Grain-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe and VIDEO - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Grain-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe and VIDEO

You’re either going to love me or hate me for this post.  Why?  Because this grain-free chocolate cake which just so happens to have zucchini in it is AMAZING.  You will love how rich and chocolaty it is,  how moist and tender.  You will be utterly amazed that this cake has no flour of any kind and that there is zucchini in it.  Zucchini!   It is sweetened with maple syrup and that’s all.  After your first bite, you might exclaim, “Three cheers for Pamela!”

All the ingredients -- one bowl

Orrrrrrr, you will find this cake, which is more like a cross between a brownie and cake, completely irresistible and TOO amazing.  You will walk by it on the countertop and find the uncontrollable need to even out all the edges until you are left with a mere crumb.  But you’ll convince yourself it’s healthful!  It contains almond butter and zucchini.  Zucchini!  And you will not be able to stop eating it.  The next time you make it you will freeze most of it so that you are not tempted by its chocolaty goodness and inhale three-fourths of it before the kids get home.  But you cannot stop dreaming about this cake so you find out it even taste good FROZEN because there is no waiting when it comes to this cake.  And after you eat all of the frozen cake, you might exclaim, “I curse the day I met Pamela!  Darn this chocolate amazingness!”



Grain-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake | Pamela Salzman

And that’s what I’m talking about.

Even Mr. Picky himself went crazy for this cake.  I actually came clean and told him there was zucchini in here and he didn’t care!!  If you are nut-free, don’t sweat.  Substitute sunflower butter in an equal amount and it will work perfectly.  Sunflower butter does have a slightly nuttier flavor, almost like peanut butter.  But I when I made the cake with sunflower butter for some nut-free people, they couldn’t detect it.  Make it.  Devour it. Love it.  Share it.  Tell me all about it.

Grain-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake | Pamela Salzman

Grain-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake | Pamela Salzman

5.0 from 23 reviews
Grain-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe and VIDEO
Serves: makes 1 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch cake
  • coconut oil or butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup creamy, unsweetened, unsalted almond butter, raw or roasted, or sunflower butter for a nut-free cake
  • ⅓ cup pure Grade A maple syrup or raw honey
  • ¼ cup raw cacao or cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of shredded zucchini, about 2 small
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch pan. 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 combine the almond butter, maple syrup, cacao powder, salt, coffee powder, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until smooth.
  3. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Do not overbake. A 9 x 9 pan will take 35-45 minutes. An 8 x 8 pan will take 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Notes: You can also add ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter.

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  1. Hi Pamela, do I peel the zucchini?

    • Hi Alayne. No. It’s not necessary to peel or squeeze the zucchini. Hope you enjoy this! It’s one of my favorites.

  2. Could i add almond pulp to this? I’m one of those looking for almond pulp recipes . You’re the best thanks!!

    • Maybe. I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure if it would work.
      Let me know if you give it a try, Nina.

  3. I found this cake on someone else blog (with credit given to you) and I figured she had left something out in the translation, so came to your website to look. Nope.
    What an unbelievable joy this flipping cake is – I love it so so much!!!

    • haha! Honestly, I don’t even know how it works, but it’s our favorite!

  4. Hi! 🙂 Can you use frozen spiraled zucchini in a pinch (if you shop It up super finely)? Or does that not work?

    PS YOU are my favorite, Pamela!!! So glad I found you!

    • I haven’t tried using frozen zucchini here, but I would defrost the zoodles and pat dry so the batter is not too wet. ANd yes, chop finely! Let me know how it turns out.

      • THANK YOU!!! <3

  5. Could I double this and put in a 9x 13 pan?

    • Totally!

  6. Snowed in in Chicago and was hoping I wouldn’t love this so much – but alas I can’t stop eating it. How is it best stored for a few days?

    • It’s the best! Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

  7. I made this cake yesterday with my 3-year-old daughter, and it turned out incredible. At one point, I took a call and my daughter dumped more coffee powder than what was specified on the recipe, and I thought, “Oh, no, we’re gonna end up with chocolate and coffee cake!” But, it was all chocolate at the end.

    We ate it with some Fromage and Fig ice cream from Lick ( in Austin. Oh, it was decadent!

