How to Make the Best Zucchini Bread Ever

One of my favorite narratives on zucchini is from Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ where, when faced with a unrelenting crop of the green squash, she devises many ways of using up the abundance them in her prolific garden. She baked, steamed, fried, and froze zucchini, as well as gave them away to friends with such abandon that she freely admits:

“Our gardening friends knew enough to slam the door if they saw a heavy sack approaching.”

I could completely relate to Barbara’s dilemma (if you can call an abundance of food a dilemma), and I, as a gardener, fully understand a zucchini’s capability to turn into a baseball bat practically overnight if overlooked on the vine.

Fortunately, I have a strategy to help me maintain the upper hand during the Great August Zucchini Invasion: Zucchini Bread. Around here this humble loaf is a favorite snack for the kids, a bake-sale best-seller, and alongside a tall glass of milk, has made it’s way into our ‘Guilt-Free Non-Suppers‘.

Now some of you probably think that you have the best zucchini bread recipe, others perhaps have never found a recipe they liked, –and chances are a few of you are thinking: “Zucchini? Bread?” And to all of you I say, I hope someone has shared their zucchini crop with you, because you’re going to want to make this recipe!

If you remember, I brought you the best muffin ever (which is still making new converts every day), so believe me when I say I have done my homework for this zucchini recipe.

Attributes of Great Zucchini Bread

What should (or shouldn’t) perfect zucchini bread be like? Here are a few qualities I like to see. Without question, the recipe below embodies all of them.

Flavorful!

Hint: don’t expect the zucchini to contribute any of this. Nope, zucchini bread relies on added flavorings to make it memorable. In this recipe, fresh ground cinnamon, nutmeg and dark chocolate chunks provide everything we need.

Moist

In this recipe, the inclusion of full-fat yogurt, instead of gobs of oil, ensures our loaf stays as moist as can be – without the added cholesterol.

Textured

Sweet breads have a tendency to be pasty. Yep, and even gummy. Thanks to the addition of whole-wheat flour, you can safely enjoy a slice of this zucchini loaf knowing it’s not going to latch onto the roof of your mouth in a desperate attempt to avoid being swallowed.

Adaptable

A winning zucchini bread recipe should be able to easily morph into many shapes: cupcakes, mini-loafs, or muffins. It should also lend itself well to freezing. This recipe does it all.


Whole-Wheat Zucchini Bread with Cinnamon & Dark Chocolate Chunks
4.3 from 19 reviews
Print
Recipe type: Breads
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 1+ loaf
I'm including plenty of alternative ingredients in parenthesis, because although the original recipe is the very best it can be, I want you to be able to work with what you have on hand.
Ingredients
Dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (or peanut)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
  • 1 cup organic Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, firmly packed)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, chunked
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9x4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
  4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9x4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.
Notes
Tips to Making the Best Zucchini Bread Ever
  • Use the very best ingredients possible. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you set out to make the best zucchini bread recipe ever, but use rancid flour and stale spices, well, you're not going to get the same result as I did - and it certainly won't be the best ever.
  • Use small to medium sized zucchini. If it's longer than your arm, don't bother, it will be tough and dry. If you must use these kinds of massive zucc's, halve them lengthwise first and remove the seeds with a spoon. Discard or compost them and grate the remainder of the zucchini for your baking.
  • Don't skimp on the chocolate (but feel free to use chocolate chips).
  • Use freshly ground cinnamon.
  • Have ingredients at room temperature.

 

A Word on Freezing Zucchini

You don’t have to wait for zucchini season to roll around to enjoy this bread. It is possible to freeze grated zucchini so as to have it available whenever the baking mood strikes.

To freeze zucchini, first wash them, trim the ends and then simply grate them on a box grater. Package in 1 or 2-cup portions in freezer bags or freezer containers. Remove as much air as possible from the bag by smoothing it with the back of your hand from bottom to top and quickly sealing the bag. Freeze flat.

