Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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, so 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 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 just like in my regular chocolate cake recipe, 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.

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 3 zucchinis NOW.

Print

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Cake
  • 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: Box Grater | Glass Mixing Bowls | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Round Cake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | #30 Ateco Closed Star Tip | 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.

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

305 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,
    Let me just say that I have made this amazing cake and with cup for cup gluten free flour and it was out of this world and YES!!! you would never know that there is a vegetable in this luscious cake! Love your recipes, they are always a hit!
    Rosetta

  2. Made this into cupcakes for a family gathering and everyone LOVED them. Thank you, Sally, for doing all of the work and making me look so good.

    1. Soooo chocolatey, soooo moist, and no one could detect the zucchini! I did 3- 8 inch cake layers for 22 minutes and they turned out perfect. They also baked pretty flat which is impressive since I’m at about 4,000 feet in elevation. I’m so glad I planted a zucchini plant this year .

  3. This cake is a legend in our family. Just had a request for it yesterday from my sister-in-law.

  4. This is now my “go to” chocolate cake. The grandsons love it and so does my husband. Neighbors, too! I’ve brought it to dinner parties and served it to my classmates as unadorned mini-cupcakes. Everyone agrees with you, Sally, this is a super recipe.

  5. I made this in a 13×9 pan. It was DELICIOUS!! It was moist and it was hard to believe there was zucchini in it

  6. You can never have too much zucchini if you bake this cake all summer! Super moist! Chocolate! We loved it! Thanks Sally!

  7. Wow! This recipe is amazing! Made as cupcakes and they were so chocolaty yet still light and fluffy! Thank you for this delicious recipe. I have it pinned and will absolutely be making it again!

  8. I’m making this for our church luncheon tomorrow to celebrate all 3 of my kid’s birthdays. My middle daughter’s birthday was July 15, my youngest daughter’s birthday is Monday and she will be 5, and my oldest child my son his birthday is Tuesday and he will turn 14.

  9. This was the most delicious chocolate cake! I brought this to a weekend gathering of friends. They went crazy for it, they just couldn’t believe there was zucchini in it.
    I did, however, use a different recipe for the icing. It was a recipe that was a little more difficult to make than yours but was incredibly delicious with this cake. It is also a milk chocolate icing but was a custard based icing but friends said it was delicious and not too sweet.

  10. This was absolutely wonderful!
    Do you have a recipe for a white chocolate cake with zucchini??
    Maybe with white chocolate buttercream frosting??

  11. If you just have the standard 9×1.5″ cake pans (not deep dish style), would you recommend dividing the batter into 3 cakes or would they be too thin this way?
    Or i have deep dish square pans (8×8), would 2 of these work and just do a square cake instead of a round one?
    Alternatively I could just fill the current cake pans up to a certain level (what level do you recommend, 3/4?) and the rest make a few cupcakes? Preferably do an entire cake with layers (not interesting in doing a 9×13).

    1. Hi Cora, I think making it into a three layer cake would be just fine! Each layer will be thinner so just keep in mind that your bake time will likely be shorter. Hope you love it!

  12. I made this cake with and it was extremely delicious. My husband loves it. How can I can make this cake without eggs?

    1. Hi Inna- I’m so happy you and your husband love this recipe! I’m not the best one to ask about egg free baking– I have every little experience. Sorry!

  13. I don’t have espresso powder but I do make espresso using freshly roasted beans. How would this be substituted?

  14. This cake recipe is excellent. I made it in a 9 x 13” pan at 350 and baked for 50 minutes. I baked it on parchment paper, and while it was heavy, I was easily able to remove it to place on a tray. I used a mix of Hershey’s and Wincrest unsweetened black cocoa and frosted with homemade cream cheese frosting. I took it to a party and it was inhaled. Your measurements and instructions were spot on and I appreciate you going to the trouble to share this delicious dessert with us!

  15. I made this cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday and I ABSOLUTETLY LOVED IT! Will be making this again for the weekend.

    1. Hi Mary! Replacing the solid sour cream/yogurt with a liquid is definitely doable, but it will slightly change the texture of the cake. The cake crumb may not be as densely packed– likely a little softer. Let me know how you like it!

  16. This was a hit when I brought it to work for a birthday. Lots of compliments and “I just can’t stop eating cake” comments. Will definitely make this again! Loved the frosting too.

    1. Hi Carol, I recommend making the recipe twice instead of doubling it to avoid under or over-mixing. But this cake freezes well!

  17. I’ve been hiding zucchini in chocolate cake since my boys, (now adults), were little.
    After trying many recipes, I thought I’d found the perfect one – the one that I’ve been using for years- until- on a whim- I found your recipe and OH MY GOODNESS!
    This cake is to die for- so chocolate -e and so moist – and amazing even without the frosting I didn’t have the chance to make.
    Thank you for sharing and for my new favorite chocolate zucchini cake recipe.

  18. So delicious! No one would ever know 3 cups of zucchini are in this cake! I needed a glass of milk to enjoy it fully, its very decadent. Thanks for sharing, I am saving the recipe!

  19. I made this recipe a few weeks ago and even with the “help” of my toddler, baking it in three 20cm pans in a slightly dodgy oven, and reducing the amount of sugar by about two-thirds, it was delish. I found letting it sit for a day got the balance just right between the super-sweet icing and my less sweet version of the cake. Am making again for my niece’s birthday tomorrow!

  20. I’ll definitely make this cake again. The cake has chocolatey depth, and I used Guittard extra dark chips (63%), so I opted for the vanilla frosting for balance. The Vanilla Frosting is great too. Got rave reviews from the four people I shared with.

    For your high altitude peeps: At a mile high, I did *almost* textbook adjustments—added 1/4 C. flour (2T. per cup) and cut the baking powder in half. Silly, but I couldn’t bring myself to halve the baking soda to such a small amount. Baked 24 cupcakes at 350 for 23 minutes. Cake was perfectly done, though domed a skosh too much (a little pointy) for proper results. I’m just happy they didn’t rise tall and then collapse into craters. Next time, I’ll cut the baking soda, too, in search of the perfect dome.

  21. Could you please provide the nutrition info for this cake ? My husband is diabetic and I need to know the carbohydrate and sugar content.

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