This easy-to-make gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake might become your new favorite dessert because it’s fudgy, moist, rich, and so chocolaty! It’s a delicious vegan chocolate cake that is also perfect for birthdays! The recipe is not only gluten-free but also plant-based (dairy-free, egg-free), refined sugar-free, oil-free, and quite healthy because it contains zucchini and sweet potato!
Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Where do I begin? I think I just went to chocolate heaven after eating a slice of this delicious vegan chocolate cake. I am not kidding, this cake is so tasty even though it contains zucchini!
Chocolate cakes have a bad reputation because normally they contain lots of sugar, eggs, and butter, but not this one! Even though it’s a healthy chocolate cake, it tastes absolutely amazing. Also, would you guess that the creamy chocolate frosting contains sweet potatoes? I bet you wouldn’t!
I love hiding vegetables in my chocolate desserts. Actually, I already made brownies with zucchini, black beans, sweet potato, silken tofu, chickpeas, and even sweet peas. !
Why adding zucchini to a cake? The zucchini adds moisture, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Check out this article to read about the health benefits of zucchini.
Oil-Free Chocolate Cake
I love to bake, but I actually never follow any recipes which I find online because most of them aren’t very healthy. A quick Google search for chocolate cake reveals lots of recipes that contain either butter or a cup of oil. I mean, seriously, who wants to eat a cake with so much oil or butter?! Your arteries won’t be happy.
I do have some recipes which contain a few tablespoons of oil but sometimes, I try to completely skip the oil. Even though oil is plant-based, it’s a refined food that contains 100% fat and no fiber at all. So whenever possible, I rather consume the whole plant and not the oil.
For example, instead of avocado oil, I eat an avocado. Or instead of coconut oil, I eat coconut meat. Whole foods are always complete and contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. which makes them much healthier.
I am not saying that this gluten-free chocolate cake is fat-free because it is not. Fat adds taste and a great texture to baked goods, furthermore, it’s important to eat a diet with healthy fats. However, you can get similar results with ground nuts or seeds (like almond flour, nut butter, etc.).
How To Make A Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake?
I promise that the recipe isn’t hard to follow. I also included step-by-step process shots for easy visual instructions. You can find the list of ingredients, measurements, nutrition facts, and instructions in the printable recipe below.
- Process the dry ingredients in a blender, then transfer them to a mixing bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients and stir with a whisk or hand mixer.
- Grate the zucchini.
- Add the zucchini to the chocolate batter and stir with a spoon.
- Transfer the batter to a lined and greased springform or use two pans (read the thorough instructions below in the recipe card).
- Bake in the oven.
- Make the sweet potato frosting in a food processor or blender.
- Frost the cake.
You can use a different frosting, maybe you want to keep it simple and just use a glaze, like the one in my Healthy No-Bake Brownies.
Like almost all my recipes, this chocolate cake is vegan and gluten-free. The recipe contains brown rice flour and no “complicated” flour blend. If you aren’t gluten-free, though, you can try out regular flour. One reader reported in the comments that she made the cake successfully with all-purpose flour.
Other readers reported that the cake came out fine with white rice flour or with a store-bought gluten-free flour blend. You can make your own brown rice flour (from brown dry rice) in a good high-speed blender, however, store-bought flour is typically finer and less grainy.
I don’t recommend using coconut flour because it’s very absorbent and would dry out the cake.
The Perfect Vegan Birthday Cake
If you were looking for an allergy-friendly chocolate cake for a birthday, then look no further. This vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake is a wonderful birthday cake because normally everyone loves chocolate, not only kids but also adults. A moist and rich chocolate cake was always my favorite birthday cake. I mean, you can never have enough chocolate in your life, right?! I hope you will give it a try and surprise your loved ones with this eggless chocolate cake for their birthdays.
Tips And Variations
- Make chocolate muffins: Pour the batter into a muffin pan and reduce the baking time by about 15-20 minutes. Make a toothpick test after 25 minutes.
- Add some flavor: You could add orange zest to make a chocolate orange cake! It’s a nice and refreshing twist!
