Zucchini cake is a moist, dense, spice cake that’s topped with tangy cream cheese frosting. Brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg give the cake its delicious flavor – then adding grated zucchini makes the cake have the most irresistible crumb. And when there’s cream cheese icing involved – can you really go wrong?
If you love carrot cake, spice cake, or banana cake – then you’re going to love this zucchini cake recipe. It’s filled with warm spices and topped with cream cheese frosting for a dessert that’s homey, comforting, and all kinds of delicious.
Why Use Zucchini in Baking?
For me, the best part of baking with zucchini is the incredible texture it offers. Zucchini is mainly water, so it adds moisture to baked goods, making them tender, soft, and – you guessed it – moist. The grated zucchini breaks down as it bakes, so you don’t end up with pieces of zucchini in the cake. Just a deliciously moist cake crumb. It, therefore, acts very similar to grated carrots in carrot cake.
Do you need to peel zucchini before baking with it? Nope! Simply cut off the ends and then grate it using a cheese grater.
Tips for Making Zucchini Cake
- Grate the zucchini using a metal grater – like you would grating cheese. I recommend holding the zucchini perpendicular to the grater, so get short strands.
- Lightly blot the zucchini with a paper towel to remove excess water.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients first: flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Whisking together the dry ingredients first ensures that they’re evenly distributed throughout the cake batter.
- Then you’ll notice we beat together 3 eggs on their own first. You want to beat them until frothy because this helps to make the cake a little lighter in texture.
- Then the oil, brown sugar and vanilla extract gets mixed into the eggs.
- We’re using oil for extra tenderness and moisture (don’t worry – you won’t taste it), and brown sugar for even more flavor.
- With the mixer on low speed, beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients about 1/2 at a time. The batter will be pretty thick here – which is ok. Just be careful not to overmix.
- Then carefully fold in the grated zucchini and walnuts.
- If you don’t like walnuts – feel free to leave them out. You could also use or pecans instead if you prefer, or add in 1/2 cup of raisins.
- Metal pans will bake faster than glass or pyrex pans – so watch your cake carefully as oven times will vary.
Want to turn this zucchini cake into cupcakes? I recommend this zucchini cupcake recipe.
This zucchini cake can also be made in two 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking pans (the bake time will be about the same).
More zucchini recipes to love:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour , spooned & leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil , or canola
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cup grated zucchini*
- 1 cup chopped walnuts** , optional
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 8 oz full fat, brick style cream cheese , softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch pan (ensure that the sides are at least 2 inches all).
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the eggs until frothy.
Beat in the oil, brown sugar and vanilla extract.
Turn the mixer down to low speed and beat in the flour mixture about 1/2 at a time. Do not over mix.
Turn off the mixer, and gently fold in the grated zucchini and walnuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft.
Beat in the cream cheese.
Add in the vanilla extract and salt.
Then beat in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time, until the desired sweetness is reached.
Frost the cooled cake, and optionally sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts.
*You do not need to peel the zucchini first - just cut off the ends first. I recommend holding the zucchini perpendicular (90-degree angle) to the grater, so you don't get long strands. Blot out extra liquid with a paper towel before using.
**Or use 1 cup chopped pecans. You can also add in 1/2 cup raisins if you like.
Make Ahead Tips: Make the cake up to 1 day in advance. Store covered at room temperature, then frost the day of. Unfrosted cake can be wrapped tightly an frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge, then bring to room temperature before frosting. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 8 hours, or in the fridge for up to 3 days.