Chocolate zucchini cake is not something to mess around with. You need the best chocolate zucchini cake recipe…and this is it!

The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

We rolled into town last night after the kids and I spent a week in Montana with my parents (giving me the chance to attend a casual 20-year high school celebration with some old, wonderful friends and simultaneously laugh harder than I have in years and also feel really, really old).

The week was awesome! Driving all day and coming back to unpack and get back to real life…not awesome.

Among all the chores we are tackling today (whilst trying to manage positive attitudes…me included), the garden needed some serious TLC. Oooh boy, it isn’t pretty out there. Things are looking a little overgrown and although I had friends coming by to take whatever they wanted of the growing produce while we were gone, we still uncovered a few zucchini squashes the size of baseball bats.

When the plants are so enormously huge, even spreading apart the prickly stems and peering inside, it’s easy to miss those camouflaged beauties.

The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It’s total coincidence that I was planning on sharing with you the best ever zucchini chocolate cake today, but now that I have several giant-sized vegetables staring at me from my kitchen counter, it looks like I’ll be making this chocolate zucchini cake several times over before the week is done.

Good thing I’m bringing dinner to some friends because as much as I love me a good chocolate cake (and this is one of the best), even I get a little twitchy at the idea of trying to resist pans and pans of chocolate zucchini cake calling to me day after day.

Yeah, yeah. I know there are a million other things I can do with my zucchini (not the least of which are these healthier muffins and of course my go-to zucchini bread), but seriously, chocolate cake. Who can resist? Clearly not me.

This cake is a tried-and-true family favorite and has been for years and years. It’s from my Aunt Marilyn, and it is easily my Uncle Dan’s favorite chocolate cake of all time (and trust me, the guy loves chocolate cake even more than I do, which is pretty remarkable in and of itself).

There are at least 28 of my extended family members that love and swear by this cake. It’s a bit of a legend.

The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Amazingly light and fluffy, this zucchini cake is so moist and chocolatey. It’s what every cake should aspire to be like. I actually kind of feel bad for other cakes when I eat this chocolate zucchini cake. Can you blame them for wanting to be this?

One bowl, no mixer needed – simple as simple as can be! There’s nothing complicated about this cake and it still manages to be the best chocolate zucchini cake of all time. Take that fussy white layer cake that requires me to beat egg whites separately and make me want to beat my head against the kitchen counter (and yet I still can’t stop trying to perfect it).

My absolute favorite way to serve this cake is to nix classic chocolate frosting and use lightly sweetened chocolate whipped cream. Oh, baby. That pillowy, ethereal whipped cream is the perfect companion for this best ever chocolate zucchini cake.

The good news is that this cake is equally delicious eaten straight out of the pan with no extra adornments. I mean, not that I’d ever showcase that kind of lack of self-control. Digging in while the cake was warm and all that. No never, not me.

One Year Ago: Triple Chocolate Zucchini Cookies
Two Years Ago: Ginger Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry
Three Years Ago: Ebelskivers: Puffy Danish Pancakes

The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Yield: Makes 9X13-inch cake

The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I don't squeeze any excess liquid out of the zucchini for this recipe; however, previously frozen, shredded zucchini tends to be a bit more liquidy so if using thawed zucchini that's been frozen, you might drain slightly.

This cake is delicious all by itself! But it's also super tasty with chocolate frosting or my favorite, lightly sweetened chocolate whipped cream. For the cream, combine 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder (Dutch-process cocoa powder is delicious here but you can use natural, unsweetened too), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Whip until thick and creamy.

My Aunt Marilyn says this recipe works great in a bundt pan - bake for about 45-50 minutes.


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (homemade version here)
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, avocado oil, canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 cup shredded zucchini (10 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cup (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. I always use an aluminum/metal baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, buttermilk and oil.
  3. Stir in the shredded zucchini.
  4. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, soda and baking powder.
  5. Stir until just combined and no dry streaks remain.
  6. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until the top springs back lightly to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Let cool completely.
  8. Serve alone, with chocolate frosting or a dollop of lightly sweetened chocolate whipped cream (see note above).

