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Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Gluten Free and Sugar Free options)

This vegan chocolate zucchini bread is dense, moist, ultra-rich and chocolatey – everything you want out of a chocolate treat, plus it somehow contains TWO full zucchinis!  And of course undetectably vegan and gluten free.  Cake for dinner, anyone??!

Looking down on the loaf with a bunch of slices falling over each other

Remember that food pyramid that used to teach kids about the different food groups?  Grains on the bottom, fruits and veggies in the middle, fats on top?  Well, never did I imagine that my favorite “on top of the pyramid” treat would actually be chock full of the green stuff from the middle of the pyramid!  The beauty of the zucchini in this cake is not only do you secretly get a serving of veggies while eating dessert, and not only does it taste like a totally normal chocolate cake without any concern of “why is a vegetable in here”, but the zucchini even pulls double duty as it helps keep the cake moist for longer!

Early in my days of vegan and gluten free baking experiments, I spent some time visiting family, and asked each of them what recipes they wanted me to work on while they could be my taste testers.  This vegan chocolate zucchini bread was a personal request from my sister, and I am SO grateful she suggested it.  I went through many rounds of testing on this one, and the end result is the perfect mixture of being rich, moist, insanely chocolatey, and PACKED with zucchini.  You can even add chocolate chips or nuts inside if you want!

I knew I’d gotten the recipe right on this one when I gave a giant chunk of cake to my neighbor to feed his 5-year old daughter as a snack, and he said she gobbled it all up, wanted more, and had no idea there were veggies inside.  Winner winner, chocolate zucchini cake dinner!

oh one final thought..

why does everyone call this bread?  Is it because it’s in a loaf pan?  I mean, if I have to use it to make a sandwich like I do with other breads then fine you don’t have to twist my arm, but.. what do you think?  Cake or bread?  Let me know in the comments!

Artistic close up image of two slices on a place with zucchinis in the background

How To Make It:

Step one of this vegan chocolate zucchini bread is a step you will rarely see in dessert recipes – grate your zucchini!  The amount of zucchini you use can definitely vary based on your own preferences.  I use a VERY tightly packed full cup, then heap more on top.  I wouldn’t recommend doing much more than that, as it can get too overstuffed and start to break down the texture, but if you want to use less you can use as little as you want.  No judgement if you call it “zucchini bread” to feel like you’re getting veggies but it’s only a tablespoons’ worth. At the amount I do, I use nearly 2 medium sized zucchini (or 1 if they’re oversized zucchini!).

Once grated, you want to pat the zucchini dry, so it doesn’t mess with the consistency of the batter (is the word “zucchini” starting to sound weird to you yet? Just me?).  You don’t need it bone dry by any means, but not as wet as freshly grated zucchini starts out being.  I lay all mine out in a single layer on a stack of paper towels and pat it dry, then let it stay on the paper towels to seep out more moisture while I prep the rest of the recipe.

Next up, the only other step that needs a few minutes prep time – making the vegan buttermilk.  Haven’t done this before?  It’s so easy!  Basically you use non-dairy milk and mix it with a bit of apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or lemon juice, and let it sit for a few minutes to curdle.  This gives it a thicker texture and keeps the end result extra moist and well formed.

While the buttermilk is setting..

Mix the gluten free flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.  If you don’t have cornstarch you can absolutely just use more flour in its place, but I like adding a certain amount of cornstarch into gluten free goods like this to give them a softer feel, more like as if you’d used cake flour. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegan buttermilk, neutral oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.  Once combined, add in the sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make these sugar free!) and whisk again.  Then, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and fully combine.  Finally, add in the zucchini and mix evenly throughout the batter.  If you want to add in chocolate chips or nuts or anything else, now would be the time to do that as well.  I have not used any other mix-ins, but would think the batter can handle about a cup of either chips and/or chopped nuts.

Grated zucchini in a bowl
Batter without the zucchini
Batter with the zucchini
Bake time!

After pouring the batter into a 9×5 loaf pan, optionally you can add chocolate chips over the top, as you can see I’ve done here.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 55-60 minutes, testing for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center and making sure it comes out with crumbs, not wet batter. 

Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and place the pan onto a cooling rack (this is better than onto the counter so air can circulate to the bottom of the pan, too) and try to resist the temptation to dig your fork straight in.  To really let the cake firm and cool correctly, I leave it in the pan for an hour before removing it and letting it cool a bit longer directly on the cooling rack.

