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.

slice of chocolate zucchini cake on a black plate

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?!

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

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.

wet ingredients in a glass bowl and dry ingredients in a glass bowl

2 images of shredded zucchini on a white cutting board and chocolate cake batter in a glass bowl with a hand mixer

2 round cake pans filled with chocolate zucchini cake batter before baking

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.

spreading chocolate fudge frosting onto layer of chocolate zucchini cake on a serving plate

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.

overhead image of chocolate zucchini cake with piped frosting decorations with a slice cut out

chocolate zucchini cake on a serving plate

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.

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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 cupcake topped with chocolate fudge frosting

435 Comments

  1. donna ramsey says:

    Do you need to squeeze out any of the moisture in the zucchini?

    1. Hi Donna! I just added that as a recipe note just in case more readers have the same question. Thanks for asking!

      1. donna ramsey says:

        🙂 I figured you’d suggest blotting some of the moisture out of the zucchini. I do the same for my recipe for coconut flour zucchini banana bread. 🙂 love your recipes! It’s the only recipe site I use!

  2. I’ll be honest, the thought of a chocolate zucchini cake made me cringe at first, but this cake looks so rich and chocolatey and fudgey that I’ll have to try it out soon!

    1. Emy, you don’t even realize the zucchini is in there. It’s pure magic.

  3. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    Oh my gosh. This cake looks so decadent! You would never know that zucchini is a secret ingredient! Does that mean I can have more than a slice at a time since it’s filled with veggies? lol

  4. Heather (delicious not gorgeous) says:

    holy moly! this cake looks insane. i wouldn’t have thought that there was any zucchini or anything besides chocolate if you didn’t mention it. but the zucchini makes it healthy, right?? i need to get more servings of vegetables into my body anyways (;

  5. Jenny from jennyisbaking.com says:

    Well, you got me hooked, a chocoholic. I would have never thought of adding any zucchini, but this I will most definitely give a try. Yummy, yummy, chocolate to the rescue!

  6. Oh yes!! This cake looks so delicious. Your recipes make me weak in the knees. I am just like you. Beans in my brownies?? No! I don’t want to add them to a dessert and have them give me gas (yeks!!!) Sorry, I had to go there. Happy baking!!

    1. Hahaha I agree, but maybe the right recipe will change our minds? Who knows!

  7. I love the way you frosted it! That’s so gorgeous with the extra rosettes and chocolate chips on one side. And that’s the side I want, with an inch higher frosting 😉

    1. Those extra frosting pieces were the best pieces 🙂

  8. Erin @ Miss Scrambled Egg says:

    I saw this cake last night on your IG and was drooling. My boyfriend doesn’t like zucchini, but I think I can get him to change his mind with this beautiful dessert!!

  9. Hi Sally, I like the idea of zucchini in cake (carrot cake enthusiast over here!). 🙂
    But I had problems buying natural cocoa powder in the past – here in Germany almost all cocoa seems to be dutch processed and is often not even marked as such on the packaging. I think “dutch processed” is the common “Kakao” here, confusing. However, I think it has to be natural cocoa in this recipe because, sadly, I had poor results with dutch processed in the above mentioned zucchini bread… 🙁 I’ll report back if I can find natural cocoa and try it out!

    1. Hi Sina
      I buy Maison du Chocolat’s cocoa powder in Europe. It’s as unsweetened as you can get. I use it whenever a recipe says not Dutch processed cocoa. I get good results. It’s also available quite easily in the US as well. 

      1. Thank you for the suggestion, Dorris! I think it is the natural, un-processed state of the cocoa that matters most, because dutch processed is alkalized and that changes its reaction with other ingredients… I’ll try that Chocolate Zucchini Bread again soon!

  10. Hi Sally,This cake or torte is A+++++++. I am the biggest fan of carrot cake. The zucchini cake is my second favorite “Healthy” option. Thank you for the recipe. Your pictures are amazing. I wish there is app for eating “through computer screen”. Literally!

  11. Wow!! Here is finally a cake that makes me sad that I’m gluten-free and vegan! I’m going to try making this with a gluten-free all purpose baking flour. One question though, do you think I can pull this off without the eggs with a replacer? Either way I have to try this .

    1. I’m unsure– sorry! I’m not a pro at egg-free cakes. Let me know what you try!

  12. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Cake with hidden veggies, this is my kind of dessert!

  13. Question about chocolate chips: what brand do you recommend for buying in bulk? I’ve always bought the Kirkland brand from Costco because they were the best tasting (seriously… THE best!) but my Costco doesn’t carry them anymore
    I purchased the big bag of nestle chips and they are awful – waxy and artificial tasting to me. Any recommendations? 

    1. Sobeida Rodriguez says:

      I’m not sure if Costco carries them but I love using the Ghirardelli baking chips. It’s a little pricey but I love the flavor it gives to my baked goods. 

    2. I agree with Sobeida– Ghirardelli’s taste AMAZING!

  14. I was wonder what this was one your Saturday seven post, This looks amazing. I made your triple chocolate cake over the weekend for my stepdaughter’s birthday and it was fabulous, Instead of chocolate chips on the outside, I did kit-kats and m&m’s on the top. I wish I had this recipe, I might made this one and she could have gotten a serving of veggies too! 🙂 She wouldn’t have known the difference. It looks so fudgy. She is our resident chocoholic and she will take chocolate anyway she can get it. Will have to print this one for future use.

    1. Definitely try this one next. This cake is a *little* more dense than the triple chocolate layer cake, but even fudgier! (If you can believe that!)

