Seriously tender, easy to stir together, and loaded with the classic flavors you expect from zucchini bread, this Zucchini Cake is the most delicious. It’s great for using up excess zucchini or to celebrate any occasion.

Zucchini cake cut into squares close up from the side.

Zucchini Cake

After I perfected my Carrot Cake Bars, I knew I wanted to share a zucchini version to have as an option for using up zucchini—or to make when the craving strikes. And this recipe is just so darn delicious. It’s seriously tender, just sweet enough, and pairs so well with a thick topping of Cream Cheese Frosting.

This is a delicious breakfast or snack cake, and of course can be served for dessert. There are a few options so you can customize it for the preferences of your family. See my tips for how to store it so you can make it ahead and enjoy it all week long.

This is a favorite summer dessert to bring to a potluck, a delicious holiday breakfast option, and just a favorite zucchini recipe to share with the kids.

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Ingredients You Need

Below is a look at the ingredients you need to make this easy cake recipe, which is a fun way to serve vegetables. Here’s what to have on hand and ready to go.

Ingredients for zucchini cake on countertop.
  • Zucchini: Traditional green zucchini works well in this recipe. Trim the ends, then grate it on a box grater or handheld grater and squeeze it very dry. You can also use yellow summer squash if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Applesauce: I use unsweetened applesauce in this recipe to add flavor and sweetness. (If you don’t have access to applesauce, you can use very smooth mashed banana.)
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter in baking so I can control the salt added to the recipe. If you only have salted butter, just omit the added salt.
  • Eggs: Large eggs help the batter hold together and bake up perfectly moist and tender.
  • Vanilla extract: A little vanilla extract adds flavor to the cake in addition to the applesauce and cinnamon.
  • All-purpose flour: I use all-purpose flour in this recipe to ensure it’s very tender. You can also use whole wheat flour if you reduce the baking time slightly, or use a gluten-free flour blend.
  • Sugar: To keep the recipe affordable, I use regular granulated sugar. You can swap it for honey or maple syrup if you prefer.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon adds flavor and helps this cake taste like a classic zucchini cake recipe. If you like additional spices, you can add a dash of nutmeg and ground ginger.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: A combination of the two of these helps ensure the cake rises and bakes through properly. Be sure to check that your baking soda is fresh before starting the recipe.
  • Golden raisins, chopped walnuts, or chocolate chips: We love this with golden raisins, but any of these additions will work similarly.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: The cake is topped with my simple Cream Cheese Frosting, which is a perfect pair for the zucchini cake flavor.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Below is an overview of how to make this recipe so you know what to expect. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full amounts and timing.

how to make zucchini cake in grid of images.
  1. Preheat the oven and coat a baking pan with nonstick spray and parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the zucchini, applesauce, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Gently stir the zucchini mixture into the flour mixture. Stir in the walnuts, raisins, or chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake until the edges are lightly golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool. Make the Cream Cheese Frosting with an electric mixer, if desired, and spread onto the cake.
how to frost zucchini cake in grid of two images.

How to Store

Once cooled, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Serve cold.

You can also freeze the cut cake, frosted or unfrosted (though unfrosted is cleaner), in a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in 15-second increments in the microwave.

Zucchini cake cut into squares from the side.

Best Tips for Success

  • This bakes best in a metal pan, rather than glass. If baking in glass, the middle will take longer to set. Follow the recipe, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Gluten-free: Substitute cup-for-cup gluten-free flour in place of the wheat flour.
  • Dairy-free: Use vegetable oil, vegan butter, or melted coconut oil in place of the butter. Use vegan cream cheese and butter for the frosting.
  • Top with Cream Cheese Frosting. Soften 8 ounces cream cheese and ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature. Add to a bowl with ¼ cup honey (for kids over age 1) and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Start mixing on low with a handheld mixer until fluffy. Place on top of the cooled bars and spread evenly.
  • If you prefer your baked goods sweeter, increase the sugar to ½ cup.
  • Use golden raisins, chopped walnuts or pecans, or chocolate chips as you like. (Use chocolate chips to make this a chocolate zucchini cake.)
  • Be sure to squeeze the zucchini very dry so the recipe bakes through properly.
  • Use whole wheat flour and reduce the baking time to 18 minutes or so.
  • If you like additional spices, you can add a dash of nutmeg and ground ginger.

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Zucchini cake cut into squares close up from the side.

Favorite Zucchini Cake

Seriously tender, easy to stir together, and loaded with the classic flavors you expect from zucchini bread, this Zucchini Cake is the most delicious. It's great for using up excess zucchini or to celebrate any occasion.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Breakfast
Calories 135kcal
Servings 12

Ingredients

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Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 8×8-inch baking pan (metal is best) with nonstick spray. (I also line with parchment paper so it's easy to lift out and slice without scratching the pan. That is optional.)
  • In a large bowl, stir together the zucchini, applesauce, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Gently stir the zucchini mixture into the flour mixture. Stir in the raisins, walnuts, or chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top.
  • Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for a few minutes, then lift out of the pan with the parchment paper so it can cool fully on the rack.
  • Top with Cream Cheese Frosting, slice and serve at room temperature or cold.

Notes

  • Once cooled, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Serve cold.
  • You can also freeze the cut cake, frosted or unfrosted (though unfrosted is cleaner) in a freezer bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in 15-second increments in the microwave.
  • This bakes best in a metal pan, rather than glass. If baking in glass, the middle will take longer to set. Follow the recipe, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Gluten-free: Substitute cup-for-cup gluten-free flour in place of the wheat flours.
  • Top with Cream Cheese Frosting. Soften 8 ounces cream cheese and ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature. Add to a bowl with ¼ cup honey (for kids over age 1) and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Start mixing on low with a handheld mixer until fluffy. Place on top of the cooled bars and spread evenly.
  • If you prefer your baked goods sweeter, increase the sugar to ½ cup.

Nutrition

Serving: 1square, Calories: 135kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 37mg, Sodium: 119mg, Potassium: 71mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 185IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Finally made this after months of having it saved and I am bummed I didn’t make it sooner! I made it as cupcakes and mini cupcakes instead of a full cake and it might be my new go to sweet treat!

  2. 5 stars
    I wish I could give this more stars. My toddler & 8 year old picky eater loved this! I’ve also been making a lot of your recipes for my dad who’s in his 70’s. He’s battling lung cancer & the chemo makes him lose his appetite sometimes. He’s loved everything I’ve made him so far! They’ve been a life saver! I’m so glad I found you. Can’t wait to try more recipes. Xoxo

  3. 5 stars
    We loved this recipe. My 2 year old and I started the recipe without realizing we were out of eggs! We subbed 1/4c apple sauce + one medium very ripe banana (mashed) + 1/4tsp extra baking powder and it turned out GREAT! I will always sub one banana for one egg in this recipe because the flavor was so good, very banana bread-y.

  4. 5 stars
    Super delicious! I made with 1c Bob’s Red Mill gluten free baking flour and 1/2 c cornstarch for my gluten intolerant hubby and daughter. I can eat gluten but I love gf baked goods and these did not disappoint! I used to have a bakery and used to be a chef and I’ve never thought to use honey in cream cheese icing and it is wonderful! I added a little vanilla to the icing.

  5. 5 stars
    I didn’t have all of the zucchini I needed so I used some shredded carrot and it turned out great! Moist and delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    Who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting and zucchini cake? I’m excited to make this!