Want to up your zucchini bread game? Add orange juice and zest for a wonderful citrusy flavor! This orange zucchini bread recipe is also made with whole wheat and sweetened with only the juice and honey, making it a healthy and delicious snack or breakfast option for your family.
Zucchini bread is such a popular way to use zucchini – not only is it a favorite with kids and adults alike, it’s a great way to preserve zucchini since the loaves freeze well. We love zucchini bread here at AOC – you can find other flavors (including the popular No-Fail Zucchini Bread) plus more easy breads in our Best Bread Recipes.
You know all those jokes people tell during the summer about zucchini? About how you’ll find huge clubs of zucchini left on your doorstep anonymously or in your car if you forget to roll up the windows? Yeah, I’m so NOT one of those people who would care about that. I say, bring on all the zucchini – my doorstep and car seat is yours!
I love zucchini of all kinds (okay, well not cooked to mushiness, but that’s another story). I try to pick them small when I grow them, because that’s when they’re firm and tender, making the best sausage-stuffed zucchini and zucchini, corn, tomato, and feta sauté. (TIP: If you grow zucchini or want to, the Ultimate Zucchini Guide has lots of growing tips plus a huge selection of preserving and cooking recipes.)
But when I miss picking and the zucchini grow bigger? Well, that’s when they’re good for grating and making things like this incredible zucchini cake, cupcakes, muffins, cookies (yep!), and of course, zucchini bread. Even at the infamous “baseball bat” stage, it’s simply a matter of quartering the log and cutting out the soft, seedy centers. All the remaining edges are perfect for grating and using in your favorite recipes.
I think out of all of those our family’s favorite is still zucchini bread, so I like to have a number of different flavored recipes to use each season which is why I created this orange zucchini bread recipe. Zucchini breads freeze wonderfully, probably because they’re so moist. In fact, I hardly freeze grated zucchini anymore, since I’d only use it in breads anyway and it’s much easier to use fresh.
When I set out to develop an orange zucchini bread, I started with this delicious lemon zucchini bread recipe as the base and then played with the ingredients to make it healthier. I wanted that same bright flavor, but with the addition of whole wheat and only honey as a sweetener (along with the naturally sweet orange juice) – and a lot less of it. I wanted this bread to be a healthy snack or breakfast option that would still feel special – and I think it really delivers!
Whole Wheat Orange Zucchini Bread Recipe Sweetened with Honey
This recipe makes two loaves – the better to use up those big clubs of zucchini you may have been blessed with! You can cut the recipe in half to make just one loaf, but since it freezes so well, I’d only suggest that if you didn’t have enough zucchini.
Like most quick breads, it is pretty easy to make. You simply mix all the wet ingredients together.
And then mix in all the dry ingredients. If you’re using the optional nuts, it’s a good idea to wait until the flour is mixed in to be sure all the lumps are gone before folding in the nuts.
Pour into your prepared pans and bake. Ta-da – a simple whole food recipe at it’s best!
Orange Zucchini Bread Low Sugar Glaze Option
You don’t have to add a glaze to this bread at all. The juice and zest in the recipe gives it a great orange flavor without it. But, using a glaze with orange juice adds that extra special touch and allows more flavor to soak in when spread on the loaves while warm.
Since I was making a honey sweetened bread, I didn’t want to just add a regular powdered sugar glaze (though you can – a simple one is included in the full recipe). I played around with different options, but in the end wanted to keep it as simple as possible.
What I came up with was a butter-honey-orange juice mixture that coats the top of the bread and soaks in, providing that extra oomph of flavor. Of course it’s not a traditional glaze at all and is more like a buttery topping. But it’s still very good and keeps the sugar count low.
You will need a small food processor or blender to make this, though – I tried with a whisk and gave up after several minutes as the butter just rolled around in the liquid, lol. With a machine, the butter and liquids will come together like shown above.
Whichever way you choose to top this orange zucchini bread recipe – buttery glaze, regular, or no glaze at all – it’s all good because this bread is moist and tender with the bright citrusy orange flavor coming through in every bite.
And you can feel great about using up your zucchini and serving this healthy bread to your family and friends. Just make sure to get the word out that your doorstep is open for extra zucchini so you will have enough to make it!
Orange Zucchini Bread Recipe (Whole Wheat & Honey Sweetened)
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup oil mild olive oil, cold-pressed sunflower oil, melted coconut oil, etc.
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 cup shredded zucchini
- 3-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts optional
- Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8x4" loaf pans.
- Beat eggs in large mixing bowl and then add oil, honey, orange juice, zest, and zucchini. Mix well.
- Stir in remaining ingredients, except nuts if using, and mix until all flour is mixed in. Fold in nuts.
- Divide evenly between the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes, turning pans at the halfway mark, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Cool 10 minutes in pans and then turn out onto metal racks to cool. Make optional glaze if using and spread onto slightly warm loaves.
Optional Low Sugar Glaze:*
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- In a small food processor, mix the honey and butter.
- Add the orange juice gradually while the motor is running.
- It's more of a flavored butter, but really tasty on this bread!
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