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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

So, how many zucchini breads have you made lately?  Too many? If you don't know what to do with all that zucchini that's coming out of your garden right now, how about zucchini + chocolate?  Great combination, really.  This cake uses quite a bit of grated zucchini, which keeps it moist and absolutely delicious, but you can't really tell there is zucchini in the cake.  Ask my kids. 

Before I get on with the cake, I wanted to thank Saveur for the nice surprise this past week in being featured on Saveur's "Best of the Web".  They featured my post on Marcella Hazan's Roman Style Artichokes.  If you are not a regular reader of the magazine, check out their web site.  It's very good and has all kinds of great content.  

As for the cake, I've made this a couple of times in the past two weeks because our friend, Brian, dropped off more tomatoes and zucchini from his garden. I made Sicilian Estratto (tomato paste) again from the tomatoes, like I did last year and then I made this chocolate zucchini cake from one of the large zucchini that he gave us.


And then, just to make you smile, look who I am babysitting this weekend.  Bet you can't look at her and not smile.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

adapted from Saveur

serves 8-10

for a printable recipe, click here


  • 2 medium zucchini, trimmed and grated (I grated mine on the medium holes of a box grater)
  • 9 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 2-3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk *
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar



*if you don't have buttermilk on hand, which I frequently do not, simply add 1/2 tablespoon vinegar to 1/2 cup milk (whole or lowfat) and let sit for 15 minutes. Works.

Working in batches, put a small mound of the grated zucchini in center of a large square of double-layer cheesecloth (I used a thin tea towel).  Gather corners together and squeeze out as much water as possible from the zucchini.  Transfer zucchini to a bowl and set aside.  (I had about 2 cups of this squeezed zucchini. Do not obsess about the amount, though.  This is a very forgiving recipe when it comes to the amount of zucchini.)

squeezing out the liquid from the grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter a deep 9" cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Beat together the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add oil, beating well. Beat in one egg at a time, add vanilla, reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 alternative batches.  Stir in reserved zucchini.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (Start checking after 1 hour - baking time could be faster.)  Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.  Invert onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar.


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Reader Comments (43)

Congratulations on the Saveur link. They put my pizza on there and I totally forgot about it. I also love to make zucchini cake. Funny thing here is I thought there would be MORE zucchinis and I'm not seeing it. I wonder if it's the heat. But, we are in tomato heaven.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela@Spinachtiger

Oooooh. This looks so tasty and so moist. I've been making lots of cakes with vegetables in lately, and think that the results are often superior to those without.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

wow !!! It looks so delicious...its making me hungry already.Rosie's very sweet. :)

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiscount Hotels Paris

BIG congrats on the Saveur post.

And on this choco/zucchini bread. Looks wonderful. I always have a freezer full of shredded z and always looking for ways to use. it. Thanks.

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

One year I had so many zucchini that I added them to a Chocolate Chip Pie. It was actually quite good. Rosie is very cute!

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

Just finished making your Chocolate Zucchini Cake - added roasted chopped pecans to the mix as I like a little crunch! Looks and tastes great!

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRita

I had a bumper crop of zucchini from a single plant this year. I made your zucchini lasagna the other night and it was awesome. I'll be baking this cake tonight - very timely post, I was not that excited about making MORE bread!

August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Amazing recipe and the wee dog, so awesome!!!!

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLia

About how much grated zucchini did you end up with? I want to try it with some BIG zucchini.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBean

From The Italian Dish:

Bean: In my recipe, I wrote that I ended up with about 2 cups of grated zucchini, after it had the liquid squeezed out. The amount doesn't have to be exact.

August 23, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Dessert "with benefits". Looks delicious.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Nova

Dessert with benefits, haha, I love that!

This post is so well timed! I just put in two zucchini plants before my garden party yesterday and my friend was cautioning me about all the zucchini I'm going to end up.

The photos are absolutely beautiful, by the way!

August 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGabi

Congrats on the Saveur post. I had to come over and check out your zucchini cake after you mentioned it on my blog. SO glad I did. I will be baking this cake soon. I love baking with zucchini!

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I made this on Monday night and it was absolutely wonderful!
I had one bigger zucchini that I apparently missed on my daily garden search so I grated it down and ended up with about 3 cups drained. The cake took a little longer to bake, about 1.5 hours, but was still moist, delicious and not too sweet. I did use splenda instead of sugar and I brought it to work. (I work at a Church and both priests are diabetic) It disappeared! Thank you for an awesome recipe!

August 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

From The Italian Dish:

Michele: That's interesting about using the Splenda. I've often wanted to try that for baking, and just have not. Think I will now! Glad you liked the cake.

August 25, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I have yet to make a zucchini cake. Yours looks amazing. I should try this recipe. YUM!

August 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBecky O.

I understand your need to find new ways to use zucchini - i have made stews-omelettes-pasta sauce- fried them - cut them in half and filled them and now I too made a sweet and savoury pie called scarpaccia - it's an old tuscan recipe that's delicious! Now, I'm going to use my last batch for this chocolate cake!

August 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOriana

Probably its the best blog !
congratulations ! very very good work!
i ll try to make the vanilla extract today and athe chocolate panna cotta !
greetings from Greece

August 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatassa

Good recipe, I always add ginger to chocolate, when making this zucchini cake i used finely diced candied ginger added to the batter. I'm having a beet overload in my garden so I made a chocolate cake with beet puree, amazing.

August 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranon yummy us

A delicious recipe. Absolutely tempting to overwork the KitchenAid again.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Maminta

That looks so good!