  15. Susan weiss says:

    I’m asking the same question as, Donna Ramsey, do you need to squeeze the zucchini PRIOR to using?
    I don’t want a watery mess.

    The cake looks delish, bit that is my only reservation, to squeeze or not to squeeze the shredded zucchini?

    Sue Weiss

    1. Hi Sue! I just added that as a recipe note just in case more readers have the same question. Thanks for asking!

  16. Oh man, and I thought your double-chocolate zucchini bread was basically chocolate cake already! I have to make this, but it may have to be an all day affair; for some reason, shredding takes me ages (my fancy food processor is at my in-law’s house because that’s where all of our wedding presents are; no room for them in our tiny apartment). Maybe I’ll make the zucchini bread and just ice it with the frosting. I have a friend who swears up and down tasty zucchini bread is a scam, so I need to prove him wrong soon anyway 🙂

    1. Oh my gosh Liz, get this cheese grater! https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Box-Grater/dp/B0007VO0CQ
      It takes me a maximum of 3 minutes to grate all this zucchini.

  17. Hahaha you must have known that my boyfriend just brought over a bunch of zucchini that grew in his garden! All of the rain we’ve had in Central PA this spring/ early summer made his veggies grow like crazy! I can’t think of a better way to ruin the point of his healthy eating garden than with this cake 🙂 And I think I’ll decorate with mini Reese’s Pieces on top…. because chocolate and PB.

    1. I like your thinking.

  18. Chandra Persaud says:

    I don’t have zucchini here, can I use CARROTS instead? A chocolate carrot cake??!!…hmmmm

    1. If that’s something you think you’d like!

  19. Despite the addition of the zucchini, this cake still looks absolutely decadent and delicious! I love zucchini anyways, and I find that when you like the flavour of “mystery” ingredients such as zucchini in baked goods, the flavour of the vegetable just disappears. Can you imagine this cake as a sheet cake with a thick layer of peanut butter frosting on top? I think that’s how I’m going to make it 🙂

    1. And can I come over when you do??? You read my mind my friend.

  20. Sally, I am going to be coping your baking tools soon. I’m redoing my kitchen tools for a new house. Questing 1, I want you to get credit for my sale so if I click on one item from your site then add other items from my Sally list will you get credit for the whole order? Or do I have to go back to you site and click on each item link and have add bunch of orders? Thank you. Question 2, what brands of chocolate to you use for baking? I love your live videos. My two standard poodles make oodle eyes at Jude and Franklin on your live video. When them come into the kitchen I chuckle, mine do it to…they are family! That’s just the way it is. As for zucchini cake, I’m going to cheat and still call it a serving of vegetables.

    1. Joli, thank you for your sweet comment about my FB live videos!! And I’m glad you enjoy the puppy “entertainment” too. My pups are so nosy, especially Jude haha

      You are so sweet to want to give me credit for your purchases. If you click one of the affiliate links from my blog, anything you purchase should be credited to me on some level. 🙂 Thank you so much!

  21. Jenny Hughes says:

    I’m making this cake this weekend!
    I just discovered usa pans too. I bought their 13 inch pullman loaf pan and it is absolutely the best baking pan I’ve ever used!

    1. Obsessed with them!

  22. Quick question:  I have the yellow squash instead of zucchini.  Can I use this for the recipe?  

    1. I haven’t tried that before, so I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you try it!

  23. Jenny Hughes says:

    Would chocolate ganache work instead of chocolate frosting or would it make it too rich?

    1. It would be more rich, for sure, but I think still delicious (of course!)

  24. Can you use fat free yogurt? Thanks!

    1. Full fat or reduced fat is best. But FF should be fine.

  25. That cake looks fantastic! I can’t believe there’s veggies in there! Also, you NEED to try black bean brownies! Trust me! Chocolate Covered Katie has a superb recipe for them, I’ve made them before and they taste great. I have a huge sweet tooth and eat the most decadent things and those brownies still tasted fantastic!

    1. Good to know, thanks Sofia!

  26. Wow Sally! This cake looks so good!!!! Chocolate is the best! Oh, and thank you for your Facebook Live videos! I have loved them! You are so cute!!! 🙂 Love all your maternity dresses! 

    1. Thanks so much Liv, I appreciate that!!

  27. Glad to see that you are a convert to USA baking pans! With 40 years of baking under my belt, several years ago, I replaced ALL of my baking pans with USA and William’s Sonoma Gold Touch (nonstick, and also made by USA). USA pans are heavy, professional grade, and bake evenly. They never warp in the oven. Try the full sheet pans for everything from roasting vegetables to cookies – fabulous! Can’t wait to try this chocolate cake.

    1. I just got my hands on a few full sheet pans. LOVE them!

  28. Oh… my… wow! This looks so delicious! I’ve had zucchini bread before, and it’s tasty. But a zucchini chocolate cake sounds absolutely decadent! It’s a great way to get picky eaters to eat some veggies! 😉

  29. FRIENDLY REQUEST
    Glad to see that you also LOVE the USA sheet pans. May I ask that you edit my recently-posted comment to delete my last name for privacy reasons? Thank you! It’s nice that you are so responsive to your comments! A nice personal touch.

    1. Done! 🙂

  30. janey dailey says:

    Hi Sally!  I have a question I hope you can answer.  I have several one cup bags of pureed zucchini in my freezer and would like to make your Greek yogurt zucchini bread.  Your recipe calls for shredded zucchini and I’m wondering if I can substitute my pureed zucchini?  I’m thinking the moisture may be an issue.

    1. Hi Janey– that would be way too much moisture for the bread. Shredded it best. Thank you!

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