Old Fashioned Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A slice of zucchini sheet cake on a piece of parchment paper.

Old Fashioned Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is a classic for a reason ~ this moist zucchini walnut cake is delicious even without the generous layer of fluffy cream cheese buttercream!

A slice of zucchini sheet cake with cream cheese frosting.

zucchini cake is a tried and true favorite

Some people can’t control themselves around ice cream, others have issues with chocolate…for me, it’s old fashioned zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting. If nobody is watching I might will eat the whole pan. It’s one of those one size fits all desserts ~ wherever hungry people are gathered, zucchini cake just works.

grating zucchini for old fashioned zucchini cake

what you’re gonna need

  • zucchini
  • walnuts
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • buttermilk
  • vegetable oil
  • flour
  • baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • vanilla extract
  • cream cheese
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • lemon juice

zucchini is the star of this cake

Who doesn’t like to grate zucchini? Unlike those knuckle busting nuggets of Parm, zucchini  slides across the grater with ease and before you know it, you’ve got a big pile of feathery green shreds. I like to use small zucchini when I bake because the extra peel equals more color and flavor. Large zucchini with their vast white interiors can be bland and watery.

Mixing the batter for old fashioned zucchini cake

this is an easy one bowl recipe

  1. Choose a large mixing bowl and whisk the wet ingredients together. This recipe uses oil so it’s super quick.
  2. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  3. Fold a couple of cups of shredded zucchini into the simple batter, along with a cup of nuts. I think walnuts are key to a great zucchini cake, but you can absolutely leave them out if you like, or substitute pecans.
  4. Turn into a greased pan and bake!
Old fashioned zucchini cake cooling on a rack

can we talk about that cream cheese frosting?

The crowning glory of this zucchini cake is the tangy cream cheese buttercream frosting. It’s made with softened cream cheese, softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Gob. it. on.

Luxurious view of cream cheese frosting on an old fashioned zucchini cake

zucchini cake tips and faqs

Do you peel the zucchini?

No! The peel is nutritious, beautiful, and tasty!

Do I need to squeeze the water out of the shredded zucchini?

No, I use the zucchini as is. I like to grate it shortly before I add it to the batter, though.

Can I use yellow summer squash in this cake?

I have tried this and don’t love the result, but you can use golden zucchini, which works great.

Can I freeze zucchini cake?

The cake itself will freeze perfectly, but I would plan to frost it after thawing.

Do I need to refrigerate this cake?

Moist zucchini cake keeps well, but because of the cream cheese rich frosting, I would refrigerate any leftovers of this cake.

My cream cheese frosting is lumpy!

This is most likely because you didn’t start with soft cream cheese. See my post on how to bring cold ingredients up to temperature quickly for tips.

Sliced zucchini sheet cake with cream cheese frosting.

more zucchini recipes

A pan of old fashioned zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting

Other old fashioned cakes to try ~

My Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cake has been one of the most popular cakes on the blog this summer and I’m not surprised, it disappeared from my kitchen in record time…I think it has something to do with that thick caramel frosting.

A piece of old fashioned peanut butter cake with fork

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake ~ this simple cake can be changed up with different fruits, and has become another reader favorite.

Girl holding a slice of Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Apple Cider Doughnut Cake ~ is it fall yet? Because I can’t wait to make this pillowy soft bundt cake again.

apple cider doughnut bundt cake with slice removed
old fashioned zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting in a glass pan with forks
3.39 from 157 votes

Old Fashioned Zucchini Cake

Old Fashioned Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting ~ a classic that’s a classic for a reason, this moist zucchini walnut cake is delicious even without the generous layer of fluffy cream cheese buttercream!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 16 servings
Calories 512kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 9×13 baking pan


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups lightly packed shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts


  • 8 ounces cream cheese completely soft
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • lemon juice about 1 Tbsp


  • Preheat oven to 350F Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth.
  • Toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and add the bowl. Mix just until completely blended. Fold in the zucchini and the nuts.
  • Turn the batter into your prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.) Some ovens run hot or cool, so check carefully.
  • Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add the lemon juice and the sugar, one cup at a time, while beating. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add more sugar if the frosting is too thin, and a little more lemon juice or milk if it is too thick.


Calories: 512kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 209mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 425IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    4 stars
    Nice moist cake. Frosting recipe is good and makes more than enough for a 9×13 cake. Could cut in half or plan to use extra on something else.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you, Sue! I made this for my friend. She LOVED it! Perfect recipe! Easy to follow your directions for a delicious result!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Looks delicious! One question, the recipe states to put into a pan….if I use a baking dish, do I lower the oven temperature 25 degrees? Thanks

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      June 19, 2021 at 5:57 am

      I sometimes find that glass dishes benefit from lowering the temp a bit, but I think you’ll be fine in ceramic or glass.

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