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.

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 cupcake topped with chocolate fudge frosting

444 Comments

  1. 4 layers of chocolatey goodness? Yes please. I’ve never tried zucchini in cakes. When I see them they look outstanding and moist and indulgent and I think this one may have just tipped me over the edge. Looks sensational Sally

  2. This is the perfect chocolate cake and frosting. I followed the recipe to the T. Thank you so much for the recipe. I’m now looking forward to trying as many of your recipes as I can. I’m going on the search for the perfect yellow cake.

    1. I’m so happy you loved this cake, Farrah- thanks for the positive feedback! Happy baking!

  3. Hi!
    Would it be possible to leave out the choc chips? Where I stay, its really difficult to find good quality choc chips that dont taste like cheap chocolate and i’m scared they will ruin the flavour!

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Xenia! Yep, you can leave out the chocolate chips in this chocolate zucchini cake.

  4. Marlene Villa says:

    Hi Sally!! Love all of your recipes! For this one, do I squeeze out the water from the zucchini? Thank you!

    1. No need to squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini. Thanks Marlene!

  5. Heather M. Whipple says:

    Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour
    in this cake please?

    1. Hi Heather! I don’t recommend cake flour; stick to all-purpose flour in this chocolate zucchini cake recipe.

  6. Can i take out the zucchini?

    1. Hi Jeannette! I don’t recommend it. Here is my regular chocolate cake recipe. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/triple-chocolate-layer-cake/

  7. Where do you find espresso powder?

    1. I find it in the grocery store with the regular coffee!

  8. Hi there! Made this cake last week although it was an incredibly moist intense chocolaty goodness it did not yield enough frosting to decorate in fact barely enough to cover the cake. I am making it again today and will double the recipe

  9. Hi Sally,
    What do you think of substituting coconut sugar in place of either the white or brown sugar?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Moe! I haven’t tested it. Coconut sugar isn’t quite as sweet as either refined sugar, but maybe that’s what you’re going for 🙂 Let me know if you try it.

  10. I am gluten intolerant and was wondering if anybody has made this cake with gluten free flour?

  11. I once made chocolate and zucchini cupcakes with raspberries; they were so good! I must try and recreate those cupcakes with this recipe: do you think I could add raspberries to the batter? How should I go about it, if I can? And how long should I bake them for as cupcakes? Thanks!

    1. I would try gently folding in the raspberries at the end with the chocolate chip. See my recipe note for baking this as cupcakes!

  12. Hi sally, using silicone baking pan would still require the same temperature and length of time for the cakes? Any special instructions…using these pans for the first time

    1. I don’t bake with silicone but from what I understand, you should not need to adjust the baking temperature. Just be sure to place the pan on a flat cookie sheet for stability!

  13. Hello there Sally,
    Can I use a Bundt pan for this delicious cake…planning to make it ,sans the frosting, this time around!

  14. Hi Sally,
    This looks delicious and I am keen to make it for my son’s birthday cake, however I am wanting to make it in advance as I am working the days leading up to the party. Would the cake freeze well? Kris

    1. Absolutely! See recipe notes.

  15. Hi Sally

    I love Chocolate cake but never seem to get the right texture my mother in law had some Zucchini growing in her garden my sister in law made a Zucchini lemon cake but I want to try something different so I goggle it I found this Recipe by you the first time I made it I I made a layer cake but mixture was to little much for my sandwich pan so mixture I had left over I used for cup cakes I so love this cake I love the texture they are light and most of all really moist so now I just used the mixture for cupcake as my grandson call them little cakes so thank you for sharing this amazing recipe

  16. Hi Sally,
    I really want to try this recipe because this cake looks delicious and heavenly!! But unfortunately I’m having a bit of a problem, I’m not able to find ‘sour cream or plain yogurt’ in my part of town. And so I was wondering if it is alright to use ‘stirred yogurt’ for the cake instead of ‘sour cream or plain yogurt’? Or will this upset the whole recipe?

    And I also wanted to use ‘White Chocolate Ganache’ from the Tuxedo Cake Recipe for this Chocolate Zucchini Cake, but I couldn’t find heavy cream around. Can I use ‘whipping cream’ instead of ‘heavy cream’ to make the ‘White Chocolate Ganache’?

    Thank You!

    1. Hi Ray! You can use stirred plain yogurt for the cake. Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are practically the same and can be used interchangeably in recipes, including the white chocolate ganache from my Tuxedo Cake.

  17. Can I use frozen zucchini and how much water do I squeeze out

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

  18. This cake looks amazing!! I’m curious is I could substitute applesauce or mashed bananas for the sugar?

    1. You could, yes, but the results won’t be quite the same without the sugar. If you’re looking to cut refined sugar, my Greek yogurt zucchini bread uses agave and you can use honey instead.

  19. Hi Sally,
    We live in a hot and humid place. I’d like to know if your chocolate frosting can stand our weather? If not , what would you recommend?
    Thanks!
    Gina

    1. Hi Gina! The frosting is OK out in warm temperatures for a few hours. For longer storage, I recommend keeping it in the refrigerator though.

  20. Can I use butter instead if oil?

    1. Hi Ingrid! I don’t recommend butter in the cake batter.

  21. Hey Sally, what’s the weight of the zucchini that you put in?

    1. Hi Sally,
      Thanks for great recipe! If I use two 7×3” pans instead of 9”, do I need adjust the temperature or time?
      Thanks

  22. Hi Sally. Fantastic and super moist layer cake! Made it for the first time last week and already have someone asking me to make it again. He would like some pecans in it though and I assume it would work well…. any idea of how much I could get away with in the batter though? 1 cup total? Less? Thanks!

    1. Hi Marine! I recommend 3/4 cup – 1 cup chopped pecans. Yum!

  23. Hi Sally! Do you peel the zucchini? Thank you!!! Your blog and recipes are my absolute favorite!!! Blessings

    1. Hi Kelly! Sometimes I peel the zucchini, but not always. It doesn’t make a difference in this recipe. Make sure you wash the zucchini really well first.

  24. Can you use a gluten free flour?

    1. Hi Sarah! I don’t have any experience baking with gluten free flour but other readers have reported back that they use it successfully in my recipes. Let me know if you try it!

  25. Can I use a bundt cake pan?

    1. Hi Cindy! I haven’t tried this as a bundt cake but readers have had success 🙂 Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for almost triple the time. Keep an eye on it!

  26. Can the oil be replaced by butter?

    1. I don’t recommend it for this cake recipe.

  27. Gail Fitzpatrick says:

    Can this recipe be okay in bundt cake pan?

    1. Hi Gail! I haven’t tried this as a bundt cake but readers have had success Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for almost triple the time. Keep an eye on it!

  28. Cake flour substitute to give it a more tender light crumb?

    1. Cocoa powder is already very light, so the combination of cake flour and cocoa powder would be much too light to hold up to the moisture of this cake, especially the zucchini. Stick with all-purpose flour.

  29. Made these as cupcakes and they are soooo good!! So chocolatey and delicious and so moist!! This recipe is a keeper for sure!! Thank you Sally!! I love your recipes and this joins my ever growing list

  30. Deanna Haugen says:

    Flippin yum! Terribly moist. Could maybe use more sugar, but even zucchini haters love it! Was looking for ways to use up my too many zucchinis from garden. This recipe was the jackpot!♥️

    1. I’m so happy this recipe was a hit, Deanna! Thanks for your feedback 🙂

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