One of the best things about summer — to me — is that I can grab tons of fresh zucchini at farmer’s markets for recipes like this gluten free chocolate zucchini cake! I’ll look for any excuse to hide, er, I mean to use, fresh veggies and fruits in my baking, and this “hidden treasure” recipe for gluten free Chocolate Zucchini Cake is one of our favorites!
While you might not think that zucchini and chocolate could marry so well, just wait until you taste this amazing gluten free chocolate zucchini cake!
Besides being delectably moist and delicious, this chocolate cake contains health benefits you can’t taste — talk about having your cake and eating it too!
The glaze on top is a delicious alternative to traditional frosting, but is totally optional. At times, I’ve shaved some dark chocolate on top (also optional) for decoration, and on other occasions, I’ve baked this yummy cake as a sheet pan and used cookie cutters to cut out shapes.
The recipe is so versatile, I’m sure you’ll come up with even more ways of using it or feeling smug about sneaking veggies into your family without their ever suspecting it.
I mean, do you see any zucchini in this luscious cake?
My kids (and my parents) sure haven’t. Or that it hasn’t stopped them if they have!
This light, subtly sweet cake is sure to be a hit for you this summer and fall. In fact, when I first made this cake years ago (many years ago), my young son and his friend spied the green ingredient before I could secret it away. They were good sports — or maybe they just really love chocolate — and surprisingly wanted to try the cake anyway.
In the words of my son’s playdate pointing to this cake, “I don’t know if there’s gluten in that or not, but that chocolate cake is GOOD!” And here I was worried about the zucchini!!
For other gluten free chocolate zucchini combos, try my gluten free Coffee Chocolate Zucchini Bread or my gluten free Zucchini Brownies! Or even my gluten free chocolate zucchini donuts! I think you’ll agree it’s truly a great combination.
Note: although this recipe was originally published in my cookbook, Free for All Cooking, since then I’ve experimented more with Coconut Palm Sugar – a low glycemic, granulated, raw and nutrient rich alternative to processed sugar. I’m happy to report that this recipe worked beautifully using coconut palm sugar, so consider that an option if you’re looking to feel even better about eating chocolate cake!
And while I give you and easy and delicious glaze recipe, there’s no need to glaze this yummy cake. A light dusting — or dotting, as it were — of confectioner’s sugar is just as yummy!
Especially if you’re not serving this cake right away, I’d recommend not glazing it. Just serve it au natural. It’s so light and tasty on its own. But you be the judge. Maybe try a piece both ways and decide for yourself!
So hit your local farm stand or even the grocery store and start shredding!
You’ll wind up with 2 1/2 cups of zucchini, which should look like this (it’s approximately 1 1/2 average sized zucchini)
No need to drain it for this recipe, just shred and add. Couldn’t be easier!
Enjoy sneaking greens into your chocolate cake. I hope you feel as smug about it as I do!
Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake
As if we needed another reason to love zucchini, this gluten free Chocolate Zucchini Cake makes zucchini impossible to resist!
- 2 1/2 cups (337 grams) gfJules® Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup (54 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not Dutch processed)
- 3 teaspoons (9 grams) baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt
- 2 teaspoons (4 grams) ground cinnamon (optional)
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) butter or vegan alternative Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks OR neutral oil like avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil (See Notes)
- 1 2/3 cups granulated cane sugar OR coconut palm sugar
- 3 eggs (or egg subs of choice – see my article**
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar, honey OR raw coconut nectar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice or apple cider or other juice of choice
- 2 1/2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (approx. 1 1/2 ave. zucchini, not drained unless particularly wet)
- 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons milk or non-dairy milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- shaved milk chocolate or dark chocolate or chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Prepare a 10-inch tube or bundt pan by lightly oiling and dusting with gfJules Flour. Or, prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan the same way, and bake as a sheet pan.
Wash and grate zucchini with skins on. If you have extra grated zucchini, measure it and bag it, then refrigerate or freeze for your next yummy zucchini recipe! If the zucchini is particularly wet, press lightly between paper towels, but do not squeeze all liquids out.
Whisk together gfJules Flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
Using an electric mixer (preferred), cream butter/Buttery Sticks and sugar until smooth and light,* at least 3-4 minutes. Add eggs or substitute to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, agave/coconut nectar, and juice. Lastly, stir in zucchini.
Add the mixed dry ingredients and the milk alternately into the zucchini mixture until fully incorporated.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes (test at 45 minutes) or until a skewer or cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes; gently turn out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
Sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the cake to serve, or to make glaze, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cake only after it has fully cooled.
*If using oil instead of butter/vegan butter, skip the creaming step and add oil together with sugar, eggs/sub, vanilla, agave and juice, mixing until combined. Then continue with recipe.
**For egg-free/vegan, reader Joanne S. used 3 TBS flaxseed meal mixed with 6 TBS hot water (steeped for 10 minutes) and 1 recipe Ener-G egg Replacer. Another option is to use 9 Tbs aquafaba.
As a member of Amazon Associates and other affiliate programs, I may earn a small amount from qualifying purchases; this amount goes to fund this blog and does not cost you anything additional.
gfJules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
Big Tree Farms Organic Brown Coconut Sugar, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Low Glycemic, Unrefined and Fair Trade, Natural Sweetener, 2 Pound (Packaging May Vary)
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
Big Tree Organic Coconut Nectar - Unrefined Sweetener 11.5oz Bottle (Pack of 2) Select Flavor Below (Amber)
Amount Per Serving Calories 257Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 39mgSodium 62mgCarbohydrates 47gFiber 1gSugar 45gProtein 4g
Please keep in mind that nutrition information provided is per serving, which may vary. While we have taken care to provide you with the most accurate nutritional values possible, please note that this information may differ significantly depending on the exact ingredients and brands that you choose to use to make this recipe. Additionally, where options are given for ingredients, the resulting calculation may include all ingredient options instead of only one per line, skewing the totals significantly.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
Pin it for when those chocolate cravings hit!
This looks incredible. The texture is perfect. It looks rich enough that I think I’d skip the icing.
I usually do too, Leslie. Maybe we’re just purists? 🙂
Got to love the versatility of zucchini! This would be amazing with a dark chocolate drizzle that makes a hard crust… yum!
Wow – that’s taking it up a notch, Kortney. Yum!
I’ve been dreaming about chocolate zucchini bread lately! We haven’t had that late summer glut of zucchini deals yet, but when they happen …
every year I swear I’m going to plant zucchini to feed my habit, but it never happens in time! Back to the farmer’s markets I go!
Is there a substitute for agave nectar? Can’t wait to try it!
HI Kathy, agave can be switched with honey, coconut nectar, brown rice syrup (if GF) or maple syrup. Enjoy!
This is a very robust recipe – I made it last night to bring to a dinner party and it was a huge success DESPITE the fact that while rushing through the steps, I accidentally used apple cider VINEGAR instead of Apple cider…so I had to through out the entire wet ingredients bowl…then, to my dismay, I discovered we had no more butter, only two eggs left and no orange juice or apple cider!!! And we had to be at the party in under an hour! So, in place of butter I used about a 1/3 cup of coconut oil and 1/3 cup of almond butter; I used two eggs and one ‘flax egg’, and I used lime juice instead of orange juice. I also baked it in a mid to large sized spring-form pan as that was all I had…and guess what?! It was amazing! Everyone had seconds, it was smooth, moist, full of flavour and it even LOOKEd good. For a glaze, I mixed roughly a 1.5 table spoons of maple syrup with about a tblsp of unswetened cocoa powder and a little warm water – then drizzled that around on top. Great recipe – thank yoU!
Oh my goodness! I am SO impressed at your ingenuity! And kudos to you for not giving up!!! Your substitutions are inspired! Way to go!!!!
Hello from here!! Loving your website!
This is SO GOOD! I made these into muffin/cupcakes instead of the full cake. I made 1/2 exactly as your recipe said to and in the other 1/2 I tossed in some dairy free, GF chocolate chips and a sprinkling of quinoa.
Both were so yummy!
Wow Jane, sounds totally yummy!!!
This cake was delicious! I could hardly wait for it to cool before tasting. Instead of a glaze I dusted it with powdered sugar. Very moist. Thank you!
That sounds like a great idea, Diane! I bet since it was still warm, the powdered sugar was even yummier!
I’m looking forward to trying this – one question – should I squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini before adding it to the mixture?
