Spiced Zucchini Cake

A guilt free cake? Not quite, but we can pretend right? Well, maybe if we forget about the cream cheese frosting. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about a cake that is textured and flavored with zucchini and sweetened with applesauce that makes my hand much lighter when I’m reaching for a second piece.

With a surplus of zucchini in my house, it was time to get creative in the kitchen. I took a basic zucchini cake recipe and added in some cinnamon, nutmeg, crystallized ginger and cardamom to give a plain cake an autumnal twist. The spiced maple-cream cheese frosting made this zucchini cake incredibly irresistible and quick to disappear.

I have to admit trying to convince Brian that a cake made with zucchini and applesauce could stand up next to a butter laden dessert wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated. He’s used to zucchini being in stir-fries and quick breads; not cake. Well, after that first taste, all was quiet and it was pretty much a session of fork to mouth until the plate was empty. The next morning he took the remaining slices to his co-workers who welcomed it with open arms on an brisk, fall morning.

Don’t be surprised if you see some zucchini cookies and other sweets with zucchini as the star or in a supporting role. This cake is moist, delicious and is definitely the perfect recipe to transition your kitchen to fall baking. Have a fantastic week and thanks so much for stopping by My Baking Addiction.

Looking for more zucchini deliciousness?
Chocolate Zucchini Cake from My Baking Addiction
Blueberry Zucchini Bread from My Baking Addiction
Pineapple Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from My Baking Addiction
Zucchini and Cream Cheese from Vino Luci Style

Spiced Zucchini Cake

Yield: 9 servings

with spiced maple-cream cheese frosting


For the Cake

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon minced crystallized ginger
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 cup shredded zucchini

For the Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups confectioners' sugar


For the Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, crystallized ginger, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

3. Combine oil, applesauce, eggs and sugars; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add zucchini; stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into the prepared 8x8 inch baking pan.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

For the Frosting

1. For the icing: In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and cardamom until smooth and creamy. Add confectioners' sugar and mix well.

2. Frost cake with icing once completely cool.


- Store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- This icing is a little on the thin side and is not able to be piped. If you find the consistency to be too thin for your taste, gradually add in a little more confectioners’ sugar.
- If you enjoy nuts, pecans and walnuts both pair well with this recipe. Simply fold in a ½ cup of chopped nuts before pouring the batter into the pan.
- Don’t have cardamom or crystallized ginger? No problem, just omit them, but I do highly recommend adding both of these to your spice rack.

42 Responses to “Spiced Zucchini Cake”

  1. Maria — September 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    I made zucchini brownies last week. I love baking with zucchini. I can’t wait to try your cake next!


  2. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — September 13, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    It is funny we were both in a zucchini and cream cheese mode but oh how different. We could have my casserole for dinner and your cake for dessert.

    I love zucchini bread and one day want to make a recipe I’m familiar with and leave out the zucchini so I can discern what flavor it adds, cause it seems to be the moisture that is most significant and kind of the unexpectedness.

    I have a couple of monster zucchini from a neighbor on the counter now. I love that you can grate them and freeze and not bother with blanching to use at a later date. I grate and store 2 cup quantities so that I have a ready measured packet for winter baking…but in this case; we’ll say fall…these sound like a must try!


  3. GypsyRhapsody — September 13, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Looks delicious! I made Zucchini cupcakes not to long ago and everyone loved them! http://wp.me/pXkO1-7y


  4. Joanne — September 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    One of my roommate’s favorite desserts that I’ve made were zucchini spice cupcakes that were healthified with applesauce as well! Those things just come out so darn moist and full of spicy flavor! I love this cake. Definitely sounds like a winner.


  5. Liz @ Blog is the New Black — September 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    This looks delicious. I’ll have to add this to my “to bake” list!


  6. Sherry — September 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    This is so beautiful looking and it sounds great! I love seeing these more Fall focused recipes popping up!


  7. Marsha Baker — September 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I love using zucchini too – this looks like a great recipe – the cake looks very tempting. I love the recipe adding pineapple as well. Cream cheese frosting always wins me over too! Keep up the good work!


  8. The Social Frog — September 13, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I am not much of a zucchini eater but this looks good, if my family lived closer I’d make it for them as most of them love breads made with zucchini.


  9. Chelsey — September 13, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve been looking for a Zucchini Cake recipe and your recipes too to never disappoint! I can’t wait to try it!

    By the way: your “Amazing Brownies” were a HUGE hit–I made them twice this past weekend!!!

    With love and cupcakes,


  10. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit — September 13, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    Applesauce and zucchini? Sounds like fruit and veggies to me! Sounds delicious too!


  11. My Kitchen in the Rockies — September 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Oh, no. This is a cake for me. It will be sfaed and baked. Thanks for sharing.


  12. Eliana — September 13, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Hmmmm – the perfect Fall recipe. This looks super delicious.


  13. Lora — September 14, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Wonderful zucchini cake and I’ll take a double portion of the frosting please.


