You may not know you needed a Paleo Zucchini Cake in your life, but I am here to tell you do! My good friend in Oregon was a fantastic baker, she was infamous for it. She made this tender zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting that was amazing. I never would have thought I wanted anything to do with “zucchini cake” (isn’t that a crime?!), but it won me over. I’m here to do the same with my Paleo Zucchini Cake!
Why we love this Paleo Zucchini Cake
First, this cake is allergen friendly! It is gluten-free and dairy-free, with a nut-free option for those that need it. Or, need a lower carb option? I’ve got you covered there as well! A great treat option for a variety of dietary needs.
Second, it’s EASY! No one wants to spend hours in the kitchen with 15 ingredients and 20 steps to make a delicious dessert. But, when we switched to Paleo, that’s what I thought you had to do. Turns out, it’s not true. This one comes together with only 20 minutes prep time.
Finally, we love the frosting! The cream cheese frosting makes this cake. Don’t skip it! I found that using a combination of both ghee or vegan butter + cream cheese made for the best result. Please see the ingredients notes below for which vegan cream cheeses I recommend. The frosting will take on a lot of flavor from the cream cheese and there are just some that don’t have a flavor we liked.
Tips and Tricks
- For easy prep, rice your zucchini in a food processor! That’s right, “rice” it = meaning chop it up into tiny “rice” size pieces (like the riced cauliflower you can make or buy at the store). Yes, you can also just shred your zucchini, by hand or in the food processor. But, my boys and I liked the texture from the smaller “riced” zucchini pieces over shredded. But, if you don’t have a food processor, shredding the zucchini on a simple box grater gets the job done too!
- The cream cheese frosting will largely take on the flavor of the cream cheese brand you use. Not all dairy-free cream cheeses taste the same. See ingredient details below for our favorites.
- This recipe is a great way to use up zucchini that is on its last leg. You heard me, it doesn’t have to be beautifully fresh! I have made this cake several times now with zucchini that’s a little soft and not looking so fresh. It won’t affect the end flavor and you will have less food waste. Plus, you know…cake! ; ).
- Make sure to let the cake cool before frosting. I know, you can’t wait to slather that amazing frosting on there. But, wait until the cake is fully cooled or the frosting will just drip down the sides. You can always expedite the cooling process by after letting the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, placing it on a cooling rack and putting it in the freezer.
- Can I double this recipe or cut it in half? You sure can! If you double the recipe, you can make it in a 9×13 pan instead for a family-sized event. Or, cut it in half and bake it in a bread pan for a smaller serving. It also works as cupcakes! Just keep an eye on the baking process and remove from oven when the middle bounces back to touch.
- Almond flour – I prefer “super-fine” almond flour to get the best texture. I like this one from Blue Diamond I can get at Sam’s Club or Amazon. See notes for nut-free option! (NOTE: You will not use the Almond flour + Tapioca flour + Coconut flour if you are using the nut-free Cassava flour option!)
- Tapioca flour – Tapioca is gives baked goods a nice soft, slightly stretchy texture. I recommend it over arrowroot, if you can. I get mine from the bulk bins at Winco. You can also find it easily on Amazon here. (NOTE: You will not use the Almond flour + Tapioca flour + Coconut flour if you are using the nut-free Cassava flour option!)
- Coconut flour – Coconut flour gives the cake bulk as it is super moisture absorbant. It also gives it a nice tender quality. I find mine in the bulk bins at Winco, as well as Walmart or Amazon. (NOTE: You will not use the Almond flour + Tapioca flour + Coconut flour if you are using the nut-free Cassava flour option!)
- Zucchini – Fresh, shredded or riced. See note in the “Tips & Tricks” above for more about ricing your zucchini and why I prefer it.
- Coconut sugar – I get my coconut sugar most affordably from the bulk bins at Winco. When I buy it online, here (1.5 pounds) or here (5lbs, cheaper but in bulk) are the one I get from Amazon. You can also use maple sugar or, if you need a low-carb/Keto option, use monk fruit sugar.
- Baking powder
- Extra light-tasting olive oil – This is olive oil that doesn’t have the heavy “olive” flavor. Be sure to look for “extra light tasting” on the bottle. I can find it at most of my local grocery stores, like this kind at Walmart. Or you can use melted coconut oil, melted first then measured.
- Eggs – I use regular ones from Sam’s Club that are extra large. If yours are more “medium” in size, use 3 eggs instead of the 2 large eggs listed.
- Salt – Just regular table salt here!
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Powdered Sugar or Powdered Monk Fruit Sugar: If you just need this cake to be gluten-free + dairy-free, then regular old powdered sugar will do the trick! If you need a paleo option, powdered monk fruit sugar is a newer ingredient on the block that can help avoid refined sugar. Powdered monk fruit sugar is also Keto-friendly. I find powdered monk fruit sugar most easily here on Amazon.
- Cream cheese – This is THE most important ingredient in your frosting. Not all vegan cream cheeses are created equal, and there are unfortunately several we have had that we really didn’t like the flavor of. My top two favorite vegan cream cheeses are Kitehill and Violife. Both have a great familiar “cream cheese” flavor and good texture. Bonus: Violife is also nut-free!
- Vegan butter or ghee – I prefer to use vegan butter in the frosting, as the flavor of ghee is a little strong. But, both work! For vegan butter, I have mostly used and enjoyed Miyokos brand that I get at my local natural food store or Winco.
- Vanilla – Pure vanilla is ideal for the simplest ingredients, but imitation vanilla works great too if that’s more accessible to you!
Other Paleo Desserts You Might Love:
- Paleo Cherry Crisp
- Paleo Fruit Pizza
- No-bake Paleo Cheesecake
- Paleo Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars
- Paleo Fudgy Brownies
Paleo Zucchini Cake
- 1/2 cup almond flour See notes for nut-free option!
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour See notes for nut-free option!
- 1/4 cup coconut flour See notes for nut-free option!
- 1 1/2 cup riced or shredded zucchini
- 1 cup coconut sugar can sub maple sugar or monk fruit sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra light-tasting olive oil or coconut oil, melted then measured
- 2 large eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened See notes for brand recommendations
- 1/2 cup vegan butter or ghee, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered monk fruit sugar (paleo) or powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper. I hold this in place by temporarily attaching it with binder clips to the sides of the pan.
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Stir by hand until well combined.
- Spread cake batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the center bounces back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool fully before frosting. (You can accelerate this by letting it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then putting it on a cooling rack and cool in the freezer).
- Make frosting by beating together cream cheese, ghee or vegan butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl until well combined. Gradually add in powdered sugar until it reaches spreading consistency. If it gets too dry or thick, add 1-2 tablespoons dairy-free milk. If it's too thin, add another 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
- Once cake is cooled, spread with frosting and serve. Up to you how much of the frosting you add to the cake. The frosting freezes well if you don't use it all!
- IF you have any cake leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge for a week or in the freezer in a sealed contaier for up to 3 months. Enjoy!