This Chocolate Zucchini Bread is irresistibly moist and chocolate-y and can be baked as a loaf or muffins. It's lightly spiced and includes both cocoa powder and dairy-free chocolate for double the chocolate flavor! This recipe is also vegan, which means no eggs or dairy, and has half the oil of most zucchini bread recipes! Nut-free; whole grain options.
This recipe was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated with new photos and content.
Credit to my friend Candace for inspiring this recipe. She was having trouble finding a vegan zucchini bread recipe she liked, with the main problem being that the ones she tried were too oily.
Though I don't exclusively share oil-free recipes on this site, I share a LOT of them! If you've been here for a while or read my About page, you know I have a great interest in oil-free, whole-food, plant-based eating.
Candace is okay with oil and doesn't seek out oil free recipes. But I decided the middle ground might give us both exactly what we're looking for! A dessert-worthy chocolate zucchini bread (or muffins) with less oil and overall total fat.
After a not-so-great test batch of regular zucchini bread (i.e. not chocolate), I decided to try a chocolate version. Since cinnamon is often included in classic zucchini bread, I figured hey, let's just take this one step further and go with a Mexican Chocolate flavor profile! And friends, it is delicious!
See the chocolate zucchini muffin above? That batch was made with the full amount of Mexican-chocolate-inspired spices, giving them a reddish-orange tint.
Why You'll Love It
This vegan chocolate zucchini bread recipe is healthier but doesn't compromise texture or flavor. It's as satisfying as a slice of chocolate cake yet lighter, egg-free, dairy-free, and versatile.
You'll love it because:
- you can use a variety of flours - we've tested spelt and white whole wheat (for whole-grain), all-purpose, and a blend of spelt and whole wheat.
- it's made with easy-to-find ingredients - though I wanted to reduce the oil, I still wanted this to be a classic vegan zucchini bread in the sense that it's not made with specialty sweeteners, doesn't contain banana, apple sauce, or sweet potato, etc, and can be made with all-purpose flour, if desired.
- it's great with or without the spices - cinnamon, chile powder and cayenne blend so nicely with the cocoa powder and vanilla. It's just enough spice to make this zucchini bread feel special and a little different.
- light but still delicious - this tasty, sweet treat won't leave you feeling like you ate a brick!
About the Spices
If you're worried about the addition of chile powder and cayenne making this bread TOO spicy, don't worry! Although, spiciness is very much a personal preference. I have friends and family members who feel like their mouths are on fire after even a small amount of black pepper, so I get it. These spices aren't for everyone.
But if you don't fall into that category, I think you'll find the heat to be really subtle. I would describe the cayenne in this chocolate zucchini bread as lending a mild warmth that lingers alongside the chocolate flavor.
In fact, if you really like spicy foods, you may want to add MORE chile powder and cayenne to the batter. Just an extra pinch should do!
And if you're one of the aforementioned sensitive-to-spice folks, you can omit the spices for a regular chocolate zucchini bread. Super easy!
How To Make Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Here's a quick overview of the process. See the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and complete instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and oil a 12-cup muffin pan or a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
- No need to peel the zucchini. Grate it then gently squeeze out the excess moisture.
- Into a large mixing bowl sift the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the wet ingredients: sugar, milk, flax meal, vanilla, oil, and vinegar.
- Pour wet into dry, and stir just until combined. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle the top(s) with chopped dark chocolate, if using.
- Bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes and a loaf for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Zucchini bread is done when the center is firm and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins vs Loaf
There's nothing quite as lovely as a loaf of homemade zucchini bread, but at the same time, muffins cook in less than HALF the time.
Since we're usually making zucchini bread during the warm summer months when zucchini is plentiful, having the oven on for a full hour to bake a loaf seems less than ideal.
But you do whatever makes you happy! Preparing the batter is the same whether you decide on muffins or a loaf.
- muffins cook in about 20 minutes
- loaves take about an hour
The walnuts folded into the batter are optional, but the extra bit of crunch is nice. Pecans also taste amazing with chocolate.
Feel free to use chocolate chips instead of a chopped bar of chocolate.
To reduce the overall fat and sugar, simply reduce or omit the chocolate sprinkled on top.
Try it drizzled with this low-fat chocolate ganache!
Doubling the Recipe
A lot of zucchini bread recipes are written to make two loaves or 24 muffins. Since this type of bread freezes well, that's always a great option.
This recipe is written for one loaf or 12 muffins simply because not everyone wants such a large amount or is cooking for a big family.
There's an option in the recipe card below to easily adjust the number of servings if you'd like to make a double batch.
During one round of testing I did a double batch and made one loaf and one pan of muffins. That works out well because it's the best of both worlds. You'll have zucchini muffins to snack on in 20 minutes and a loaf to wrap and freeze for later.
How to Store
Store leftover zucchini bread in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. It's fine at room temperature for a day or so, but I generally like to play it safe when it comes to most baked goods. Keeping them chilled doesn't hurt.
The loaf/muffins can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator.
You might also like:
- Oat Flour Banana Bread (oil-free)
- Chocolate Banana Bread (oil-free)
- Vegan Breakfast Muffins (oil- and gluten-free)
- Go-To Peanut Butter Brownies (gluten-free)
- Coconut Garam Masala Muffins (oil-free)
- Oil-Free Banana Brownies
- Fudgy Almond Flour Brownies
I hope you love this Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread. If you try it be sure to rate the recipe and comment below to let us know!
Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Vegan, Whole Grain)
- 1 ½ cups flour (180 g, adjust if alter batch size), such as white whole-wheat, spelt, all-purpose, or a blend of any of these - *Try it with 1 cup white whole-wheat and ½ cup spelt flour!
- ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon, optional
- ⅛ teaspoon chile powder, optional
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne, optional
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup neutral oil, such as walnut or grapeseed - or applesauce
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar - enhances the chocolate flavor and helps with rise
- 1 cup grated zucchini, from about 1 small/medium zucchini
- ½ cup chopped raw walnuts, optional
- 1 ½ ounces chopped dark chocolate, optional - Check labels to make sure it's dairy-free; can sub chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and oil a standard muffin pan or 9x5-inch loaf pan.
- After grating the zucchini, gently squeeze out the excess moisture. Set aside.
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices, if using. *If using a whole-grain flour such as spelt, sifting might separate out some of the fiber; add it to the bowl. Whisk to fully combine all dry ingredients.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, milk, flax meal, vanilla, oil and vinegar.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry, and stir just until combined. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Scoop batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle the top(s) with chopped dark chocolate, if using.
- Bake muffins for 18 to 20 minutes and a loaf for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The bread is done when the center is firm and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.