Is zucchini bread a favorite in your home?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. I can’t wait to try this! I was at the shop earlier today looking for zucchinis for tonight’s dinner and was very disappointed to find they didn’t have any. Hopefully they get some in soon as I’m keen to give this recipe a go. I love using fruit and vegetables when baking :-)
    Sarah’s last post: Mini Spinach Beef Burgers

  2. I love this! I’m new to your blog, and I’m hooked! I will be passing along this post for sure. Can’t wait to try it!
    abby
    Abby @ abby & her boys’s last post: Chicago Inspired Tortellini

  3. Trudy Garvey says:

    I already have a great zucchini bread recipe handed down through the family but I am always willing to try new ones – especially if they include chocolate!
    Trudy Garvey’s last post: Week 10- August 21- 2010 – Halfway Point

  4. Love this post. I am a huge zucchini bread fan! I like to add dried cranberries.
    Maria’s last post: Peaches n’ Cream Muffins

  5. This looks great! I can’t wait to make this!!
    alison’s last post: Kids Favorite and mine too- Peach-Strawberry Smoothie

  6. Thanks for the recipe – I can’t wait to try it. I was wondering what kind of dark chocolate you use. Thanks!

  7. I am so sad to say my zucchini plants have bit the dust. Between a squash bug invasion and a super heat wave they’ve just died. :( I do love zucchini and zucchini bread, so I will pick some up at the farmer’s market and test this one out. :) I would also like to know what kind of dark chocolate you used, and whether it would make a huge difference to use milk chocolate?
    Jackie Lee’s last post: Back to School Shopping Time!

    • I actually used milk chocolate in the recipe when I made these into muffins- it was delish!
      For the loaf I used Baker’s bittersweet (67%) chocolate, but you can really use whatever you have on hand.

  8. Um YES PLEASE!!!!!!!! Oh, this looks heavenly. I was going to make zucchini cake for a small gathering tomorrow night, but now – no. THIS. This will be perfect!

    (I have tons of MONSTER zucchini dropped off by my Green Thumb Friends, so I’ll have to employ your tips for working with the big ‘uns!) Thanks, Aimee!
    Megan@SortaCrunchy’s last post: Practicing the Art of Whisper

    • Megan you can totally give this bread the cupcake treatment. Bake it in cupcake papers and frosh with cream cheese frosting. No one will ever guess they are eating a guilt-free dessert!

  9. AMAZING! You were watching me haul a wheelbarrow full of zucchini from neighbor to neighbor, right? I have way too many of them in my house and I was just searching for a few recipes and tips on how to use them. Last week I canned zucchini and tomato chutney so this will be perfect for baking day!
    Gwen’s last post: Back to School 2010

  10. Zuccini bread is one of my favorites! I know we’re going to get a pile with our produce basket this week, and making quick breads is such a great activity for preschoolers to help with. Guess what we’ll be doing on Thursday?

    And now I see the idea of muffins with cream cheese frosting? Heavenly!
    Alissa’s last post: Summer Events – Camping

  11. chocolate and zucchini really go well together.
    Nate @ House of Annie’s last post: Roast Chicken Ramadan Recipe

  12. What timing! I just put in two zucchini plants before my garden party yesterday, and my friends warned me that there was no way I could use all the zucchini from two plants.

    I wish I had some grown ones already! I have an awesome simple recipe for Indian spiced zucchini, by the way, if you are still trying to use some up.

    I would love to feature this in my weekly Sweet Saturdays dessert round up! Do you think I could use one of your photos?
    Gabi’s last post: What’s Your Favorite Last Minute Dinner

    • Sure, Gabi, you can grab a favorite photo, or I can send you one if you drop me a line. Thanks for including my bread in your round-up!

  13. Thanks for the tips on freezing the zucchini. I have one of those bat sized squashes on my counter that needs to be dealt with. Made a great cake the other day, but not sure I want to put that many frozen cakes in the deep freeze. But the frozen zucchini, I can do. Then I can add it to soups and tomato sauces throughout the winter.
    Cheryl Arkison’s last post: Whispers and Screams

    • I need to freeze more. Grated zucchini, that is. It disappears so nicely into pastas and such and makes me feel like the kids are getting something good in the middle of winter.

  14. Oh my… that looks amazing! I came your way through Life as Mom and I’m glad I did. I miss my mom’s zucchini bread and I would love to try my hand at this recipe.

  15. I know nothing about baking so forgive me if this is a dumb question, but can you sub in butter for the oil and honey for the sugar?

  16. Hi Aimee! I was wondering if you had tips on baking with frozen grated zucchini? Do you drain the water off? Do you dump it all in? I have have had recipes turn out fine and flop for both ways. Thanks for the great recipe – looking forward to trying it out this weekend! Thanks also for your tips on dealing with the massive zucch’s…

  17. Stephanie P says:

    Hi! So, would it be ok to just use wheat flour instead of half and half with wheat and all purpose?

