Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake


Prepare to be deceived. When I say ‘hidden veges’ I mean this gluten free chocolate zucchini cake might as well be the Bermuda triangle. All you need to know is that this cake has exceptional chocolatey richness and texture. It’s moist, stores well and for bonus points, it’s plant-based. Let’s eat!

but first, the Elephant in the Room

This cake contains vegetables. Technically, a vegetable and a fruit, if you count the avocado. Ethically, and practically I can’t not disclose this, but if there had been a way..?. Thing is, with this cake, nobody will know it contains greenery. Not your fussy kids, your ‘none-of-that-hippie-stuff’ grandad, nor vege-averse husband. Nobody will suspect a thing, well at least about the veges. You may suspect your kids are bouncing off the walls from the intensity of chocolate, but that’s a different issue.

With this cake, the purpose of the zucchini isn’t even for healthiness. It’s there to provide moisture, and once cooked becomes one with the other ingredients. Therefore, please suspend your doubts and give this one a go, Jo.

Chocolate cake on a wooden cake stand, cake cover in background.

Gluten free and plant based

Most of my recipes are gluten free, as this makes it easy to feed my sensitive friends, but if you’ve only got regular flour, no worries. Just replace the rice flour with regular flour and you won’t need the psyllium. The psyllium is there to add back the bounce that is usually provided by gluten.

The vegan-friendly, egg-free status of this cake is due to my egg conservation efforts. Eggs are currently super-expensive in NZ, so I like to offer alternatives in baking. The ‘flax egg’ is an old staple egg replacer and works nicely. The banana also helps hold things together. If you don’t have flax, but do have eggs, a 1:1 replacement works just fine.

The ganache is very similar to my Chocolate Avocado Mousse, so if you’ve got a lot of avo’s around, you might like to make both. If that doesn’t use up your stash I’ve also got instructions on how to freeze avocado. At time of writing ‘How to Freeze Avocado’ is my most popular blog post… you just never know what people will be searching for, eh?

A chocolate zucchini cake on a plate with cake cover in background

‘Courgette Cake’ recipe

That’s what we’d normally call it in NZ lingo. It’s a confused situation. I never heard the word ‘zucchini’ while growing up; it was always ‘courgette’. Lately ‘zucchini’ is taking over, so I’m going with the times (and with the SEO).

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This is a rich, moist cake with a glorious avocado ganache. Come for the hidden veges, stay for the decadent flavour and perfect texture.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: international
Keyword: chocolate zucchini cake, gluten free, hidden veges, plant based, Vegan
Servings: 12
Author: Sara Lake


  • 1 22 cm Cake Tin
  • 1 Food processor to make the ganache


For the Cake

  • 2 Zucchini (Courgette) – grated
  • 2 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  • ¾ Cup Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Cocoa (or raw cacao powder)
  • 3 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed For the flax eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Psyllium Husks
  • 9 Tbsp Water to make the flax eggs
  • ¼ Cup Oil Light olive oil is great
  • 1 Banana – mashed or leave this out and add another ¼ cup oil
  • 1.5 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 shot Espresso or 30ml warm water
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Cardamom
  • ½ tsp Salt

For the Ganache

  • 1 Large Ripe Avocado
  • 30 grams Dark Chocolate
  • ¼ Cup Melted Coconut Oil
  • 3 Heaped Tbsp Cocoa (or raw cacao powder)
  • ½ Cup Maple Syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • ½ tsp Salt


Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (360℉) fan forced or 190℃ (375℉). Grease your tin or line with baking paper.
  • Make the flax eggs by combining the ground flaxseed with the water. This needs 10 minutes to become gooey.
  • Sprinkle your grated zucchini with the salt and put aside while you weigh the dry ingredients.
  • Combine the flour, cacao, sugar, psyllium, spices, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Mash the banana in a separate bowl.
  • Picking up handfuls of the zucchini, squeeze the water out of it (this can be disposed of) and add the zucchini to the dry ingredients. Mix so that the zucchini is coated with the dry mix.
  • Add the banana, oil and espresso and mix well with a sturdy spatula. This is a very dry mix. Keep mixing until there is no visible powder left. The zucchini leaks water during cooking so don't worry about the stiff dough.
  • Spread the mix into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, it should be firm to the touch.
  • Once cooked allow to cool before adding the ganache.

Make the Avocado Ganache

  • Once your cake is cool enough to handle, make the ganache.
  • Add the avocado, cacao and salt to the food processor and process to smoothness.
  • Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a saucepan on a low heat, then with the processor running drizzle all of it into the avocado blend.
  • With the blender still running, drizzle the sweetener in, tasting regularly until you reach your desired sweetness.
  • Spread the ganache evenly over the cake. You're done!


I’ve had a few comments that this cake is not sweet enough for some palates.  It’s definitely sweet enough for me but if you prefer a sweet cake, you can add more sugar.  The recipe will work with double the sugar, or you can layer in some sweet jam.
The espresso really brings out the flavour of the chocolate. Even if you use decaf, I’d recommend the coffee component!
The Psyllium puts back the pliability that is lost with gluten free flours. You can leave it out, but your cake will be more crumbly.
Did you make this recipe?  Tag me on Instagram!

Tips and Tricks

The mix will seem dry. Don’t stress about this, but do make sure there is no visible powder. It is a stiff mix that you’ll need to press into the cake tin. That’s perfectly ok. The zucchini loses water with cooking (ever baked one? see what I mean?) and the end result will be a moist cake. This cake is not dry. I’d describe it as verging on ‘fudgy’.

Preferred sweetness will vary. I used to make this cake with twice the sugar, but as I’ve grown as a human, I prefer things dark and bitter, like my soul (kidding!). As written, the cake is mildly sweet, but I make the ganache quite sweet to provide balance. You can also serve it with something sweet like ice cream, or spread some jam in the middle.

Zucchini Cake Storage

This cake is good for at least two weeks in the refrigerator, although it dries out over time if not in a sealed container. Take it out 15 mins before eating to let the ganache soften. It also freezes exceptionally well, a nice treat to keep in the freezer.

Zucchini cake being cut with an antique fork

I wish you baking success with this gluten free chocolate zucchini cake. If you love it as much as I do, please drop me a comment, or take a pic and tag me on the Insta @nznutritionist



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