The Perfect Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream

August 18, 2022

Chocolate Zucchini Cake – moist chocolate zucchini cake layers with a lemon cream cheese frosting.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake on a cake stand.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Looking for a way to use up all your zucchini from your garden? I’ve got you covered! My Chocolate Zucchini Cake is as easy as it is delicious! It’s a recipe from Ryan’s family and a fan favorite around here. 

The zucchini adds moisture to the cake, but you can’t even tell it’s there once the cakes are baked. I also added some lemon zest to the cake to carry that flavor throughout each bite.

I also added a bit of lemon to the cream cheese frosting. Chocolate and lemon may seem a bit unusual to some, but it’s oh-so-good!

Woman adding buttercream to a cake with an icing spatula.

Can this cake be made in a sheet pan?

Absolutely! Just like all of my cakes, you can simplify them by baking them in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. In fact, Ryan’s parents used to serve this cake with chocolate chips sprinkled on top. The frosting is my addition 🙂 

To bake in a rectangular baking pan, don’t change a thing except the baking time. You’ll add about 10 minutes to my suggested time below. 

Cake on a turntable.


Woman adding lemon to the top of a cake.


Chocolate Zucchini Cake on a turntable with lemons.

How to Assemble this Cake

With only two layers to handle, the assembly of this cake is incredibly easy. The first time I made it, I actually didn’t even frost the outside of the cake and made it a naked cake.

Woman setting up a cake photoshoot.

Woman placing cake slice on a plate.

This time around, I created a rustic look with my straight icing spatula. You can easily get this look with just a regular kitchen knife too. Check out my tutorial for this technique HERE.

Cake slice on plate.

Top view of cake with lemons.

Cake on a cake stand in a kitchen.

I love the simplicity of this cake, but the flavor is really the show-stopper!


Chocolate Lemon Zucchini Cake

5 from 14 votes
Moist chocolate zucchini cake layers with lemon cream cheese frosting.
Servings 1 2-layer, 8-inch cake
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 25 mins
Inactive Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins


For the Cake

  • 2 1/4 cup (270 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 cups (300 g) grated unpeeled zucchini, about 2 ½ medium
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Buttercream

  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly chilled
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, slightly chilled
  • 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) lemon extract
  • Pinch of salt


For the Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray your two 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and spray the parchment. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and oil until well blended.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix in the grated zucchini and lemon zest.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
  • Cool completely in pan. 

For the Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the lemon extract and salt.
  • Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat for about 5 minutes, until light in color.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: chocolate, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate lemon zucchini cake, cream cheese buttercream, Lemon, Zucchini

Join the Conversation

  1. Melissa S says:

    Hey Courtney,

    Do I need to squeeze out the water from the zucchini or do I just grate and use as-is?


    1. No, I didn’t. It helps maintain the moisture in the cake.

  2. Candice Chivilo says:

    Can you also provide baking instructions to make it a sheet cake?

    1. I have an IGTV about making my cakes into sheet cakes.

  3. Can you use lemon juice in icing or does it have to be lemon extract?

    1. I would use extract.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating