Catherine’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

It’s a stealth cake! No one will guess there is an entire quart of shredded zucchini in this moist, deep chocolate dessert.

This is the time of year when you can find some remarkable bargains at the farm stands and markets. Zucchini now appears only as very small fruit, or a baseball-bat sized overgrown creature at almost give-away prices. There is an old joke that Vermonters only lock their doors during zucchini season to avoid and accidental drop-offs, and there certainly is some truth to this.

Overgrown produce

When I had my large kitchen garden, my sister always asked me to save her an overgrown zucchini; she knew there would be at least one forgotten under the leaves. She would shred it and tuck it in the freezer to make zucchini breads at holiday time.

More vegetable than anything else

A few years back my friend Catherine gave me a lovely recipe for a chocolate cake that uses a whopping quart of shredded zucchini. Deeply chocolate and extremely moist, it fast became a family favorite, and no one would guess it was mostly vegetable. If you have been the victim of a dry-by zucchini drop, this is a sweet way to make use of your unexpected bounty.

Decades of Delicious

Catherine does not remember where she got the recipe, but it was sometime in the late 1960s when they lived in North Troy, VT, with Jay Peak visible from their front lawn and Canada in their back yard. It’s been a regular with her family ever since, and is now for my family as well!

“I just made it for church coffee hour last Sunday when our adorable church musician was being feted as he was heading to Columbia U in NYC,” she said. “Fresh home-grown zukes are best but they’re all good!”

Flexible ingredients

In this recipe, Catherine used King Arthur’s unbleached white and whole wheat flours, with some oat flour and coconut flour to make up total amount needed, so be creative! I  made completely gluten- and dairy-free recently, and it came out lovely.

Use shortening, coconut oil, or butter, and any milk you like. This is all about the zucchini, even though it totally disappears into the cake. No one will know unless you tell them.

A pinch of this, and that

I added a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of espresso powder simply because I do this with all chocolate cakes. Both enhance the chocolate flavor.

Moist, with deep chocolate flavor, no one will guess the bulk of this recipe is zucchini.

Catherine’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Have ingredients at room temperature, grease and flour a Bundt pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Droste)
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee (my addition)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup shortening, coconut oil, or butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups grated zucchini with their liquid
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the shortening and sugar until the fat is crumbly.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat them until fluffy and well mixed.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. It will be too thick for the mixer, so stir it in by hand with a wooden spoon.

Once thoroughly mixed, add the zucchini and mix it all in. It will be very thick, but yes, it will mix.

Add the milk and vanilla and blend.

Pour it into the prepared pan, and let it stand for ten minutes before baking.

Bake for 50-60 min. Test for doneness at 50 min.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a pretty plate.

Optional glaze:  To 1/3 cup powdered sugar, add milk or lemon juice to desired consistency, one tablespoon at a time. Drizzle over the top of warm cake, letting it run down the sides.

I used confectioners and dark rum, and it was really, really good.

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44 Comments Add yours


    1. It is really deep chocolate flavor, moist, and tasty. Kids’, teenagers’, and everyone else’s seals of approval!

  2. Ally Bean says:

    This is a big ole YUM. I like any baked good with fruit or vegetables hidden in it. Thanks for sharing the recipe here.

    1. You’re welcome Ally! This quickly became a family favorite because it is quick to put together, really tasty, and you can make different substitutions so everyone in the family can eat it!

  3. Absolutely made my week with this recipe! And the tip about freezing grated zucchini for holiday breads. I can’t keep up with the zucchini production at the moment. A heart felt thank you.

    1. You are very welcome. I grated a bunch of glorious zukes this weekend and will be glad I did so this holiday season!

  4. sherry says:

    this looks wonderful – so moist and dark. i love a veggie cake:) cheers sherry

    1. Thanks, Sherry, it’s a keeper in our family!

  5. I bet this cake is moist and delicious. 😍

  6. This looks heavenly! I love adding in veggies where I can. I love that you add a pinch of espresso powder, I’ve been doing that lately as well and it’s awesome.

    1. The espresso powder really does make a difference, it enhances the flavor of the chocolate, but doesn’t taste like coffee. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Yeah, it doesn’t taste like coffee at all which is amazing.

  7. I love zucchini in sweet things. It is amazing how well it works. This bundt cake looks amazing!

    1. Thank you so much. This really does look pretty when it’s glazed.

  8. nhalicia says:

    I made this cake and it was so good I will use this recipe again and again. I don’t bake much, but I was pretty darn proud of this and it was easy. Thank you and your friend!

    1. I’m so pleased you liked this recipe! I bet you’ll make it again!

  9. Oh wow! You wouldn’t know there are zucchini in there! And looks really moist! Delicious and good looking 😉

    1. It is all of the above, and really tempting to look at too!

  10. I have made zucchini cake before, but not with chocolate, it sounds divine!

    1. It really is. I like to call zucchini the stealth vegetable because you can use it in so many ways.

      1. I agree! Love the stealth vegetable!

  11. Drive-by zucchini drop is cracking me up 😂 this sounds amazing!!

    1. Thank you so much! The zucchini drops are one of those quirky threads in the fabric of New England life! I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of the occasional drop off myself…

  12. Brittany says:

    Oh my gosh your cake looks amazing!! I love adding zucchini to my baked goods.. so I may need to try this one out! Thank you for sharing this recipe with us <3

    1. The thanks really goes to my friend Catherine who gave me the recipe years ago. I’ve handed it out to more people than I can count, and I hope you enjoy it too! Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Leif Price says:

    We never had zucchini cake and seeing this recipe made the wife experiment in the kitchen. Delicious and moist cake.

    1. I’m so glad you tried it! It has long been a family favorite, and quick to put together in a pinch!

  14. Forestwood says:

    The recipe looks simple and delicious. I will be making this one soon!

    1. It is simple, and Rev. Cath says she uses different flours and oils depending on what she has in the house! It always turns out good. The zucchini keeps it really moist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this!

  15. Crazy delicious!

    1. It is indeed both, crazy and delicious! 💕

      1. 🍴🍮🍮 XOXO

  16. terrie gura says:

    oh my GOODNESS!!! This cake looks so decadent, and how amazing is it that it has all that zucchini? I need to hit the farmers’ market and make this for sure!

    1. Highly recommended Terrie! My family loves this, and ask for it every year. You’ll love it too!

  17. Chef Mimi says:

    It always amazes me how those baseball bat-sized zucchini can hide! The cake looks wonderful.

    1. I know! I’m convinced they have the power of invisibility.
      A family favorite now, and Catherine is right about the flour, I’ve made it with just about every combination of flours, even just good old AP!

  18. I was just looking for a good recipe for zucchini chocolate cakes. This looks great and just on time!

    1. This has been a really popular cake. My friend Catherine has given it to many, and the many to many more. It is moist, delicious, and really forgiving as well!

      1. I need forgiving recipes. 🙂

      2. Then you will love this one! Good luck!

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