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Lightened Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Lightened Zucchini Cake

A lot of kids tend to turn up their noses at zucchini. I like green zucchini, especially when it's turned into Zucchini Coins, but admittedly it's one of those vegetables that can taste limp and bland if not prepared with some extra love.

My mom used to take pounds of grated zucchini and create a rockin' cake with it when I was a kid. Moist with a tender crumb, it was one of those treats I always looked forward to eating.

A few weeks ago I received an email from a reader requesting a lightened up version of her family's cherished Zucchini Cake recipe which had been passed down over the years. She sent me the recipe to see if I could figure out a way to reduce the huge amounts of sugar it called for, 3 cups to be exact.

I cut out the white sugar, swapping it out for just a half cup of brown sugar to sweeten it up, and what resulted was almost like a tea cake. With the addition of whipped cream cheese frosting swirled on top of each square I was really happy with how it turned out. This is a recipe that will hopefully stay in your family's recipe box for years to come!

Lightened Zucchini Cake 2

Zucchini Cake 2

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Lightened Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (makes 1 8-inch square cake)

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (3-4 small zucchini)
  • 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: greek yogurt
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

4. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, until just combined. Fold in the zucchini, coconut and walnuts.

5. Pour batter into a greased 8-inch square cake pan.

6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Serve as is or allow to cool completely and then frost.

8. To make the cream cheese frosting: combine ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well.

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Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. My passion is creating simple, healthy recipes that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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36 comments

  • Holly

    She must have had my mother's recipe! I have fond memories of it but when I went to make it for my kids I was horrified by how much sugar was in it--yes, 3 cups! It made a deliciously crispy sugar crust on the top but no longer did I feel virtuously healthy making it!

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  • Marissa

    Hi Catherine!
    What kind of whipped cream cheese do you like to use? Thanks as always! (We made your veggie wraps this week with homemade hummus - sans tahini (allergy). They were a hit.
    Marissa

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    • Mamta

      I would appreciate it if you could share how you made hummus without tahini. My son's school is nut and seed free so I can't send anything with tahini in it :(

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    • Catherine

      I get the whipped cream cheese from Trader Joe's!

      leave a comment

  • Tina

    Looks scrumptious! Must try this some time. I just made LOTS of mini choco zucchini muffins & my family loves them. I wonder if I can whip the cream cheese with a stand mixer to create the same result of already whipped? Love your site! :)

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    • Catherine

      Yes! If you have a block of cream cheese, you can whip it yourself with a stand or handheld electric mixer!

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  • Amanda

    Marissa - how do you make the hummus without tahini? My oldest has a sesame allergy but both of them always loved hummus but can no longer have it...I'd love your recipe!

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  • Jennifer R

    I squeezed out the water from zucchini--- like my other recipes. Will it still turn out ok?

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    • Catherine

      That should be fine. I don't squeeze out the liquid because I find it makes the cake more moist!

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  • Gaby

    I live for Zucchini Cake! My mom used to make it all the time for us :) Totally going to try this one!

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  • Angela

    I made this tonight and it was delicious. Instead of the cream cheese frosting, I melted one Tbsp of butter with 1/4 cup maple syrup and drizzled on top. Yum!

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  • Carella Grzywacz

    Made into cupcake/muffins instead of cake. Turned out pretty good. I think I would squeeze excess water from zucchini next time like mentioned in previous comments.

    And FYI: There calls for baking soda in recipe, but not mentioned in preperation instructions.

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  • Katie

    Will oat flour or whole wheat flour work well in this recipe?

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    • Catherine

      I haven't tried either of those. I know whole wheat would make it is a more dense and chewy consistency with a nutty flavor! White whole wheat flour is lighter than whole wheat and resembles to consistency of using half all purpose and half whole wheat!

      leave a comment

    • Cmza

      covered with foil for 30 minutes at 350 b0. I'll cook the hoerfmies/hashbrowns according to this recipe. You have to make them crisp and hot to make it really worth it, though. Fresh is obviously better.

      leave a comment

  • Lori B.

