This vegan chocolate zucchini bread is sweet, rich, and decadent with a fine, moist crumb. Once it's baked, cooled, and given some time to settle in an air-right container, the "crust" is soft, delicate, and almost sticky - like a muffin top or a Starbucks loaf.
There is an entire zucchini hiding in this loaf, but upping your vegetable intake is not this recipe’s purpose.
The zucchini’s role? Moisture. (And using up zucchinis after you’ve already eaten them grilled, baked, roasted, sautéed, spiralized, and you can’t bring yourself to eat anymore of them.) Zucchinis are cheap and plentiful in the summer. Where I live, it’s an affordable vegetable year round. Making zucchini bread is the ideal way to make use of any of those monstrous, late-harvested zucchinis that aren’t ideal for other cooking methods.
Vegan zucchini bread is incredibly easy to make. Preparation takes 15 minutes and then you’re ready to pop it in the oven. It freezes beautifully so you can make extra and freeze a few loaves for later.
- Don’t squeeze the liquid from the zucchini, that's the key to the bread's moisture! If your zucchini is very dry, give it a quick soak in water before shaking out any excess moisture using a strainer. (Don’t squeeze it though, just shake out as much as you can.)
- Use natural cocoa powder. You can not substitute Dutch-processed or alkalized cocoa in this recipe. (More on that below if you're interested ↓)
- Once you’ve mixed up your batter, immediately transfer it to a loaf pan and put it in the oven to bake. Don’t mix the wet ingredients into the dry until you've preheated your oven and prepared your loaf pan (and your toppings - if using). Once you've mixed the wet with the dry, baking soda's chemical reaction is immediate. You want that reaction to happen as the loaf bakes, not while it sits on your countertop!
It’s essential that you use natural cocoa powder in this recipe. Baking soda (the leavener in this zucchini bread recipe) is alkaline and requires acidity to do its job. By nature, cocoa powder/chocolate is acidic. Dutch-processed cocoa is treated to be alkaline (you may also see it labeled as “alkalized cocoa powder”). Without natural cocoa powder’s acidity, your chocolate zucchini bread won’t rise properly!
Natural cocoa powder is lighter in colour and its flavour is rich, chocolatey, and bitter. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is deeper and darker in colour and has a milder flavour.
From big brands, Hershey's and Fry's are good examples of each type of cocoa powder. Hershey’s is a natural cocoa powder, Fry’s is an alkalized cocoa powder. For this recipe I used Camino’s natural cocoa powder (they sell both types). They're a Canadian brand that makes organic, fair trade chocolate products and other baking ingredients.
- Before baking, give your zucchini bread a tempting, "Instagram-y" look by sprinkling roughly chopped chocolate chunks down the center of the loaf.
- Or top with chopped pecans or walnuts instead!
- Any non-dairy milk will work. I tested the recipe with both oat milk and cashew milk.
- Gluten free baking is not my forte so I can’t guarantee that using gluten free flour will work. But if you want to experiment with making this zucchini bread gluten free, I’d love to hear how it goes! (If I were to give it a shot, I’d start with a gluten free all-purpose flour blend (rather than using a single ingredient flour.)
This vegan chocolate zucchini bread is moist, sweet, and decadent. Preparation takes 15 minutes and then you’re ready to pop it in the oven! Freezer-friendly.
- ½ cup (125 ml) non-dairy milk
- 2 tbsp (15 grams) ground flax seed
- 1 cup packed (155 grams) grated zucchini (approximately 1 medium zucchini)
- 1 cup (225 grams) sugar
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) canola oil
- 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (30 grams) natural cocoa powder (do not substitute with Dutch processed/alkalized cocoa)
- ¾ tsp (3.75 ml) baking soda
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
- Dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips, to taste (Optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine non-dairy milk and flax. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, natural cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix and set aside.
- Once the milk and flax seed mixture has thickened slightly, add the grated zucchini, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla to the bowl.
- Once the oven is preheated, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Immediately transfer the batter into the parchment lined loaf pan. If desired, top with chocolate chunks. Immediately put the loaf in the oven and bake for 70 minutes (or until the loaf is cracked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)
- Transfer zucchini loaf to a cooling rack. Wait until cool to slice the loaf. Store in an air-tight container.
If your zucchini is very dry, give it a quick soak in water before shaking out any excess moisture using a strainer. (Don’t squeeze it though, just shake out as much as you can.)
Keywords: vegan chocolate zucchini bread, vegan zucchini bread
It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but there is a lot of undeniable and powerful energy surrounding the idea of change at this time of year. For many of us, that change starts in the kitchen.
Maybe it means resolving to cook at home more often, to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, to waste less, or to make slightly more wholesome choices. Maybe, for you, this is the year in which you’d like to give veganism ( or vegetarianism ) a try.
Whether you’re trying to dip your toes slowly into the world of plant-based eating, or you’re ready to make a total shift, it can be helpful to keep a few things in mind.
Some people go vegan overnight, and they never look back. But for many others, a slow transition is more sustainable ( and pleasurable ) than a 180-degree turn. If the idea of going vegan feels daunting, start with a couple of small steps, like a Meatless Monday challenge at home, or switching one of your daily meals to a meatless and dairy-free option. ( You’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade your turkey sandwich for hummus, tempeh bacon, and avocado ).
