Adapted from my award-winning zucchini bread recipe, this zucchini crumb cake is moist, cinnamon-spiced, and hidden with summer’s favorite green vegetable inside. Topped with a buttery brown sugar crumb topping and sweet vanilla icing, veggies for breakfast never tasted so good!
If you’re in the mood for sweet, there’s nothing better than cake topped with brown sugar cinnamon crumbs and a shower of vanilla icing. Unless that cake sneaks in a green vegetable that not only adds nutrition, but the moistest texture ever. (Please don’t let the nutritious zucchini fool you. This is not a healthy breakfast food!) I love baking with summer’s favorite ingredient– it adds flavorless moisture, so it’s delicious in a wide variety of recipes from chocolate zucchini cake and zucchini bread to zucchini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and today’s zucchini crumb cake.
I made the pictured cake a couple weeks ago and had I not used the last zucchini for zucchini fritters, this coffee cake would’ve been on the weekend agenda, too. Let’s do this!
Why Bake with Zucchini?
I love baking with zucchini because:
- There are only so many zucchini side dishes to make. Zucchini is abundant in the summer months, and it’s fun to incorporate this vegetable when baking, too.
- Zucchini adds flavorless moisture– pure moisture with zero vegetable flavor. I wouldn’t bake a cake with a green vegetable if I could taste it. You bake carrot cake, right? It’s delicious, right? Well zucchini is even better. It’s truly a magical ingredient in your baked goods! By the way, have you tried my cream cheese zucchini muffins yet?
Since zucchini crumb cake doesn’t taste like vegetables, what does it taste like? Buttery cinnamon-spice cake with tender/crunchy/sweet crumb topping. Think of regular crumb cake but with more texture. We inhaled it. Reserving this for only the morning hours is a terrible idea. Zucchini crumb cake should be an any time and every time cake!
So here’s the real question: why NOT bake with zucchini?
Behind The Recipe
For today’s zucchini crumb cake, I used my crumb cake for inspiration and my zucchini bread as the recipe’s starting point. We make this bread several times each summer because it’s not only the best zucchini bread, but it’s also quick and freezes wonderfully.
I made a few changes to the original bread recipe for today’s crumb cake version:
- Reduced the sugar because we’re topping the cake with crumble and vanilla icing.
- Increased the baking powder so there’s a little more lift.
- Reduced the cinnamon because there’s plenty in the crumb topping.
- Swapped oil for melted butter because I can’t imagine a crumb cake without butter!!
Everything else stays the same: quick prep, simple ingredients, no mixer. You’ll need basic baking ingredients like flour, butter, cinnamon, sugar, egg, plus shredded zucchini.
Zucchini Crumb Cake Ingredients
We’ll use the same ingredients in the cake and the crumb topping, so it’s an extremely convenient recipe. Here’s what you need to make zucchini crumb cake:
- Flour: Sturdy all-purpose flour is the base of this crumb cake.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Both leaveners help the cake rise.
- Cinnamon & Nutmeg: Cinnamon adds warm, cozy flavor while nutmeg adds traditional bakery-style flavor.
- Butter: Butter creates a wonderfully moist crumb.
- Sugar: Use a combination of brown sugar and granulated sugar for more moisture and best taste and texture.
- Egg: 1 egg binds everything together.
- Salt & Vanilla Extract: Salt and pure vanilla extract add flavor. Try using homemade vanilla extract.
- Zucchini: We’ll use 1 cup of shredded zucchini– about 1 medium. I recommend a box grater to shred the zucchini.
- Flour: Flour adds substance and helps bind the topping together.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar promises a soft, moist, sweet, and flavorful crumb topping layer.
- Cinnamon: We can’t have crumb topping without cinnamon! Because we use cinnamon in both the cake and topping layers, this crumb cake is perfectly cinnamon-y.
- Butter: Butter binds everything together and adds flavor.
Zucchini crumb cake is delicious on it’s own, but we never say no to a little something extra! I like to add a drizzle of sweet vanilla icing while the cake is still warm so it seeps into all of the nooks and crannies. You can also use maple icing from my maple brown sugar cookies, brown butter icing from my brown butter apple blondies, or simply leave it plain.Print
- 1/2 cup (63g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted + slightly cooled
- 1/3 cup (65g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini, no need to blot dry)
- optional: vanilla icing
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square or round baking pan, springform pan, or pie dish or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make the crumb topping: With a fork, mix the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Mix in the melted butter. Don’t over-mix; you want the flour-y crumbles!
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Whisk the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl, then whisk in the shredded zucchini. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Batter will be thick. Pour/spread into prepared baking pan, then sprinkle the crumb topping evenly on top.
- Bake for 35-38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean with no wet batter. (A few moist crumbs are ok!) If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to slightly cool for a few minutes before slicing. I suggest drizzling with vanilla icing while the cake is still warm!
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead Instructions: Freeze baked and cooled cake for up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature and drizzle with vanilla icing, if desired, before serving.
- Special Tools: Glass Mixing Bowls, Box Grater, Whisk, and Glass 8×8 Baking Dish
- 9×13-inch Crumb Cake: Doubling the recipe will be too much batter for a 9×13-inch cake pan. I recommend doubling the recipe, filling the pan halfway, then using any extra batter for muffins. Bake time for 9×13-inch crumb cake will be around 45-50 minutes, but use a toothpick to test for doneness. Instructions for baking zucchini muffins are below.
- Zucchini Crumb Cake Muffins: Make the crumb topping and batter as written. Grease a 12-count muffin pan or line with liners. Spoon the batter evenly into each liner, filling each all the way to the top. Press crumb topping into each. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for an additional 13-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 18-21 minutes, give or take. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Yield: about 12-14 muffins.
Keywords: zucchini crumb cake