Deep Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Zucchini Cake

I do love chocolate cake, but when it comes down to it, I’m a bit of a snob. I like them dense and moist, almost damp – not airy and gutless, like those made with a mix. Frosting is not essential – especially when it comes to a good bundt. I like the cake to stand on its own, rather than act as a mere vehicle for butter and sugar.

This here? It’s my favourite chocolate cake. There, I said it. If I had to choose just one, this is it. Not too sweet, moist and compact, but not doorstoplike.

This week I’m out in Kelowna, presenting at the Okanagan Food and Wine Writers’ Workshop. It’s pretty much the best job ever, wherein a small group of less than twenty stay at the Hotel Eldorado (aka “the El”), eat and drink well and sit around tables having sessions on writing, pitching, marketing, photography, new media and the like. All straight up my alley. Tonight we got a preview of the brand-new Bottega, with a spectacular dinner by chef Mark Filatow of Waterfront Wines.

Where I even met an alpaca with a pretty rad ‘do and Flashdance leg warmers.

But – the cake. I made it last weekend, when we were going next door for a barbecue and to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs, and we were supposed to be there in half an hour and I still hadn’t figured out what to bring for dessert. We had zucchini in the fridge, and so I let that dictate my choice of dessert, rather than attempt some sort of pseudo-hockey puck shaped chocolate thing.

This is the bomb when you want something plain enough to eat out of hand – in wedges around the card table, maybe – or to hand a half dozen boys under 10 who are on their way out the door to play street hockey. It will also satisfy a deep need for something soft and intensely chocolate.

It’s a security blanket, in cake form. (Grab some icing sugar with a tea infuser for a quick dusting.)

Deep Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Zucchini Cake


June 14, 2012

  • Makes: Serves 8-16.


1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 smallish, or 1 large)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips, or both (optional)


1Preheat oven to 325ยฐF and spray a Bundt pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugar on high speed with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until thick and pale yellow. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

2In a smaller bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add a third to the butter mixture and beat just until blended; add half the sour cream and do the same. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the sour cream, and the rest of the flour. Stir in the zucchini and the nuts and/or chocolate chips, if you're using them, and pour the thick batter into the pan, smoothing the top.

3Bake for an hour, until the top is cracked and springy to the touch. Invert onto a plate or cake stand while still warm.


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73 comments on “Deep Dark Chocolate Sour Cream Zucchini Cake

  1. Margaret
    June 14, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Just the way a chocolate cake should be! If you like bundt cakes, have you ever read anything from ‘The Food Librarian’? The last couple of years in the fall, she writes about ’30 Days of Bundts’.

  2. ml
    June 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Oh man, I’m definitely going to try this one! I love cakes that are chocolaty but not too sweet – and no frosting for me…so this sounds perfect. The recipe looks hassle free. And it’s so pretty! I think I’ll make it for our Father’s Day dinner this weekend.

    Thanks for sharing your favorite recipe Julie!

  3. Vivian
    June 14, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I used to steer clear of bundt cakes, pretty as they are, because the buttering and flouring of the pan seemed to always leave unsightly floury streaks when the cake was turned out of the pan. Someone suggested using cocoa for chocolate cakes to replace the flour or, if you think ahead, make crumbs of any leftover chocolate cake, dry and freeze them. They work just as well as flour. Nice sounding recipe. I’m off to the store for a zucchini…my garden plants are only 3″ high!

    • JulieVR
      June 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Yes, cocoa works great! to be honest, I never bother flouring pans when I make cakes. And if you use nonstick spray you won’t get any residue at all!

  4. Julia
    June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Awesome looking bundt! Totally comforting!

  5. Nicole
    June 14, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Holy crap, that looks great!

  6. Cheryl
    June 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Would this work with cupcakes instead of a bundt pan?? I have a 1-year-old birthday party coming up and it sounds great!

  7. Barb
    June 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Zucchini really does make a good chocolate cake.

  8. CathyH
    June 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Wow! You must be one fast baker or chronically late to be out of the door in half an hour. This sounds wonderful Julie!

  9. JulieVR
    June 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Ha! yes – good math! the benefit to being next door is I mixed it up, put it in the oven, and popped back to take it out!