  14. LimeCake — September 14, 2010 at 1:31 am

    oh yum! i love zucchini. it must bring a deliciousness moistness to the cake. this looks really really good…


  15. Joe @ Eden Kitchen — September 14, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Oh wow this sounds delicious! We are just coming out of winter down here but I’m still fixated on spicy baked goods – can’t wait to try this recipe.


  16. Katrina — September 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

    This looks sooo delicious! Keep the zucchini recipes coming!


  17. Katy@BlueEyedBakers — September 14, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I heart Zucchini anything and this cake looks like a spectacular riff on my favorite Zucchini bread…it totes makes you feel healthy…I agree. Can’t wait to bake this!


  18. Brooke (Baking with Basil) — September 14, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Great spin on a fall cake!! And that spiced maple cream cheese frosting sounds delish!! I’m making your jalapeno popper dip tonight for a get together. Can’t wait to try both of them out!


  19. Jan — September 14, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I love that you used maple syrup to sweeten the frosting. Great idea!
    And crystallized ginger is such an underused ingredient!


  20. Tessa — September 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Wow this looks absolutely delicious and up my alley! I have a surplus of zucchini right now too :)


  21. Karen@Mignardise — September 14, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I was just looking at zucchini recipes today when yours came along. It’s just what I was hoping for! Thanks so much!


  22. I LOVE your recipes and how you present them. VERY nice! Are you going to get a button so I can add it to my blog? Pretty please….keep up the great work!


  23. Amalia — September 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Lovely cake! I havent baked with zucchini just yet, Im a little scared to tell the truth, but maybe this cake is a good start for something light and sweet! Love it!



  24. CaSaundra — September 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Love the sounds/looks of this!! Isn’t it funny how people automatically assume a cake with healthier ingredients isn’t going to taste decadent!? Oh, how I love proving them wrong!! ;-)


  25. newlywed — September 14, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    This look wonderful! I love the idea of topping it with cream cheese frosting, one of my favorite things!


  26. Sakura — September 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Must try this soon. Nom, Nom, Nom,


  27. joudie's Mood Food — September 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    How funny, i have just posted my zucchini cake. Very similar. Yours looks gorgeous! Its such a great cake!


  28. Shannon Jacobson — September 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Made this cake for dessert tonight, HUGE hit! My husband who does not have a sweet tooth, went back for seconds, then thirds! So yummy and fall like!


  29. Elle @ Kitchen Gifts — September 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Hmm. When I was a kid, my elder sister-in-law used to make the most amazing zucchini muffins. I’d forgotten all about them until I saw this recipe.

    And since–in my opinion–the best part of any cake is the icing, I think this cake just might outrank those muffins!

    Thanks for the share.


  30. The Italian Dish — September 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    My knees are weak. This looks crazy good. And cream cheese frosting -with maple syrup? Oh, my.


  31. sensiblecooking — September 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Well I don’t know How can you resist a cake like that with only second piece. Well lately I don’t care winter is coming so I need my extra layer of fat for hibernation. And atleast I will be liking my vegetable.


  32. Avril — September 17, 2010 at 11:26 am

    What a great recipe! So so GOOD! I made this yesterday and well, not only am I inlove with everything about this cake BUT so is everyone else! YUM! :-) Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe!


  33. Jen @ How To: Simplify — September 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! I love, love, love zucchini recipes! I also love that we shop at the same store. I have the same napkin!


  34. Alana — September 19, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I’ve got this in the oven right now! Smells so gooooooood!


  35. ingrid — September 26, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    This is how I’d like to eat all my veggies…in cake form and topped with some yummy cream cheese frosting! :)


  36. Stefanie — September 27, 2010 at 10:26 am

    This cake is amazing!!! However, I made it without the frosting. Still, super delicious and chewy!! I brought it to the office today – and it was gone within minutes! Everyone is asking for the recipe now.
    I have to make more tonight now :)


  37. Linda — July 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks for this!! Made it today and it smells wonderful, to begin with. Tastes so yummy! Thick, dense, moist and full of spicy flavor – it’s a great snack cake. (Didn’t even get to make the frosting – just cut it while warm and smeared on some butter!)


  38. lisa @ eating one bite at a time — December 3, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Wow! Sooooo good! We never got to make icing because we ate the cake without it! Yum!
    I used Stevia in the Raw instead of white sugar and it was soooo good!


  39. Very pleased to have stumbled across your website via pinterest. Recipes look good & your photos are amazing! Interesting use of courgette, have never baked a cake from it. Will try it thanks to you.


  40. Donna — October 26, 2012 at 5:13 am

    So want to make these with the spectacular frosting…”mummy” style for Halloween …Can these be possibly made into cupcakes?!!….Recommendations for oven temp/time baking?

    Just love your site…superbly researched, explained and crafted…I am an avid follower!


    • Jamie — October 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Hi! Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words about My Baking Addiction. Unfortunately, I made this recipe quite some time ago, so I really don’t know how it will react when backed into cupcake form. You idea is adorable, if you give it a try, definitely let me know how is goes. Have a great weekend.


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