  18. Oh, Aimee! I can’t stop making this! In fact, I’m planning on freezing some because I know in a few months I’m going to miss it :-)

    Wonderful!
    Kara Fleck’s last post: Being An Example- Helping Our Kids Get Organized By Modeling It For Them

  19. I made this tonight for a small group gathering at my house, and it really was the best ever. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Really appreciate your spin on Zucchini Bread. So many recipes I have come across are loaded with oil which deletes the benefit of eating healthy. I’ll certainly be trying this in my kitchen. Thanks.
    Correen’s last post: Healthy Bites – Correen’s Gone Loco Moco!

  21. Sounds incredible. Great pictures too.

  22. Do you really bake the 9×5 loaf and the mini loaf together for 50 min? Isn’t the mini loaf going to be done after 30 min. or so? I guess I shouldn’t have waited to ask until the loaves were actually in the oven . . . .

  23. While I don’t think anything can beat Great Grandma’s recipe for zucchini bread, I did try this out and my girls really liked it. And since I just shredded and froze 5 qt bags of zucchini, I will probably be making more soon! ☺
    Kelly’s last post: BBB bakes Sweet Portuguese Bread

  24. I made this tonight as muffins (18 regular & 24 mini). I had to make the minis without chocolate though as it’s not allowed in my son’s preschool.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  25. I was looking for the best ever zucchini recipe and what did I find? Not only the best even though I haven’t tried it yet but also on how to freeze all this cheap harvest that I bought on the farmers stand on my way home yesterday. Thank you so much and God bless you.

  26. Nice recipe! I have bananas on the counter waiting to be transformed into something yummy: do you think I could use bananas and zucchini? How much of each should I use?
    Thank you!

  27. Nisha @ Healthy Mom's Kitchen says:

    Thanks for the tips! I can’t wait to try this.
    Nisha @ Healthy Mom’s Kitchen’s last post: Workin’ the Weight Loss with some RUNNING!

  28. These were fantastic! I made them back in September, but forgot to leave a comment until I saw it posted in the “best of the year” list. My family loved these!!! For good or bad I couldn’t stop eating them. :0) I was doing a lot of travelling at the time and they made great travel treats for me and my two little ones. The only “problem” was my kids were quite messy with the chocolate. Next time I may leave it out…but it was SO delicious, so I may not. Thanks!

  29. Jean Staines says:

    Made this today, it is indeed the best zucchini bread I have ever had! I followed the recipe exactly except my zucchini had a lot of water in it so I gave it a good squeeze before adding it. I also added a half a cup of chopped walnuts. Did not use the parchment paper in my pan. Sprayed pan with Pam and sprinkled some plain granulated sugar on the pan before adding the batter. This gives the bread a nice crust. Will definately pass this website around to my friends and share this recipe. Thanks so much!

  30. I’m wondering about freezing zucchini. Has anyone ever frozen the zucchini, made bread and then froze the bread. How were the results? I’ve got 23 to deal with this week. I’m thinking kabobs, zucchini fries and bread, of course

  31. Just made these this morning. Soooooooo good! We made ours into mini muffins because we are moving soon and that was the only pan i had that wasn’t packed yet. I love them like that. And they are perfect for my three year old. Thanks for the recipe. We will definitely be making these again.

    Also, we used all whole wheat flour and they are still amazing.

  32. Have you ever posted a “Best Banana Bread Ever” recipe? I would love that!

  33. Stephanie P says:

    Hey! For some reason this bread only lasts about 2-3 days after baking. After that, it gets “foamy”. I’ve used new flour so it’s not that… Does anyone have any idea what might be going on?

  34. ayeswarya says:

    absolutely delicious.. the last time i made zucchini bread from another recipe it was a disaster.. i used chocolate chips and also halved the canola oil and used apple sauce for the rest :) .. im savin this forever… :) thanks

  35. WONDERFUL recipe! Thank you!

  36. when using frozen zucchini for bread do I use the water that comes with the zucchini when defrosted?

  37. when using frozen zucchini do I use the water that comes with the defrosted zucchini?

  38. Looks like a great recipe! I’m a first time urban gardener at my community garden, and the zukes are coming in fast and furiously! Would using greek style yogurt (0%) fat work instead of full fat yogurt? Thank you!

  39. Great recipe! I liked the fact that it had had whole wheat flour to make it healthier. Other than the fact that i used sucanat (unrefined, pure ground sugar cane) in place of white or brown sugar, I made the recipe precise and it was excellent! and moist! The only thing I would change is the chocolate. I am a chocoholic, but for me, it made it taste more like a chocolate chip muffin than zucchini bread. I actually liked the bites without the chocolate better, which is somewhat of a surprise! The great thing about that is that I can simply omit them next time. This recipe is a keeper!
    And i might try adding walnuts and/or dried cranberries/raisins just for a twist!
    Thanks for sharing Aimee!