  10. Donna
    June 14, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Could we sub grated apple for the zucchini ?

  11. Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are}
    June 15, 2012 at 6:03 am

    beautiful. This cake speaks to me. OF COURSE!
    I am in love with bundts. IN LOVE. You had me at “deep dark chocolate”!

  12. Deidre
    June 15, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I made this last night for some friends, and it turned out beautifully. I used part yogurt and part sour cream. To be honest, I was expecting it to be a bit denser but it is delicious nevertheless.

  13. Jen @ Savory Simple
    June 16, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I’m with you here! I love a super moist cake that doesn’t need frosting to be delicious. This looks wonderful and I’ve pinned it for the next time I have a chocolate craving!

  14. Carol S-B
    June 16, 2012 at 9:13 am

    When I use frozen grated zucchini, I always find that it releases a lot of moisture. To prevent a watery cake, should I drain some of the liquid before proceeding?
    And I freeze grated zucchini in two-cup amounts. If I drain some of the moisture, should I plan ahead and freeze in, say, 2 1/2 cup amounts to compensate?

  15. anja
    June 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    hi julie,how do you grate the zuccini?fine oder bigger pieces?thanks for your from berlin,anja xx

  16. Gemma
    June 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    I just made this cake: sprayed the pan with cooking oil, dusted it with cocoa, and it STILL half stuck to the pan. Sigh… I won’t be able to get away with not icing this cake.

  17. molly
    June 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    have been in search of a grand chocolate zuke cake…

  18. PatW
    June 17, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Made this last night Julie, it was wonderful! What did I ever do before I started cooking with you? Most of my go-to recipes are yours these days! Just oiled the pan and it popped out (new pan though). Thanks!

  19. JulieVR
    June 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Gemma – I blame the cocoa… yes, it’s the same colour as the cake, but I’m not convinced it has anti-sticking properties. It might even create a bond between batter and spray? I spray my bundt pans generously, and generally have no problems!

  20. Jennifer Jo
    June 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Made it twice, and now I wrote about it. Thanks!

  21. Irm
    July 23, 2012 at 3:38 am

    Deeeeelicious!!! I adore your blog Julie. I am mostly cooking from it these days!!! Keep those excellent recipes coming!
    One question though, I want to make this for a friend…but no dairy and no eggs. I know I can use egg substitute but what can i substitute for the sour cream?

  22. Sarah
    August 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I just made one since I am literally leaving zucchinis on neighbours’ doorsteps, ringing their doorbells and running away ๐Ÿ™‚
    The cake turned out beautifully. Even my 11 year old son who is not a cake lover, enjoyed a slice for dessert. It really is deep, dark and delicious.

  23. Laura
    September 3, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Wow. I made this cake yesterday. As I am NOT much of a baker (way more into cooking) I thought I had done something horribly wrong when my batter started to look more like dough. I did not pour, but rather scoop it into the bundt pan. Perhaps the greek yogurt I used was much thicker than the average sour cream? Did I measure the flour wrong? Anyway, I shouldn’t have worried – it turned out perfectly! Rose like a dream. It basically was identical to the picture here on the blog and got rave reviews from my guests. Thanks for a great recipe. I will share this link widely!

  24. Lise
    September 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for the recipe. I think this turned out to be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. I used a 9×13 glass baking pan, and it turned out perfectly.

  25. Gemma
    September 8, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Julie, I tried this recipe again, without the cocoa dusting in the pan, just a little oil, and it slid out like a dream. This is the BEST chocolate zucchini cake I’ve had.

  26. Carla
    September 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Made this cake today. Used Pam but it still stuck some. Need to flour pan also. Tasted delicious. I drizzled with cream cheese icing lightly. Will definitely make again.

  27. Lori at Frugal Edmonton Mama
    September 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Ahah! Husband can no longer tell me I am a baking failure. I made these into cupcakes and they were so delicious, so moist, so perfect with whipped cream in the center and SO fun to decorate with the little.

    I blogged it!

  28. Debbie
    October 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Can it be made in a 9×13 pan rather than a bundt pan?

  29. Con
    January 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    worst cake I ever made, what a waste of ingredients

  30. Jody
    February 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    What would u say 325;F would b equal 2.Thanks looking forward 2 trying this.

  31. Danielle
    April 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    I just made this cake and it is delicious. Probably the best chocolate cake that I have ever made. Will definitely make again. Thanks!

