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4.81 from 148 votes


Servings: 10 fully-filled cupcakes or 1 dozen less filled ones.



    Dry ingredients bowl

    • 1 and 1/4th cup flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda baking soda & powder stay fresh for 6m-1 year once open
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/3 teaspoon salt
    • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves adds a slightly spiced flavor like in carrot cake
    • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground coffee

    Wet ingredients bowl

    • 1 egg* see substitution note
    • 1/3 cup oil. We use olive oil or vegetable oil.
    • 1 cup sugar. We use half brown sugar half white sugar.
    • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons coconut cream or 1 small 5.4 oz can** (see substitution note)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Stirred in at the end

    • 1 heaping cup grated zucchini I used 1 medium zucchini which yielded ~1.25 cups
    • Optional: 1/3 cup chocolate chips allergy note: regular chocolate chips usually contain dairy


    • 4 Tablespoons butter (half a stick) softened at room temperature
    • 4 oz. cream cheese (half a standard size package) softened at room temperature
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 and 1/2 cups powdered confectioners sugar sifted into the frosting bowl
    • Optional, but highly recommended: 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice to taste I also added a little lemon zest into the frosting and on top of each cupcake.



    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    • Grate zucchini and set aside. If if looks watery, blot off excess water with a paper towel otherwise I don’t typically blot it. If you’re doing the optional adding lemon juice or white vinegar into the milk step, do that now as well and set aside.
    • In a bowl, sift together everything listed under “Dry ingredients bowl.” Sifting is key for helping these ingredients combine evenly and to get rid of clumps. I only have a little sift, so just added each ingredient one at a time through the sift, stirred with a spoon, and re-sifted everything together.
    • In a separate, large bowl, mix everything listed under “Wet ingredients bowl” using a hand beater until combined.
    • Stir the sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl. Use a large spoon or spatula to stir until combined.
    • Stir in grated zucchini and optional chocolate chips.
    • Scoop batter into cupcake liners or a well greased pan (this recipe fits into an 8 x 8 pan). I filled these to the brim of my cupcake tins for fuller, rounded cupcakes after baking.
    • Bake for 18-22 minutes for cupcakes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. For a larger sheet cake, bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the toothpick test is clean.


    • Cream together the softened butter, cream cheese, and vanilla using a mixer.
    • Sift in the powdered sugar and continue mixing until smooth.
    • Stir in optional lemon juice and/or zest half a teaspoon at a time to taste, until you’re happy with the flavor. If needed, add a few tablespoons more confectioners sugar for thicker frosting.
    • Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes (frosting will thicken up a tad more) and then spread on top of FULLY COOLED cake. You can also make a DIY frosting piping bag (pictured below) by cutting off one corner of a ziploc bag.


    * Egg substitute: Oftentimes you can replace 1 egg in baking with 1/4 cup of applesauce or mashed banana. Or, try a flax seed egg which is common in vegan baking.
    ** Coconut cream is the thicker, creamy and more solidified part inside a can of coconut milk. You can buy it separately (like this mini can) or just scoop out the thicker part from a regular can of coconut milk. I used just regular coconut milk for this batch as a test, and it still worked fine. We freeze any unused coconut milk or cream in ice cube trays for various uses later!
    *** If you do not have coconut milk and are able to eat dairy, the original family recipe actually calls for 1/2 cup regular milk (whole milk if available) + 2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir the vinegar or lemon juice into the milk and let it sit for 10 minutes before using. This is a common way of making “buttermilk” for baking, and you can also do this with the coconut milk but I skipped it.