  40. I added dried cherries and used unbleached all purpose flour instead of the other two flours listed. I also used granulated white sugar instead of brown sugar and substituted yellow summer squash for the zucchini. It is very moist and flavorful. One of my new favorite recipes.

  41. Christine says:

    Just made these as muffins and mini-muffins. Practicing for my kids lunches, and this one will be one of them!

    My child is sensitive to high-fructose corn syrup and I want to pack “fun” nutritional foods so she doesn’t feel left out at lunch.

    Thanks for the great recipe! Healthy too :)

  42. Just made these with the zucchini surplus I am experiencing. The muffins came out fantastic, but the bread did not. The top tastes delicious and the4 bottom is supper mushy and dense. What happened?

  43. Janet Olson says:

    I tried this the other day, I didn’t have any wheat flour and prefer to not have chocolate in my bread (or nuts or anything crunchy) And it turned out fab. My 2 1/2 year old loves it too. Score.
    Janet Olson’s last post: God Is Good

  44. Lorrie Scott says:

    My loaf is in the oven. I am not sure of a part of the instructions. It says to prep a loaf pan. Then prop a muffin or mini loaf. Is that Prep a Loaf pan, and prep a mini. Or is it either? I put it all in the loaf pan.

    I am sure your recipe is perfect as is, but I made yoghurt yesterday and had lots of whey left. I used Whey instead of Buttermilk, but added a T. of powdered milk to maintain the milk protein. I also am trying to use up some walnuts and threw them in too. The lick the spoon pronounced it to be delicious…now finish cooking!

    • I did the same thing…didn’t read step 5 where it said to put it in the muffins first and then the rest in the loaf pan. It’s still in the oven, and I don’t see it being done at 50 minutes. Oops. Hopefully it gets done in the middle before the top gets too done…

  45. Lorrie Scott says:

    Just reread your instructions. Too bad I am a bit dyslexic. I should have poured some into both loaf and muffin. No problem. I will cook the loaf a bit longer…good is good no matter what the shape is.

  46. Is there a way I can find out the nutritional information on this recipe?

  47. Hi Aimee,
    I just came across your website today & have been caught up here now for a good while.. lol..everything looks great!
    I wanted to ask you, in regards to this recipe, I don’t want to be difficult, but for health reasons I don’t eat anything ‘white’, so I’m wondering if I could just use all ‘wholemeal’ flour (what is ‘whole wheat’ flour?), instead of mixing it up with the cake flour or all purpose, or what do you suggest? Also I’ll have to sub the peanut or canola oil for avocado or coconut oil ( heriditary high cholesterol :( For everyone out there raising their eyebrows.. canola is not really a ‘healthy oil’, avocado oil is fantastic & also withstands very high heat without oxidising (really unhealthy), coconut oil is also a heart healthy ‘good fat’.
    Do you think fat free Greek yogurt would be ok?, & a low fat milk, or rice milk/almond milk?..again, the cholesterol (saturated fat).. the dark chocolate in this recipe I’ll treat myself to! as long as it’s a good quality, non processed, high cocao content chocolate then it is actually heart healthy in moderation! (good news hey :) Again, I apologise for being difficult, but I’m trying to manage my cholesterol without medication so I have to be strict with it.
    Thanks for any thoughts on my substitutions :)

  48. I just tried this recipe, and it is AMAZING, and remarkably forgiving as well. I had “misread” moment and accidently added a cup and half of greek fat free yogurt… I was going to make two batches…but I have run out of yogurt, lol. This is really a wonderful recipe and is now on my favorite list. Thankyou for a GREAT recipe!

    Teja, I grinded my own whole wheat flour and used Soft White Wheat berries. I used it for all of it and had no issues. Also used the 0% greek yogurt and had no problems. I hope this helps!

  49. I love recipes…what bothers me is the canola oil that is referenced in these recipes. We know that corn oil comes from corn, olive oils comes from olives and vegetable oil comes from vegetables. But, what the heck is canola? I suggest people read about the mechanical applications of this garbage.
    Steer your loved one away from this crap. Use what your creator created for you not this garbage…gees.

  50. Hi Aimee, I realise this post is quite old now, but when I try a recipe I find on a blog, I like to give feedback. This recipe is fantastic! I love baking for my kids but like to concentrate on snacks with vegetables or fruit in them as well as chocolate, and this one has gone down a treat! I only lament that it makes so much which means I need to find something else to do with my very productive zucchini plant for another week or two!

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