Chocolate Zucchini Cake

5 from 1 vote
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posted: 06/13/20

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Chocolate Zucchini Cake is moist, delicious, and the perfect flavor combinations. With the delicious cream cheese frosting, this zucchini cake is going to be a new favorite.

piece of three layer chocolate zucchini cake, frosted with cream cheese on a white plate with two zucchinis in the background

This cake, you guys. This cake!

I made a couple versions of it, and had neighbors and family taste it. They all weighed in and universally loved this version of the cake.

This Chocolate Zucchini Cake is everything you want it to be. It has the most subtle zucchini flavor, while being rich in chocolate taste. This cake recipe has just the perfect amount of spices so as not to over throw the chocolate.

Besides all of that, it is moist, easy to make, and comes with the BEST cream cheese frosting.

How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Cake

In theory you could make this in one bowl, but I like to make sure that I get all of my wet and dry ingredients incorporated correctly before we mix them together.

  1. In one large bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. In a slightly smaller bowl whisk together the white and brown sugar and eggs. Then a little at a time whisk in the oil.
  3. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and then stir in the zucchini.
  4. Divide the batter evenly into three cake pans and bake.
three layer zucchini cake, before being cut, frosted with cream cheese frosting on a teal cake stand

Baking a Layer Cake Recipe

Layer cakes look tricky, but they are actually a lot easier than you think.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Invest in good cake pans. I love USA Pans, Wilton and Nordic Ware. They are all baking brands that I think you can count on.
  • Use parchment paper and cooking spray. I cut a circle of parchment paper to put on the bottom of the cake pan and then spray the sides with cooking spray.
  • Divide the batter evenly. You can eye ball it or weigh the pans when you are done filling them, but you want to make sure that they all have relatively the same amount of batter. This allows them to bake evenly.
  • Rotate the pans while baking. My oven (and a lot of others) have hot spots. Rotating the pans ensures that no layers cook faster than others.
  • When you check to see if the cake is done, check all of the pans. Insert a toothpick into each cake pan. It should come out with just a few crumbs. One layer may need another minute or two and you can leave it in while pulling out the others.

Make this Cake in a 9 x 13 inch Pan

This cake can be made into a sheet cake with these changes:

  • Skip the parchment paper.
  • Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray and add all the batter to it.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Using Zucchini in Baking

I love cooking with zucchini. It gets super soft and lends a really great quality to the cake. But I often get the question within my baking recipes:

Do I need to squeeze out the moisture?

The answer in all of my baking recipes is: Nope! I account for the moisture of the zucchini in my ingredients. So actually if you do squeeze it out, the recipe won’t work right.

How Much Zucchini to Use

This recipe calls for 1 pound of shredded zucchini. In my experience that is about three medium zucchini or approximately 3 cups.

a three layer chocolate zucchini cake recipe on a teal cake stand with cream cheese frosting that has been cut into

Making Cream Cheese Frosting

The key to making this frosting is making sure that the butter and cream cheese are room temperature but not too soft. You should be able to easily dent them without pushing your finger all the way through.

I have had the experience of frosting this cake on way too hot of a day. The frosting did not want to cooperate because the butter had been too soft when I made it. If that happens to you, put the frosting in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and try again.

Additionally, I typically only use 4 cups of powdered sugar in my cream cheese frosting. I added an extra cup to this recipe to make it more substantial and it worked perfect with this cake recipe.

Storing

Because of the cream cheese frosting, I would recommend that you store this cake in your refrigerator. Use plastic wrap pressed against the exposed cake pieces to keep it from drying out.

This cake is best eaten within four days of making.

piece of zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate with a fork sticking out

Other Great Zucchini Recipes

If you can’t get enough zucchini recipes, here are a few others that I love broken up into savory and baking.

Savory Zucchini Recipes

Baked Zucchini Recipes

If you make this Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think! I love hearing from you!

piece of three layer chocolate zucchini cake, frosted with cream cheese on a white plate with two zucchinis in the background
5 from 1 vote

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Serves: 8 pieces
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 2 hours 45 minutes
This Chocolate Zucchini Cake is moist, delicious, and the perfect flavor combinations. With the delicious cream cheese frosting, this zucchini cake is going to be a new favorite.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsps cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 pound zucchini grated finely (about three medium zucchini)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 9 inch round cake pans by cutting a circle of parchment paper for the bottom, and spraying the edges. Set aside. (See directions in the post for making this into a sheet cake.)
  • Whisk together in a large bowl the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugars together in a large bowl until the sugars are just about dissolved. Now add the oil about a half a cup at a time and whisk in until it’s combined.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture. Stir in the zucchini (Learn more about zucchini in baking in the post). Pour into the cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
  • Beat together the butter and cream cheese. Add in the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Beat until smooth. (Learn more about making cream cheese frosting in the post.)
  • When assembling the cake, add about 3/4 cup of frosting to the top of the first cake layer, spreading it out evenly. Top it with the second layer and add another 3/4 cup of frosting to that layer. Add the final layer and then spread the remaining frosting out over the whole cake. Slice and enjoy.
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
piece of three layer chocolate zucchini cake, frosted with cream cheese on a white plate with two zucchinis in the background

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Linda says

    Can I bake this in a 9×13 instead of doing it in layers

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! Bake in a 9 by13 baking dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  2. Brigitte Pekins says

    Would I be able to bake this as a sheet cake as well?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! Bake in a 9 by13 baking dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  3. Laura says

    5 stars
    Can i make this in a 13×9 pan instead? it looks great and I love anything chocolate.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! Bake in a 9 by13 baking dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  4. Donna says

    Yes, Laura and I have the same question. I’d like to do this as a sheet cake.
    Great for pot lucks this time of year.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! Bake in a 9 by13 baking dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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