  32. Micaela
    April 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I loved it! I want to make it again! Sincerly Micaela Age 7

  33. Dana
    June 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Looks like a great recipe, but DO NOT flip this cake over to cool while still warm. Mine fell in chunks right out of the pan and was ruined.

  34. help me get pregnant
    August 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

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    like you wrote the guide in it or something. I believe that you simply can do with some % to power the message home a bit,
    however other than that, that is magnificent blog. An excellent read.
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  35. Christine
    September 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Holy Dinah, this is gooooooooood!! Made a double-batch last night and it is moist with a tender crumb, great texture, fantastic flavour!! I love that there’s been cakes tested at high altitude by you, Julie–this way I don’t need to worry about them working or not. Delish!!! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  36. Claire
    February 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Hi Julie! I am a chocolate + zucchini NUT and I wanted to know: (1) do you think this could be made with honey instead of sugar and (2) do you think any other flour (EG whole wheat or oat) could be used and retain that dense moistness?


  37. Charlotte
    February 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Amazing recipe. I am an accomplished baker and after looking for a recipe for a chocolate carrot cake I stumbled upon your and decided to give it a try because it sounded wonderful. And it was!! used dark cocoa- about 1/2 cup b/c that’s all I had- but it still turned out chocolatey and delish. Used mini semisweet chips and walnuts too!!drizzled with 2 oz. of melted semisweet chocolate once cake cooled. Thanks for a great recipe. This one is definitely a keeper and I would recommend it to anyone!!

  38. sadomaso roulure
    May 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Vos posts sont vรฉritablement attrayants

  39. Susan
    August 21, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Hi Julie,
    Love your recipes and always turn to your cookbooks or website when I need to be reminded of how to use certain ingredients / leftovers hanging around in the fridge or pantry. Last weekend, I needed to use up some sour cream and thought it would be good via a chocolate Bundt cake. Searched your database and made this recipe.
    It was fabulous of course and I sliced, wrapped and froze the leftover cake. Defrosted for dessert last night and it was perfect.

  40. cheryl
    August 28, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I buttered the pan and dusted with cocoa – it turned out – no sticking to the pan. Awesome cake!

  41. darlene
    September 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    This is an absolutely incredible cake! Could the zucchini be replaced with baked beets to make a beet cake?? ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Cindy
    September 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Our neighbours have been sharing their zucchini with us this summer. I made this cake last month and I am making it again this month for my Mom’s 83 birthday celebration! It is so moist and decadent! Thanks for sharing!

  43. Julie K
    May 8, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Hi, I made this gluten & dairy free by substituting gluten free flour + 1 tsp xanthan gum, almond milk with a dash of vinegar and chopping up a dairy free chocolate block. I made it on Monday and am still eating it today (Saturday) and still beautifully moist. I can’t think why I would make a chocolate cake without zucchini now. (Going to try it with egg replacer for my vegan daughter.)

  44. Linda
    July 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I have the same recipe except it omits the sour cream/yoghurt and has less flour in it. Otherwise the ingredients are the same. I use only 3/4 cup sugar and sub canola oil for the fat for health reasons and it’s still good. I usually make cupcakes with it. Adding mini chocolate chips and a tiny amount (1/4 teaspoon) of cinnamon improves it imo.

  45. Linda
    July 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    The best way to remove a bundt cake from the pan without sticking.
    Grease inside pan completely covering every nook and cranny. Pay special attention to the bottom where the curves are. This is where the cake usually sticks. Sift in a bit of flour. Make sure every bit of surface inside is coated. Tap out the excess.
    Two minutes before the cake comes out of the oven wet a dish towel in very hot steamy water (do this in the sink). Lay it on the counter and place your hot cake still in the bundt pan on the towel. Leave it for 10 minutes. Then invert the pan and the cake will come out easily.

  46. Linda
    August 18, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    I made this cake this morning. Added mini chocolate chips. I found it took considerably longer than one hour to bake. A cake tester kept coming out wet. Used a round tube pan with a removable bottom. It is a delicious cake. Very dark and moist. I drizzled it with chocolate frosting and decorated it with sprinkles for the kids.

  47. Melissa
    August 22, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    This was absolutely fabulous. I basically made it as is, except I added maybe 1/4 more cup of cocoa. It did take approx 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake but who cares when the cake is this good. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I made one on Thursday and just finished making a second one tonite. Because, as I said, absolutely fabulous. ๐Ÿ™‚ You won’t be disappointed!

