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

435 Comments

  1. Richard Chambers says:

    Hi Sally, I love your website!
    Dou you think I can get away with using yellow crook neck squash instead of Zucchini ?
    My girl friend bought the wrong squash, but I can hardly tell the difference between the two.
    Thanks for the help Sally, and keep up the good work on the chemistry lessons. That’s what attracted me to your website.
    Rich-

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

    2. Lynnette Soh says:

      Just tried the recipe with crookneck. It works 🙂 Delicious!!

  2. Doris & Alan says:

    OMG… We’re in chocolate heaven. This is just the most delicious chocolate cake we’ve ever made. (Both my husband and I bake). Didn’t even frost it…it is truly so moist that you don’t want anything to take from that moistened bite. And we are chocolate fanatics. Sharing the recipe all over the place..

  3. Stephen Wilson says:

    I’ve made your chocolate cake many times. The response has always been incredible. One problem that I had with this recipe is that even though I greased the cake pans, the cake would not release. I should have followed your instructions for your other chocolate cake that include lining the pan with parchment paper.

  4. Richard Chambers says:

    Ok, I’ll try it today, but I’ll be baking the cream cheese filled muffin’s with Zucchini instead, Using Crookneck (yellow) squash. If any body has tried the crookneck (yellow) squash,
    Please let me know if it works.
    Thank you for the prompt response stephanie. You guys are doing a great job!

    1. I have used a variety of summer squash and can’t tell the difference!

  5. Love all your recipes Sally! Big fan of your baking! Tried the chocolate zucchini cake. It was the best cake I ever tried , didn’t use the frosting. It was amazing even without it. I did a little change, used stevia instead of granulated sugar. It still turned out to be delicious. Thanks .

  6. Deb Gundersen says:

    The cocoa I have in the house is Hershey’s Special Dark. It says it is a combination of natural and Dutch cocoa. Can I use it in this cake recipe? Also, will the recipe work with gluten free flour.

    1. Hershey’s Special Dark works in this recipe– I’ve used it before here! I haven’t tested the recipe with gluten free flour, but let me know how it goes!

  7. This was a yummy cake and no one detected the zucchini.. moist and chocolate lovers like me loved it.. my boys (men) loved it..my grandkids thought it was tasty..next trying out your naked cake for my birthday

  8. Just made your chocolate zucchini cake and it looks delicious. What garnered my attention to your recipe was the 3 cups of zucchini. The last recipe I made only took 2 cups of zucchini. Can’t wait to taste it. I have also made your strawberry and the lemon blueberry cakes with great success. My daughter saw the strawberry cake I made for a friend and decided upon the spot that would be her BD cake this year. She has previously for years requested a coconut cake from an old recipe book from my previous work. I usually go to your site before making any new cake and am never disappointed. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes.

  9. Sumanna Sankaran says:

    can i use greek yogurt instead of plain?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, plain Greek yogurt works. Enjoy!

  10. I wanted to let you know there’s a mistake in the conversion between 1 cup of oil and millilitres oil . It should be about 218-220 ml oil, not 240 ml. I just made the recipe with 240ml and the batter came out very liquidy. I did some googling and found that 1 cup veg oil is typically converted into 220ml . We’ll see how the cake tastes!

  11. Honestly hands down the best Chocolate cake ive ever made. Zucchini what!!! You will never no its in there. Delicious.

  12. I made this GLUTEN FREE and is was DELICIOUS!!! No one even knew. I used Krusteaz all purpose GF flour. This cake is insanely good. Definitely a keeper!!

  13. Cannot WAIT to make this!!! It looks totally yummy! We have a lot of zucchini from our garden this year so I’m on the hunt for different ways to use it. Do you know if this would bake nicely in a bundt pan?? I haven’t read any comments on that yet.

  14. Will this cake work in a Bundt pan?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Christine, 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.

  15. Hi Sally! Would this recipe work in a bundt pan?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Patricia, 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.

      1. Thank you!

  16. What can you substitute for expresso powder? I have instant coffee granules. Can I use those instead?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can! I’d use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons (or up to 2 tsp) instant coffee in this cake.

  17. Sandy Mettler says:

    Thank you for this great recipe……..By far, this is the most delicious cake EVER………A very moist and flavorful cake with no hint of the “surprise” ingredient …zucchini. A keeper recipe for sure.

  18. This was the best chocolate cake I have ever made or tasted!!!!

  19. Thea Dalfino says:

    Wow! This cake recipe is AMAZING! You can’t even tell there’s zucchini in it! I will be using this recipe as my go-to recipe for chocolate cake from now on. Thank you!

  20. Made this with 3 substitutions: unsweetened applesauce for half the oil, instant coffee for espresso, and Splenda for half the sugar. Delicious! For those that didn’t make the frosting…you really should. The best buttercream I’ve ever made and the layered cake looks so impressive but isn’t that hard!

  21. Cynthia Williams says:

    I just made this cake to help with my over abundance of zucchini. Not only does it help with that but it’s one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made or tasted. It’s so moist and flavorful. I made the chocolate frosting recipe and that is incredible too. I’m new to Sally’s site but will definitely be making other tasty delights and will keep you posted.

  22. Love this recipe. Used a different frosting because I was hungry for a peanut butter fudge frosting. Gave half of the cake to a neighbor and the family loved it. (The dad gave us 3 zucchini and I had to get a good recipe to use some of the zucchini.) Thank you so much for the recipe.

  23. Jeannine Davaz says:

    I made this! I used almond yogurt, as it was all I had, this cake turned out amazing! Super moist, super yummy! Total hit with the family! Definitely going in my rotation! I LOVE the veggies in there! Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. This cake is amazing! My 9” cake pans are shallow so I ended up with 3 perfect layers. The icing recipe yielded plenty of icing to allow for the extra layer. I also made it using your peanut butter icing between the layers, replaced the chocolate chips with peanut butter chips. Finished it with the chocolate icing and decorated with Reece’s pieces and mini Reece’s cups. OMG!

  25. I made it gluten free and I am
    Crazy happy. My kid almost spit it out when I told him what it was. It’s so beautiful

  26. Hi Sally,
    Is there a substitution for eggs in this recipe? Are the eggs for leavening or for adding richness? I’d like to make this recipe this weekend for a family get-together but one of the children has an egg allergy and I’m not familiar with eggless baking! Thanks in advance!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Talia, The 4 eggs bind everything together and add moisture. We haven’t tested this recipe with any egg substitutes but let us know if you try anything. If you are interested, here are all of our egg free baking recipes.

  27. No one could believe they were having one of their 5 a day!
    Absolutely gorgeous about to make them again!

  28. Holy crap. This is amazing. There is no good reason to do anything else with zucchini.

  29. I have made this twice already and getting ready to make it again. It is so moist an fine. I replaced 1/3 cup of oil with applesauce and used your chocolate frosting recipe and I got by with reducing the butter to 3/4 cup. I made cupcakes and froze them! Lol we even eat them frozen! Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  30. Do you think I could make this in three pans? I just have the regular cake pans but I’m worried they aren’t deep dish like you mention. Would it change the bake time? Thanks!

    1. Hi Raina, Making it into a three layer cake would be just fine. Each layer will be thinner so the bake time will likely be shorter. Hope you love it!

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