Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
June 18th, 2019
4.8 from 5 votes
4.8 from 5 votes

Ultra rich, moist, and fudgy Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake is the perfect summer treat for any chocoholic and can be made in less than 1 hour! No mixer required.

Yield: 9 cake squares

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Ultra chocolaty! I doubt any kids would guess there’s a vegetable involved here.
Texture:  Rich, fudgy, and moist.
Ease: Super quick and easy. No mixer, no assembling, no decorating.
Pros: Simple summer treat!
Cons: None 🙂
Would I make this again? Absolutely, all season long.

We’re about to head into the height of zucchini season which I’m so excited about!

I love getting fresh zucchini from the farmer’s market all summer long. It’s one of those veggies that’s so easy to cook and bake with. You can find a million ways to get creative whether you’re going savory or sweet. And it doesn’t take nearly an hour to cook like root veggies.

Zucchini Cake with Chocolate and a simple icing on top

Adding zucchini into cake happens to be one of my favorite ways to use the stuff.

I love snack cakes like this recipe because’ they’re just one layer and there’s no assembly or decorating required. They’re also super easy to transport. You don’t even need an electric mixer for the batter or the icing here.

That makes this recipe perfect for bringing to a summer potluck or BBQ. Especially if you have an abundance of zucchini to use up!

Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake cut into squares

I find many chocolate zucchini cakes to be kind of bland and a little dry. Read my tips below for getting a super rich and fudgy cake with tons of chocolate flavor.

How to Make Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Cocoa Powder in Chocolate Cake

Cocoa powder lends more chocolate flavor than melted chocolate. But it can also zap some moisture, so read my tips below for how to make sure your cake is nice and tender and moist. This recipe uses natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process cocoa powder. Learn more about cocoa powder here.

For best results, weigh your cocoa powder and flour to ensure you don’t over measure. This will result in a dry cake. If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, then use the spoon-and-level method.

How to Prepare Zucchini for Cake

To avoid gummy, dense, or unbaked cake it’s important to remove as much excess water from the zucchini as possible.

Start by washing the zucchini and trimming the ends. Grate using the big holes of a box grater. Scoop up the shredded zucchini and place in a strainer or colander. Move on to prepare the rest of the ingredients and batter for the recipe.

Once you’re ready to add in the zucchini, wrap it in a clean towel or paper towels and give it a very tight squeeze with your hands to wring out excess water. Do this a few times. If your hands aren’t quite strong enough you can also press the zucchini inside a potato ricer or hand held citrus squeezer. This is super effective at getting rid of water.

Once you add the zucchini to the batter, stir gently until JUST combined. Over-mixing can cause tough or gummy texture.

Why use butter AND oil in a cake?

I find this provides the best of both worlds. You get the wonderful flavor from the butter and the moist texture from the oil. This is because oil is a liquid at room temperature so it gives your palate the sensation of moisture. If you don’t have oil you can use 1 stick (113 grams) of butter for all the fat in the recipe.

How to Bake a Moist & Fudgy Chocolate Cake

In addition to the tips above, using ingredients like brown sugar, full fat sour cream, and an extra egg yolk all help to add richness and moisture to this cake. That’s because these ingredients both tenderize and draw and hold onto moisture. You can learn more about how baking ingredients work in my Magic of Baking online class.

Can I substitute the sour cream?

You can use full fat plain yogurt instead!

Metal vs. Glass Baking Pans

This recipe is best baked in an 8-inch metal baking pan. Metal conducts heat more quickly and efficiently than glass or ceramic so you won’t have any issues with an under-baked center. If you must use glass or ceramic, increase the baking time.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes! Double all ingredients and bake in a 9 by 13-inch pan and add about 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.

Piece of chocolate zucchini snack cake on a plate with a fork

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

4.8 from 5 votes

How to make
Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Yield: 9 cake squares
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ultra rich, moist, and fudgy Easy Chocolate Zucchini Cake is the perfect summer treat for any chocoholic and can be made in less than 1 hour! No mixer required.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (143 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (43 grams) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup (200 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup fresh vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) full fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (136 grams) shredded zucchini, from about 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

For the icing:

  • 1/2 cup (63 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions

Make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°Line a 8 by 8-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper then spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the melted butter, oil, sour cream, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until a few streaks of flour remain. Squeeze out any additional moisture from the shredded zucchini before adding to the batter. Add in the chocolate chips. Stir until just barely combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely.

Make the frosting:

  1. In a medium bowl stir together the sugar and milk with a fork until smooth and thick but pourable. Drizzle all over the cake. Let set before serving.
  2. Cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: summer

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

  1. #
    Jennifer Wiseman — June 21, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I often have shredded zucchini in the freezer. Based on your description, it sounds like it wouldn’t be usable in this recipe. Any thoughts?

    • #
      Tessa Arias — June 26, 2019 at 5:39 pm

      I would thaw and then *really* try to remove as much excess moisture from the zucchini as possible before baking with it!

  2. #
    Juditta — July 4, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Very tasty. Easy to make

  3. #
    Kim — August 31, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    This cake was phenomenal! Super moist! Doubled the recipe. Took about 45 minutes to bake.

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Join the Handle the Heat Community
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!

Instagram

As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
Join the Baking Challenge! Join the Baking Challenge!   Learn More
close
open