This old fashioned recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake is the perfect use for summer zucchini! It’s light and moist, with plenty of chocolate flavor.
August 8 is “Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”. Yes, that’s really a holiday!
Come late summer, people with zucchini in their garden are looking for any and all recipes for this prolific fruit.
This year, I dug into my mom’s recipe box to pull out this Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake recipe. I remembered eating it as a child, when I particularly enjoyed the abundance of chocolate chips on top.
Now I can appreciate the whole cake—a tender, moist, and light chocolate cake, made with a full two cups of zucchini (no need to wring it out first!) and topped with semi-sweet chocolate chips.
If I had to date it, this old fashioned zucchini cake dates back at least to the 1980s, if not before. (Update: a reader named Kathy emailed to let me know that a friend shared this recipe with her in the 1970s. Her recipe had ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and cloves.)
It’s a fantastic way to enjoy late summer zucchini, or any season you find yourself with some zucchini, frankly. I personally love it with a cup of coffee or tea for a mid-afternoon treat.
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Why is this the best Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake?
Simply put, this is one of those old fashioned zucchini cake recipes that has been around for decades, for good reason!
- It’s moist and tender, with a light chocolate-y flavor. The chocolate chips amp up the chocolate flavor even more.
- It’s a great use for summer zucchini. This recipe calls for 2 medium sized zucchini.
- It’s made with pantry ingredients and refrigerator staples. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
- It keeps well. Store it at room temperature for several days, or in the refrigerator for a week. You can also freeze it for up to three months.
- This recipe uses both butter AND oil. Butter can sometimes overpower the flavor of chocolate, which is why I believe the original recipe creator used a mix of both.
- Creaming the butter with the sugar keeps this cake light and fluffy. The eggs contribute to that light texture, too.
- Buttermilk adds a slight tanginess to the cake that complements the sweetness from the sugar. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use a mixture of regular milk and an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice (see the recipes notes below for how to do that).
- We’ll need a full two cups of shredded zucchini. Two small to medium sized zucchini will provide just that.
- Dry ingredients include cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. All of the makings of a fantastic chocolate cake!
- A full cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips are sprinkled on top of the cake before baking. They sink just slightly into the cake and provide chocolate flavor with every bite.
How to make Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake
Start by shredding the zucchini on a box grater. I prefer the medium sized holes.
You do not need to drain the zucchini.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Next, place the butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Cream on medium high with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs until combined.
Then, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk.
Tip: Don’t have buttermilk? Pour two teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Fill the cup to the ½-cup mark with milk.
Stir only gently to combine. Then, stir in the zucchini.
Pour the zucchini cake batter into a greased 13×9-inch pan, and top with the chocolate chips.
Bake the cake at 325°F for 28–33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake cool before slicing. You can still slice it while slightly warm, but give it at least 20 minutes after removing from the oven before you do so.
How to store chocolate zucchini cake
Chocolate Zucchini Cake can be stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Either way, it should be tightly covered.
It will last for several days at room temperature or up to one week in the refrigerator before it starts to dry out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Zucchini cake can be frozen for up to three months. Seal it tightly in an airtight container before freezing. If you are freezing a whole cake, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil before freezing.
You can store the cake either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep for slightly longer in the refrigerator. Keep it tightly covered for whichever storage method you choose.
Making Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake with buttermilk is one of the reasons that this cake is so light and tender.
The acid interferes with gluten formation, so the recipe is more cake-like (fluffy) and less bread-like (dense). If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute regular milk + an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice.
Simply put, it tastes like regular chocolate cake! You can see the flecks of green in the cake, but you can’t taste them. (And you won’t be able to see the zucchini at all if you opt to peel the zucchini first.) The zucchini adds moisture and volume to the cake without adding any flavor.
I recommend using fresh zucchini for this recipe. Frozen zucchini can release too much water into the batter when it thaws, making a watery cake.
This cake is fantastic on its own, but here are a few ideas for serving, if you want to jazz it up!
- Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top
- Dollop some homemade whipped cream on top
- Add ½ cup chopped walnuts along with the chocolate chips before baking
- Serve it cold from the fridge (I love it this way) or warm (give each slice 10–15 seconds in the microwave)—I recommend warming it up if you’re adding ice cream on top!
More chocolate cake recipes
- Wacky Cake Recipe
- Easy Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
- Mississippi Mud Cake with Cake Mix
- Turtle Cake
- Ding Dong Cake with Cake Mix
- Dr. Pepper Cake
Have you tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and/or comment below!
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1¾ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2½ cups flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup buttermilk or sour milk
- 2 cups grated zucchini (no need to drain)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Grease a 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Place the butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Cream on medium speed with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine. Stir in the milk and zucchini, just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.
- Bake for 28–33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.