— winner! They couldn’t wait for the icing, but added ice cream! Next time I will have the icing made first so I can add it before they eat it all! It’s my go to recipe now and I will be making it again and again! Thank you Sally!

  14. my kids and I just LOVE this cake! I made it into cupcakes and It was quiet a success. The great thing that it was loaded with zucchini which my picky kids usually wouldn’t touch, yet they ate all of it.thank you Sally!

  15. This made delicious cupcakes and my zucchini hating husband had NO idea it was in there! (I like my own buttercream frosting better than yours though- sorry!)

  16. I was given fresh zucchini by my co-worker and wanted to bake a cake. As a new follower to your site, I looked up this recipe. This cake is amazing. Quick and easy to make with a moist deep chocolate taste. I baked mine in a 9×13 pan and used a Cream Cheese frosting. Thank you so much!

  17. I don’t know what I did, this did not turn out at all. Doesn’t taste very chocolatey, but the texture is good.

  18. I just won best dessert at a Zucchini Festival with this recipe. It was a big hit! I added some chopped pecans to the batter and a teaspoon of instant coffee to the frosting. So good!

  19. This is a fabulous recipe! Not too sweet, lusciously chocolatey, and moist! I was wondering if you offer nutrition information for your recipes?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Erin, I’m so happy you enjoyed this cake! I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  20. About to make this today for a disbelieving partner. Most happy to see UK grams listed in the instructions already. Thank you.

  21. Could it be baked in a glass 9×13? Would the time and temperature need to change?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes it can, Rachel! See the recipe notes for directions.

  22. My husband and I agree that this is the best chocolate cake we’ve ever eaten, zucchini or no zucchini. I’ve made it twice and savored every bite! Fantastic!

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