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.
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 these veggies should only be in zucchini casserole, and have nothing to do with dessert, keep an open mind. Carrot cake, anyone?!
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: Remember my lesson on baking soda vs baking powder? We use both here 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 ingredients are important.
- Sour Cream: Just like in chocolate peanut butter cake, 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 and zucchini muffins, 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. Whichever kind of chocolate chips you enjoy in your chocolate chip cookies, you’ll enjoy here, too.
Overview: How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Cake
This chocolate zucchini cake comes together quickly and easily, just like my regular zucchini cake! 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. Just as decadent and delicious as my regular chocolate cupcakes!
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.
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
- Chocolate Lava Cakes
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Homemade Brownies
- Inside Out Chocolate Chip Cookies & Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
- Yield: serves 10-12
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
This super rich and moist chocolate zucchini cake is topped with milk chocolate fudge frosting- you won’t even taste the vegetables!
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 3/4 cup (62g) 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
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover any leftover cake and store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- 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.
- 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 Piping Bag (disposable or reusable)
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
Reader Comments & Reviews
Made these today as muffins, so no frosting. I halved the recipe and got exactly 12 muffins. Used coconut oil instead of canola. Really tender crumb and excellent flavor. Not overly sweet. Would never guess there were zucchini in it, if I hadn’t put them in the batter myself. Thank you, Sally!
I don’t use inflammatory causing oils can peanut oil be used or an olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil works wonderfully here.
Would this cake work in a bundt pan?
Hi MB, We’re unsure of the exact bake time for a Bundt cake, but it will take well over the time needed for the cake layers. Keep a close eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness.
This is such a great cake! It is so rich and decadent but light and fluffy at the same time. Stayed fresh for days – it makes a pretty big cake. Loved it and will definitely be making this regularly.
Help! I have made this many times but will be making it at 7,000 feet for the first time! Can you help me adjust it?
Hi Ann, we wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html
Could this recipe be halved? I’d like to make cupcakes but 24-30 is WAY more than I need. Anything special I need to consider if aiming for 12-14 cupcakes?
Hi Steph, you can certainly halve this recipe by halving all the ingredients. Enjoy!
i made this for my husband’s birthday and he calls it’s his favourite chocolate cake now. the cake kept really well in room temperature even in our tropical heat, and it’s even more yummy with Sally’s buttercream (i used vanilla). it also stayed yummy after chilling in the fridge overnight and i can’t stop eating the leftovers!