Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

July 16, 2016

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This Zucchini Cake is a deliciously spiced, moist cake studded with hidden pieces of zucchini and covered with a rich cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect summer cake and people of all ages love it! Plus, it’s best way to enjoy zucchini.

Four slices of zucchini cake on a brown serving plate.

Spiced Zucchini Cake

Vegetables are delicious…when they are blended into a cake. I actually do love plain sautéed zucchini, but I like really really love zucchini when it’s blended into a sweet, perfectly spiced cake and covered in a rich cream cheese frosting!

I am head over heels crazy about this perfect summer cake! This zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting tastes so much like carrot cake, which is why I think it’s so good (carrot cake is my favorite)! Plus it’s got to be one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever made!

It was so funny, when I was mixing up the batter for this cake I told my daughter it had zucchini in it and she went on saying she’s not even going to eat a bite when it’s done and that’s so disgusting it has zucchini in it.

Well, of course she couldn’t resist a taste because it is cake after all, then she proceeded to polish off the rest of the half slice I gave her. No one will be able to resist this cake!

Besides, the zucchini is finely shredded so you don’t really notice it much anyway. It just adds in some natural little green sprinkles.

It was really fun making the sunflower icing decorations for these. I will be honest though, it wasn’t a walk in the park for me.

It’s not that piping the sunflowers was hard (this was the first time I’ve done it and they turned out ok), getting the right colors was more the hard part. Getting that dark rich brown tinted the right color took some time, again though I’m new to flowers.

If you wanted, I’ve seen people use one layer of a mini Oreo as the dark center instead of icing. If you have some time though I’d recommend trying out the flowers, I just skimmed through a YouTube video on how to do it (not sure exactly which one since I can’t find it, but there are a few out there if you just google it).

I piped the flowers directly on the cake and I just cheated and used a store bought decorative icing because I didn’t want to make two kinds (the cream cheese frosting obviously won’t work with its consistency).

With or without the decoration, this is still one incredible zucchini cake and I highly highly recommend you make it at least once this summer! Zucchini cake is a summer must!

Overhead image of sliced zucchini cake in a baking dish. Each slice is topped with a piped buttercream sunflower.

Zucchini Cake Ingredients

For the zucchini cake itself, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Salt
  • Spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Vegetable or canola oil
  • Applesauce
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Shredded zucchini
  • Toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

And for the homemade cream cheese frosting, you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting in a baking dish cut into slices. Each slice is decorated with a yellow piped buttercream sunflower.

How to Make Zucchini Cake

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, stir together both kinds of sugar, applesauce, oil and yogurt. Then stir in vanilla, zucchini and eggs.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients, then stir to combine. Pour into buttered 13×9-inch baking pan and bake until set.
  • While cake cools, make cream cheese frosting.
  • Frost cake and sprinkle with toasted nuts, if desired.

Can I Substitute Yellow Squash for the Zucchini?

Although they’re two very similar vegetables, I’m not sure if yellow squash can be used in place of zucchini. It has a slightly different texture and flavor, so I don’t know how this cake would turn out!

Do I Have to Wring Excess Moisture Out of the Zucchini?

Nope! Some zucchini bread recipes ask you to dab the shredded zucchini with paper towels to soak up extra moisture, but you don’t want to do that with this cake. The moisture from the zucchini is what makes this zucchini cake so delicious!

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy

Tips for the Best Zucchini Cake

  • Don’t worry about peeling the zucchini before grating it.
  • Wait until the cake is completely cool before you try frosting it.
  • The cream cheese and butter need to be room temperature before making the frosting.
  • The zucchini needs to be finely grated (you can do this by hand or with a food processor).

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Cooking Classy

More Zucchini Dessert Recipes You’ll Love:

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting in a baking dish cut into slices. Each slice is decorated with a yellow piped buttercream sunflower.
5 from 1 vote

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Deliciously spiced, moist cake studded with hidden pieces of zucchini and covered with a rich cream cheese frosting. It's the perfect summer cake! I always love to tell the kids they ate a vegetable in their cake, after they've finished the slice.
Servings: 16
Prep30 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Cool2 hours
Ready in: 3 hours 5 minutes


Zucchini Cake

  • 2 cups (283g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150g) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (120g) applesauce
  • 1/3 cup (83g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (344g) finely grated zucchini (grate on small holes of box grater. About 2 - 2 1/2 medium zucchini)*
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened slightly
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (228g) powdered sugar


For the Zucchini Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, set aside. 
  • In a separate large mixing bowl stir together granulated sugar and light-brown sugar (break up any clumps with your fingertips). 
  • Whisk in vegetable oil, applesauce and Greek yogurt until well blended. Add in eggs and vanilla mix until well blended. Stir in grated zucchini. 
  • Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined. Pour mixture into a buttered 13 by 9-inch baking dish. 
  • Bake in preheated oven 32 - 35 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs (no batter). 
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting (cover with plastic wrap leaving a small opening on one corner after about 30 minute of cooling to seal in moisture). 
  • Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting sprinkle with nuts if desired (or decorate as desired) and cut into squares.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth, occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. 
  • Blend in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy.


*Don't worry about peeling the zucchini before grating it.
Nutrition Facts
Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving
Calories 405 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 12g75%
Cholesterol 51mg17%
Sodium 210mg9%
Potassium 203mg6%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 37g41%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 440IU9%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 71mg7%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.