Here’s what you should REALLY do with all that zucchini

OK, I know I teased you by mentioning zucchini in a post last week. But then I took off in another direction, extolling the virtues of fresh tomatoes and cukes, mint and onions and peppers. And poor old zucchini, the orphan of the garden, got left in the dust. (Or mud, if you’ve had the kind of summer we’ve had up here in Vermont.)

But in truth, zucchini is a happy-go-lucky vegetable: you’re happy when you find a recipe that features zucchini, and lucky when it actually works. For example, zucchini takes well to grilling (splash with soy sauce for flavor); and it’s a nice (though potentially mushy) stand-in for eggplant in cannelloni or Parmigiana. And if you’re looking to round out a stir-fry, zucchini’s bulk and mild flavor are just the ticket.

So zucchini, I’m sorry we all malign you. You’re like the bluejay: your ubiquity hides your beauty. But, given the chance, you can shine. So center stage is now yours: let’s see a virtuoso performance out there. Oh, and one more thing: not that I don’t love you, but remind me to plant just ONE zucchini next year…

img_8033.JPGHere they are, the stars of the show. Big fat zucchini. Little skinny zucchini that fell off the vine and started to wrinkle. I’m sure your garden has every possible incarnation of ready-to-pick zucchini right now. Did you ever wonder why there aren’t “u-pick” zucchini farms out there, like there are for strawberries and blueberries? Great concept, huh? NOT.

img_8037.JPGFirst, we’re going to take zucchini and make something completely antithetical out of it: chocolate cake. You’ve heard of zucchini bread, right? Zucchini muffins, and pancakes? Same concept, taking zucchini and mixing it with flour, sugar, eggs, butter… But (my opinion), bringing it to a new level. Let’s start with sugar, butter, baking powder/soda, salt, vanilla, and vegetable oil.

img_8038.JPGBeat till smooth.

img_8039.JPGAdd eggs, and beat again.

img_8040.JPGThen stir in the sour cream (or yogurt), and flour, alternating one with the other to keep the batter light and lump-free.

img_8041.JPGNext comes the cocoa and espresso powder. I lovelovelove our Double Dutch Dark Cocoa, a combination of black cocoa and Dutch process. It honestly makes the BEST cake and brownies. And espresso powder is like vanilla—you can’t taste it, but it heightens chocolate’s flavor. If you’re a dedicated chocoholic, trust me; you should have both of these ingredients in your pantry at all times.

img_8042.JPGNow add chocolate chips, and 3 cups of shredded or grated (not liquefied!) zucchini. Which translates to about 1 medium (10”) zucchini, about 12 ounces. I know, this doesn’t make much of a dent in your crop. But wait—there’s more! Let’s get through the cake first.

img_8043.JPGPour the batter into a greased 9” x 13” pan…

img_8044.JPG…and smooth it into the corners.

img_8045.JPGBake the cake till the top springs back and it seems fairly set, about 30 minutes. Then remove it from the oven, and sprinkle the top with 1 cup of chocolate chips.

img_8046.JPGThis is 1 cups’ worth of chips. For a thicker glaze, feel free to increase the amount of chips.

img_8049.JPG Bake the cake for an additional 5 minutes, then remove it from the oven, and use a spatula to spread the soft chips over the surface of the cake. Instant icing!

img_8050.JPGI thought the icing looked kind of boring, so I sprinkled it with coarse white sugar, my best friend when it comes to instant makeover in the world of beautiful baked goods. Not only did the sugar perk up the cake’s appearance—it added an interesting and enjoyable crunch, a lovely textural contrast to the soft, moist cake and smooth icing.

img_8071.JPGYee-haw! Who knew zucchini could look like this?!

img_8082.JPGBut big deal, right? You used one measly zucchini in the cake. Here’s what to do when you no longer feel comfortable sneaking over to the neighbors’ at midnight and leaving zucchinis on their doorstep.

img_8068.JPGThere’s no written recipe for this, so don’t be looking for it online. What you see here is as formal as it gets. First, heat some olive oil in a big pan. Then add grated zucchini. You can add enough to cover the bottom of the pan to a thickness of about 1/2”, but don’t heap it up too much; it needs to sauté.

img_8075.JPGFry the zucchini till it shrinks and its liquid evaporates, then sprinkle in salt to taste, ground black pepper, and Italian seasoning or your favorite combination of oregano, basil, hot pepper… whatever herbs you like.