    • yum yum!!

  8. Hi, for some reason my cake is super watery and I’ve had it in my oven for 60 min now. Any way to fix that?

    • Sorry that this is happening. There must be some mismeasurement or maybe the pan size is too small or the temperature in the oven is too low. This is my most popular recipe of all my recipes and I can’t say that I have had anyone write to me with an issue. Perhaps just refrigerate it so it firms up and eat it cold.

      • Hi! I’ve made this recipe three times so far and each time I have had to bake it for 1 hour and fifteen-twenty minutes to get it to bake through. It could be my oven since it is a new and I am not familiar with it and don’t yet know if it runs cooler than other ovens.

        I love the recipe!

        • Christina, it does firm up quite a bit as it sits. When I take it out, it is still pretty soft, but not liquidy. It could be that your nut butter is more liquidy or maybe you’re packing the zucchini in the measuring cups and then you have more zucchini….

          • Do you recommend squeezing the liquid out of the zucchini first?

            • Nope! It’s not necessary for this recipe.

    • Are we supposed to let the zucchini drain before using it?

      • Hi Shelley, I’ve made it without draining the zucchini. And, it turned out really good.

        Did you modify anything?

      • Nope!

  9. I have made this and all have loved it so!
    I would like to make this for my friends birthday and she is allergic to so many ingredients including all nuts and seeds. Can I do it without the nut butter?
    Thank you!

    • I’m afraid not. So sorry!

      • it does seem quite essential. thanks.

  10. This was absolutely incredible. My husband and I absolutely loved this and that’s huge coming from him since he’s typically a bit quicker to shun ‘healthier’ desserts than I am. He was SHOCKED when I mentioned it had zucchini in it – waited to disclose this after he took a few bites of course! : ) This is an incredible recipe that I’ll be turning to time and time again!

  11. Going to make this weekend. Would it work to use the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cacao Mix with Reishi instead of the instant coffee? I only have that or Nespresso pods. Or leave it out? Thanks! ~Kristina

    • Just leave it out. Not essential at all!

      • Thanks so much! I made it and delicious and so shared with my sister-in-law. She just asked out of curiosity the benefit of grain-free? I started to answer then thought best ask! Thanks in advance. ~Kristina

        • It can be a little lower glycemic if almond and/or coconut flour or nut butter stands in for a grain flour. The nuts also add good fat, too!

  12. I just made this today and substituted the egg with a “Chia seed egg” to make it Plant based. It was so delicious and moist. I could not believe how the zucchini disappears. Excellent recipe!

    • Great!!! I know, isn’t awesome how the zucchini is undetectable?

  13. I LOVE these brownies but I also love nutritional information. I’m really concerned with what I put in my body and would have loved to have this information on hand.

    • Hi! I get it. I use an app called my fitness pal, and there’s a free version. You can input recipes into the app and tell it how many servings from the recipe, and it will give you the combined nutritional values for a serving from the different ingredients. I love this feature of the app. I know it’s not ready-made and done, but if she doesn’t get a chance to come back and answer with the nutritional info, you could find it out this way. Hope that’s helpful!

      • Thank you!

  14. Delicious cake- host asked me to bring a healthy dessert… & everyone loved it, including my teenager! Thank you so much!!
    I am so grateful to have discovered your cookbook in the library, bought my own copy & then signed up for your dinner planners. Your recipes are always winners for my family & that is a tough standard. Thank you!!!!

    • Oh, just make my day why don’t you!

  15. I saw you make this on Home & Family a few weeks ago and have already made this 3 times! Everyone who has tried it, loves it! My husband think it’s better than our family’s favorite chocolate cake; I do too!! This is a keeper!!!

  16. I made this on Sunday and it is AMAZING. I did it in cupcake tray and it worked perfectly. Thank you!

    • Terrific!

      • Hi Pamela,
        Your zucchini brownie recipe lools delish.
        Can you please provide the nutritional values ? Important when it comes to recipes offering a healthy alternative.
        Thanks so much.

  17. Sorry for the silly question, but would this recipe work well to make both mini cupcakes and standard cupcakes? Would I need to make any adjustments and how many do you think one batch would make? Thank you!!

