A healthy chocolate zucchini bread that is moist and dark, and free of dairy and oil. The soft dense bread is rich with cocoa powder, and yet as moist as devil's food cake, made with twice the amount of zucchini typically found in zucchini bread recipes.
This healthy chocolate zucchini bread recipe is simple and light for several reasons but mostly because it is oil free. Specifically this bread is high in protein, fiber and fairly low in sugar and fats. Use zucchini in season or not, I have a tip for you to add moisture for any vegetables that are out of season.
And this snack bread is remarkably delicious. Like most of my bread and muffin recipes, this is a one bowl bread recipe, uses simple ingredients and is so easy to make. Like my healthy chocolate cake, my chocolate covered donuts, my chocolate chip loaf cake, and my chocolate chip muffins, this chocolate loaf is a great way to sneak those required veggies into your loved ones. Serve it at a party or brunch along with a fruit platter - learn how to make a fresh fruit platter here.
Zucchini. Use it raw and unpeeled. Grating it will allow it to be absorbed into this healthy chocolate zucchini cake upon baking so no one will know there are veggies in this healthy chocolate zucchini loaf. Buy organic zucchini because zucchini is a vegetable that tends to absorb more pesticides.
Unsweetened cocoa. Use regular cocoa or Dutch processed. Regular cocoa is more acidic which reacts with baking soda to lighten the texture. But I like Dutch processed dark color so I made adjustments to add an acidic environment, so choose either.
All purpose flour. You can use oat flour instead, but use a bit more, 2 ½ cups. To make it gluten free, use a 1 to 1 gluten free baking blend.
Unsweetened Applesauce. This replaces the egg and provides structure and moisture.
Coconut sugar. This allows the healthy chocolate zucchini loaf to be refined-sugar-free, and lends the cake a caramel flavor. You can also use brown sugar.
Dairy Free Milk. Curdle this with a tablespoon of lemon juice to create an acidic environment for baking soda which then provides leavening without the presence of eggs.
Butter. Butter helps the texture retain moisture. I used Earth Balance tub or sticks.
Don't forget the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. I also added a little arrowroot (or cornstarch) to lighten texture as zucchini bread can get dense but it's optional.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- measuring cups, spoons
- mixing bowls
- grater, strainer
- hand mixer
- loaf pan, parchment paper
- cooling rack
Step by Step Instructions
For more detail, visit the complete recipe at the bottom of this post, but here are general steps.
Step 1: Prepare.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Either grease and dust a loaf pan with cocoa powder, or add a sheet of parchment paper so the sides hang over.
- Wash the fresh zucchini. Cut off the ends, don't peel, and use a hand grater or even a zester to grate. As you reach the end of the zucchini, use a fork to hold it to not scratch your finger tips. If the zucchini is out of season, rinse it after grating it. Then squeeze out the water using both a strainer and then paper towels. Once the water is removed, you should have reduced the grated zucchini from 2 cups to 1 squeezed rather dry.
Step 2: In a small mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together. Set aside.
Step 3: In a larger mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients, including butter and sugar in a bowl and whisk or mix until the sugar is melted, about 2 minutes.
Step 4: Add in the dry ingredients, and combine.
Step 5: Fold in the zucchini. Once the mixture is combined, add it to the loaf pan and put it in the oven.
Step 6: Bake the loaf for 50-55 minutes at 350 F. Check at 45 minutes, and again at 50 or 55 minutes. You want a tester to come out clean.
Step 7: Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then run a knife around the inside to loosen the cake. Then lift the cake out using the parchment overhands, and set it on a cooling rack for an hour or less until completely cool.
Step 8: To top it with a chocolate glaze, melt the chocolate and microwave the milk, and combine the two, then pour it over the top. Allow to set at room temperature. I also sprinkled cookie crumbs on mine.
1.Add a rinsing step to the grated zucchini if you have purchased it during the late fall to early summer when it is not in season. That means once it is grated, put it in a strainer and rinse it through, then squeeze it out. This step is needed because out of season zucchini might be dryer. You still need to squeeze out the residual water however, even the water you added from rinsing. The rinsing step is meant to hydrate otherwise dry zucchini.
2.Use room temperature butter. If it is not soft, microwave it for 10 seconds or so. You won't need to do this if you use vegan butter from a tub.
3.Move fast once you've mixed the batter. The reaction by the leaveners is very fast, so you need to get it baking before the power wears off and you end up with a flat loaf.
4.Use Dutch processed or regular cocoa powder. Some chocolate zucchini loaf recipes require use of regular cocoa powder, not Dutch processed. But I prefer the chocolate flavor and the dark devil's food color of Dutch-processed cocoa so I adjusted this recipe to allow it. Baking soda, the leavener in this bread, requires acid to help the bread rise. Regular cocoa is acidic and fulfills that role, while Dutch-processed cocoa, which is not acidic does not. But I added acid to the recipe via homemade buttermilk, the lemon juice in the milk. So your bread should rise just fine.
There are a few substitution possibilities with this healthy chocolate zucchini bread recipe.
All purpose flour can be replaced with a gluten-free baking flour to make this recipe gluten free.
