Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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.

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!

Yields 2 (3×5-inch) loaves or 1 (9×5-inch) loaf.
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  1. 1 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
  2. 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s natural unsweetened, not “dutched”)
  3. 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 2 large eggs (see notes)
  7. 1/3 cup honey (may substitute pure maple syrup)
  8. 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (melted butter or a fruity olive oil are other good options)
  9. 3/4 cup zucchini, shredded
  10. Optional add-ins: white (or dark) chocolate chips, nuts of choice, dried cherries, cranberries or raisins (1/4 cup is a good starting point for the various options)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, 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.
  1. 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.
  2. If you are tempted to stretch the zucchini to a full cup, I recommend squeezing out some of the moisture. When using the stated 3/4 cups, I have found this step not to be necessary in this recipe.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

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  1. Mary Lou Keller

    Hi Ann, I have some zucchini I shredded and put in the freezer to save for zucchini bread. this looks right up my alley and I have everything else needed to make it.

    One question, do you think it would work as 4 mini loaves? I have a Pampered Chef stoneware mini loaf pan and I wonder if I could make the bread in that?

    1. Ann

      I think four mini loaves would work well in your Pampered Chef pan. Just keep an eye on them and adjust the baking time as needed. Hope you enjoy them, Mary Lou!

  2. Mary Lou Keller

    Thanks Ann! I actually think that each of he four pans might might be the size of the smaller one you use in your recipe. I will need to measure them. I also have enough zucchini to make two batches so I am thinking I will do that this weekend.

  3. Christie

    I’m starting to feel like a groupie or stalker of your recipes! I made this tonight, it smelled so good I didn’t wait for it to cool.

    I am still adjusting to the no gluten taste. I thought it was excellent and wish I would have added chocolate chips! I do wonder if I used the correct flour though. It seems like there are several different kinds of Almond Flour. I think mine, for a lack of a better word, crunchy?

    It was great! I have a ton of shredded zucchini from my CSA. Adding this to the rotation!

    1. Ann

      That is too funny, Christie! I love it when I see your name pop up! I’m thrilled you liked and you are right about the various almond flour options. As I mention in the recipe, I use blanched almond flour here. It is a finer grind than almond meal and does not include the skins. (There can also be differences in texture from brand to brand.) Usually, either variety will work in any given recipe, but the finer grind will produce as more tender “crumb.” If you have any more questions, let me know…and thanks for the great feedback!

    1. Ann

      Hi Bertie,
      I don’t often swap regular wheat or gluten-free flour for almond flour in recipes. It might very well work in this recipe, but I haven’t tried to know for sure. If you happen to experiment with it, please let me know!

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  5. Liz

    I’m always on the lookout for good recipes for my gluten-free friends. This scrumptious recipe made me realize that I should cook them for myself too! Will totally make again soon!

  6. Mary Lou Keller

    I bought two zucchini at market today so either tonight or tomorrow night I am making the bread and think I will double the recipe. I just bought more cocoa powder, I was almost out of it.

    I will let you know how it turns out Ann.

    1. Ann

      Can’t wait to hear what you think! The kids just polished off my last batch yesterday and I have one small zucchini that might just go into yet another batch. 🙂

  7. Lili

    My son is allergic to almonds (and other nuts), but I would like to try this recipe. Is there another flour you would recommend? Oat maybe?


    1. Ann

      Great question, Lili. I hate to recommend a change like that when I haven’t tried it myself. That said, I have cooked enough with oat flour that I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a go in my own kitchen. If you try, please report back!

      1. Lili

        I decided to try sunflower seeds instead. I processed the 1 1/4 cups of unsalted and roasted sunflower seeds together with the 1/4 cup cocoa powder. I also made them into 10 muffins, that I cooked for 17 minutes. The consistency appeared to be the same as yours. The flavor definitely tasted like sunflower seeds. I liked it, but my kids did not.

        1. Ann

          I loved that you gave sunflower seeds a try, Lili. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback. It’s helpful for others who may be thinking of trying it, too.

  8. Mary Lou Keller

    I still have not made this yet. Kind of got lost in my list of things to try. I did just buy some more blanched almond flour, that is good stuff!!

    I had made the dark chocolate blondies a couple weeks ago and kept in the fridge. I ate the last one yesterday and still so so yummy!

    When I make this zucchini bread, I am going to add dried cherries, I have some on hand and will let you know how it turns out Ann.

    1. Ann

      I’m thrilled that you like those blondies, Mary Lou, and glad this recipe is on your to-do list. Dried cherries will be a delightful addition!

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  11. Becky

    I helped my daughter make this yesterday, and it’s delicious. She was very proud of it! On an unrelated note, I think I saw you from a distance at a local swim meet earlier this week. I didn’t have the guts to come up to you and gush about how much I love your blog, so I’ll do it here :). I use your recipes almost daily. Thanks so much for providing such easy, family-friendly, and yummy recipes.

    1. Ann

      I’m thrilled this earned your stamp of approval and am so happy your daughter was proud of her work! If you were at the LS meet, then we were in fact at the same meet! Next time absolutely say hello. It’s always a treat to hear the feedback and meet someone new. P.S. I’ll be at the divisional meet on Saturday. : )

  12. Michelle

    I am new to using almond flour and trying to greatly reduce my consumption of refined sugar and processed food. I LOVED this zucchini bread; I thought it tasted like a brownie. I wonder how it would work if baked in a brownie pan?

    1. Ann

      Thanks for the great feedback, Michelle! I have actually made a similar recipe in a cake pan and it worked beautifully. Just watch your time as it should bake more quickly. If you do try, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  13. Ginny

    I made your recipe for the chocolate zucchini bread today. As the kids say, AWESOME ! My husband seconds that. That means seconds in more ways than one. It’s very moist with just the right sweetness. The coconut oil (which as I have read is good for us) also makes it satisfying. The only thing I would change is that next time I’ll double it named freeze half for another time.

  14. Michelle Post author

    I have made this for coworkers many times and each time someone asks for the recipe and I point them to your blog!

  15. 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!

  16. 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

  17. 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!

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  19. 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