This chocolate zucchini cake has been a family favorite for years. I mean, what’s not to love? It comes together really quickly, it has a vegetable in it but it tastes like chocolate, and the unexpected hint of cinnamon + cloves makes it feel unique + special.
Someday I’ll be as cool as my mom and grow a successful vegetable garden so I can use my own squash to make this. I can do houseplants, but nobody has a gardening green thumb like my mom. (Except maybe my mother-in-law. With their combined genes, odds are good my kids will grow up to be farmers.) And while I’m sure she started baking this cake out of necessity—zucchini plants can be awfully prolific—I’m sure glad she always grew zucchini AND often made this zucchini cake.
It’s funny…I always forget about this recipe until zucchini season starts creeping up, and then I’m like OH YEAH! TIME FOR CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE! It’s a fun familiar surprise every summer!
(Mom brain is real, y’all. I forget more important stuff than this all the dang time.)
Also, I find it hilarious and delightful that a zucchini can grow to be the size of a human femur, then easily be turned into a five-course meal, including dessert. Growing things + baking are two of my favorite kinds of
Pro tip: if you find yourself with an over-abundance of zucchini this summer, grate it all up, divide it into cup-sized portions, and freeze it. Your family won’t get sick of eating zucchini every day so it doesn’t go bad, and you’ll have ingredients ready for a chocolate zucchini cake in the dead of winter. Everyone wins.
(Just be sure you don’t discard the water that will be released when you thaw your frozen zucchini. That’s essential to a super moist cake. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk*
2 cups grated zucchini**
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease two loaf pans and line with parchment if desired.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl + hand mixer) beat together all wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Fold in grated zucchini and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Divide mixture evenly between two pans. Bake 45-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Edges may be a little crispy but the center will remain quite moist. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pans.
* You can substitute 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice OR white vinegar. Mix them together and let sit for a minute before adding to the rest of the mixture.
** No need to peel the zucchini before you grate it. The chocolate hides the green color from any suspicious kids and it all bakes up tender anyway.
- Top with chocolate chips while still warm
- Drizzle with a glaze of powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla (shown in photos)
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar
- Don’t worry about fancy topping and just dig right in with a fork. No judgement here!