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Lemon Zucchini Cake

This easy lemon zucchini cake is a moist, tender treat, drizzled with sweet lemon glaze and tangy lemon curd for an extra citrus boost. It’s the perfect mouth-puckering summer dessert when zucchinis are in abundance.

lemon zucchini cake slice surrounded by other cake slices on parchment paper.

The best lemon zucchini cake

This lemon zucchini cake is one of my favorite recipes to use zucchini. It’s rich and soft, with lots of zesty lemon flavor, and topped with a delicious drizzle of lemon glaze and lemon curd.

The addition of pistachios and Greek yogurt makes the texture extra moist and luscious. One bite and you’ll know what I mean.

I can’t even describe how good this cake is. It’s the perfect summer treat to bake for the lemon lovers in your life!

lemon zucchini cake ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pistachios – Shelled, unsalted pistachios are best for this cake.
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar – sweetens the cake.
  • 3/4 cup salted butter – If using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  • 3 large eggs – Have the eggs at room temperature to incorporate readily into the batter.
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour – For accurate results, measure the flour with a kitchen scale or use the spoon and level method.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder – gives the texture a lovely rise.
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt – Use full-fat yogurt for a richer taste, or low-fat yogurt if you prefer a lighter texture.
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice – Please use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best results. You need about 2 lemons.
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest – Grate this before you squeeze your lemons.
  • 1 freshly grated zucchini – adds great moisture and texture. You need 1 medium zucchini or 2 small zucchini for this cake.

Garnish

  • 1 cup powdered sugar – I recommend sifting the powdered sugar to remove lumps.
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons lemon curd – Try my homemade lemon curd, or keep it really easy by using store-bought lemon curd.
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios
close up of top of lemon zucchini cake sliced into squares with lemon glaze and lemon curd.

Substitutions & Variations

Here are a few ideas to tweak the recipe and create different flavor variations:

  • Light brown sugar: Substitute granulated sugar with light brown sugar for
  • Sour cream: Feel free to substitute yogurt with the same amount of sour cream.
  • Lime:  Zucchinis and limes are a delicious combo, and you can totally replace the lemon juice, zest, and curd with their lime equivalents.
  • Mint: Stir 1/2 teaspoon mint extract into the batter. I also love adding chopped fresh mint to this cake.
  • Herbs: Season the batter with 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary.
  • White chocolate: Stir a cup of white chocolate chips into the batter to create melty pockets of sweet chocolate. Drizzling melted white chocolate over the cake after baking is tasty, too.
  • Nuts: Try macadamia nuts, walnuts, or pecans instead of pistachios.
  • Cream cheese frosting: Try my 2-ingredient cream cheese frosting if you prefer a creamy topping.
  • Cupcakes: To turn the recipe into lemon zucchini cupcakes, fill the batter into a paper-lined muffin pan and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).

Before you start

Should I peel the zucchini for baking?

No, you don’t need to peel the zucchini before grating. The zucchini skin is thin and becomes super soft during baking.

Do I need to drain the zucchini for this cake?

No, there’s no need to drain the zucchini for this recipe. The zucchini provides a little extra liquid and keeps the cake soft and moist for days.

How to make lemon zucchini cake

1. Prepare for baking

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Tip: Let the parchment paper hang over the sides of the pan to easily lift the baked cake out of the pan later.

step 3 make pistachio sugar.

2. Make pistachio sugar

Place the sugar and pistachios into a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the pistachios are finely ground and combined with the sugar.

step 3 cream butter and sugar.

3. Cream the butter and sugar

Transfer the sugar mixture to a mixing bowl and add the softened butter. Cream together with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes. (You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment).

Cream the butter and sugar well: You want to beat until the mixture looks fluffy and

step 4 mix in eggs.

4. Mix in the eggs

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed. Wait until the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

step 5 alternate adding dry and wet ingredients.

5. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients

Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Using low speed, mix half of the flour into the batter. Next, add the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix for a minute until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined.