Applesauce. Instead of applesauce to replace eggs, you can use 1 ½ flaxseed eggs, which is 1 ½ tablespoons of ground flaxseed, stirred into ¼ cup of water. You can also use yogurt, although high fat with no flavoring is best.
Coconut sugar. This is a brown sugar and provides moisture and caramel flavor to the cake. You can use regular brown sugar with the same impact. You can probably use white cane sugar but the result might be a dryer cake.
Cinnamon & Coffee. Both of these ingredients are optional. The cinnamon adds a spicy kick, and the coffee deepens the flavor of chocolate, you don't taste in the cake.
Dairy-free Milk + Lemon. You can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar instead of lemon juice.
1. Do I leave the skin on zucchini for zucchini bread?
Yes, the skin is nutritious and full of fiber. But the ewg.org says non-organic zucchini carry high levels of pesticide in their skin so buy organic and leave the skin on.
2. How many calories are in a slice of chocolate zucchini bread?
My recipe provides 10-14 slices that are under 300 calories a slice, largely because it is plant-based and oil-free.
3. How do you keep zucchini bread from getting soggy?
Easy! Just follow my instructions to press out the water in grated zucchini.
4. Does zucchini bread have nutritional value?
Yes! Chocolate zucchini bread has exceptional nutritional value. High in fiber, protein and essential nutrients.
Chocolate chips. Add ½ cup of chocolate chips to the batter with the zucchini. Or sprinkle them on the top of the batter before baking.
Crushed walnuts. Add ¼ cup crushed walnuts to the batter before baking.
Cinnamon. Add 1 teaspoon to the batter for a cinnamon chocolate flavor.
Make Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
To make this recipe into muffins, I recommend folding in ½ cup of mini chocolate chips into the batter before baking. Then distribute the batter in a muffin pan for 12 lined with paper liners. Bake the muffins at 350 F for 25-30 minutes.
How to Store
Room temperature. Store this zucchini bread at room temperature for up to 5 days. To help it retain moisture, either wrap the entire loaf in cling wrap and set it in an airtight container, or slice it and wrap each slice in cling wrap and store those in an airtight container.
Freeze it. You can also store it frozen, although I would definitely recommend store individual slices. It should last at least 3 months, probably beyond if you wrapped it as recommended.
Thaw & reheat. To thaw, set it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours, unwrapped. To reheat, set it in the oven for about 3 minutes at 350 F in a preheated oven or microwave for 15 seconds and repeat until warm.
Other Breads & Muffins
- Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Healthy Pumpkin Bread
- Apple Cider Donuts
- Healthy Pumpkin Muffins
- Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins
If you tried this recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!
Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Mixing bowls
- grater, strainer
- loaf pan, parchment paper
- Cooling rack
- 2 cups zucchini, grated , about 2 (8-inch) zucchini, squeezed down to 1 cup
- ¼ cup (61g) applesauce, unsweetened
- ½ cup dairy free milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice add to the milk, wait 10 minutes to curdle it
- ¼ cup (57g) butter I used Earth Balance vegan butter sticks
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- ¼ cup dairy free milk I used canned coconut milk, warmed
- Add the lemon juice to the milk and allow it to sit for 10 minutes and curdle. This helps activate the baking soda to act as a leavener.½ cup dairy free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan and dust with cocoa powder, or line with parchment paper hanging over the sides.
- Prepare zucchini. Wash with water and soap or vinegar, raw, unpeeled and whole zucchini. Then grate it. Rinse if it is out of season zucchini.* Press it into a strainer to squeeze out water. Then squeeze it several times between several pieces of paper towels to remove yet more water.Reduce the wet 2 cups of grated zucchini to 1 cup of grated zucchini with water squeezed out.2 cups zucchini, grated
Make the Batter
- Into a smaller mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk. Set aside.2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour, ¼ cup (35g) cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon of salt
- In a large bowl, stir up the wet ingredients and sugar and coffee.¼ cup (61g) applesauce, unsweetened, ½ cup dairy free milk, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ¼ cup (57g) butter, 2 teaspoon vanilla, ¾ cup (150g) coconut sugar, ½ teaspoon instant coffee, 1 tablespoon arrowroot
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient mixture. Mix batter with a hand mixer, spoon or stand mixer.
- Fold in the zucchini, and add the batter to a loaf pan.2 cups zucchini, grated
- Bake for 50 minutes to possibly 60 minutes, but start checking at 45 minutes, and check every 5 or 10 minutes after that. Bake until a tester comes out clean.
- Let cool 20 minutes before attempting to remove the loaf from the pan. I remove it by slipping a knife in the edges, and lifting the cake out via the parchment overhang.
- Set the loaf on a cooling rack and allow it to completely cool, about 30 minutes.
Frost the top
- To top it with a chocolate glaze, melt the chocolate and microwave the milk, and combine the two, then pour it over the top. Allow to set at room temperature. I also sprinkled cookie crumbs on mine.½ cup chocolate chips, ¼ cup dairy free milk
- To store this vegan chocolate zucchini bread, allow it to cool and then slice BEFORE frosting. Then wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap. Place them in a sealed container. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or refrigerate for a week. Or freeze up to 3 months.