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my Aunt Marilyn (I reduce the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups, as well as reducing the oil a bit, and use buttermilk instead of milk)

63 Responses to The Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  1. Scott says:

    Omitted the salt (as am cutting back), and everyone in the household felt the end cake tasted very salty. Disappointing.

  2. Jaci says:

    Wow, LOVED this cake! Served it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!

  3. Kelsey says:

    I can’t stop eating this!! Yum!!!

  4. Marie says:

    This cake is delicious!

  5. Kristin says:

    I have made this twice now and brought it to the Koch’s last weekend. Paul said after tasting it, “This has zucchini in it?!” I call it a win. I wanted a more stable whipped chocolate frosting so I took one package of instant chocolate pudding mix whisked in one cup of milk and then folded in a small tub of cool whip. The cake had to travel 7 hours in the cooler so frosting stability was a must. It was awesome!

  6. Rachel says:

    This cake is amazing!! I’ve made it 3 times in two weeks and that’s saying a lot for be to be baking like that in the summer at 8 months pregnant! Thanks for another great one!

  7. Christine Hull says:

    Proud to say I made good use out of my 750 pound zucchini today! This is my dream recipe…one bowl (no mess) and NO DRAINING ZUCCHINI!!!!! Heck yes. Also, I was out of white flour and it turned out beautifully using whole wheat flour. Thanks Mel my Bell

  8. Janelle says:

    Loved loved loved this cake!! I’ve been cooking from your blog for years and have countless of favorites. After getting back from our Montana vacation (born and raised in the Bozeman area) I had to come home and put together a birthday party for my daughter. I made this cake so the adults had a good yummy cake to eat that wasn’t covered in rainbow skittles. Everyone loved it and my kids actually ended up gobbling up this cake post birthday party. Thanks for all your great recipes that are a staple in our home!

  9. Sarah says:

    I made this for my mom’s birthday cake and it was delightful. I used a Bundt pan and the cocoa whipped cream was excellent on top. (The chocolate flavour of that whipped cream reminded me exactly of my favourite chocolate ice cream.) The small amount of leftovers were just as moist. Just reading the comment above– I forgot to follow the 45-50 min instructions even though using a Bundt pan and took mine out at about 33 minutes and it was definitely done, so I agree with your comment to take it out sooner.

  10. SK Rainsford says:

    I am still harvesting zucchini so I made this cake last night to share with friends in a post-theater gathering. I used white whole wheat flour in the recipe and baked it in a Bundt pan in a convection oven. For sure it was done at 40 minutes and I wished I’d checked it sooner, at 35 – so keep an eye on it no matter what Aunt Marilyn says about time, to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Anyway, this turned out very nicely (although not as moist as your pics show) and the cocoa whipped cream was a perfect touch. Everyone enjoyed it. I also enjoyed it (sans icing) for breakfast today. I like it better than the choc-zucc. cookies Mel!

  11. Anna says:

    Does this work as cupcakes?

  12. Debbie N says:

    My kids loved this cake, even the zucchini hater of the family. I served it with regular whipped creme since I had some on hand. It was delicious. We all loved it warm the best.

  13. Ruth says:

    Hi Mel, I wanted to double check on the vanilla. Is 1 tablespoon correct? It seems like a lot for one cake.

  14. Noreen says:

    Mel, I’m always looking for the best recipes and just when I think I have one after trying different ones several times I check your site and there it is…AGAIN!! I’m just going to your site first from now on. This zucchini cake was INSANE! It is everything you said t would be and more. The whipped topping was DANGEROUS. I could eat a bowl of it. And so simple and quick to make. Thank you thank you thank you!!

  15. Laura says:

    I love your recipes and always check your site when I have a question! I’m wanting to make a chocolate whipped cream for an ice cream cake I’m making and I remembered seeing one here. Now I see two — the one described in this recipe, and the one on the quinoa chocolate cake that uses chocolate chips with the whipping cream. Do you have a preference? Are the results similar? This one seems easier, but I do love melted chocolate and cream in all it’s forms (never tried it as whipped cream, but it makes a sweet ganache, fondue, or fudge sauce). Thanks!