    • Not a silly question at all! Yes, you can make cupcakes or mini cupcakes. I am going to guess you can get 9-10 standard cupcakes out of this recipe and there are different sizes for mini muffin tins, so I don’t know. CHeck the cupcakes at the 20-minute mark.

      • Hi Pamela! Been watching people make this all week during the pandemic and am excited to try. How critical is the nut butter? Do u have any subs for it? Many thanks, stay safe and healthy!

        • Hi! Nut butter is totally critical here. You can use any kind of nut butter you want. You can use tahini which will give it a sesame flavor. You can use sunflower butter, but the cake will have a dark green color to it. You can probably use a product called Granola Butter, but I haven’t tried that.

  18. My son cannot have eggs. What is a good substitute?

    • I actually made this vegan with a flax egg – 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal mixed with 3 Tablespoons warm water. Allow to sit on the countertop for 10-15 minutes before adding to the batter. 🙂

  19. For the second year in a row my son requested this cake for his birthday cake. He’s 11 years old now. None of the invited children know how healthy it is. All they know is how delicious it is.

    • Ahhhh!! Love it!! How amazing is that! Good job, mama 🙂

  20. I made this cake many times, thank you for this wonderful recipe. Now, I would like to make it vegan. I read your comment about flex-egg but wondered if an apply sauce or mashed banana will work? And how much to substitute one egg? Thank you!

    • Gosh, I have no idea since I haven’t tried it. I imagine it would work with either, but there’s the possibility of the cake being a little denser. 1/4 cup of applesauce?

  21. I made this tonight and oh my word…it was delicious! I froze individual slices for later. A great recipe I’ll be using again and again. Thank you!

    • SO glad! It also stays well in the fridge for the week. Although it’s less tempting in the freezer 😉

  22. I do indeed love this cake!! Love love just like you said eating it all until it’s gone telling myself it’s good for me and then dreaming about it until I make more!
    I usually double it, which works well and I had an extra egg when my hens give more and I’ve tried other nuts such as walnuts for the butter all with wonderful results! Thank you Pamela!

  23. Hi Pamela! This sounds great but I have 3 boys that are all allergic to nuts. Is there a substitute for the nut butter?


    • Yes! That’s so strange that it’s not listed here, but sunflower butter works equally well! Enjoy!

      • Thanks!!

        • My pleasure 🙂

  24. Hi, Pamela. This looks like a delicious recipe! Unfortunately, it is NOT sweetened only with maple syrup, as it also has semi-sweet chocolate chips. I might try subbing the chocolate chips with chopped dates.

    • Hi Stacy! It is a delicious recipe and I hope you try it. I think diced dates would be an amazing swap for the chocolate chips! There are chocolate chips out there that are not sweetened with refined sugar, though. Lily’s is one possible brand. And there are other chocolate products not sweetened with refined sugar, such as Honey Mamas, which can be chopped into chunks and used as well!

  25. Hi Pamela.

    This is so delicious, I have to make it again. However I’m trying to go low carb, so need to replace the syrup/honey. I have both liquid stevia, and natvia. What would you suggest, as I think I’d need to increase fluid somehow with either of these. Thanks.

    • Yes, I think you will lose moisture if you sub stevia for the maple syrup. Can you do applesauce? I might try 1/4 cup applesauce + 1/4 teaspoon stevia. Not sure how it will work though. Let me know if you try it!

      • Thanks Pamela.

        I just made this again yesterday, replacing all the maple syrup with the equivalent of natvia (1/3 cup), and then added 1/3 cup of water to make up the liquid. (I would have used almond milk if I had any).
        It looked to be the same consistency as your batter.
        I then cooked this in a ring tin (like a Bundt), as it seems to me, a good way to cook cake evenly, and not be drier around the outside edges. Took about 35 mins in my oven.
        I thought the raw batter was a bit sweeter than I would have liked, but finished cake seems to be just right for sweetness.
        Topped it with a dark choc ganache, as I did this for Hubby’s birthday. He loves it.

        I didn’t use applesauce, as there would probably still be too many carbs for a keto recipe. Might try that another day.
        I know there are other keto recipes out there, but I really liked that your recipe has almond butter AND zucchini AND chocolate.
        I am so pleased to have found your site. Thankyou !!

