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Delicious & Moist Zucchini Cake Recipe

We all know by now that zucchini is the best secret ingredient for creating moist and flavorful cakes. That’s what makes zucchini so great; it’s not just for savory dishes. Get ready for my mouth watering zucchini cake recipe that has the perfect combination of spices, sweetness and vanilla buttercream frosting.

Zucchini cake in a white pan.

Why I Love This Recipe

Slightly sweeter than zucchini bread, this cake is a delicious end-of-summer treat that we love to eat with friends or on summer evenings as the nights begin to cool. While the cream cheese icing is delicious, I find that I only make it about half the time because the cake is lovely on its own.

If you have excess zucchini from the garden, be sure to check out my other zucchini recipes, such as stuffed zucchini blossoms or these quick and easy zucchini pickles.

Then, if you love quickbreads or easy weeknight desserts, check out my rhubarb breakfast cake, this Nantucket cranberry pie, these fudgy homemade sourdough brownies or this healthier black bean brownie recipe.

What Zucchini Replaces in Baking

Zucchini is a versatile ingredient that can be used to replace fats like oil or butter in baking recipes. It adds moisture and tenderness to cakes, making them incredibly moist and delicious. With its mild flavor, zucchini seamlessly blends into the batter, creating a moist and tender texture that is perfect for baked goods.

When used as a replacement, zucchini reduces the amount of added fat in the recipe without sacrificing flavor or texture. This makes zucchini cake a healthier alternative for those looking to cut back on fat intake while still enjoying a delectable treat. Additionally, zucchini adds a subtle freshness to the cake, enhancing the overall flavor profile.

By incorporating zucchini into your baking, you benefit from its nutritional value and elevate the final product’s taste and texture. Whether you’re a baking enthusiast or simply trying to find new ways to incorporate vegetables into your diet, zucchini cake is a delightful option that satisfies both your sweet tooth and your nutritional needs.

Overhead shot of a zucchini cake with a slice dished up.

Tips for Perfect Zucchini Cake

Baking the perfect zucchini cake comes easily with a few essential tips. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced baker, these guidelines will help you achieve the best results.

  • Freeze Shredded Zucchini – Frozen zucchini works just as well as fresh zucchini in baking recipes and retains its flavor and texture. Frozen zucchini can help save time and reduce food waste by allowing you to use up any excess zucchini before it goes bad. Homesteading Hack: Grate fresh zucchini and freeze it in individual portions. This makes it easy to defrost and use whenever you’re in the mood for a zucchini cake. Be sure to label the bag with the contents and quantity so you don’t forget!
  • Properly Thaw Frozen Zucchini – Start by thawing the frozen zucchini in the refrigerator. Place the thawed zucchini in a sieve or colander and press down gently to release the moisture. If needed, you can use a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth to squeeze out any remaining moisture from the zucchini.
  • Drain Fresh Zucchini – Draining zucchini before baking allows the cake to maintain a light and moist texture. One common and effective method is to squeeze out the excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth. By doing so, you eliminate the risk of ending up with a dense and less enjoyable cake.
  • Do Not Peel the Zucchini – The good news is that peeling zucchini is not required! In fact, the edible skin of the zucchini adds extra nutrients and color to the cake, making it even more appealing. By keeping the skin on, you’ll also retain the natural moisture of the zucchini. This moisture contributes to the cake’s overall moistness and helps create a beautifully tender texture.
Zucchini edition of the In The Homestead Kitchen magazine cover.

In the Homestead Kitchen

This recipe was featured in issue No. 12 of In the Homestead Kitchen Magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine here to start making delicious, healthy homemade meals for your family and find new ways to preserve food.

Each month, you’ll get a brand new digital issue of the magazine filled with tips, recipes, and stories to inspire your homesteading journey. As a bonus, this digital magazine is going to print in January of 2025. If you subscribe now, you will lock in your low price!

Supplies Needed

  • 9’x13″ Cake Pan – Two 8″ round pans can also be used.
  • Stand Mixer – A mixer with a whisk attachment works best, but a hand mixer with electric beaters also works well.
  • Mixing Bowl – If you are using a hand mixer, then you will need a large mixing bowl.
  • Measuring Cups – You will need various sizes to measure several ingredients accurately.
  • Measuring Spoons – Teaspoon and portion teaspoon measures are best for this recipe.
  • Spatula – This silicone spatula makes sure to get every delicious drop of cake batter into the baking pan.
Grated zucchini on a cutting board.

Ingredients Needed

For the Cake

  • 3 Eggs – Always use best practices when handling farm fresh eggs.
  • 1⁄2 Cup Melted Butter – We love our homemade butter, but coconut oil can be substituted for a dairy-free version.
  • 1⁄2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce – This secret ingredient cuts down on the amount of sugar needed and adds moisture to the cake.
  • 3⁄4 Cup Granulated White Sugar – We prefer using unrefined evaporated cane juice, sucanat, or rapadura, but any sugar will do. Just avoid using a liquid sweetener such as honey or maple syrup. It won’t yield the same results.
  • 3⁄4 Cup Brown Sugar – Light or dark brown sugar will do; whatever you have in the kitchen.
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract – I actually prefer using a vanilla bean paste as I feel the depth of flavor is just so much better, but a high-quality vanilla extract works great, too.
  • 2 1⁄2 Cups All-Purpose Flour – All-purpose flour works best, but a gluten-free blend would also work.
  • 1⁄4 tsp Baking Powder – Check the expiration date for the best quality, and be sure to remove any lumps prior to mixing.
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda – Did you know that baking soda has a ton of other uses around the homestead? Check out these household uses for baking soda.
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon – A pinch of allspice added is good too!
  • 1 tsp Salt – I use Redmond Real Salt; just make sure your salt has no additives. (Use that link for Redmond Salt and code “HFSalt” to get 15% off your order!)
  • 1⁄2 tsp Nutmeg – Fresh grated is my favorite, but fine ground works too.
  • 2 cups Shredded Zucchini – To shred zucchini for zucchini cake, you can use a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment.

