This moist and fudgy chocolate zucchini cake is an easy yet elegant dessert made in one bowl! Packed with shredded zucchini, no one will know that it’s secretly healthy!
A healthy dessert with vegetables in it?
It’s time to make a zucchini chocolate cake.
After rave reviews from both my zucchini brownies and zucchini bread, I had to try it for another dessert.
If you’ve never had a chocolate cake made with vegetables before, now is the time to do so. Adding zucchini to a chocolate cake is a sneaky way to hide some greens. You won’t be able to taste it, and it adds extra moisture to the cake.
For a healthy chocolate zucchini cake, you’ll be surprised at how good it is. The texture is super moist, with a tender crumb. You won’t taste an ounce of zucchini at all, just a rich, chocolate flavor. Seriously, it is the best cake ever.
Unlike most cakes, this one has no eggs, no butter, and no oil in it, but you’d never tell. To compensate, we use unsweetened applesauce (a fabulous butter and egg substitute). Instead of wheat flour, oat flour is used. While I enjoy making my own, I actually used a store-bought version for this cake. This is because it is more finely milled and lighter in texture.
- Milk and vinegar. Mixed and set for 5 minutes to create a mock buttermilk. I used unsweetened almond milk but any milk works.
- Oat flour. A wheat-free alternative to traditional white or wheat flour.
- Cocoa powder. 100% unsweetened and Dutch processed cocoa powder. For a richer flavor, you can use dark cocoa powder.
- Arrowroot powder. Holds the cake together and helps achieve a moist crumb.
- Baking powder and soda. Both leavening agents are used to give the cake structure and stability.
- Unsweetened applesauce. Helps keep the cake moist while adding minimal calories and fat.
- Coconut sugar OR brown sugar. Either sugar works.
- Zucchini. Finely shredded, with most of the moisture removed.
- Chocolate frosting. Either a healthy frosting or a chocolate frosting (dairy free!).
How to make a chocolate zucchini cake
This chocolate cake with zucchini is easy to make: the only thing you need to remember is to let the milk and vinegar sit for 5 minutes for it to curdle and create a buttermilk. You can either make this as a two layer cake (using two 8-inch cake pans) or a three layer cake (using three 6-inch cake pans). Here’s the basic idea on how to make this chocolate cake (or see the recipe below for specifics):
- Prepare: Line and grease two 8-inch cake pans and mix the milk and vinegar to curdle.
- Mix: Whisk together your dry ingredients until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, applesauce, and sugar. Combine the two until just combined.
- Bake: Distribute the batter amongst the two cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out mostly clean.
- Frost: Let the cakes cool completely before frosting, slicing, and serving.
Dietary swaps and substitutions
This cake is forgiving and can easily be adapted for other diets out there. There are also some substitution ideas if you don’t have a certain ingredient on hand:
- For a richer cake, swap out half the applesauce with olive oil, butter, or any neutral flavored oil.
- Swap out the oat flour for either all-purpose flour or wholewheat flour.
- For a keto chocolate zucchini cake, replace the oat flour with almond flour, use allulose as the sweetener, and swap out the applesauce for full fat yogurt.
- Swap out the applesauce for either yogurt or sour cream.
- To cut out the gluten, use gluten free oat flour.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Do not over-bake the cake, as it will continue to bake as it is cooling down. Unlike my easy chocolate cake, you’ll need to be super careful, as oat flour can dry out goods easily.
- Squeeze out some of the moisture from the zucchini but not all of it. Some of the moisture helps keep the cake moist and soft.
- Brown sugar or coconut sugar is necessary to balance out the other ingredients. If you want to use a sugar free substitute, you’ll need to add a fat to it. Swap out
What is the best way to store a chocolate cake? Does chocolate zucchini cake need to be refrigerated? Here are the best practices for cake storage:
- Up to 3 days: Store at room temperature, covered, for up to three days.
- 1 week: Place slices of the cake in a sealable container and store it in the refrigerator.
- 2 months: Place the baked, cooled, and frosted cake in an airtight container and store it in the freezer.
More chocolate cake recipes to try
- Keto chocolate cake
- Almond flour chocolate cake
- Flourless chocolate cake
- Death by chocolate cake
- Coconut flour chocolate cake
Frequently Asked Questions
Any chocolate frosting works, the creamier the better.
This cake has no eggs or dairy in it, so is suitable for those following a vegan diet.
There is no need to peel the zucchini before grating or shredding it.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 1 1/2 cups milk any milk works
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 3 cups oat flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup zucchini shredded
- 1 cup chocolate frosting
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- Add the milk and vinegar in a bowl and whisk together. Let it sit to curdle.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the oat flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, baking powder, and baking soda and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk mix, brown sugar, and applesauce. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until combined. Fold through the zucchini.
- Distribute the batter amongst the two cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer come out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool completely. Once cool, frost them, layer them then slice and serve.
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Wow these look so yummy! I can’t wait to try out this recipe!
Is there any coconut milk you recommend that doesn’t have guar gum? I can’t find one that as thick as Thai kitchen brand.
Hi! I’ve only used this one since all the others weren’t as thick or yielded good results 🙂
How much coconut cream for the icing?
Hi there! 3/4 cup 🙂
Arman, I use this frosting on most of my brownie recipes. Thanks!
You are too sweet, Cathy! 🙂
Should I whip the coconut cream before adding the melted chocolat?
Eating LOTS of zucchini this week, but I wish I saved my zucchini for this cake! Well, I can always get more and make some 😉
Quinoi and rolled oats are not Keto friendly.
Hence there are two clearly stated different options. Enjoy!
Thank you for creating a keto version also!
I wonder if I could use whipping cream and the chocolate chips to create the frosting, since I don’t have any coconut cream??
Hi! I think that will seperate and not combine well at all.
Use the Keto version, its Keto friendly 😉
I made this last night & it is SO GOOD!! Thanks for the recipe! It’s definitely a keeper.
😀 LOVE IT!!!!!
This is gorgeous! Cannot wait to try it… Thank you!!
Is the nutritional info provided for the vegan option or the keto option?
The keto version 🙂
For the frosting, do you heat both the cream and the chocolate chips or add the melted chocolate chips to the chilled cream?
Hi! I heat it together, but on VERY low heat 🙂
Curious if I could make this vegan and keto? How would you suggest doing that?
I’ve tried and it doesn’t work well at all, feel free to experiment!
You just made my day! Definitely trying this as soon as I pick some zucchini out of the garden! Now I wish I’d planted more!
😀 love it!
Can these be partially combined. For example, if I make the keto version can I use flax eggs?
Haven’t tried, so feel free to experiment and see!
Can I replace the rolled oats or quinoa flakes with a gluten free flour? Thank you! :))
I haven’t tried, feel free to experiment and see 🙂
2 1/4 c oats vs. 1/4 c of coconut flour? I see the cocoa is increased but is this correct? Just checking cuz I really want to try the keto version
Yes that is correct- Coconut flour is like a sponge and absorbs liquid really well 🙂
What do you mean by coconut cream? I am not familiar with this.
Hi, coconut milk chilled produces a layer of cream on top
Which recipe is the nutrition info for? Can’t imagine the carbs would be that low with oats & sweet potato
For the keto option 🙂