Super Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake

5 from 23 votes
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This chocolate zucchini cake combines indulgent chocolate cake layers packed with hidden zucchini (which you can’t taste!) with a decadent, silky avocado chocolate frosting for a healthy-ish treat no matter the occasion!

A slice of chocolate zucchini cake topped with a strawberry

If you’re used to seeing zucchini recipes for fries, fritters, and stuffed with savory fillings, then mixing it into a cake might seem odd. But it helps to make a super moist, fudgy, dense (but not too dense) cake. This additional moisture is essential when working with gluten-free and vegan ingredients. Plus, I’m sure people also felt the same way about carrot cake, and look at how that turned out!

When combined with a rich, yet surprisingly healthy, chocolate ganache frosting (made from avocado!), this chocolate and zucchini cake is ready to become a new “healthier” favorite! It’s also dietarily adjustable, including gluten, dairy, gluten-free, and vegan options. It is the perfect cake recipe for sharing on almost any occasion!

Chocolate zucchini cake topped with strawberries

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Why You’ll Love This Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe

  • It’s easy to make.
  • Moist, decadent, fudgy – it’s the best zucchini cake recipe.
  • The perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Gluten-free and vegan (though no one can tell!), but works with regular flour and dairy if preferred.
  • Packed with veggies – and you can’t even tell.
  • Healthier than other chocolate cake recipes.
  • Versatile – make this recipe into a layered cake, muffins/cupcakes, loaf cakes, or sheet cakes.

What Is Chocolate Zucchini Cake Made Of?

Dry Ingredients

  • Flour: I used a gluten-free flour blend (try Bob’s Red Mill, Better Batter, or King Arthur’s). However, regular all-purpose flour will work well if you aren’t gluten-free.

Avoid using a single gluten-free flour, like almond flour or coconut flour.

  • Xanthan gum: This ingredient is only required if you use gluten-free flour.
  • Sugar: Brown sugar adds a caramel-like flavor and moisture to the cake, though coconut sugar also works.
  • Cacao powder: Use unsweetened cacao (or cocoa) powder.
  • Leavening agents: This cake relies on baking powder and baking soda (learn the difference here) for lift.
  • Salt: Just a pinch enhances the chocolate flavor in this healthy chocolate cake.
Dry ingredients for chocolate zucchini cake

Wet Ingredients

  • Plant-based milk: I used oat milk, but any plant-based milk should work. Use dairy if you don’t want to make a vegan cake.
  • Zucchini: Zucchini (young, smaller zucchini are best) is the special secret ingredient in this delicious chocolate cake recipe. It adds a ton of practically flavorless moisture (and nutrients!) and ensures a more tender crumb. Summer squash also works.
  • Oil: To add extra moisture, I used coconut oil. Vegetable oil would also work.
  • Flax eggs: Ground flaxseed and water mixture helps with binding.
  • Coffee: brewed coffee (any type – including decaf, using espresso powder, etc.) will intensify the chocolate flavor. OR increase the zucchini to 2 cups and add 1 teaspoon of espresso powder.
  • Apple cider vinegar: This will react with the leavening agents to help provide lift. Lemon juice or plain vinegar would also work.
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla to avoid an artificial taste.
Wet ingredients for chocolate zucchini cake

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

This frosting is free from all processed ingredients, refined sugars, trans fats, etc., for a healthy paleo and vegan chocolate frosting.

  • Avocado: Use ripe to slightly over-ripe (but not too overripe) avocados.
  • Milk: (optional)Use any dairy-free milk if needed to thin the frosting.
  • Coconut oil: This will help achieve the correct consistency and a silky mouthfeel. Use refined coconut oil if you don’t want any coconut flavor. Vegan butter works too.
  • Maple syrup: Or another liquid sweetener, like agave or a sugar-free alternative.
  • Cocoa powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao).
  • Vanilla extract: Just a little for flavor depth.
  • Salt: To enhance the flavor.
Frosting igredients for chocolate zucchini cake

How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This healthy chocolate zucchini cake recipe is quick and easy to prepare. Just prepare the ingredients, mix the dry ingredients, add in the wet, bake, and frost – delish!

Prepare The Ingredients

First, grease or line two 8-inch round baking tins (I prefer spring-form pans for easy removal). Spray with cooking spray.

Start by combining the ground flaxseed and water, then set it aside to thicken for a few minutes. Also, combine the milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside.

Then, using a medium box grater (or grating disk on your food processor – this takes seconds!), grate the zucchini. No need to peel first.

Finally, combine the cacao powder and melted coconut oil in a medium bowl.

Steps for preparing the wet ingredients for chocolate cake

Mix and Bake The Batter

First, preheat the oven to 350 ºF/180C.

In a large mixing bowl, sift in all the dry ingredients and whisk the flour mixture to mix.