img_8077.JPGNow add an egg or two or three. For this 12” skillet’s worth of zucchini, I added 2 eggs.

img_8078.JPGScrape the zucchini and eggs around the pan till well combined, and the egg is cooked.

img_8081.JPGThe egg will make the zucchini hang together. It turns it into something a little fancier than just plain fried zucchini.

img_8087.JPGMy Italian mother-in-law doesn’t add cheese, but I like to shave some Asiago or Parmesan over the top. Mangia! Your zucchini never had it so good…

No bake vs. buy info. this time, folks. I couldn’t find chocolate zucchini cake on any online restaurant menu or bakery listing. And as for the zucchini and egg—that doesn’t even have a name, let alone any fame!

Read, review, and rate (please!) our recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. MaryJane

    National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day was August 8th. Too bad we missed it!

    PJ~ I have plenty of tomatoes, I just keep forgetting to bring them in to you.

    MJR @KAF

  2. Emilie

    Hi PJ. I noticed that you’ve got that newfangled KitchenAid paddle on your mixer — the one that’s supposed to scrape the bowl while it beats/mixes. I’d seen it in a few catalogs but hesitated since it’s kind of pricey. So what’s the opinion of the pros at KAF? Thanks!

    Hi Emilie – I like it very much. I don’t think it works any better than the metal paddle, but the metal paddle would sometimes leave gray streaks in my batter/dough. And it just “feels” better to me to be working with plastic/silicone (or whatever it is) around my food than that kind of naked aluminum the old KA paddles are made of. How long will it last? Not sure, still testing. How much does it cost? I haven’t looked… I know we’re going to be selling them online very soon, so guess I’ll find out in the near future! I’d say, good investment if you have the money, but don’t expect it to do any better job than the metal, as far as beating goes. Hope this helps – PJH

    OK – I decided to do a REAL side by side test, and not just assume I like it “because.” When I ran the metal vs. the silicone(?) beater side by side in cake batter, the silicone did indeed scrape the sides of the bowl as it mixed better than the metal beater. With the metal beater, I had to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl midway through with a spatula. I didn’t have to do this with the silicone beater. So yeah, it does work better! – PJH

  3. Emilie

    That was very helpful — thanks so much. I’ll watch for it at the Baker’s Catalogue and I’m sure won’t have any trouble adding more than enough to it for the next free shipping offer! Thanks again.

  4. Trisha

    I must be the only person in the world who has trouble growing zucchini! Honestly, I can grow anything else without problems. But I had to write and rave about the Fudgy Brownies recipe in your KAF Cookie Companion–they are the absolute BEST! I brought some in to work and got raves. EVERYONE needs this book.

    Trisha, I’m a brownie connoisseur- I have to agree, those fudgy brownies are spectacular – though I do love the On-the-Fence ones even more! P.S. Next time you’re in Vermont stop by for some garden-fresh zucchini 🙂 PJH

  5. Heidi

    Yum, they look really good!! A friend of my once made Zucchini Brownies. She said they were one of the best homemade brownie recipes she’s ever tried. She even brought them into work and played “Name the Secret Ingredient” game. No one could tell the it was made with zucchini. I’m adding this to my must try pile of recipes. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Natalie

    These were fantastic! My kindergartener helped me, and told her dad “You’ll never guess what the secret ingredient is – but it’s NOT zucchini!” These were wonderful!

    Thanks for sharing, Natalie – I can just imagine your daughter – that sounds JUST like a 5-year-old…. 🙂 PJH

  7. Shari

    The cake took a good 25 minutes longer to bake than the recipe said. After about 45 minutes I put the chocolate chips on… but it took another 15 minutes to really set so my chocolate chips burnt instead of being spreadable. It could be that I used my food processor to “grate” the zucchini. Still tasted delicious (once I scraped off those chocolate chips), just not very pretty.

    Hi Shari,
    Yes, it could be that the zucchini was just very wet, making the batter wetter. Glad to hear the flavors were good in the end.
    MaryJane@ The Baker’s Hotline

    And you used a 9″ x 13″ pan, right (not a 12 x 8 or 9 x 9…)? Because the cake isn’t very tall, which is why it bakes quickly. Also, yes, if your zucchini was totally pulverized, it would have been a lot more juicy. I used the food processor to “grate” mine, too, but it was still in discernible pieces (probably 1/4″), not complete mush. Sorry about that – if you need to bake it longer again, bake it till it tests done in the center, THEN add the chocolate chips on top; another 5 minutes in the oven won’t dry it out. – PJH

  8. Kat DeFonce

    I can’t wait to try this! Chocolate is my all time favorite flavor for cake. I too am putting this in my ‘I can’t wait to try it’ book. (I’m on Atkins right now.)