        • Thank you for generously sharing your substitutions. I’m sure people who need to eat low carb appreciate the advice!

  26. this is one of my all time favorites! how many days would this stay good in the fridge? and (sorry for the amateur question)… how would you defreeze this?

    • Nice to hear! You can keep it in the fridge, well-wrapped or covered, for about 5 days. If you freeze it, defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then on the countertop to thaw completely.

  27. I made this cake a few months ago and it was so amazing!
    I’m planning on making it again for Christmas, but I would like to add some peppermint extract to it and make it a peppermint cake (I’m also going to crumble up some gluten free peppermint cookies in it). How much peppermint extract do you think it will need?

    • Great idea! I’m not sure, but I would guess 1/8-1/4 teaspoon. Peppermint extract is really strong, so a little goes a long way. I would start with 1/8 teaspoon and taste the batter. You can always add more. Let me know how it goes!

  28. I just made this for my family! My middle – and MOST Picky eater – eating Carrots as his only vegetable…Absolutely LOVED this “brownie!” I will make it again and again and will NEVER tell them their is Zucchini In there!


    • This is my Mr. Picky’s hands-down favorite dessert!! Glad it was a hit with your littles 🙂

  29. Would there be s zucchini substitute at all
    In this? Grated apples? Would that make it Too sweet? Apple sauce? I need to eat these again but have no zucchini.

    • You can try grated apples. They may add extra sweetness, so feel free to drop a teaspoon or two of the maple syrup. I would not use applesauce.

  30. Hi Pamela,

    I don’t have any instant coffee powder but I do have an espresso maker could I just make a strong shot and use that instead? Would I need to decrease any other liquid?

    Do you squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini at all?

    • Hi Deborah, Don’t bother with the espresso. The cake will still be great without it. I do NOT squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini. Enjoy!

  31. Made this for a picnic and every last piece was devoured by young and old alike. They are super delicious and super easy. Definitely add the coffee. Thanks for the great recipe!!

    • Nice! So glad you enjoyed them. They are definitely my family’s favorite treat!

  32. What brand of chocolate chips do you prefer for this recipe? Trying to avoid refined sugar when possible but do not want to sacrifice the taste of these! Thanks!

    • Why don’t you try Lily’s? It is sweetened partly with stevia. Check them out!

  33. From my Mr. Picky: “This is the best brownie I’ve ever had!” Thank you!!

    • Ha! So great! Thanks, Jenny 🙂

  34. Scrumptious!!! And so easy to make! I used half a stick of butter, honey, chopped walnuts. To be repeated! Thank you Pamela. Can’t wait to try some other recipes on your blog.

    • All good substitutions! Let me know what other recipes you end up trying!

  35. These are OOC (out of control!)!. In 1 week I made these 3 times for various people and the reactions after they eat them are the best – how on earth can they taste SO bad for you yet filled with zucchini! Thank you for a such a superb recipe!

    • Haha! Great comment, thank you! They are a favorite in our house, too. 🙂

  36. I’m new to the ” family” ….I made this today because I have so much zucchini in my fridge and it sounded so good. My husband, who has wheat sensitivities and not a big fan of sweet cakes, went bananas over it! He kept calling it “pudding cake” – a child hood favorite of his! Thanks to him, we had instant coffee, which gave the cake recipe a nice depth. I just shared the recipe with my mom, sisters and a couple of friends! Hooray for Pamela!
    ( I hope it freezes well, so I can take some on a car trip in a couple of weeks).

    • What a lovely comment, Enlise. Thank you. And yes, the cake freezes very, very well. 🙂

  37. If I double this recipe should I bake it in a 13 x 9 dish or bake it in two 8 x 8 dishes?

    • I think it would do fine in a 13 x 9, although I haven’t tried it. The only thing that gives me a little pause is that the base of this cake is almond butter (which can burn easily) and you would have to bake it slightly longer in a larger dish. I do think it would work, but I can’t say 100%.

      • Thanks so much for your quick response. I ended up baking the cake in two 8×8 Pyrex dishes, side by side and they came out beautifully.

