Chocolate Lemon Zucchini Cake

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

Chocolate Lemon Zucchini Cake

If you’re looking for an easy (and delicious) cake recipe, this cake is for you! The chocolate zucchini cake layers are adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe. It’s a recipe my in-laws make quite often and has always been a favorite of mine.

They typically serve it with in a sheet pan with some chocolate chips sprinkled on top of it. To put my own little spin on it, I decided to turn it into a two layer cake and add some buttercream. Just wouldn’t feel like me if it wasn’t a layered cake 😉


I love the idea of chocolate and lemon together. It’s a flavor combination that’s not used very often, but it’s oh-so-good!

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.


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.

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.

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


Chocolate Lemon Zucchini Cake





Yield 1 2-layer, 8-inch cake

Chocolate Lemon Zucchini Cake.

Moist chocolate zucchini cake layers with lemon cream cheese frosting.


Chocolate Zucchini Cake (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 2 1/4 cup (270 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (109 g)  vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 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 1/2 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest 

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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


For the Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  1. 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.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and oil until well blended.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  5. Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  6. Mix in the grated zucchini and lemon zest.
  7. Pour the batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
  8. Cool completely in pan. 

For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the lemon extract and salt.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat for about 5 minutes, until light in color.

Courses Dessert

Cuisine Cake

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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  1. Hey Courtney,

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