This easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe is so plush and delicious no one will guess it’s gluten-free. (You’ll LOVE the chocolate frosting!)
Gluten-free baking has never looked so good!
This Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a GREAT recipe to fool your non-gluten-free friends and family with. Seriously. Between the deep chocolate flavor, soft, fluffy texture, and ultra-plush chocolate frosting, this fudgy cake is sure to become a family favorite whether you eat gluten-free or not!
If this is the first time you’ve baked a dessert with vegetables in it, you’re in for a (literal) treat! What always amazes me about baking with vegetables in things like carrot cake or zucchini bread, is how the veggies disappear! They also magically help make a delicious, moist cake that tastes decidedly like dessert. Even my veggie-averse kids LOVE this cake!
So next time you’re at the store or the farmer’s market, you might want to pick up a few extra zucchinis!
Here’s what you need to make this luscious gluten-free cake…
Our Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What You Need To Make This Plush Zucchini Cake:
- Grated Zucchini. You’ll use 3 whole cups of shredded zucchini for this chocolate zucchini cake recipe! It sounds like a lot (and it kind of is!), but it disappears into the cake! For best results, squeeze the extra liquid out of the fresh zucchini before using it so you don’t throw off the ratio of wet and dry ingredients.
- Granulated/Cane Sugar & Brown Sugar. This mix helps give the cake the perfect flavor and texture!
- Oil. Any neutral-tasting oil will do–canola oil, vegetable oil, avocado oil, etc. I don’t recommend butter or coconut oil here.
- Sour Cream. This secret ingredient adds some acidity and moisture to the cake, which results in an ultra-plush texture. Don’t have any? You can make this chocolate zucchini cake with Greek yogurt instead!
- Vanilla Extract & Salt. To balance the flavors & bring out the chocolate even more.
- Eggs. You’ll need 5 eggs to bind this cake together. No need to bring them to room temperature since we’re baking with oil.
- Gluten-Free Flour. I keep things simple with a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend. We recommend this one from King Arthur. If you use another brand (like Bob’s Red Mill), be sure it contains xanthan gum!
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. We’re using regular/natural unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate cake, NOT dark or Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Trust!
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder. This reacts with the acidity in the cocoa powder and sour cream to give you a light, moist, fluffy cake with a tender crumb.
- Chocolate Chips. We add them to the cake batter!
- A Quick Chocolate Buttercream. For the frosting, you’ll just need the usual ingredients: butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and cream. One bonus ingredient you can consider adding is a touch of corn syrup for a glossy finish.
How To Make Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake, Step By Step
First Make The Cake:
- Preheat The Oven & Prep The Pan. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch metal baking pan and set aside.
- Combine Wet Ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Add sour cream, vanilla, and eggs. Whisk or stir until smooth and well blended.
- Mix In Zucchini. Make sure you’ve squeezed the extra liquid out of the zucchini, then add it to the bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add Dry Ingredients. Then, add gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir until almost fully combined, with just a few dry patches of the flour mixture left.
- Mix In Chocolate Chips and stir until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and gently smooth out the surface.
- Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs (no wet batter).
- Cool. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely before you frost it. (If the cake is even a little bit warm, it will melt the frosting. I promise it’s worth the wait!)
Then, Make The Frosting & Assemble The Cake:
- Beat The Butter. Add the softened butter to a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer on low speed for about 2 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy.
- Mix. Then, add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla extract. Add the cream, then mix for 30 seconds on low speed, then about 1 minute on medium speed, or until well combined.
- Adjust. At this point, you’ll want to adjust for texture. If the frosting is too dry or thick, add a little bit of additional cream at a time until it thins out. If the frosting is too thin or too wet, you can add more powdered sugar or cocoa powder a teaspoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency. The frosting should be easy to spread but should still hold its shape. (If you want the frosting to look extra glossy, you can add 1-2 Tablespoons of corn syrup at this point.)
- Decorate. Then, spread or pipe the frosting onto the cake as desired.
- Serve & Store. Enjoy the cake right away, or cover the cake tightly (or transfer slices to an airtight container) and store in the refrigerator 3-4 days.
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The BEst Gluten-Free Zucchini Cake
Squeeze That Zucchini! One important tip you don’t want to skip is to squeeze the excess moisture out of the grated zucchini before adding it to the cake batter. This is important so you don’t add too much moisture to the recipe (which can cause the cake to sink).
Choose The Right Cocoa. I love Dutch processed cocoa for a lot of projects, but NOT for this cake recipe. You need the acidity of natural cocoa powder (like Hershey’s) to react with the baking soda. If you use dark cocoa, it won’t rise properly. (You CAN use either type of cocoa in the frosting–I still prefer natural cocoa powder)
How To Grate Zucchini. We wrote a whole post all about how to grate zucchini for baking! TLDR: use a food processor with a grating blade to get the job done in seconds!
Dairy-Free? You can try swapping a plain dairy-free yogurt in for the sour cream, and vegan butter and coconut cream in the frosting. I haven’t tried it this way myself, but that’s where I’d start!
Can I Make This Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake With Almond Flour or Coconut Flour? Not with this recipe. Instead, you might like this healthy chocolate zucchini cake. Do NOT use coconut flour, as it absorbs a LOT of liquid and you’ll be left with a dry, crumbly cake.
Can I Make This As A Layer Cake? Yes! You can bake it in two 9-inch round pans. You’ll want to adjust the baking time to about 25-30 minutes or so.
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