Hi Diane, if your zucchini is particularly wet, that would be a good idea, but often it’s not necessary. Enjoy!
I would love to make this for my kids’ birthday cake, it looks amazing!!! But I don’t have a bunt pan. What size cake pan could I use instead? 9×13? 2-8x8s? Thanks Jules!
Angie, I’d think you could use a 9×13 with no problems — just check it regularly so it doesn’t over-bake or under-bake because the timing will be different from a bundt pan. What a great idea for a yummy birthday cake!
I just made this cake, my very first Jules recipe and it did not disappoint!! This is by far the best gluten free cake I have ever had…I can’t stop eating it! I can’t wait to crack into my 30lbs of Jules GF AP Flour that was just delivered to my door and try ALL of your recipes!
Lisa – so glad you loved it! Have fun baking again!!!!
I made this last week with the (over) abundance of zucchini we have from our CSA share – and it was delicious!!! Even my picky boys love it! Thank you so much!!!
Fantastic Robin! That’s what I like to hear – when you can win over picky boys, you know you’ve made a great recipe!
Just took my delicious smelling cake out of the
I am not the most seasoned baker and had a few ?’s
1. I just made this cake in the bundt pan and the top does not look very smooth; is that typical?
2. Any tricks for when mixing the flour mixture, for any of the cakes I have made, the flour mixture “smokes” and makes a big mess, is this typical?
3. With all the amazing baked goods and recipes you post, how do you stay so thin? ( not to get personal, but just really curious. I want to make everything you post but resist!!!) thank you for your amazing products and enthusiasm!!!
Hi Nancy, I’m so glad you tried the Chocolate Zucchini Cake! It’s a good one! The cake shouldn’t be especially bumpy, but it’s not totally smooth either, since there is zucchini in it. If yours turned out lumpy at all, it needs to have been beaten more. As far as using gluten-free flours, they tend to be lighter, as most blends are starchier than regular wheat flour, which means they will fill your kitchen and leave a little white film all over the place if you mix them quickly or don’t dump them into a bowl gently. When I have recipes calling for a lot of flour, I generally pour the measured flour gently into the mixing bowl, and where possible, pour half of the liquids on top. I also cover the mixer and bowl with a tea towel to keep the flying flour down! As for me staying thin (first of all, thank you for the sweet compliment!), I am one of those who doesn’t sit down much! Blogging, writing and answering emails is about the only reason I ever sit down! I have two young kids, a dog, two cats and a crazy busy schedule, so I think that helps! I also like to run whenever I can (not often enough!). But I definitely do my share of taste-testing — Life’s too short not to!
I am loving the idea of the coconut sweetener. I was just diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia so I am thrilled to see other alternatives to sugar, especially when it is good for me. Thanks so much for exploring this area in your recipes. I can’t wait to try it myself. You are making such a difference in my life with everything you offer and share. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you!
Karen – so glad it’s helpful to you! I love trying new things too, so it’s nice when I can explore new ingredients to help people with other dietary and health issues, and still make yummy recipes!!!!
very good we like it.
If I don’t have any of your baking mix, can I use a different one?
and if I only have blue bonnet margarine, will that be ok to use as well?
Also, I have immitation vanilla, will that work?
thanks, sorry I have so many questions, but I really want to make some now and those are the only things I need to substitute…..Thanks for the recipe, excited to try a new one
Hi Jen- it’s hard to say if another mix or blend will work or not, because there are so many variations, bulk:starch ratios and different ingredient possibilities. In a recipe like this where there is a lot of flour, the mixture you use will definitely make a difference. I will say though, that if you use another mix without xanthan or guar gum in it, you will need to add that to your mix so that the recipe will hold together. My blend already contains that binder so you don’t need to add it if you’re using mine. Regarding the margarine, that will probably work in this recipe, but make sure it’s nice and cold when you add it. Margarine tends to be a bit more watery in recipes. Imitation vanilla is fine, as long as it’s gluten-free. Hope that helps and that you get to try this recipe!!!
I was just thinking about looking for a recipe for this to help use all the zucchini out our garden. Pefect. thanks Jules
Happy to help! You’ll love it!
Just curious…Why are the wet ingredients added one at a time instead of mixing together and then adding? A number of recipes state this way and I’m wondering why. Thanks