Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Published September 25, 2023

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The best homemade Zucchini Cake recipe! It’s a a deliciously spiced, soft and tender cake studded with fine shreds of fresh zucchini. and it’s covered with a rich cream cheese frosting. I’d say it’s easily the best way to enjoy zucchini!

Two slices of homemade zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting with sunflowers decorating plates.

Homemade Spiced Zucchini Cake

Vegetables are delicious…when they are blended into a cake right? Plain sautéed zucchini is good but zucchini is taken to a whole knew level when it’s blended into an old fashioned, perfectly spiced, sweetly delicious cake and covered in a decadent cream cheese frosting!

This homestyle zucchini cake tastes very similar to carrot cake, which is why I love it so much (carrot cake is one of my favorites)! Plus it’s got to be one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever make. Not a dry crumb in site.

It’s easy breezy to make (you don’t even use a mixer for the cake portion), and it’s sure to satisfy those cake cravings.

I highly recommend finishing it with pecans or walnuts for some textural contrast. I haven’t ever been a big fan of nuts swirled into cake but I love them as a finishing touch on a spiced cake like this. They complement it beautifully.

Store the cake in the fridge and from there you can even enjoy it cold.

Zucchini cake recipe ingredients.

Zucchini Cake Recipe Ingredients

For the zucchini cake itself, you’ll need:

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

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

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

Steps of making zucchini cake wet mixture and dry mixture in glass mixing bowls. Adding zucchini to cake batter and blending dry and wet mixtures .

How to Make Zucchini Cake from Scratch

  1. Preheat oven and grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  3. Mix wet ingredients: In a separate mixing bowl, stir together both kinds of sugar, applesauce, oil and yogurt. Then stir in vanilla, zucchini and eggs.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then stir to combine.
  5. Pour zucchini cake batter into prepared pan and spread it out even.
  6. Bake until set: This will take about 35 minutes.
  7. While cake cools, make cream cheese frosting.
  8. Frost cake and sprinkle with toasted nuts, if using.

Baking zucchini cake and topping with frosting.

FAQ

Do I have to wring excess moisture from zucchini for baking?

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

Can I bake it in a bundt pan,  bread pans or cupcake pans?

  • Yes, this cake batter could also be baked in either a bundt pan, bread pans or cupcake pans.
  • Just fill pans 2/3 full. Adjust bake time according to pan being used.
  • Keep in mind it’s not as dense as zucchini bread so you’d want to cut thicker slices if baking in bread pans.
  • If making cupcakes I recommend using cupcake liners in the standard size muffin pans (reduce bake time to about 20 minutes for cupcakes).

Should I peel the zucchini first?

No, zucchini doesn’t have to be peeled for zucchini cake unless you want to avoid little green flecks in the cake (just appearance preferences, maybe the little kids wouldn’t want to eat it).

Is zucchini cake healthy?

No. I know it would be nice if it were but zucchini cake is still cake and still filled with sugars and fats. If you wanted to make more of a smarter choice you could opt to omit the frosting, reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup and use olive oil in place of vegetable or canola oil.

Can I substitute yellow squash for zucchini in cake?

Although they’re two very similar vegetables, I do not recommend using yellow squash in zucchini cake. It has a different texture, often larger seeds, and flavor and would give you a different result.

How to Store

  • Zucchini cake should be stored in the fridge.
  • Cover cake or store in an airtight container.
  • It will keep in the fridge for about 4 days.
  • Cake can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

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. This will take at least 2 hours to cool.
  • The zucchini should be finely grated for the best texture to the cake. I do this on the small holes of a box grater, or a food processor with the smaller grater attachment should also work.
  • The butter needs to be room temperature before making the frosting, cream cheese doesn’t need to be quite as warm. You can add it colder.
  • If cream cheese frosting gets runny chill it. You can even freeze it in 5 minute intervals, stirring between each, before adding to the cake.

Glass baking pan with homemade zucchini cake topped with cream cheese frosting and chopped pecans.

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Two slices of homemade zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting with sunflowers decorating plates.
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

Ingredients

Zucchini Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting

Instructions

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 35 to 40 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.

Notes

*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.
Looking for a fun summery way to decorate zucchini cake? Try adding sunflowers made from food color tinted, buttercream frosting and using piping tips.

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65 Comments

  • Nathalia

    This looks so cute! Perfect for summer! Definitely want to make when I have people over to my new house! (Hope it looks as nice!)
    The flowers look great, I wouldn’t have guessed it was your first time. :)

  • Martha in KS

    You had me at cream cheese frosting – but this Kansas girl loves the sunflowers. I’ll have to make this for my nieces’ birthdays in Sept. Thanks!

  • Yolanda Lopez

    Thank you very much for the recipe!! It is so delicious! One of my husband’s favorite cake. I just want to ask you if I can use this recipe to make carrot cake, o apple cake?
    Thank you in advance.
    My best regards.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I think it should work just fine with carrots or apples. Please let me know if you do try. I’m so glad you both like the recipe!

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  • Megan

    This was delicious. Thank you. We enjoyed it while cheering the Seahawks on to victory today. :)

  • Sydney Sun

    I haven’t had the chance to bake with Zucchini before but I’ve had zucchini cake before and it was incredible! Pinned:)

    Sydney Sun

  • Sara

    I made this cake today when the family came over to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Absolutely everyone raved about it! I made the cake just as instructed, but used the extra yogurt I had in place of the butter in the frosting and cut out some of the powdered sugar. It turned out incredible…plus, we all felt a little less guilty when we passed the bowl of frosting around and ate it plain!

  • Besma

    Hi. I looked on the web for Zucchini Cake and after reading many recipes I liked yours. I tried it with a couple of changes. I used one cup of barley four and one cup all purpose flour. I also skipped the apple sauce simply cuz I didn’t have it… And it still turned out perfect! Thank You!