This is the best chocolate zucchini cake you’ll ever bake! Super simple, no draining required, stays ridiculously moist, topped with a smooth and delectable layer of the yummiest chocolate frosting!
We are currently in one of my absolute favorite times of year. It’s that sweet spot between the fourth of July and the beginning of a new school year, where the weather is consistently warm here in Minnesota, the mosquitoes aren’t out in droves, and the zucchini is plentiful.
Did I say plentiful?
I meant excessive.
My aunt and uncle grow mutantly large zucchini in their garden, which I gladly take off their hands with a smile! I’d like to tell you it’s because I make a fabulous zoodle dish, with zero carbs and no meat. But, alas, my plate is still filled with wheat-laden pasta, and said zucchini is reserved for one thing and one thing only: delicious baked goods.
I love it all: zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, zucchini blondies… but my favorite? My favorite is the recipe I’m sharing today. It really is no exaggeration to call it the best chocolate zucchini cake ever!
This zucchini cake recipe actually has a relatively sad background for me. My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer eight months ago. Unfortunately, she died within one week of her diagnosis. The day she passed away, I was in her living room when one of her dearest friends stopped by for a visit. She came bearing gifts; one of which was a chocolate cake. This chocolate cake.
My mother wasn’t up for eating it, so she sent a large portion of it home with me to share with my four little people. I took it, and my four kids, home with me for lunch. We ate a picnic lunch on the floor in the middle of that frigid January Friday, followed by a surprise dessert of that chocolate cake, courtesy of Grandma Kathy! They devoured it and demanded I take their picture to send to Grandma Kathy, telling her they wished she were at our picnic to eat it with us.
With a memory like this tied to the cake, one might think it would be too painful to revisit. But instead, I find its connection to her nothing but so good and so sweet. It’s my kids’ last memory of their grandma being that person they know and love, giving them only happy moments. And when my aunt brought me a monster zucchini from her garden a few weeks back, I knew this cake needed to be made again. So I contacted my mom’s friend for the recipe and made it straight away!
I’ve since made it three times. It’s that good.
Now, I’ve made enough zucchini baked goods to know they can tend to be a little finicky. Zucchini can be slightly temperamental to bake with due to its high moisture content. What I love about this recipe is it requires NO draining (woohoo!).
As a thrilling sidenote: let’s talk zucchini grating. I grate my zucchini two ways. When I have a little more time (and want to use a little more muscle…), I reach for my trusty (and super sharp… trust me, my fingers know) box grater. If I’d prefer to move things along a little more and don’t mind doing a few more dishes, I opt for my food processor. Honestly, both are excellent options and hardly affect the outcome of the cake.
It’s chocolaty, but not so rich you feel you can’t eat more than a few bites. The cake stays super moist, even a few days after baking. In fact, I’d argue it only gets better as the frosting (yes, there’s frosting!) soaks in a bit. And, as I already mentioned… the frosting. It’s that kind of chocolate frosting that is super smooth and shiny and always looks wet — you know what kind I’m talking about, right?
Ugh, it’s so yummy.
Like, so yummy it beckons you to just have another tiny little sliver of cake. And then, maybe another tiny little sliver.
And, okay, you can have just one more tiny piece, right?
Have I convinced you to try this recipe yet? If you’ve never made a zucchini dessert, or have but haven’t made one you actually like, THIS is the one for you. I promise there’s a reason it’s a family favorite over here. It really is the best chocolate zucchini cake ever!
Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 9 x 13 pan
- 1 stick butter softened
- ¼ cup canola oil can sub unsweetened applesauce
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup buttermilk can sub 1/2 cup milk + 1 1/2 tsp vinegar/lemon juice
- 2 cups zucchini unpeeled, grated
- 2½ cups flour
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp cinnamon optional
- ½ tsp cloves optional
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 325° F; grease a 9 x 13 pan.
- Cream together butter, oil/applesauce and sugars until light fluffy. Add in eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; mix on low until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices; stir in chocolate chips. Add to wet ingredients; beat well to combine.
- Stir in shredded zucchini.
- Pour into prepared 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 325° for approximately 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make chocolate frosting. Boil ½ cup white sugar, 2 tbsp. cocoa, ¼ cup milk, 1 tbsp. corn syrup, 2 tbsp. butter and dash of salt in a small saucepan for three minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Beat ½ cup powdered sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla into the cooled mixture. Add more powdered sugar (up to another ¼ cup), until frosting reaches your desired consistency. Pour frosting over cake while still warm.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab that mega-zucchini and get grating! And if you don’t have any zucchini yet, pin this for later. You won’t regret it! Just make sure you get an extra zucchini, so you can make it again for someone after you demolish the first pan yourself.
Do you love zucchini time of year? What are your favorite recipes? Comment below! And if you’re looking for other sweet recipes, be sure to check out this post!