- Add chocolate chips: If you love chocolate as much as I do, feel free to add dairy-free chocolate chips for a triple chocolate cake.
Chocolate Sweet Potato Frosting
You can make this chocolate zucchini cake with or without frosting. However, if you make it without the frosting, it will be a little boring. The frosting is actually so rich, tasty, and creamy, so I definitely recommend it. Furthermore, the sweet potatoes make the frosting not only thick but also pretty healthy.
This delicious gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake is so simple and every chocolate lover will enjoy it. If you try it out, please leave a comment and rating below and tag me with @elavegan and #elavegan on Instagram and/or Facebook. Don’t forget to use #elavegan as well, otherwise, I won’t see your post.
For more delicious vegan chocolate desserts, definitely visit the following blog posts:
- Vegan Lava Cake
- Vegan Chocolate Pie
- Caramel Chocolate Brownies
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- 2-Ingredient Condensed Milk Chocolate Truffles
- Keto Chocolate Truffles (Vegan)
- Double Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookies
- Chocolate Salami (No-Bake Dessert)
- The Best Vegan Chocolate Pudding
Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 1 1/2 cup (240 g) brown rice flour (see notes)
- 1 cup (150 g) coconut sugar (see notes)
- 3/4 cup (66 g) cocoa powder unsweetened
- 2 tbsp ground flax seeds or ground chia seeds
- 3/4 cup (66 g) shredded unsweetened coconut (see notes)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups (lightly packed) (240 g) grated zucchini (see notes)
- 1 1/3 cup (320 ml) coconut milk canned (regular or lite) (see notes)
- 3-4 tbsp (80 g) maple syrup or agave syrup
Sweet potato frosting:
- 2 small (300 g) sweet potatoes cooked
- 1 cup (240 g) sunflower seed butter or nut butter of choice
- 1/3 cup (105 g) maple syrup or agave syrup
- 4 tbsp (24 g) cocoa powder unsweetened
- 1/8 to 1/2 cup (120 ml) plant-based milk (amount depends on consistency / read instructions)
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.I recommend using a kitchen scale for this recipe. Check the step-by-step process shots above in the blog post.
- Process all dry ingredients in a food processor or blender for a couple of seconds. Transfer the dry ingredients to a big bowl.
- Whisk the coconut milk and agave syrup together in a bowl and pour it over the dry ingredients. Give the mixture a good stir (you can also use a hand mixer if you want).
- Grate the zucchini and add it to the batter. Stir with a spoon (don't use a blender or food processor).
- Grease a 7-inch or 8-inch springform with some oil or line it with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the springform and bake it in the oven at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 45 minutes (check the center of the cake with a toothpick after 40 minutes to see if it's cooked already).Note: If you have two 7-inch or 8-inch pans, then split the batter in half and pour it into each pan. This way, you won't need to cut the cake in the middle. The baking time will be less if you use two pans.
- Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes. Then carefully cut cake layers with a large knife or use dental floss (like I did).
- Process all ingredients for the frosting in your food processor or high-speed blender until you have a thick, fluffy, and creamy frosting. If you use white sweet potatoes (which are very starchy) you will need more plant-based milk (I used 1/2 cup, but you might need even more). If you use orange sweet potatoes,1/4 cup plant-based milk should be enough.
- Frost the cake and enjoy! Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- Some readers reported that they made the cake successfully with all-purpose flour. Cassava flour seems to work fine too. One reader reported that almond flour is unfortunately not working in this recipe.
- You can use any granulated sweetener of choice, for example, cane sugar, date sugar, etc.
- You can use 66 grams of ground nuts or seeds of choice instead of shredded unsweetened coconut.
- I recommend using canned coconut milk, however, you can also use different plant-based milk with the addition of 3 tablespoons of oil.
- I didn't drain zucchini but if yours is very watery it's recommended to drain it.