        • Fantastic!

  38. Omg! I made this with the zucchini fries! It was a zucchini night! I really don’t know how this recipe is possible. It tasted just like a brownie cake!!! The flavor was super choclolatey and it cooked perfectly! I’m obsessed! Thank you so much for this!!!!

  39. This is amazingly delicious! When I read the ingredients I was skeptical it would taste like cake, but I am happy to report I was wrong. I do cut it up & freeze it, so I am not tempted to sit down with the pan & a fork.
    Great recipe – it’s so fun to see the surprise on someone’s face when I tell them what’s in it (and what’s not in it).
    Also love the pizza zucchini boats – my 2 new go to recipes for my zucchini harvest. Keep them coming!

  40. This cake is probably one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever had. We had some guests come over that were in a specific diet with no grains or dairy allowed so I made it using dairy free chocolate chips by enjoy life.
    No one knew what was in it and the ate the entire thing because it was so moist, chocolatey, fudgy, just AMAZING !!!

    Thank you for this recipe!!!!

    • How great is that?! Thanks, Niloo!

  41. Can anyone recommend a substitute for the egg in this recipe? Trying to make it vegan. Thanks in advance!

    • I would try a flax egg and see if that would work. One “flax egg” is 1 Tbs. ground flax meal mixed with 3 Tbs. warm water. Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes until it starts to gel.

      • This worked alright – I think the only thing to make sure is that the flaxseed meal is really fine. I used a store-bought one which wasn’t all that fine and later flaxseed bits were pretty evident in the cake. But still it was a big hit! 🙂

        • Interesting. Thanks for your feedback. Really info to know!

  42. Amazing recipe!!! I’m not a baseball fan but got to say this is a Home Run of a dessert! Made it for dinner dessert today and no one believed me that there was no grains. I try not to eat any grains so this recipe appealed to me. So glad I tried it and so easy!! Thank you!!

    • Isn’t this cake exciting? We all love it here. So happy you did, too. 🙂

  43. I am currently making this for the third time (in a month!). It’s amazingly delicious. I’m going to try them as cupcakes for my 2 year olds birthday. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Yippee!!

  44. I substituted the almond butter for sunflower seed butter and if was yummy as well.

    • Glad you liked it!!

  45. Delish and wonderfully moist!
    My kids loved it and no one knew it
    had zucchini in it!
    Thank you for another great recipe!

  46. I baked it this afternoon…used grade a maple syrup, dark cocoa powder, guittard chips…turned out absolutely delicious. I poured 1/2 the batter in, sprinkled 1/2 cup of chips, then the other half and the rest of the chips on top….so it looked really “chippy.” My kids loved it. Great recipe – thank you!

  47. THREE CHEERS FOR PAMELA!!!! Having said that, I am very very afraid to make this as I know the result will be EXACTLY as you described it….but of course cannot resist…looks AMAZZZING. Yummm.Thanks!!!

    • This is insanely delicious! As my friend Chrissy said, it’s like magic. And super easy to make too – YUM!

      • Thanks. I am mad crazy for it. Can’t make it too much because I’ll eat the whole thing!

  48. Hi Pamela,
    I wanted to suggest a coffee substitute that is gluten free – Dandy Blend. Of all the coffee alternatives I think it’s the closest taste-wise. It’s especially delicious with a splash of coconut milk over ice!
    Thank you for the recipe, perfect timing as we head into the summer zucchini glut!

  49. Pamela,
    Have you tried this with peanut butter? I have to avoid almonds. Thanks!

  50. Only because EVERY SINGLE dish of yours that I have made is a keeper will I be trying this cake, haha. And I already know it will be delicious!!!

  51. Pamela,
    First let me start off by saying that I love you no matter what! However, any suggestions for decreasing the choc chips or substitutions for making this a little more ‘diabetic’ friendly?

    • I make this regularly and people who live processed food and are weird about zucchini in their cake have no idea there’s zucchini in there or that this is isn’t processed at all. I love it! Make it for myself, my friends, my pregnant neighbour with 3 children aged 14 months to 5 years old and my own 14 month old son. Very confident feeding this to children knowing what’s in it! ❤️

      • Love **

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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