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSallyK

this looks fantastic I make something similiar but yours looks fabulous cant wait to try this!~

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia Lamascolo

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I enjoy reading it every day.I will be back.

September 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterreplica watches

If you are a chocoholic you will love this recipe! The best part if that you will have your veggies meaning pleny of fiber so you will break the chocolate calories fast. The recipe is delicious and not so complicated to make. Personally I enjoyed this very much and the hard part was cleaning the kitchen after all!!

May 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuth Nobio

My mom has made a zucchini cake for years! She makes a caramel frosting that drapes over the silken chocolate cake. It is most wonderful combination.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

The Chocolate Zucchini Cake is really very delicious.. Thanks for sharing..

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterzenegra online

I stumbled upon your site while researching artisanal bread-making and zeroed in on the roasted tomato pasta recipe and this chocolate zucchini cake as one can only eat so much zucchini bread, even when it’s made with silky Isigny-style crème fra?che. (I live in France now. I try to get to Italy each year and stock up on ingredients, as it’s handy to be able to drive. Love Italian-style cooking!)

The tomato recipe blew me away. The choc zucchini cake proved a bit more daunting, as I have naught but an 8” square Pyrex and a 10” round springform pan these days. (Teensy house, no kitchen yet and no storage. The Kitchen-Aid lives in the garage, fully half of which is taken up by a 200-year-old limestone bread oven. No, haven’t used it.)

I went with 3 cups of squash — 2 of zucchini and 1 cup of pattypan (as it was what I had to use) and the 10” pan, and cut down the sugar to 1 cup as it seemed to be a lot to me. The batter still tasted quite sweet. I also used buttermilk powder instead of souring milk, a convenience tip from my professional baker sister, since I haven’t been able to find buttermilk here yet. I had to bake mine for 1 hr. 20 minutes and it came out looking and smelling like a gigantic brownie. And all for me!! I skipped the dusted topping as well as I try to avoid unnecessary sugar. Wow! This was just marvelously moist. I only managed to wait the first 15 minutes before slivering a piece to sample. I might tinker with it further and trade sugar for some melted 70-plus % dark chocolate as I love an intense chocolate flavor. And use another reader's suggestion and add some minced candied ginger.

Thank you so much for posting this. I look forward to wading through your site in gourmandise detail! And I think it's time I figured out how to backlink stuff so I can send my readers your way.

August 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSiobhan Gallagher

The recipe looks like one I used to make when living in Illinois with a garden with lots of zuchinni. The only difference was that we baked ours in a 9 x 13 pan and sprinkled a half cup of chocolate chips over the top. Some stayed on top, some drifted towards the bottom and some stayed half way. Also, our recipe called for a half teaspoon of cloves which made the kitchen smell soooooo nice. Our recipe was called Chocolate Chip Zuchinni Cake.

November 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Latino

Loved this cake. I am not a cake baker - I am a cookie girl but never had luck with cakes until this one. I made this last night to rave reviews. Kids were nervous to try it since I had past failures. Love this blog - you have sparked my love for cooking again. Thank you for the amazing recipe. Wish I was close enough to do your classes!! You have a FAN forever! Ciao Bella!

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Ten

I think it might help me a lot in the related stuff and is particularly quite definitely useful for me.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

My kids do love these cakes. I will going to try to cook this one at home and for sure that they will going to like it much.
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August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngel

Just discovered your blog and so excited to try this recipe! Wanted to ask if possible to substitute honey or puréed apple for sugar? I have to watch my diabetes and I don't like the taste of sweeteners. If so how much would you suggest? Thank you!

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Love Love this cake!!!!! made it three times my family likes it, also made during hurricane Sandy with the generator running.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFran

Wow! This gives me an idea! I could use 2 cups of the vegetable pulp from my juicer! (As long as it is mild veggies). My juicer doesn't ring out the pulp completely dry. I'll try it!

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJewelie Dee

Thanks so much for this and for your blog full of great ideas. Previous reader's comments about vegetable pulp from juicing is also great idea.
How much is 9 tablespoons do butter in imperial or metric measurement please?
Thanks again.

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLai Sie

i dont know about the cake but rosie is adorable.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterglo

It was a really delicious cake. Thank you very much. My 11 year old is so sensitive ( he hated) to vegetables that until 9 years of age I had to smash all the vegetables in the curry and mix it with his rice , he wouldn't even mix it himself. I lost the count of times he had thrown up the moment he chewed any pulpy vegetables. Now he eats some kind of vegetables that are really soft or fried with lots of potatos.I am asian so our food is different than yours mainly rice ,fish and vegetable curry. I am continously trying to make foods which have hidden vegetable in it for his snack,and school lunch. I made this cake before he came home from school (so he couldn't see the ingredients) and he loved it. Till now I haven't disclosed to him that it wasn't only chocolate cake. This is an excellent recipe for a mom with an overweight boy who loves only chocolate, frenchfries, chicken fries , hamburger, whch we have restricted for him (poor boy!) Thanks again

October 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTahera

Just made this cake last night. It is delicious, very light textured. My husband is loving it also. He almost always refuses to try anything new in the way of vegetables. He has no idea what he is eating. Surprise!!!

January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

Lovely recipe. If we use the hershey's special / dutch cocoa - is it best to substitue the baking soda, by using baking powder instead?
Thank you,

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersuz

Would it be possible to make this delicious cake with coconut or almond milk?

May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMasha

Try using coconut oil instead, it gives it a remarkable taste.

August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDebby

Made this last night and it was delish! I used brown sugar though and it came out more fudge than cake like. Love it!

September 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSally

This is REALLY amazing. I hope comeback to this place later.

December 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHotel Bangkok

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