I’m quick to say that vegan food is just food. While there are a couple of secret weapon ingredients to have on your radar ( nutritional yeast, I’m lookin’ at you ), for the most part a healthy appetite for grains, beans, and produce is all you really need to get started. With that said, any dietary shift can be tricky, and veganism is no exception. So, before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based nutrition. Find a useful, all-in-one resource, like Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, or Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life. At some point, someone will ask you where you get your protein ( or your iron, or your calcium ), and while you could laugh the question off, it’s a lot more powerful to supply a quick, confident answer.
Going vegan expanded my palate dramatically : I learned about all sorts of global cuisines, warmed up to my spice rack, and tried ingredients I’d never considered before. But my culinary repertoire was pretty meager when I made the switch. If you already have some culinary experience, don’t assume that you’ll need to acquire an entirely new bag of tricks to eat vegan or vegetarian.
In fact, one really useful place to start is by looking at some of your favorite dinner recipes and thinking about how you might adapt them to be meatless and/or dairy-free. It may be as simple as removing some cheese ( or replacing it with cashew cheese ). It may mean trading the central protein for beans, soy foods, or even a hearty vegetable, like mushrooms.
Until I went vegan, I had never tried tempeh, soba noodles, kimchi, kabocha squash, nutritional yeast, millet, mulberries, or buckwheat…and the list goes on. Becoming vegan encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it also introduced me to more global dishes.
A great many dietary folklores around the world are already plant-based, which means that vegans and vegetarians have many rich, exciting culinary traditions to draw upon. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless dishes and recipes from other parts of the world ( Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal préférés ). Dust off your spice rack and add new flavors to your food. Use your transition to plant-based eating as an excuse to try new grains, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of folks assume that adapting a recipe to be vegan means replacing the meat or poultry with a faux meat, a block of tofu, or tempeh. That’s cool, but it can also be fun to think creatively and imaginatively about how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein. No, lentil Bolognese isn’t really Bolognese, but it does capture the heartiness of the original; cashew banana yogurt is a far cry from dairy, but it does evoke the same, sweet creaminess.
Many people are surprised by how easy it is to go meatless. Cheese, on the other hand, is a different story. I myself used to utter the same words I hear constantly from readers, friends, and nutrition clients : ' I’d love to go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese. '
While I won’t pretend that giving up dairy is easy—it’s not, especially because it’s so ubiquitous in restaurant dishes—I will say that I had a much easier time living without it when I learned to make my own substitutes. Store-bought soy and almond cheeses weren’t cutting it ( especially nine years ago, when the options were limited ), and soy creamers and yogurts left me feeling equally flat. Making my first batch of cashew cheese—which authentically captured the tanginess and texture of goat cheese—was a revelation. Homemade nut milk let me create creamy porridge and muesli far more authentically than did store-bought, non-dairy milk.
Over time, I’ve experimented with tofu paneer, tofu feta, and cashew yogurt, and the list is growing. Homemade dairy substitutes are creative, fun, and cost-effective, and I think they’re a big step up from what you can find in the store.
While I’m the first to point out that vegan proteins extend far beyond soy foods—encompassing tonalités of different céréales, legumes, nuts, and seeds—you really can’t beat tofu and tempeh for ' meaty ' texture and complete protein in meatless dishes. Both ingredients can be either memorable or mundane, depending on how you prepare them. I definitely recommend pressing tofu if you’re not already in the habit; it’ll create a firmer, more toothsome texture that most people prefer.
When preparing tempeh, be sure to use a boldly flavored marinade or sauce to help balance tempeh’s earthy taste, and if you find it bitter, you can steam it before marinating, too.
For the most part, I try to feature whole foods and homemade ingredients in my cooking. But in spite of the fact that I love to create my own dairy substitutes and I’d usually rather eat a scoop of lentils than a block of faux meat, I don’t eschew vegan products, and I think that keeping an open mind about them can really enrich the authenticity of your food.
This is especially important when you’re transitioning and vegan cooking still feels like a brave new world. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to use cashew cheese in a recipe rather than Daiya ( a melty, commercial vegan cheese ) ; coconut oil in place of Earth Balance ( vegan butter ) ; or grilled tofu in place of Beyond Chicken ( grilled strips of soy and pea protein that taste shockingly like chicken ).
But when I’m aiming for totally authentic, precise results, vegan substitute products can go a long way, and it’s comforting to know that they’re an option if I feel like taking a shortcut.
Over time, I learned to create vegan food with greater sensitivity to others’ tastes and folklores. I love a lot of really crunchy fare, from the aforementioned raw kale salad to tofu, sprouts, and grain bowls. And I know a lot of other folks who love these dishes, too. But sometimes being an ambassador of vegan food means knowing how to create dishes that feel familiar and appeal to a wide array of more conservative palates, like vegan lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or sloppy Joes.
And, if you’re trying to dispel the idea that all végétaliens eat is salad and prove that vegan food can be filling and hearty, then it’s all the more important to create dishes that evoke a sense of comfort.
Change feels a lot less daunting when you have company. If your family and friends aren’t exploring veganism along with you, then find community in other ways. Explore a vegan meetup or potluck in your community. Become a regular commenter on vegan food blogs. If you do have a friend who’s interested in plant-based cooking, convie him or her over for some recipe testing.
Studies show that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is often attributed to feeling ' different ' or isolated. Food is all about community and sharing, so do your best to share this lifestyle with people you care about—even if they’re not making the change along with you.