For the Optional Frosting

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, Room Temperature – Did you know you can make cream cheese at home? This is just one of the ways we make homemade dairy products practical.
  • 1⁄4 cup Softened Butter – Use real butter for this recipe!
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar – Also known as confectioner’s sugar.
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract – Pure vanilla extract gives the best vanilla flavor.
Overhead shot of a zucchini cake with a slice dished up.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or two 8″ round pans) with butter or the cooking oil of your choice.
  2. Beat eggs, melted butter, applesauce, sugars, and vanilla together in a large bowl. This can be done by hand, with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg) to the mixing bowl. Mix well until completely incorporated.
  4. Gently stir in shredded zucchini until evenly distributed.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting.
  6. Optional: While the cake cools, beat together frosting ingredients until smooth and spread over the top of the cooled cake. Homesteading Hack: Do not ice the cake until it is at room temperature! If desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with cinnamon and sugar.

Did you make this recipe? If so, please leave a star rating in the recipe card below. Then, snap a photo of your finished cake and tag us on social media @homesteadingfamily so we can see!

FAQ

What does zucchini replace in baking?

Zucchini can be used to replace fats like oil or butter in baking recipes. It adds moisture and tenderness to cakes, making them incredibly moist and delicious.

Can I use frozen zucchini for cake?

Yes, you can use frozen zucchini for your zucchini cake. Just make sure to thaw and drain it before using to remove any excess moisture. Frozen zucchini works well in baking recipes and retains its flavor and texture.

Should you drain zucchini before baking?

It is recommended to drain the excess moisture from grated zucchini before using it in baking. Excess moisture can make the cake too dense or soggy. Simply squeeze out the moisture using a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth.

What are zucchini cakes made of?

Zucchini cakes are made with a combination of shredded zucchini, flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and spices. These ingredients come together to create a moist and flavorful cake that is perfect for any occasion.

How Do You Shred Zucchini for Zucchini Cake?

To shred zucchini for zucchini cake, you can use a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment. Simply wash and trim the zucchini, then shred it using the desired method. Make sure to remove any excess moisture by draining or squeezing before using.

Do I Peel Zucchini Before Using?

It is not necessary to peel zucchini before using it in zucchini cake. The skin of the zucchini is edible and adds extra nutrients and color to the cake. Just make sure to wash the zucchini thoroughly before shredding.

Overhead shot of a zucchini cake with a slice dished up.

Zucchini Cake Recipe

We all know by now that zucchini is the best secret ingredient for creating moist and flavorful cakes. That's what makes zucchini so great; it's not just for savory dishes. Get ready for my mouth watering zucchini cake recipe that has the perfect combination of spices, sweetness and vanilla buttercream frosting.
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Print Pin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 381kcal
Author: Carolyn Thomas

Equipment

  • 9×13" Cake Pan or two 8" round cake pans
  • Stand Mixer
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • spatula

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups zucchini shredded and drained

For the Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or two 8″ round pans) with butter or the cooking oil of your choice.
  • Beat eggs, melted butter, applesauce, sugars, and vanilla together in a large bowl. This can be done by hand, with a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy.
  • Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg) to the mixing bowl. Mix well until completely incorporated.
  • Gently stir in shredded zucchini until evenly distributed.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting.

For the Frosting

  • While the cake cools, beat together frosting ingredients until smooth and spread over the top of the cooled cake. Homesteading Hack: Do not ice the cake until it is at room temperature! If desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with cinnamon and sugar.

Notes

Tips for Perfect Zucchini Cake

Baking the perfect zucchini cake comes easily with a few essential tips. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced baker, these guidelines will help you achieve the best results.
  • Freeze Shredded Zucchini – Frozen zucchini works just as well as fresh zucchini in baking recipes and retains its flavor and texture. Frozen zucchini can help save time and reduce food waste by allowing you to use up any excess zucchini before it goes bad. Homesteading Hack: Grate fresh zucchini and freeze it in individual portions. This makes it easy to defrost and use whenever you’re in the mood for a zucchini cake. Be sure to label the bag with the contents and quantity so you don’t forget!
  • Properly Thaw Frozen Zucchini – Start by thawing the frozen zucchini in the refrigerator. Place the thawed zucchini in a sieve or colander and press down gently to release the moisture. If needed, you can use a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth to squeeze out any remaining moisture from the zucchini.
  • Drain Fresh Zucchini – Draining zucchini before baking allows the cake to maintain a light and moist texture. One common and effective method is to squeeze out the excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth. By doing so, you eliminate the risk of ending up with a dense and less enjoyable cake.
  • Do Not Peel the Zucchini – The good news is that peeling zucchini is not required! In fact, the edible skin of the zucchini adds extra nutrients and color to the cake, making it even more appealing. By keeping the skin on, you’ll also retain the natural moisture of the zucchini. This moisture contributes to the cake’s overall moistness and helps create a beautifully tender texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 419mg | Potassium: 116mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 535IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We want to see! Tag @homesteadingfamily on Instagram.
A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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