    PJ, on another subject, would you PLEASE do a rye bread recipe on your blog? I’ve been a yeast bread baker for over 25 years now and still my rye’s leave a bit to be desired!


    Kat, check out the Tender Rye Bread in our guaranteed recipe section online – I’ll blog it eventually, but in the meantime – give it a try- it’s pretty good uif I do say so myself! – PJ

  9. Tess

    Do you think these can be made into cupcakes? It’s better for me to take cupcakes to work (think individual servings) than a cake – which usually ends up mangled because people just hack away at it.

    Love the blogs!

    You can make this into cupcakes. Bake at 325 for about 20-25 minutes. Follow the directions for testing to see when baked. I am glad you like our Blog. I think it is a very exciting feature to our web site. Joan @ The Baker’s Hotline

  10. ky

    For dinner last night, I shredded a zucchini on my cheese grater and added it to my standard buttermilk pancake batter with a little less sugar and some garlic powder. Made some very nice, savory pancakes!

    More zucchini + less pancake batter = zucchini fritters! thanks for the inspiration- PJH

  11. Betty George

    I’m 77 yrs. old and love to cook and bake. Don’t do it as much as I used to when I was raising 10 children, but like to keep in practice. I live with a son and daughter-in-law now who have full-time jobs. My job as a church secretary is only part time so I trade off with my daughter-in-law on days that she is extra busy and fix dinner or at least part of it. I love to bake and try new things, plus the old stand-bys that were family favorites. I print out your recipes and have tried some of them, and I just love reading your blogs. They are the neatest things since “sliced bread.” You make it such fun ,and PJ, I think you should have an Olympic Gold Medal for all the time and effort you put into it. I wish I had that resource when I was feeding that wonderful family full time. Thanks for all the enjoyment you bring to us, let alone information!

  12. Gert martel

    PJ–I think that chocolate zuccini cake is the best ever–I have told everyone I know about it. It’s so moist and so chocolaty. What a great way to use all that zuccini this time of year. I do enjoy this blog and I get so many helpful hints and great recipes. Hope to visit KAF very soon. Gert

  13. Fran

    Your recipe for fried zucchini is AWESOME!! I served it with chicken strip, mashed potatoes and cream gravy and my dad, who doesn’t even like zucchini had TWO servings! The rest of us veggie lovers, just absolutely LOVED it. I will be making it again and soon.

    I am wanting to make the chocolate cake soon…I know it’ll be wonderful. Thank you for all the delicious recipes!


  14. Kimberly

    Can you freeze zucchini and use it later? I too love your blogs and would like to work for your company. Any chance of opening a branch in Michigan! LOL! Michigan is so beautiful in the fall too! There a plug for my state’s fall colors. LOL!

    Kimberly, I don;’t know if you can freeze zucchini successfully – I’ve never tried. I’d imagine you could grate it and freeze it and use it for something like this cake, where it’s going to be mushy anyway and freezing wouldn’t affect the texture… Anyone else have any thoughts on this? PJH

  15. pam

    Excellent cake! Very moist, full chocolate flavor & YUMMMMY! I do believe I will prefer grating the zuchinni instead of shredding, though. No biggie, but thought I’d mention since the blog does say grated; recipe says shredded. Y’all are terrific…keep ’em comin’ ….THANKS!

  16. Bambi

    Re : Freezing zucchini – Absolutely ! Especially when your crop gets ahead of your baking. For raw zucchini , I have had great luck shredding on cheese grater and firmly pressing out as much water as possible. “decompress” the wad of zucchini and put 2 cups at a time into ziploc freezer bags, and you have pre-measured quantity handy for most bread/muffin/cake recipes. On the savory side – saute sliced zucchini with peppers, onions and (canned) stewed tomatoes – cool and freeze in ziplocs for side dish as-is or as base for casseroles throughout the rest of the year.

  17. HMB

    I made this cake again this week — I made it last year during zucchini season (when I was trolling the KAF website for new ideas of what to do with zucchini), and my family decided then it’s a keeper because it is so fudgy and moist with a good chocolate taste. I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa this time and it came out spectacularly dark. With an orange-colored frosting, it would make a great Halloween cake!
    And as for freezing shredded zucchini, I do pretty much the same as Bambi — shred it in my food processor, squeeze it dry in a linen towel, and put recipe friendly amounts (1 or 2 cups) in freezer bags. This works great for muffins, quickbreads, cakes.