Don’t overmix: When combing the wet and dry ingredients, don’t overmix. This can cause the gluten in the flour to overdevelop and make the cake tough.

step 6 fold in grated zucchini.

6. Fold in zucchini

Using a spatula, fold in the grated zucchini until evenly distributed through the batter.

step 7 bake and cool the cake.

7. Bake & cool

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out mostly clean from the center. A few moist crumbs are okay, but there should be no liquid batter.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, lift the cake out of the pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

step 8 garnish the cake.

8. Garnish the cake

Once the cake has cooled, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice for a thick, pourable icing. Place the lemon icing and lemon curd into 2 separate pastry bags. Snip off the tips and drizzle alternating lines of icing and curd over the cake. Sprinkle with lemon zest and chopped pistachio. Your zucchini lemon cake is ready. Enjoy!

Let the cake cool before icing: The icing will melt into the cake if it’s still warm.

slice of lemon zucchini cake.

Storage instructions

  • Room temperature: The cake tastes best at room temperature and will last in an airtight container on the counter for 2 to 3 days.
  • Fridge: You can safely keep the cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, seal the cake in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, place the frozen zucchini lemon cake in the fridge overnight. You can freeze the cake with the icing and lemon curd topping, it holds up well in the freezer.

More easy cake recipes

lemon zucchini cake recipe.

Lemon Zucchini Cake Recipe

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This easy lemon zucchini cake is a moist, tender treat, drizzled with sweet lemon icing and tangy lemon curd for an extra citrus boost. It’s the perfect mouth-puckering summer dessert when zucchinis are in abundance.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 130 g / 4.6 oz pistachios
  • 1 1/4 cups / 250 g / 8.8 oz granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup / 1 1/2 sticks / 170 g / 6 oz salted butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups / 280 g / 10 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup / 125 g / 4.4 oz Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 2.7 fl oz lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1 medium zucchini, freshly grated

Garnish

  • 1 cup / 120 g / 4.2 oz powdered sugar
  • 2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp lemon curd
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachios

Instructions

  1. Prepare for baking. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4. Line a 9x9-inch / 23 cm square baking pan with parchment paper. Let the parchment paper hang over the sides of the pan to easily lift the baked cake out of the pan later.
  2. Make pistachio sugar. Place the sugar and pistachios into a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the pistachios are finely ground and combined with the sugar.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar. Transfer the sugar mixture to a mixing bowl and add the softened butter. Cream together with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes. (You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment).
  4. Mix in the eggs. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed. Wait until the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  5. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients. Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Using low speed, mix half of the flour into the batter. Next, add the yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix for a minute until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in zucchini. Using a spatula, fold in the grated zucchini until evenly distributed through the batter.
  7. Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out mostly clean from the center. A few moist crumbs are okay, but there should be no liquid batter.
  8. Cool. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then, lift the cake out of the pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Garnish the cake. Once the cake has cooled, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice for a thick, pourable icing. Place the lemon icing and lemon curd into 2 separate pastry bags. Snip off the tips and drizzle alternating lines of icing and curd over the cake. Sprinkle with lemon zest and chopped pistachio. Your zucchini lemon cake is ready. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Measure the flour properly: Don’t scoop the flour directly from the bag. This compacts the flour into the cup and leads to using too much flour. Best, weigh the flour with a kitchen scale. Alternatively, spoon the flour into your measuring cup and swipe the excess off with the back off a knife.
  • Use room temperature ingredients: The cake will have the best texture if you use room temperature ingredients instead of cold.
  • Cream the butter and sugar well: You want to beat until the mixture looks fluffy and
  • Don’t overmix: When combing the wet and dry ingredients, don’t overmix. This can cause the gluten in the flour to overdevelop and make the cake tough.
  • Don’t let the batter sit: After adding the zucchini to the batter, you should bake the cake soon after. The sugar will draw moisture from the zucchini and change the texture of the batter.
  • Let the cake cool before icing: The icing will melt into the cake if it’s still warm.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 321Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 167mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 27gProtein: 6g

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