  48. Laurie
    September 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

    I picked up two large zucchini from a Mennonite market stand yesterday and was looking for cake recipes today. Needless to say, I was thrilled to come across this one! I have attended Christmas in November at Jasper Park Lodge several times and really enjoyed your session. I am scheduled for another this November. My sister and I travel from Toronto for this great event! ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Bianca
    September 5, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Ate half before dinner..used extra zucchini, love the sour cream addition. Way moist..done feel bad having larger’s healthy ya??

    • Julie
      September 7, 2016 at 7:50 pm

      Absolutely! It’s always good to eat more veggies! ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. Galina
    November 23, 2016 at 2:46 am

    Just did it and it didn’t turned out good ๐Ÿ™
    I kept it in the oven for over an hour and it was still completely raw inside. I wonder if it has something to do with my oven?

    • Julie
      November 23, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Oh no! it sounds like it – how long did it take to bake?

  51. Adriana
    June 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    OMG just baked this cake and had a slice still warm. My kids are licking their fingers as I type lol
    I get why this is your favourite cake. I think it’s now my favourite too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Julie
      June 19, 2017 at 11:02 pm

      Dang, now I have to make one! ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Pushpa
    July 28, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful cake recipe. I have made it twice already and loved it. I was wondering if I could substitute the zucchini for carrots?

  53. Linda
    September 7, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I brought this cake to a meeting last night and as people were leaving they were asking to share the recipe. Great cake recipe, made it in a 9 x 13 pan, worked great!

    • Julie
      September 9, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Amazing!! thanks for the reminder.. making one again today!

  54. Julie
    January 16, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Hi Julie, I converted the recipe to make it in my Tefal Cuisine Companion and I made it gluten and dairy free. Was demolished by my colleagues today. Thanks heaps.

  55. LucyinAust
    February 15, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    Absolutely delicious!!! I chose this recipe as I had both yoghurt and zucchini needing to be used. I used a HUGE zucchini (they are growing so fast in our garden we can’t keep up!), probably about 25cm (10″) long and as wide as a jar! I grated it in the food processor as it would have taken ages otherwise. I tasted the batter before cooking to see if this might have upset the recipe, and I added some dark brown sugar.
    I didn’t cook it long enough (had to rush out the door) but it was soooo good this way, I might repeat the undercooking again! It sort of ended up like a dense mousse layer. I made mine without the chocolate chips/walnuts. The cake lasted 2 days (eating vegetables right?!) and I’ll be making another today!! Thank you for a great recipe.

    • Julie
      February 19, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      So glad to hear it!!

  56. Jenna
    June 23, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    So, so good. In addition to walnuts and mini chocolate chips I added raisins just because I love raisins. It was amazing!

  57. Jorjean
    August 6, 2018 at 10:01 am

    This was the BEST from scratch cake I’ve ever made. So good! One thing to note is that I squeezed out the excess water from the zucchini before adding to the recipe. Not everyone may know to do that. After squeezed out it was 2 cups total. Again….so good!!!!! Perfection.

  58. Charlotte
    March 15, 2019 at 10:45 pm

    I’ve made this cake a few times. It is absolutely delicious. I love the deep dark chocolate flavour. Even tried it as muffins once for school lunch! My family loves this! Thanks for a fabulous recipe!

    • Julie
      March 19, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      You’re welcome! glad you’re loving it!

  59. G Davila
    June 22, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    How are people making this when one of the ingredients doesn’t have a measurement? I had to guess on the butter as I don’t see where it’s listed in the ingredients?

    • Julie
      June 23, 2019 at 12:03 pm

      That’s strange… butter is #1 on the ingredient list.. 1/2 cup?

  60. Grace A. Davila
    June 24, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    I was using a kindle to read the ingredients so maybe that was it?

  61. Jani
    August 20, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Does this cake freeze well?

    • Julie
      August 27, 2019 at 10:58 pm


  62. Eileen Saric
    August 25, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Why canโ€™t I find the amounts needed for oil, butter and sugar???????

    • Julie
      August 27, 2019 at 10:57 pm

      I don’t know, they’re there! Are you looking at it on an iPhone? Someone else had this problem…

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