  18. Jasmine

    I made this last week and it got raving reviews from everyone who tried it. It is such a nice, tender, not too sweet chocolate cake. This one is a keeper!

  19. Emily

    Your recipe for fried zucchini is one of the best I’ve ever tried! It’s so delicious, I could eat just that for dinner.

    For my kids, who are finicky about eating veggies, I like to omit the red pepper flakes and mix the whole mess in with Annie’s white cheddar with shells…yum. 🙂
    Now, if you could just sneak in some peas and Presto! A complete protein! Elisabeth @ The Baker’s Hotline

  20. Shannalee

    Um, YUM! The first time I had chocolate zucchini bread was at a church potluck many years ago, and I remember saying to the woman who made it: does this REALLY have zucchini it? I want some again, and this recipe looks perfect!

  21. cookiemom

    this cake recipe looks delicious, i really want to make it! Why aren’t the amounts of the ingredients listed???

    Need to click to the recipe itself, cookiemom. Go down to the end of the pictures, and you’ll find the Chocolate Zucchini Cake link. Or just click the link right here… – PJH

  22. Tracy Phipps

    Am I the only one who doesn’t see the amounts of each ingredient?
    I really want to try this recipe but am thinking “why guess at the amounts” when I am sure it has to be posted somewhere! HELP!

    Tracy, please click on the recipe link at the end, right after the pictures. Or click here. – PJH

  23. Janis Paul

    My husband is the zucchini god here and the neighbors are running inside and locking there doors when they see us! We currently reside in England and introduced yellow squash to the community here, which they had never tried. So he is also the yellow squash god. Thanks for the zucchini recipes, can hardly wait to try them. Thank goodness I don’t think I can get tired of zucchini!

    Here’s what my mother-in-law always does: grated or finely diced zucchini, briefly stirred in a skillet in olive oil; salt, pepper, enough beaten egg to bind it. Plain as it is, it’s surprisingly tasty! PJH

  24. Theresa

    How long can you keep zuchinni before it goes bad? I have a nice size zuchinni on my kitchen counter…its been there for 3 months, is it still good to bake, cook, anything? Thank you I think three months would be too long.It would probably be pretty dried out. Usually a couple of weeks in the refrigerator is the maximum. Mary @ KAF

  25. Al

    Is the zuchinni grated or chopped in the food processor? I made the cake in the summer but the cooked cake had hard green shards in it . My guests thought it was plastic or something. Perhaps my zuchinni was too large and old and tough. I used a box grater that time. I am going to try this cake again and may try finely chopping the zuchinni instead, and probably peel it first. Any other suggestions?

    Hi Al – the zucchini should be pretty finely grated. As I say, not liquefied; but not in chunks, either. So use the blade in your food processor; or a smaller hole on your hand grater, OK? PJH

  26. Mary W

    Wow, delicious! And it was quite an adventure – my oven conked out without me realizing it and I had to finish the cake on our propane grill. Even the kid who helped me (until he saw the zucchini and balked) loved it.

  27. Sheila

    does anyone know where I can get a food processor that both shreds and grates, I have looked everywhere, had one at one time, but alas, it disappeared in a move, thanks

    Sheila, our Cuisinart here in the test kitchen shreds via a shredding disc; and grates (e.g., hard cheese) via the blade. Were you thinking of a special grating disk? PJH

  28. skeptic7

    A couple of years ago I was playing with zucchini chocolate cake and found that it can be made with whole wheat flour without any problems. The chocolate hides the color and taste of the whole wheat. The whole wheat also benefits from the moisture in the zucchini.

    Great idea – I often sub whole wheat in cookies, but seldom cakes. Thanks for letting me know this one’s a good candidate- PJH

  29. Jeanna

    I made this recipe last week and it was great! Everyone at work couldn’t guess the “secret” ingredient.

    It did take a few minutes longer to cook than the recipe called for but what I did was grate the zucchini, very lightly salt it and put it in a colander to drain for 30 minutes while I got the rest of the ingredients together. I then squeezed out as much of the water as I could and it worked great.

    It was still very moist.

    1. Mary

      How did you adjust for the added salt? I would probably rinse it, after it draws out the water, then drain again and maybe even use paper towels to dry further.