- The Nutrition Facts are for one slice if you cut the cake into 12 slices. Calculation includes the frosting! Without the frosting, the cake has approximately 213 kcal and 6.8 grams fat per slice.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
IF YOU ARE USING PINTEREST, FEEL FREE TO PIN THE FOLLOWING PHOTO:
I don’t have access to brown rice flour, would Bob’s red mill 1-1 flour do it for this cake?
Also, is there a substitute for zucchini for this recipe? Or do you have any ideas? where I live we have something similar to zucchini but it’s not quite as juicy, it’s number 5 in this list:
Greetings from Mexico!
Thank you very much!!!
Hi Dania, the 1:1 flour should be fine! And yes, you can use the no. 5. It also grows where I live and I have used it before. Here it’s called calabacin. 🙂
First of all thank you very much for your recipe. I’ve made my cake yesterday for my birthday and it was soooo delicious. My friends sons t even noticed that there was some zucchini in there. Unfortunately I didn’t had rice flour so I’ve used wheat flour. I also topped my cake with some strawberries.
Thanks so much for your great feedback, Maryam! I am so glad the cake turned out delicious. 🙂
Hello! Looks absolutely delish and can’t wait to try it! One question – I would still like to use a frosting that is packed with vitamins and minerals like this one, however I am unfortunately horribly allergic to sweet potatoes. Do you have any substitution suggestions? Thanks!
You could use regular potatoes (I would use less though as they are starchier). Hope this helps! 🙂
Made this cake it turned out to be superb! Replaced the coconut milk with almond milk and 3 tbsp of coconut oil and used cacao powder instead of cocoa. It turned out fabulous! Thank you for the recipe
So happy you loved the recipe, Anchal. 🙂
I am just a big fan of all your recipes, I can’t even hide it. I couldn’t even taste the sweet potato, only thing I’d change if I’m going to make this another time is cut down the amount of frosting on like 2/3 or even half the ingredients, because even with making three layers, there was a lot of frosting left. I didn’t want to overfill the cake, because the cream already is quite heavy. The taste is amazing, though!
Thanks so much for your kind feedback, Maja! 🙂
Do the grated zuchini have to sit and drained of liquid?
Hi Tanja! I actually didn’t drain it but there wasn’t a lot of liquid. If yours is very watery, then I would drain it. 🙂
I did wait or drain liquid.
My cake did not rise one bit… why?
Sorry i did not wait
The cake is gluten-free and doesn’t rise. If you want it to raise, you’ll need to use all-purpose flour or spelt flour. 🙂
I did use all purpose flour. I wasn’t able to cut in half and just froated the one layer. It still tasted amazing. Will try again for sure.
Thank you, Tanja
That’s fine. I am glad it tasted amazing. 🙂
Just wanted to come on quickly to tell you I made your cake today, and it was a hit!! Even my 8yr old son liked it, and he’s not a big chocolate fan! And oh my word, after eating a slice, I now know why you split it into TWELVE slices, lol! Super decadent, and so very yummy–thank you!! I tagged you on my IG pic of it before we dug in. ❤️
Aww, that’s awesome Susannah! I am so glad you all loved the chocolate cake. 🙂
Such a great cake! We made it for our sons first birthday!
I am so glad it turned out delicious! 🙂
I have made this recipe 3 or 4 times now. Simply love it. Not to complicated to make. I don’t have brown rice floor, but I use integral or semi integral rice floor. It works just fine with it! I tried a lot of your recipes till now, and have no complaints. ????
Ps:would love to post a picture, but..
Aww that’s awesome, Orsi! I am so happy you love the cake and many other of my recipes.
Much love 🙂
I want to do this cake for the holiday with my family. But, I would like to use carob. Can you tell me what accomodations I should follow to make the cake with carob powder ?
Hi Nina, I think it should be fine if you use carob instead of cocoa powder. 🙂
Hi Ella! This looks just perfect! ! Can I use 2 regular eggs instead of the chia seeds..?? Thank you and keep up the great work you are amazing !!!
Hello Sofia, I cannot tell you how the cake will turn out if you use eggs since I never use eggs in baking but I think it might work.
Thanks for your kind comment. 🙂
Hi Ela, this looks amazing! Can i use oats flour instead of rice flour?