  16. Yonghee says:

    Is it possible to omit the cocoa powder for the cake?

  17. Jenn W says:

    Delicious!! Delicious alone, delicious with the whipped cream, delicious with the leftover rainbow chip frosting sitting in the refrigerator. Glad I could use up some of the zucchini abundance from the garden. How does one plant yield so much?!?

  18. Tara says:

    It’s my 20 year high school reunion this August too! Unbelievable! And I’m still having babies. AHH!

    Anyway, this looks gorgeous! We moved last fall and much to my disdain I have nowhere for a good garden in my new yard. I gambled and planted in what seems to be garden boxes but they are all in the shade and hardly anything has come up! My garden looks like it thinks it is still June! Zucchini was a total gong show but thankfully my mom is bringing me some this weekend.

    Incidentally, I haven’t worked too much with it before. By shredded zucchini, do you mean we should process or grate it? Can I use the food processor to grate or would that obliterate it?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Tara, good question on the grating. I use the large holes of my box grater or the food processor. Either works great – do you have a large shredding disc for the food processor (as opposed to a disc that would shred it super fine)? If so, I’d use that one.

      Congrats on 20 years. 🙂 And on still having babies!

    • Risa says:

      This cake is just as you promised – DELICIOUS!!! I used my food processor with the grating disc and it was perfect. I cut the zucchini in smaller pieces to fit in the feeder tube. It was perfect and saved time grating by hand.

  19. Amber Wadsworth says:

    So when I “assigned” myself (cuz that’s how I roll) to bring a dessert to a church meeting tonight it was a given that I would probably be making one of your recipes. Well, I knew this cake would be a winner when I read this was The BEST Chocolate Zuchhini Cake and that it came from your Aunt Marilyn. That and the fact that I have a plethora of zucchini in my garden. It was only AFTER pulling the cake out of the oven that I realized I COMPLETELY FORGOT to add the buttermilk (way too much multitasking today). As I was about to ditch the batch and start over, I decided to taste it and discovered nothing but pure joy with morsels of chocolate zucchini cake dancing around in my mouth! Pretty sure it was the chocolate chips that I added to the batter that helped save my near baking failure. And while my “mistaken” version turned out surprisingly delicious, although probably not as moist as your version, I can’t wait to make it again with the buttermilk. As a side note, I made these into cupcakes using my Demarle square muffin mold and piled them with your chocolate whipped cream (another recipe). Thanks for your never ending and amazing recipes. My sister and I refer to you so often and as if you lived next door that we have resorted to just saying it’s from “Mel’s”.

  20. Fiona Chain says:

    Mmm, totally the best way to eat the humble zucchini! Thanks for another great recipe. Have a wonderful day.

  21. Jenny says:

    This looks very similar to a recipe I make. But I add some cloves and cinnamon. I’ve also gotten all crazy and added some garam Marsala in place of the cloves and cinnamon. A delicious twist!

  22. Marcie says:

    Hi! This is my first attempt at using zucchini in a dessert… Do I peel the zucchini first and then grate it? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Marcie – I never peel my zucchini before shredding. Hope that helps! 🙂

      • Marcie says:

        Thanks, Mel! I made the cake today and it turned out delicious! I’ve never had a recipe of yours turn out bad which is why I was willing to give this a try (even though I was worried about having a weird texture in the cake!). Thanks for always being so reliable with fantastic recipes! 🙂

  23. Kimberley Tucker says:

    Mel, I’m at work and I think I need to leave right now and go home and make this cake!! Thank you for sharing!!

  24. Heather says:

    Hi Mel – in all of the times you have made this cake, have you ever attempted a gluten free version? Could you suggest any substitutions for the regular flour? I find that baked goods that have moist ingredients (like zucchini, pumpkin, etc) make the best gluten free version! Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Heather – I haven’t made this gluten-free, sorry! Do you use the cup4cup or better batter blends ever? I hope I didn’t slaughter the names of those. But I’m guessing that a substitution like that would work fine but I’m not sure.

