This chocolate zucchini cake recipe comes out so rich and chocolaty! It’s a family favorite that happens to be dairy free and gluten free.

Chocolate zucchini cake

Hang onto your seats, chocolate lovers. Are you ready for a supremely delicious cake recipe? Because have we got one for you! This chocolate zucchini cake is rich, chocolaty, and irresistibly good. Even if you don’t eat gluten free or dairy free (which we don’t), it’s an inventive way to eat real, whole foods in dessert form! This cake has gone on to be a family favorite in our household. The zucchini makes it ultra moist, and it’s gooey and just sweet enough. It’s truly a stunner! Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients in chocolate zucchini cake

Alex and I don’t subscribe to a specific diet, but we love the creativity making whole food recipes for people with different food philosophies. Often we create gluten free and vegan desserts for everyone to enjoy, like our fan favorite chocolate peanut butter bliss bites. That’s exactly the philosophy behind this gluten free dairy free cake!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this chocolate zucchini cake. You’ll notice they’re all good for you whole foods: so you can feel good about serving it to your family!

  • Almond butter This adds fat and texture, instead of butter! For nut allergies, use sunflower butter.
  • Zucchini Shredded zucchini brings moisture and a fluffy texture!
  • Maple syrup
  • Cocoa powder
  • Egg For vegan, use a flax egg
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking soda
  • Dark chocolate chips If you eat dairy free, use dairy-free chocolate chips
  • Instant coffee powder (optional)
Chocolate zucchini cake

How to serve chocolate zucchini cake

From the first bite, this chocolate zucchini cake was a favorite in our house! It’s surprising how the texture of all the ingredients comes together into something cake-like, even though there’s no flour present.

This cake would be perfect for a summer cookout, since it would satisfy almost every diet in the crowd! Usually we eat it plain, but here are some ways to step it up! Serve it with:

Variations: make it vegan!

Want to make this chocolate zucchini cake vegan? It’s already dairy free, but it’s got 1 egg. How to make it vegan? Use a flax egg! A flax egg is simply ground flax seed and water, which combine into a binder that’s often used in vegan baked goods. It works well here as a binder for this cake, especially since it’s a sheet cake. Head to How to Make a Flax Egg.

Kitchen matters

About the book: Kitchen Matters

This recipe is comes from the cookbook Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman. Pamela is all about eating real food, not too much, and mostly plants: just like us! She says in the introduction to her book: “I believe with 100 percent certainty that what you eat matters more than anything else. You are the one who chooses what goes into your shopping cart and frying pan. If you want to be healthy, cooking as much nutrient-dense food as often as you can is a good place to start. Your health matters–and your kitchen matters.”

The recipes in Pamela’s Kitchen Matters book are heavy on the vegetables and full of meals the entire family can enjoy no matter their food philosophies or eating preferences. Get the book here: Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

Zucchini cake

Congratulations to Pamela on an incredible chocolate zucchini cake recipe and a fantastic book! We’re applauding over here, our mouths stuffed with chocolate. Our little chocolate monster Larson is a HUGE fan of this gluten free chocolate cake! If you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen that he can say Chocolate now (even before Mama–and I couldn’t be more proud!).

This chocolate zucchini cake recipe is…

Grain free, Paleo, dairy free, gluten free, and vegetarian. For vegan, substitute a flax egg.

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Amazing Grain-Free Chocolate Cake | A Couple Cooks

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (Family Favorite!)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 9-inch square cake, about 8 servings 1x


This chocolate zucchini cake recipe comes out so rich and chocolaty! It’s a family favorite that happens to be dairy free and gluten free to boot.


  • 1 cup creamy unsweetened almond butter (or sunflower butter)
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)*
  • 1 large egg (or flax egg for vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, dairy-free as desired
  • Coconut oil, for the pan


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan with coconut oil. If you want to remove the cake from the pan in one piece, line it with unbleached parchment paper as well.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the almond butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, salt, coffee powder, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until fully combined and a sticky dough forms.
  3. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Do not overbake. A 9-inch pan will take about 30 minutes; an 8-inch will take about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Stores covered at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated up to 4 days.


*Instant coffee powder enhances the chocolate flavor in baked goods. It is completely optional though. There are coffee alternatives, such as Pero, which is a chicory and barley-based product with no caffeine. Pero is not gluten free or grain free, due to the barley. Do not use coffee grounds in place of instant coffee powder. Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Chocolate zucchini cake

More gluten free desserts

This chocolate zucchini cake is one of our favorite dessert recipes…ever! Here are some more favorite gluten free desserts:

Last updated: June 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. This cake was SO GOOD!!! The kids loved it and had no idea they were eating zucchini!!! Yum!

  2. I made this today and at first when I made the batter, it was watery BUT trust the process!! I did and it came out AMAZING! The batter darkened after taking it out and it was so fudgey and gooey and delicious and moist omg! My favorite dessert now!!!

  3. OMG! This is incredible!!
    I can already tell my husband and I will be making this for years to come.
    Extremely rich, moist and flavorful.

  4. This recipe was great, thank you! I had some dinner guests over and was planning to make a chocolate cake, then found out (last-minute) one person was gluten-free and another on a lower-sugar diet so found this through some hectic googling. My partner was very pessimistic about it when I told him the ingredients, but was pleasantly surprised at the results. While this might not be “low-sugar” per se (once chocolate chips are added in), I used extra dark chips and the total sugar content was still less than half of the original chocolate cake recipe I was planning. It is truly amazing how the zucchini is 100% undetectable and somehow creates a cake-like texture. It does end up being a bit more expensive (almond butter is pricey!) but I think it’s worth it for a real-food dessert. Definitely keeping this as a go-to, better-for-you option!

    1. Sorry for the delay! This stores covered at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated up to 4 days. We’ve updated the recipe accordingly. Thank you!