This Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake is not only vegan, but it's filled with zucchini and topped with a light and fluffy dairy-free buttercream icing that's to die for!
Every time I make a cake, I declare it as my new favorite cake, and this vegan chocolate zucchini cake is no exception. It's three layers of perfectly moist cake filled with smooth dairy free chocolate buttercream. I mean, what more can you ask for?!
The cake itself is similar to my favorite (and most popular) vegan chocolate cake recipe, and the buttercream is similar to what I used in this gluten free chocolate cake. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! The zucchini in this cake helps to make this cake really moist, similarly to how it does in zucchini bread or how carrot does in carrot cake.
- There's zucchini in it, so it's basically a vegetable (kidding! kind of)
- It's a three layer cake that's perfectly moist
- The chocolate buttercream is INSANE--you need to try it for yourself
Flour - I only tested this recipe with all purpose flour, though I'm sure gluten free all purpose flour would work.
Applesauce - Unsweetened!
Zucchini - I like to use a box grater to grate the zucchini into a separate large bowl, then measure it out and add it to the bowl with the other cake ingredients. You do NOT have to squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini.
Butter - Dairy-free for vegan option (I used Earth Balance), or regular butter if not keeping this vegan. Either way, just make sure it's softened.
Step 1: Combine dry ingredients. Stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Step 2: Add wet ingredients. To that same bowl, add the milk, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla extra and stir with a stand or hand mixer. Last, stir the shredded zucchini in by hand.
Step 3: Bake. Divide the batter evenly into three 8" cake pans, then bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then, carefully invert the cakes onto cooling racks and wait for them to cool before icing.
Step 4: Make the buttercream. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and milk, then add the cocoa and powdered sugar. To ice the cakes: place the first cake on a plate or cake stand, then scoop a dollop of icing on top and use an offset knife or the back of a spoon to spread the icing evenly over the cake. Repeat this process for all of the layers.
Tips for making chocolate zucchini cake
Use one bowl: Yes really! Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl, then add the wet ingredients and stir everything together. This makes for easy clean up, and it's not necessary to mix them separately.
The recipe calls for almond milk, but you can use any kind of dairy free milk. Besides almond, but other favorite milk is oat milk.
This cake uses applesauce instead of oil. The applesauce adds to the moisture and overall texture of the cake.
Line your cake pans with parchment paper to prevent the cakes from sticking. Seriously, there's nothing worse than baking a cake and having it stick to the bottom of the pan. I like to trace the cake pans then cut out parchment rounds -- it only takes a few minutes and makes a huge difference.
How long will this last?
This cake tastes best if consumed within 3 days.
Can I use a different size cake pan?
Yep! I haven't tested it, but I believe you could get away with using three 9" cake pans and the cakes themselves will just be a bit thinner. Or, you could use two 10" cake pans. Remember to only fill the cake batter up about ⅔ of the way in the cake pans, so if you plan on substituting cake pans sizes, you may have a little extra batter leftover.
More vegan cake recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!
Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cup cane sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cup almond milk
- ¾ cup applesauce
- 2 ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups zucchini shredded
For the buttercream:
- 1 cup dairy free butter softened
- 3 tablespoon almond milk
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; then, add milk, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla to that same bowl and stir with an electric mixer until combined.
- Last, stir in the zucchini by hand.
- Grease three 8" cake pans with coconut oil and divide the batter evenly amongst the pans. Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to sit in the pans for 10 minutes, and then run a knife along the edges of the cake and carefully invert them onto a cooling rack. Wait until cakes have completely cooled before icing them.
- For the buttercream: cream butter and milk together, then add cocoa and powdered sugar. You want the icing to be thick but still spreadable. If it seems too thick, add 1 tablespoon milk. If it seems too thin, add ¼ cup powdered sugar.
- To assemble: use a serrated knife to remove domes off of the cakes, then scoop a large dollop of icing onto the first cake and spread it; then place the second cake on top of that cake and repeat that same step. Top the final layer with chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, if you want.
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in March 2018. It was updated with new text and photos in August 2020.
Excellent recipe! Super moist and tasty. I put cherry pie filling between the layers with buttercream on top — a little over the top but it was fabulous!
YUM that sounds incredible! Thanks for leaving a review 🙂
I'm going to make this a birthday cake for a friend. I would like to make it ahead. Is this a cake that will freeze well?
It should! Just make sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil before freezing it, and to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
Karen Hostetter says
I made this several times as cupcakes for family gatherings. I took it to work one time and had to share the recipe. It was a hit there, too! What I want try next is to make whoopie pies with these ingredients but not sure how to make it hold it's shape. Note: I did squeeze some of the liquid out of the zucchini. It's still plenty moist.
Thank you! One of my faves.
Thanks so much for the comment, Karen -- I'm happy you like the cake!
Made this for my picky eater, egg and nut allergy son using cows milk. I also used 5 tsp lemon juice instead of ACV due to my husband's allergies. This is the second time I've made this cake and they both say it's the best chocolate cake ever. I use a 9 by 13 inch pan and bake it until a toothpick comes clean. Great recipe!
Thanks so much for the comment -- I'm happy the whole family can enjoy this recipe!
Christine how long did you bake it in a 9 x 13? Thx
This is the third time I’ve made this cake this month - as soon as it’s gone my family asks for another! It’s a super easy cake and I can vouch that splitting the recipe in half and using one 9” pan works great. We’re not much into frosting so I’ve just been throwing a handful of chocolate chips in the batter, skipping the frosting, and eating it as a snacking cake. Thanks for the great recipe!
Thank you so much for this positive review -- I'm so glad you like the cake! And I love the idea of adding chocolate chips.
Daniel Z says
I'm still fairly new to embracing more plant-based alternatives in my diet, and my mind is always blown by how zucchini can lead to something as rich and decadent as Erin's cakes!
I'm always wary of vegan dessert, but this recipe is proof that you don't have to sacrifice a THING to make a vegan cake decadent and satisfyingly moist. I prefer this chocolate cake to any other chocolate cake recipes I've had. So. Freaking. Good.
This is one of those recipes you give to someone who normally wouldn't touch anything with the V word in it's name. So moist...
I am making this cake right now. It was easy and looks amazing. The frosting is delicious!
Meghan T. says
Is it possible to make this with almond flour instead of all purpose flour?
hi! I haven't tried it with almond flour and I'm not sure what the measurements would be--sorry!
Mira Edorra says
Love this chocolate! Also, be sure to check the ingredients, as some brands' dark-chocolate bars still contain dairy products.
Kimberly @ Foodtalko says
Wow! Such a delicious and gorgeous cake. I love the presentation as well. Can’t wait to try this for the kids. Thanks!
Enjoy your blog very much ! Thank you for sharing this beauty with us !
Wow this cake looks super delicious! My son would love this cake so much! I am gonna try for him. Wish me best of luck!
OMG! It looks amazing! Next party I`m treating everyone!
Have you tried to make it gluten free?
I haven't tried making this exact recipe GF, but I do have this gluten free chocolate cake recipe: https://thealmondeater.com/chocolate-avocado-cake-gluten-free/
That cake looks INCREDIBLE! I can't wait to try out the recipe. Since the cake counts for St. Patty's day because of the zucchini, then I count it as also being healthy because it's made with a vegetable - that way I won't feel so bad when I indulge!