Moist, tender, and not too sweet, this recipe for dark chocolate zucchini cupcakes is perfect for both snacks eaten plain and for celebrations with the addition of frosting.
Chocolate and zucchini are a match made in heaven, as far as I'm concerned.
I love the way that zucchini adds moisture to baked goods - which is easy to tell by my other recipes for Zucchini Lemon Bread, No Fail Zucchini Bread, and Zucchini Cinnamon Freezer Muffins, to name a few - and these dark chocolate zucchini cupcakes are no exception.
Of course we probably all hope that adding zucchini to breads and cakes adds a bit of nutritional value - and maybe they do, but hey, these are cupcakes after all!
I did try to make them as real-food healthy as possible by using less sugar and more cocoa powder than normal cupcakes in addition to using a healthy fat and 100% whole wheat pastry flour.
Because of these changes (subtle that no one notices, trust me), I think they make a good snack plain or with powdered sugar.
But of course when frosted like I show here, they are a delicious and show-stopping dessert.
The Frosting Option
This frosting - well, that's another story. It's rich, smooth, and firmly in the decadent dessert camp, making it perfect for celebrations.
I have one - and only one - chocolate frosting that I use and it's THE best frosting ever.
And I don't say that lightly. Everyone loves it.
But of course it uses lots of butter and powdered sugar, so it's definitely a special occasion kind of thing (here's the link to this amazing Chocolate Silk Frosting recipe - trust me, it's to.die.for.).
You can also simply dust these cupcakes with powdered sugar or use your favorite frosting recipe. I really like these with peanut putter frosting, too.
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
- brown sugar or coconut sugar
- cold-pressed sunflower oil, melted coconut oil, or lightly flavored olive oil
- whole wheat pastry flour
- cocoa powder
- baking soda
- baking powder
- semi-sweet chocolate chips
PRO TIP: Got huge zucchinis you missed in the garden or friends gave you?
To use the best part of gigantic zucchinis, cut the ends and then into manageable pieces (in half or thirds). Cut those pieces into halves and then into quarters.
Hold a knife at the top inner seedy portion of each quarter and cut down to remove all the pithy centers. Discard centers and shred the outer portions only.
There's nothing fancy or time consuming with this recipe, it's simply a matter of mixing the wet ingredients with the dry and dividing the batter between lined muffin tins.
The batter is thicker than traditional cupcake batter, though, so you'll fill the cupcake liners only half to three-quarters full.
I find thicker batters result in moister cupcakes and it also helps keep the chocolate chips evenly distributed rather than all falling to the bottom.
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake FAQs
You can use a box grater or a food processor to shred zucchini. I use a processor because it makes quick work of it, but hand graters tend to make smaller pieces, so if you'd like it to be less noticeable, use a hand grater.
You can choose to peel or not - that's totally up to you in this recipe (though it's a key step in this incredible while zucchini cake!).
No, we want all that great moisture from the zucchini for this recipe, so use it freshly grated.
With less sugar and more cocoa these cupcakes really do have a dark chocolate flavor, which I'm always aiming for with any chocolate recipe (by that I mean, less sweet and more true cocoa flavor).
The recipe makes 24 cupcakes and they freeze beautifully (frosted or not), so you can have cupcakes whenever the occasion - or snack - calls for them.
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 3/4 cup cold-pressed sunflower oil, melted coconut oil, or lightly flavored olive oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips**
- [Chocolate Silk Frosting] or powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
- Add zucchini, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla to a large bowl and mix well.
- Add remaining cupcake ingredients, mixing until all is combined.
- Spoon the batter evenly between the lined cups (the cups will be about half full).
- Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (of cake batter - some melted chocolate may be on them). Cool in pans 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- Frost with this ultimate chocolate frosting or dust with powdered sugar when they are completely cooled.
Other Zucchini Recipes to Try
Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread (sweetened with honey)
This recipe has been updated in 2019 and 2022 - it was originally published in November of 2012.