Chocolate Zucchini Bread

By Ann Fulton

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Naturally gluten-free and full of deep chocolate flavor, this honey-sweetened loaf covers all the bases, from breakfast to dessert!


If I told you that I have a recipe for a baked good that omits dairy, gluten, and refined sugar, words like cardboard and yuck might come to mind.  Yet this mildly sweet, tender zucchini bread really tastes great.

While I don’t advocate or personally subscribe to any specific diet plans, my recipes sometimes fit the parameters–or can be easily adapted–to suit a variety of dietary needs and preferences. The following wholesome version of a classic quick bread could be labeled as “Paleo.”

For those who may not be familiar, the idea behind a Paleolithic diet is to eat like people ate a long time ago…a very long time ago.  That is to say, if a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither would one who follows a Paleo diet.  This translates to a menu of meats, fish, nuts, veggies, and seeds—basically anything that could be hunted or gathered. Foods like pasta, breakfast cereal, and candy are considered off limits.

The Paleo or caveman diet became popular in the late 2000s, and I recently read that it was Google’s most searched-for weight loss method in 2013.  Advocates argue that modern agriculture and the domestication of animals have created a decline in the quality of our food. They also believe that humans have not evolved to properly digest “new” foods such as grain, legumes, and dairy, much less the processed foods that are so widely available.

Opponents of this eating plan claim that any diet that restricts certain food groups isn’t balanced, and there isn’t strong science to prove that Paleo-eaters live longer or are healthier than those who don’t follow the diet.  What’s more, whole grains and legumes, while forbidden on a Paleo regimen, are vitamin and fiber-rich and can play an important role in a healthy, well-rounded diet.

My mom always advocated an “everything in moderation” approach.  Though I’m not a nutritionist, dietician, or doctor, I think this makes a lot of sense.  As much as possible, I focus on the colorful produce, whole grains, and lean proteins of my mom’s grounded approach that champions exercise while allowing for dessert.  In a world where we are bombarded with information on what is good for us and what is bad for us–and these things seems to be ever changing–I think this may be the wisest eating plan yet!

So I offer this zucchini bread recipe, not because it aligns with a modern Paleo diet, but because my family thinks it tastes great. I like the ingredient list where protein-rich almond flour stands in for white flour and a reasonable amount of honey or maple syrup replaces refined sugar. The easy recipe is also a perfect way to chip away at the season’s ever-growing stockpile of zucchini–and it freezes well.

A healthy zucchini bread that conforms to gluten-free and Paleo diets and never disappoints!
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Though I often make this bread with no add-ins, a hint of crunch from walnuts or pecans is a nice touch.  For true chocoholics, chocolate chips or chunks–even white chocolate chips–add an extra layer of decadence!

Yield: 2 (3×5-inch) loaves or 1 (9×5-inch) loaf
  • 1¼ cups (140g) blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup (20g) cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s natural unsweetened, not “dutched”)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs (see notes)
  • ⅓ cup (106g) honey (may substitute pure maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) melted coconut oil (melted butter or a fruity olive oil are other good options)
  • ¾ cup (85-105g) zucchini, shredded
  • Optional add-ins: white (or dark) chocolate chips, nuts of choice, dried cherries, cranberries or raisins (¼ cup is a good starting point for the various options)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉, and grease two 3×5-inch loaf pans or one 9-5-inch loaf pan. (I like to line with parchment paper for easy removal.)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. (Stir in any nuts or chips, if using.) In another medium to large bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the honey or maple syrup and the oil, and then stir in the zucchini. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s), and bake for 28-30 minutes for the 3×5-inch pans, adding approximately 5 minutes for a 9×5-inch loaf pan. All ovens vary, so check a few minutes early and add extra time, if needed. The loaf will feel firm yet a little springy when pressed in the center. If it feels mushy when pressed, bake a little longer and then check again. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a rack to cool completely.
  • If using coconut oil, it helps to bring the eggs to room temperature so the coconut oil does not re-solidify upon mixing with cold ingredients.
  • If you are tempted to stretch the zucchini to a full cup, I recommend squeezing out some of the moisture. When using the stated ¾ cups, I have found this step not to be necessary in this recipe.
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  1. E.D.

    Made the chocolate zucchini bread this morning and loved it. Also made the pumpkin baked oatmeal and that was so good too. Thank you for the delicious recipes!

  2. Sue Ann Yuska

    Made this today – a rainy day conducive to cooking and baking. DELICIOUS! Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. Would be a great hostess/holiday gift. Thank you, Anne!

    1. Ann Post author

      So happy you made and enjoyed, Sue, and I agree – it was a very good day for kitchen activities! Thanks so much for the glowing review!

  3. Anna Katalin Tóth

    Dear Ann, I would like to kindly ask you, can you write it to gram? Im from Hungary 🙂 I cant change cup and teaspoon 🙂 Thank you very much 🙂

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Anna, I include grams in my newer recipes, but alas, this is an older one. I did just update it and hope that makes it easier for you. Enjoy!

  4. Nancy Brenton

    Got lost in your wonderful website tonight looking for ideas for using the zucchini from our CSA. Made this bread and the “zoodles”! Both absolutely delicious! Thanks Ann.

    1. Ann Post author

      You are so sweet, Nancy. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I’m delighted you enjoyed the bread and the zoodles!

  5. Michelle Post author

    This is probably my favorite recipe of yours! I have made it so many times, often for work or friends…and people always ask for the recipe. I send them right to your site

  6. Pingback: Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Grain Free, Paleo)

  7. Carol Post author

    Just pulled a loaf from last Nov (!!-it was hiding) out of the freezer. I had wrapped it in parchment, then foil, then a ziplock. Let it defrost overnight in its swaddling and it was still moist and delish!

  8. Natasha

    Hi Ann, I made the recipe twice, first time was perfect, very yummy, second time turned our grainy. I did double the recipe both times. I’m wondering if either the eggs weren’t big enough or the almond flour too grainy (however I used the same flour though notice isn’t fine grained). I also used frozen zucchini, which I was careful to drain and topped up with fresh zucchini to a total of 2 c for doubled recipe. Your thoughts and help greatly appreciated. Thinking of making recipe for my sons first birthday cake. Natasha

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Natasha, Because your first batch turned out perfectly, I’m wondering if there wasn’t some small oversight with the second batch or the texture of the zucchini simply deteriorated after the time spent in the freezer. Using almond meal versus almond flour will change the outcome slightly, but the difference tends to be a heartier, more rustic end result with the coarser grain, not actual graininess. Let me know if you have additional questions, and I hope this helps!

      1. Natasha

        Hi Ann, thank you for your reply and help. I agree, I must have missed something. I’ll also try to find almond flour that is a little less grainy and I’ll try to bake the next batch with fresh zucchini. It is a lovely bread and I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. Thank you again, Natasha

  9. Chris Post author

    This bread is nothing short of perfect. I’ve made it at least a dozen times now so thought it was time to comment!