  25. Shanell says:

    Oh my MEL!!!! This was so so yummy!! My girls were VERY skeptical about the giant zucchini I was grating, but after one bite, they were all digging in with a fork! The chocolate buttercream frosting was so divine! I doubled the recipe (remember the giant zucchini 😉 ) and it fit in a jelly roll pan, plus a half jelly roll pan…so we’ve got LOTS of cake to eat for breakfast too! Thanks for sharing!!!

  26. Alyssa says:

    This looks amazing considering that I have a ton of zucchini to use! On a side note, do we get a recap of your Africa trip soon!? Looking forward to hearing about that!!

  27. NRS says:

    This looks yum! Do you suggest storing the cake room temperature or do you like it stored in the fridge? I plan to use your chocolate whipped cream. I take it you would just dollop that on slices rather than spreading on full cake?

    • Mel says:

      It’s delicious at room temp or chilled, in my opinion, and yes, I just dollop a big spoonful of whipped cream on each piece (kind of like strawberry shortcake).

  28. Jared says:

    Yep, were definitely making this one…TODAY!

  29. J says:

    Made this today. My whipping cream was spoiled so I made chocolate fudge frosting instead. We had company for dinner and everyone loved it, even my kids who don’t normally like cake. I subbed almond milk for buttermilk so I could make some dairy-free cupcakes, too, and it was so good!

  30. Allison says:

    This is delicious! I served it with the chocolate whipped cream that you suggested, and a few blueberries on top. I ran out of all purpose flour so subbed white whole wheat flour for half of it. Couldn’t even tell there was ww flour in it! Thanks for the recipe!!

  31. Lachelle says:

    The whipped chocolate frosting is delicious! If I made it more might end up in my mouth than on the cake 🙂

  32. Jana says:

    This counts as a serving of vegetable, right?

  33. Cathy says:

    Yep, it’s in the oven. Will report results!

  34. Summer says:

    Great timing! I made this cake this afternoon and frosted it with your chocolate frosting recipe (because it’s Monday and we need to get through the week somehow!). I took a sneak piece and it’s amazing!

  35. Teresa R. says:

    I can’t think of anything better to do with zucchini! This looks delicious and I would rush to make it except I’m out of cocoa powder. Thanks for another great recipe!

  36. This looks amazing! Can I ask where you’re from? I don’t know any other food bloggers from Montana! I’m from the Bitterroot 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hi Annie – I went to high school in Montana (Billings) but now I live in southwestern Idaho.

    • Liz says:

      Hey Annie, I am not a food blogger (personal blog with some food because I LOVE to cook), but I live between Bigfork and Kalispell on 8 plus wooded acres with my dog and cat.

      Not sure looking at your blog if you are still in Montana…

      • Sadly I’m not, I certainly wish I was though! I moved to the Midwest after grad school and have been here for a few years now. My mom and brother are still in western Montana so I get home to visit as often as I can. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to living without mountains!

        Sounds like you have a beautiful spot! I love the Kalispell area.

      • Allison says:

        I’m in Kalispell! Nice to know there are other Mel’s fans in the valley 🙂

        • Liz says:

          Hee – we have a little virtual MKC fan club in Flathead Valley!

          I DID make this cake and as promised, it is the BEST and comes together way to fast. I made a full recipe: half baked as cupcakes (12) and half in cast iron loaf pan.

        • Janet Bjornemo says:

          Hey girls, I am from Anaconda. I live in WA now, but my heart will always be in Montana.

  37. Heather bell says:

    This looks perfect!! And I have the end of summer lack of motivation too. Lol but I could make and eat this warm and cold.

  38. Amanda Smith says:

    So your aunt’s recipe uses milk instead of buttermilk, and it works fine? What’s the advantage to using buttermilk?

  39. Canille says:

    I swear by this cake! I keep grated zucchini in my freezer just to be able to make it all year!

  40. Patti says:

    This looks amazing! Which frosting is used in your photos? The choclolate frosting or chocolate whipped cream? Thanks for posting these today…I have tons of zucchini to use!

  41. Barb says:

    This sounds like something I need to try, as I have massive amounts of zucchini to use. Also, the idea of making cakes to give away is the best idea yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *