Gluten Free Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting




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My gluten free zucchini cake is a moist, grain-free cake lightly spiced and generously topped with my best cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect cake to ease you into fall baking-mode.

A slice of gluten free zucchini cake with a bite taken out of it and a fork on a white plate.

This gluten free zucchini cake is all about texture!

Even though I don’t personally need to follow a gluten free diet, some of my favorite recipes over the years have been flourless or gluten free cakes. But I don’t use elaborate gluten free baking mixes or unpronounceable ingredients; I keep it natural.

By using ingredients like ground nut meals and even whole fruit pulps like like lemon and tangerine, I get amazing textures that you just don’t find in regular cakes. The shredded zucchini, almond flour, and chopped walnuts in this cake don’t disappoint in the texture department ~ its got a fabulous moist crumb.

Gluten free zucchini cake on a baking rack being frosted with cream cheese frosting.

Almond ‘flour’ replaces regular grain flour in this cake

Almond ‘flour’ is simply finely ground almonds.

    • It looks like flour, it feels like flour, and you can bake with it like flour, but it contains no gluten like actual grain flours do.  It has wonderful flavor and brings the protein rich nutrition of nuts to a recipe.

There are several different varieties: almond meal, almond flour, and super fine almond flour.

    • The meal is made with almonds that still have their skins, and it’s a little bit coarser than almond flour, which is made from blanched almonds.  Finely ground almond flour is the most like all purpose flour in texture.  All three are interchangeable but will give you slightly different results.

You can make your own almond flour

    • Grind blanched almonds in your food processor or blender ~ just be careful not to go too far or you’ll wind up with almond butter. Homemade almond flour will generally not be as fine as commercially made.

Almond flour keeps best in the refrigerator or freezer

    • The oils in nuts spoil easily. I keep a bag in the freezer at all times, there’s no need to thaw it out before using, so it’s super convenient.

Side view of gluten free zucchini cake topped with cream cheese frosting on a backing rack.

Tips for perfectly cooked gluten free cakes ~

Flourless gluten free cakes are often very delicate.  This is because gluten provides structure and stability to baked goods, and when you remove it the result is very tender and soft. Definitely not a bad thing, but something to be aware of. For this recipe, I recommend:

  • Prep your pan ~  When I bake a gluten free cake I almost always use either a springform pan or a nonstick cake pan lined with a round of parchment paper on the bottom. If you’re using a regular cake pan, like for this recipe, the parchment paper will keep the cake from sticking to the bottom and help you ease it out.
  • Make sure your cake is fully cooked ~ gluten free cakes are moist by nature, and don’t rise like regular cakes, so normal visual cues, even the toothpick test, aren’t always accurate.

Make sure your oven is at the accurate temperature when you bake gluten free.  An oven thermometer is a must.

Make sure that when touched lightly in the center the cake bounces back rather than leaving an indent. If your cake is getting too brown on top as it cooks, tent it with a piece of foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Err on the side of slightly over baking rather than risking under baking, this insures the excess moisture has a chance to fully cook out.

A slice of zucchini cake being pulled out with a cake server.

A great cream cheese frosting is all about striking that perfect balance between sweet and tangy ~

I use a mixture of cream cheese and butter in this frosting, along with the perfect amount of sugar to make it smooth, creamy, sweet, and deliciously tangy. But, really, I think of making frosting as a “taste-as-you-go” kind of thing, so I encourage you to do just that, and adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.

Make it your own. If you feel like your frosting is a little too sweet, try adding a touch of lemon juice to bring back the tartness.  I also like to add a pinch of salt to almost all my frostings to make the flavors come alive.

A slice of zucchini cake, and a piece of cake on a fork on a white plate..

My favorite gluten free cakes ~

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5 from 12 votes

Gluten Free Zucchini Cake

Gluten Free Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a moist, grain-free zucchini cake lightly spiced and generously frosted. It's the perfect cake to ease you into fall baking-mode.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted and partially cooled
  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour or meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F and lightly butter an 8 inch round cake pan. I place a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of my pan, as well, for easier removal.
  • In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with electric mixers, beat the eggs and the sugar until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, and briefly mix to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
  • Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. I like to do this by hand with a silicone spatula.
  • Gently fold in the zucchini and chopped walnuts just until everything is combined, don't over mix.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes. The cake should be risen and golden brown, and the top should spring back when touched lightly. If the cake is getting too brown on top before it is done baking, tent it with tinfoil.
  • Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes in the baking pan, then gently turn it out onto a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in the salt and vanilla, and then the sifted powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time.
  • If the frosting seems too loose, put it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to thicken up before frosting the cake.
  • Add the frosting to the top of the cooled cake, and enjoy immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to eat.

Notes

 
 

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16 Comments

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  • Reply
    Nkechi Ajaeroh
    October 13, 2020 at 4:14 am

    5 stars
    OKAY, I am making this goodness! We love fruit cakes, and I have been looking for a perfect holiday cake. This looks delicious and nutritious!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    Erica
    September 4, 2020 at 6:43 am

    5 stars
    This is beautiful and of course I still have some zucchini in my garden. I love that it’s also gluten free! 🙂

  • Reply
    Babs
    August 30, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Thank you for this delicious recipe! I’ll be making this on repeat. I appreciate all of the gluten free recipes you have, especially using almond flour instead of multiple flours. I had ingredients for everything but the frosting. I’m sure it is a great addition, but it was perfect even without! I used coconut sugar, since it was all I had on hand and crushed the cardamon seeds rather than using ground. It is outstanding! Thinking of trying it out with grated apple instead of the zucchini.

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 30, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      I’m already planning a grated apple version, we’ll see how it turns out!

  • Reply
    Cathy
    August 23, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    5 stars
    I knew I wanted to buy zucchini when I went to the store. I am really looking forward to making this! I love almond flour and I like zucchini in cakes and bread. Unfortunately, my dogs do too! Like someone else said, a healthy cake?. And I love that you don’t have to squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini as you normally do.

  • Reply
    zain ahmed
    August 22, 2020 at 9:26 am

    a very nice and delicious recipe is we used the buttercream or cheese cream for frosting..

  • Reply
    Edie Wright
    August 22, 2020 at 5:14 am

    Sadly many gluten free recipes, as delicious as they may be, are a serious health risk to people who have tree nut allergies.

  • Reply
    Siobhan Darby
    August 22, 2020 at 1:16 am

    Can you use GF self raising flour instead of almond flour?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 22, 2020 at 4:45 am

      I haven’t tried so I can’t say, but please let us know if you experiment.

  • Reply
    Grace Craddock
    August 21, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    Just wondering if you squeeze the juice out of the zucchini after shredding?

    • Reply
      Sue
      August 21, 2020 at 6:04 pm

      No, there’s no need to do that for this recipe.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    August 21, 2020 at 7:16 am

    5 stars
    You make such an interesting point about baking gluten-free cakes not because you HAVE to eat gluten-free, but because of the specific textures you can achieve. I’d never thought about it like that, and it’s brilliant! Thanks for the great tips on how to be successful at it (since I don’t already do a lot of gluten-free baking), and of course, for the scrumptious recipe!

  • Reply
    Saif
    August 21, 2020 at 7:04 am

    5 stars
    It’s my first time to see Zucchini cake but I am sure it taste really good.

  • Reply
    Lauren Vavala | Delicious Little Bites
    August 21, 2020 at 6:57 am

    5 stars
    Cake with veggies is basically healthy cake, right?! I need to make this asap – that frosting looks amazing!

  • Reply
    Beth
    August 21, 2020 at 6:31 am

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness does this look so yummy and scrumptious! Can’t wait to make this recipe!

  • Reply
    Kristin
    August 21, 2020 at 6:12 am

    5 stars
    Cream cheese frosting is the best! I love how much you have on there, I think it is just the right amount! lol. Thanks for a great recipe, I am definitely in the mood for zucchini cake this time of year!