I would rather recommend Cassava flour, buckwheat flour, or maybe even quinoa flour. You could try oat flour though, however, the cake might turn out more dense. 🙂
How about almond flour? Out looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it?
Hi Briana, I never tried almond flour. 🙂
Please report back if you give it a try!
I’m interested in trying almond flour. How did it turn out?
Unfortunately, most people never report back.
Hey I tried this recipe and it turned out great. Thanks for sharing a great recipe
I am glad you liked the cake! 🙂
Can the nut butters be substituted by vegan butter such as Earth Balance. Thank you
Hi Margaret, that should be fine. 🙂
Could you give a weight for how much sweet potato please?
Hi Roxanne, it’s 300 grams of cooked sweet potatoes. 🙂
Hi, I just read through all the comments but couldn’t find an answer to my question — I apologize in advance if it was already answered and I missed it. Can I use canned sweet potatoes for the frosting? If so how much or how big of a can? The recipe just says “two small sweet potatoes” and I’m not sure what that means quantity-wise. I am lazy and don’t really want to spend time peeling and cooking potatoes, that’s why I was hoping to just use canned instead. Thank you!
Hi Jen! You need 300 grams as mentioned in the recipe (metric). 🙂 Using metric measurements is always better for gluten-free vegan desserts. I never tried canned sweet potatoes though, aren’t they quite mushy? If they have a similar texture to cooked sweet potatoes, you can definitely use canned. 🙂
Nice recipe, I’m sure it would turn out great, but I won’t be making it. I just think that the way you present it, the way you write and answer comments is quite impolite. And yes, some people don’t have access to rice flour OR a high speed blender, no need to ask “Is there a reason you don’t want to use rice flour?”. Obviously there is if they asked. (There’s plenty of reasons: can’t eat rice, doesn’t like rice, on a diet where it’s not allowed etc.) And if you are aiming for success with your blog, you can’t simply say that you haven’t tried it with any other flour. It’s your recipe, therefore your brand, it’s meant to teach others how to make it so YOU are the one that should experiment with it with more common ingredients, especially if there’s people, your followers, asking you. I’m not trying to be mean, I just didn’t expect such a defensive and kind of mean stance from a healthy food blog. You always need to give people options, that’s the point of a blog post, that’s why we’re here, to expand on the subject. Otherwise we would’ve just read a recipe. Hope you don’t take this the wrong way, simply some constructive criticism.
(FYI rice flour isn’t the most common thing, especially brown rice flour)
Hello Dee! 🙂 No offense taken! I offer plenty of options for other recipes. Just browse my site and you will see that my readers are always very grateful for me offering MANY options! However, vegan AND gluten-free desserts are often quite difficult to make.
I can only offer substitutes for recipes that I tried with different ingredients. But that’s not always possible for me. I live on an island with limited access to most ingredients and therefore I can’t try out every cake recipe with 10 different flour options, that is simply NOT possible (even if I wanted)!
Asking if there is a reason not to use a specific ingredient is not impolite at all. It’s a valid question. I often hear answers like “it’s Sunday and I don’t have XYZ in my pantry”…
Furthermore, you need to understand that I run my blog myself, I don’t have employees. I share every single recipe for free, there are no hidden costs! I answer all my comments and private message on social media until 1:30 am and I work 14-15 hours every day, 7 days a week. Telling me that I am mean is quite rude in my opinion…
Great response to the person above.. maybe someone has a little too much time on their hands.. ????♀️
Your doing a great job! I have only tried one of you recipes so far.. the Spanish rice, was great, even a hit with a 5yr old boy (winning!!) did some fresh lime to it whilst cooking and some more stock..
As for the cake.. just wondering does the cooked sweet steamed, boiled or baked in the oven? Skin on or off?
Hi Kirsty, thank you so much for your sweet comment. I am glad you and your boy enjoyed the Spanish rice. 🙂
I used white, peeled sweet potatoes and boiled them. If you have orange sweet potatoes, I would recommend steaming them or baking them in the oven.