Wet batter in the pan
Batter with chocolate chips on top
Baked cake but still in pan

Last note – if you are following my photos, you will see that I use binder clips when lining my pans with parchment paper. I only do this until the batter is poured in, then I remove before baking!!

That’s it! Time to eat your vegan chocolate zucchini bread!!

Nutritional info can be found in the Notes section below the recipe instructions.

Storage:

After the vegan chocolate zucchini bread (cake?) has fully cooled, seal air-tight in plastic wrap or a large Tupperware, and keep at room temperature.  It will stay good around 5 days.

Head on look at the loaf sliced open

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.
  • If you decide to use chocolate chips, make sure they are vegan! I use this brand, but whatever you like best will work!
  • Need any of the basics? I use this grater and this set of loaf pans.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Zucchini – 1 packed and heaping cups’ worth. As I said above, I use either 1 very large zucchini, or nearly 2 full 6-inch zucchinis in this recipe.  You can definitely do less, though I wouldn’t suggest trying much more.
  • Non-dairy milk – any non-dairy milk should work here!  I usually use soy or almond.
  • Vinegar – apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or lemon juice to curdle the non-dairy milk.
  • Neutral oil – any neutral oil should work here, I always use grapeseed
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar – If you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of the granulated sugar.
  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Cornstarch – if you don’t have any cornstarch on hand you can use more flour in place here
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Salt
  • Chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts – optional, to be mixed in or sprinkled on top. You can probably get about a cups’ worth of extra mix-ins. If you are using chocolate chips, make sure they are vegan! I use this brand, but whatever you like best will work!
Looking down on one slice

What To Bake Next:

Looking down on the loaf with a bunch of slices falling over each other

Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Gluten Free option)

Dense, moist, ultra-rich and chocolatey – everything you want out of a chocolate treat, plus it somehow contains TWO full zucchinis!  And of course undetectably vegan and gluten free.  Cake for dinner, anyone??!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Cool Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 10 slices

Ingredients
  

  • 1 packed and heaping cup grated zucchini
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup neutral oil
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • ¼ cups cornstarch see notes
  • 2/3 cups cocoa powder see notes
  • tsp baking powder
  • ½ heaping tsp salt
  • chocolate chips and/or nuts optional, to mix in the batter and/or sprinkle over the top

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Grate the zucchini, measure out the correct amount, then lay out on paper towels to blot dry.  I let mine stay on the paper towels while I prep the rest of the batter so it continues to seep out moisture.  You don’t want it bone dry, but also if it’s too wet it could alter the consistency of the batter.
  • Make the vegan buttermilk by measuring out ¾ cup non-dairy milk, then adding 1 tsp of vinegar.  Let it sit for a few minutes to curdle.
  • While the buttermilk is curdling, in a large bowl mix together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.  See notes below or more details throughout the post about how to swap out the cornstarch, or use some Dutch cocoa powder in place of a little bit of the regular cocoa powder.
  • Separately whisk together vegan buttermilk, neutral oil, applesauce, and vanilla extract.  Add in sugar and whisk again until smooth, then add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. 
  • Finally, add in the zucchini (and chocolate chips or nuts if you are using any), and mix until evenly distributed throughout the batter. Try not to overmix or the batter will get tough! 
  • Pour the batter into the lined loaf pan and stick into the oven.  Bake for 55-60 minutes, testing for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the middle part of the loaf and making sure it comes out with crumbs, not wet batter.
  • Once done, remove the pan from the oven and stick it onto a cooling rack.  Let the cake continue to firm and cool inside the pan for an hour before removing to further cool, or eat while it’s warm.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don’t have cornstarch, you can absolutely just use more flour in its place, but I like adding a certain amount of cornstarch into gluten free goods like this to give them a softer feel, more like as if you’d used cake flour.
  • Use regular cocoa powder here, NOT Dutch.  However, if you want to swap out a few tbsp of the regular cocoa powder and swap in a few tbsp of Dutch cocoa powder to give it a richer chocolate flavor, you can do that.
 

NUTRITION INFO

Total amount: 1 loaf
Serving size: 10 slices 
Per serving amounts: (note – this does not account for any chocolate chips or nuts you may include in your own)
  • Calories – 336
  • Grams of fat – 16.2
  • Grams of carbs – 47.1
  • Grams of protein – 3.7
Keyword chocolate, chocolate bread, chocolate cake, chocolate chips, chocolate zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake, gluten free cake, vegan cake, zucchini bread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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