Then, carefully pour in all the wet ingredients, including the shredded zucchini (no need to remove the excess liquid first).

Stir the batter until well-incorporated, but make sure not to over-mix it. If using, now add chocolate chips/nuts.

If it seems a little stiff. Let it sit for a minute or two for the zucchini to release liquid and stir again.

Steps for mixing dry and wet cake ingredients

Then, divide the chocolate zucchini cake batter between the prepared pans. Use a rubber spatula to help get all the batter from the bowl.

Next, transfer the pans to the oven and bake for between 40-45 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean-ish (moist crumbs are fine, but no wet batter).

Transfer the cakes to a wire cooling rack and leave them to cool completely. Then, carefully slice each cake in half to make four layers (unless you baked them in 3-4 pans separately).

Before and after cooking chocolate cake with zucchini

Frost The Chocolate Zucchini Cake

To prepare the chocolate avocado frosting, blend all the ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Start without the milk and then add to thin the frosting to your desired consistency. Then taste and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.

With the cakes cooled, liberally spread the frosting between the layers, decorate the top, slice, and enjoy!

Steps for adding frosting to cake

FAQs

Can I substitute the coffee?

You could replace it with additional plant-based milk. The cake won’t have such a rich chocolate depth or complex flavor, but it will still be delicious.

Can I use eggs/dairy?

Yes, you could use 2 large eggs (at room temperature) instead of the flax eggs. You can also use dairy milk in the recipe.

Can you taste the zucchini in zucchini chocolate cake?

No! You can’t see or taste the zucchini in this chocolate cake. Instead, it just adds moisture and extra nutrients.

Can I reduce the oil in the recipe?

You can replace some of the oil with unsweetened applesauce (or some plain yogurt/sour cream if not vegan). But I don’t recommend replacing it all, as it reduces the moisture.

Can I use Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder and Dutch process cocoa contain different acidity levels (the first being acidic and the second being a neutral base). This means they’ll react differently to the leavening agents. For that reason, I can’t guarantee results.

More Cake Recipes

If you try this chocolate zucchini cake recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

5 from 23 votes
By: Samira
This rich and fudgy chocolate zucchini cake is full of hidden zucchini (that you can't taste) and iced with a silky avocado frosting. Eating your greens has never been tastier!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 20

Equipment

  • 2 Baking dish 8-inch round each

Ingredients 
 

Dry Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups gluten-free flour like Bob's Red Mill, King Arthur's, or Better Batter; regular all-purpose flour will also work
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum only needed if you're using gluten-free flour
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 cups oat milk or any other milk: dairy or dairy-free
  • 1 cup zucchini shredded
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil melted; or vegetable oil
  • 2 vegan flaxseed eggs 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed in 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee OR increase the zucchini to 2 cups and use 1 teaspoon of espresso powder
  • 2 Tbs[ apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 1.5 avocados
  • 1/2 cup almond milk optional – if needed to thin the frosting; can also use any dairy or dairy-free milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter/vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or another liquid sweetener: agave syrup, etc.
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • tsp salt

Instructions 

Prepare The Ingredients

  • In a bowl, combine the flax seed and water and allow to thicken. In a separate bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar and oat milk. Set both aside.
  • Grate the zucchini and transfer into a bowl. Keep an excess water that comes out – it will help keep the cake moist.
  • Melt the coconut oil, then mix with the cocoa powder until a thin liquid forms.

Make The Batter

  • Preheat the oven to 350 ºF/180C and grease two 8-inch baking pans.
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the apple cider mix, flaxseed mix and chocolate, then add the zucchini. Stir until combined.
  • Divide the cake mix between the two pans and cook for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Make The Frosting and Assemble

  • Add all the frosting ingredients except the milk to a food processor and blend until combined. Add the milk a little at a time until you get a silky chocolate frosting. Adjust to taste.
  • Once the cakes have completely cooled, cut them in half to make four layers. Sandwich the layers with a thick spread of the frosting. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.

Video

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, European
Freezer friendly: 1 Month
Shelf life: 2-3 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 280kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 145mg, Potassium: 224mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 85IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 109mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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7 Comments

  1. Hi , Not getting the gluten free ready mix flour , so Let me know the exact praportions of these flours (brown rice, potato, almond, tapioca and corn) for homemade mix.

    1. Hi,
      Here are the ratios I used: 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour, 1/2 cup potato flour, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour and 1/4 cup corn flour. Hope this helps! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Highly recommended. I made the vegan gluten free brownie chocolate cake. It is amazing. I used egg and plain flour. It tastes much like red velvet cake (with much less hussle and no food coloring). Love the texture. So light and moist. Can’t get enough of it. It was gone in a day. Thank you

    1. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it :-). Thank you so much for letting me know and for the feedback 🙂 x