Hope this helps. 🙂
Seeing that someone would write that initial comment makes my blood boil! Asking why they can’t eat something is a valid question – especially if it helps you give other suggestions. And you’re right when you answered that you’re doing this all for free. It’s not as if we are paying a subscription for these recipes. You can’t help everyone in every situation – you’re just sharing what works for you and hoping that it’ll work for others too! Don’t mind the rude trolls – they obviously have other issues they’re dealing with!
Anyhow – I’ve made this recipe a few times with different tweaks (GF flour, all purpose flour, different frostings, etc). It’s always turned out well. The amount of frosting is a bit much for us, so I usually cut it down. And the flavor of sunflower seed butter can be overwhelming when I use it. So lately I’ve just been doing sweet potato, cocoa butter, maple syrup, vanilla and it’s delicious with your cake! I’ve made it as a 2 layered cake and cupcakes and they’re both a hit. Many people say “ehh vegan? No thanks” but this cake convinces them that vegan can be tasty! And honestly I try to incorporate veggies into all my baked goods. I’ve also used a mixture of zucchini and carrots and that’s been great as well! Keep up the great work Ela! My family and I appreciate it. (We aren’t vegan, but we have multiple allergies)
Aww, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment, Kris. I really appreciate it.
And I am very happy you love this cake, even with some modifications. 🙂
Much love, Ela
I have to agree. Your recipes are some of the most amazing I have found as vegan or otherwise. You are very talented. These posts are very easy to follow and the pictures are great! It would be hard to know all substitutions possible for every recipe. I bet it took days to figure out just one dessert recipe and perfecting the combinations. So no need to apologize at all! Thank you for your kindness in sharing your vegan recipe genius!
Thank you so much for your kind comment, Sofia. It makes me so happy to receive so much support from my community! I wish I could send you a hug. 🙂
Much love, Ela
I fully agree Ela. You’re quite gracious to actually reply to Dee. The span of life is so limited & I’m often amazed that people have the time for confrontation, negativity or anything unkind. Thanks Ela for fantastic recipes. Keep shining while continually being conscious of all forms of life and our planet.
Dear Jean, thank you very much for your beautiful comment and nice compliment, I really appreciate it. 🙂
In the time it took you to write that opinion piece you could have baked this cake three ways over using many multiple recipe variations.
Not only did you try and knock someone down, you also did it in the most public way and frankly that is the true depiction of MEAN! If you were a sincere and kind natured person you would have chosen to give your constructive opinion privately and in a way that may actually be helpful and beneficial.
There is something very sad about people who feel the need to shame others on social media, especially when they are people like Ela, who invests so much of her time into doing what she loves and to which so many of us have gained true value and benefit from.
It is not Ela’s responsibility to try out every recipe variation, it is the responsibility of the reader. It’s great for people to ask questions as this is how we all learn and I would like to applaud Ela for always trying to answer back the best she can.
Make Cake not War on others and next time whip up a little more kindness 💜
Hi Nova, thanks for your kind comment and support, I appreciate it a lot. 🥰
Hello i saw this recipe from your site with the Organic Protein and I would like to give it a try, but can if I use coconut flour how much should I use? Because I have read before that it takes less because it absorbs more water. Thanks in advance!
Hey! I do not recommend coconut flour in this recipe. It would probably make the cake dry and not moist.
I need a substitute for brown rice flour, you mentioned once before quinoa flour or buckwheat, just want to make sure that would still be fine in this recipe!
Hi Stacey! Buckwheat flour should be fine. Please report back if you give it a try! 🙂
Hello. I don’ like coconut taste but would love to make your cake! I can see that I can sub shredded coconut to nuts. But is it possible to sub coconut milk both in batter and cream to smith else please? Thanks very much in advance!
Hi Marta! Yes, you can use ground nuts (e.g. almond flour) instead of the shredded unsweetened coconut.
For the frosting, you can use any plant-based milk instead of lite coconut milk.
However, if you use different milk in the wet ingredients, I would strongly recommend adding 2-3 tablespoons of oil, otherwise, the cake will turn out too dry.