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      We can’t speak for Jeanna, Mary, but as long as you use a small amount of salt, we think most of it washes out when you squeeze out the zucchini anyways. So we don’t usually worry about adjusting the amount of salt called for in the recipe. Mollie@KAF

  30. sapphire2249

    Okay, I had a ton of zucchini (I won’t say where it came from) and found this recipe. First, I combed the web for recipes and I have to say that most links I went to use this recipe as the standard for this cake with variations. Since I have never been unhappy with any KAF recipe that I tried I figured why mess with perfection? I am happy to report that this cake turned out remarkable. There were only two small changes that I made. I squeezed the zucchini to get most of the liquid out of it so the cake would hold together better and I baked it in a bundt pan. It turned out so beautiful that I have another in the oven for my son to take to work tomorrow since everyone that works for him thinks I am an incredible cook. Little do they know that most of my baked goods come from recipes and ingredients from KAF!

    So, I also made the sauteed zucchini but I made more of a frittata out of it and used fontina cheese inside and shaved Parm on the top. What a great way to use extra zukes! Thanks once again for wonderful recipes.

    Ah, zucchini…. I’m having some of the egg/zucchini for lunch right now! Thanks for sharing your frittata inspiration. PJH

    1. Mary

      I’d been thinking about which pan to use, have already got all my ingredients so I am committed to making this cake. The only 9×13 pan I have is an old, well-used, browned Bakers Secret pan that I used last week when I made brownies, that warped in the oven, leading to a thinner burnt corner despite rotating the pan. I have a Pyrex 9×13, which would require lowering the oven heat by 25 degrees, but I still worry about burning at the corners because glass retains heat longer… I also have disposable aluminum pans, but have never used one before, and they’re so thin that I worry about burning, again. I want to make it as a gift for my veterinarian, even though I know it’s not a good idea to make an untested recipe for company without trying it beforehand. And I am just too tired to go to the store today to get a heavier, light colored metal pan (something I should have bought myself a long time ago, so I could get more bang for my buck).

      I do have a nonstick bundt pan, which would actually make a prettier presentation, and the hole in the center would allow the heat to permeate more evenly and effectively… this is a moist cake. I never even thought of that till I read your entry. Thank you!

  31. marilynlaporte

    I made your zucchini cake today and it was fabulous. It did take longer to bake than your recipe said though. My question is: In your blog, you said to use 2 cups grated zucchini but in the recipe, it says to use 3 cups of zucchini. I had printed the recipe and used 3 cups today. Just now I looked at “see how it’s done” and noticed you mentioned only 2 cups. Why is that? Should the recipe only say 2 cups? Please advise.

    We will be sure to update the recipe, but it should read 2 cups. Thank you for the sharp eyes! Kim@KAF

  32. Kathryn Waldyke

    It’s zucchini time again! And time to make the World’s Best Zucchini cake, yours! My coworkers beg for it. Thank you!

  33. Melody

    Where is the Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe??? The link on this blog goes to an error page? Zucchini is here and I really wanted to make this cake.

  34. jtee4short

    I’ll consider making the chocolate zucchini cake later, but for now I’m gonna make the zucchini-egg saute for the second time. That’s tasty!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That sounds really tasty, way better than my apple and peanut butter “brunch”. Care to share? Jon@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried that here Phoebe, but it doesn’t mean it’s off limits. I made parsnip cupcakes once that were better than any carrot cake I ever had! Radishes certainly have a more assertive flavor and are not quite as moist as zucchini, so we bet you’d end up with quite a different product if you made this swap. You may consider adding some honey for extra sweetness and a bit of milk to make up for the lack of moisture. If you give it a go, let us know how it comes out! Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    2. Mary

      There’s a book,I have called “Secrets of Fat-Free Baking” that lists all kinds of things to add moisture instead of fat. Cauliflower, sweet potato, applesauce, apple butter, zucchini, lecithin, prune butter, even sauerkraut… how pronounced do you want it to be? I would think that parsnips would be sweeter and better camouflaged, and radishes have more bite. Do you want to recognize it? I wonder, could radishes be used if you’re also adding chile powder, to give it a Mexican snap? I wouldn’t use radishes, but that just me. Sounds too pronounced.

  35. LBL

    Hands down THE best chocolate cake I’ve made to date (and I’ve made a LOT of chocolate cake). Thank you SO MUCH! 🙂


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