    Just made it. \"Kinda\" squeezed out some of the liquid, but left plenty. At 12 servings, it comes out to 274 Calories, 26 Carbs, 6g Iron, 7g Protein, & 110 Potassium. Those are the stats for what I track. Amazing treat loaded with finely shredded zucchini. THIS is my new \"Zucchini Bread\". Thanks!!

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    • Lori B.

      Making these for the 4th time. This time in muffin cups. These are excellent.

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    • Laura

      Lori, thank you for posting the nutritional info? Did you happen to calculate the fat as well? :)

      leave a comment

  • Teressa

    Is there another flour I can use in the zucchini cake? I have celiac disease & can't have regular flour. Thanks!!!

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    • Catherine

      I haven't tested it with this recipe, but I have had success using King Arthur Flour All Purpose Gluten Free Flour in recipes! :)

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    • Mamta

      I used all gluten-free flour. And I substituted coconut oil for butter. I squeezed the water out of the zucchini. Baked in silicone muffin molds for 22 minutes. The result is a delicious and moist cupcake (with the cream cheese frosting)!

      leave a comment

  • Erin K.

    I made it this morning and it turned out great! I added one banana and for flour used a combo of whole wheat pastry flour and Trader Joe's gluten free flour. I may try coconut flour next time and add some flax meal. Great recipe! Oh, and I added cinnamon. Moist and not too sweet!

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    • Alexandra

      Just to give another gluten-free adaptation, I had a successful result using 1/2 cup of almond meal, 1/2 cup of chesnut flour and 1/2 cup of rice flour. It was very moist, nutty and darker than the weelicious version. Plus I had to add some more brown sugar to cream the butter since my son thought it was a good idea to add the brown sugar to the dry ingredients (!). Once the cake had completely cooled, the pieces cut very neatly but when we cut it still warm, the result was a bit crumbly. Overall, a great adaptation of this delicious recipe for our family while we're avoiding gluten.

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  • Mamta

    I made 1-1 substitution with gluten-free flour and used a bit over 1/2c coconut oil instead of butter. I also squeezed all the water out of the zucchini. Baked it in silicone muffin cups for 22 minutes. My cupcakes (with the cream cheese frosting) came out delicious and really moist, everyone in our family loved them.

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  • Catherine

    This was delicious! Great recipe...with or without the cream cheese topping.

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  • Fanella Tague

    Is it possible to make this without coconut? Or if not is there something I can substitute in place of it? While I love love coconut my daughter will not touch anything with coconut in it [texture thing]. Thanks!!

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    • Catherine

      I think you could just omit the coconut and it would still work out great!

      leave a comment

  • Edna Allen

    recipe box pass word setup please make simple i will set my own pass the you

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  • Michelle

    Do you have the nutrition information for this recipe?

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  • Annisa

    I tried this recipee, but my cake was a little bit bitter...perhaps because the zucchini skin? I am still wondering why..

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    • Catherine

      Bitter?! That's so weird! I wonder why. I haven't had issues with this coming out bitter.

      leave a comment

  • Mtornero

    First time making this and everyone loves it but for some reason it came out crumbly. Its hard to pick up without it just falling apart. Any suggestions to why this happened. Thanks in advance.

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  • Aprilgaietto

    This was added to our favorite recipes scrapbook cook book. It was really tasty! I did use chocolate chips instead of walnuts and didn't make the frosting. It reminded us of a chocolate chip cookie bar.

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  • Jane

    Can I leave out the shredded coconut or is there something I can substitute for it?
    Also,, can I substitute the butter for something?
    Thanks!

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  • What's In Season // Zucchini What's Gaby Cooking

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  • Janinne

    I make these into muffins and they turn out great too! Cut the cooking time down to 15-20 mins.

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