Lightened Zucchini Cake
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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

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

  • Prep Time: 10 mins,
  • Cook Time: 40 mins,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
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...


  • 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:
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. 2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. 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. 4. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, until just combined. Fold in the zucchini, coconut and walnuts.
  5. 5. Pour batter into a greased 8-inch square cake pan.
  6. 6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. 7. Serve as is or allow to cool completely and then frost.
  8. 8. To make the cream cheese frosting: combine ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well.
Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Nutrition Information

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  1. Janinne

    July 9, 2015 at 5:15 am

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

  2. Pingback: What's In Season // Zucchini - What's Gaby Cooking

  3. jane

    August 12, 2014 at 6:57 am

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

  4. aprilgaietto

    February 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    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.

  5. mtornero

    December 1, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    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.

  6. annisa

    October 31, 2013 at 3:00 am

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

    • catherine

      October 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm

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

  7. Michelle

    October 27, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Do you have the nutrition information for this recipe?

  8. Edna Allen

    October 22, 2013 at 8:37 am

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

  9. Fanella Tague

    October 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

    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!!

    • catherine

      October 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

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

  10. Catherine

    September 26, 2013 at 8:48 am

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

  11. Mamta

    September 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    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.

  12. Erin K.

    September 11, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    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!

    • Alexandra

      September 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

      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.

  13. Teressa

    September 11, 2013 at 9:11 am

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

    • Mamta

      September 16, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      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)!

    • catherine

      September 11, 2013 at 11:10 am

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

  14. Lori B.

    September 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

    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!!

    • Laura

      September 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm

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

    • Lori B.

      September 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

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

  15. Katie

    September 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

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

    • Cmza

      February 3, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      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.

    • catherine

      September 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      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!

  16. Carella Grzywacz

    September 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    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.

  17. Angela

    September 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    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!

  18. Gaby

    September 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm

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

  19. Jennifer R

    September 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

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

    • catherine

      September 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm

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

  20. Amanda

    September 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    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!

  21. Tina

    September 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    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! :)

    • catherine

      September 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm

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

  22. Marissa

    September 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    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.

    • catherine

      September 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm

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

    • Mamta

      September 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      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 :(

      • Marissa

        September 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm

        That’s exactly what I did for tahini free hummus. Just left it out. It is a bit different -but still tasty. : )

      • catherine

        September 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

        I sometimes just leave out the tahini from my hummus since it’s such a small amount! It will change the flavor, but it is still yummy!

  23. Holly

    September 6, 2013 at 11:09 am

    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!