Today’s sugar-free and butter-free zucchini brownies recipe is an easy guide to a wholesome summer dessert. These brownies are fudgy, moist, rich, and taste no different than store-bought treats — except this time, they’re made with your well-being in mind.
The zucchini shreds hidden inside the ooey-gooey layers of chocolate are what make these brownies special. People will hardly recognize there’s any vegetable sneaked into this sweet treat!
Here’s a list of holidays on which you can enjoy this treat: National Have a Brownie Day (December 8), International Chocolate Day (July 7), World Chocolate Day (July 7), National Chocolate Day (July 7), National Brownie Day (December 8).
Are These Zucchini Brownies Healthy?
Yes, they are. These zucchini brownies are made with healthy ingredients to keep you satisfied without falling off the healthy eating track.
If you take a look at the ingredient list, you can see how this recipe aims to create a healthier version of regular brownies. Here, we’re using whole wheat flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, honey, and no butter at all.
Each ingredient has something to offer healthwise. Check out the following section to find out how.
Ingredients for Our Zucchini Brownies
Zucchini is botanically a fruit, though most people think of it as a vegetable. It comes in various sizes and colors (mostly ranging from yellow to green).
It is most abundant in the summer months and packs a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds. A medium-sized fruit provides 33.3 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates.
2. Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour is a nutrient-dense, healthier alternative to all-purpose flour mainly because it remains whole during the grinding process. It makes these brownies a little bit more crumbly and saltier than regular ones, but at the same time helps balance the moisture of the added zucchini.
Besides being fiber-rich, whole wheat flour is also packed with protein, calcium, B vitamins, riboflavin, and folate. To learn more about how whole wheat flour, as well as products made from whole grains, can offer you valuable nutrients and health benefits, check out this article from Harvard’s School of Public Health.
As we’ve tried baking a sweet treat using whole wheat flour before (yes, it’s the case of whole wheat blueberry banana bread), we wanted to remind you that these brownies require the addition of gluten to rise. Gluten-free products (almond flour, for example) won’t cut it for the desired shape.
3. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
For this zucchini brownies recipe, we purposely opted for unsweetened cocoa powder to give the brownies a darker shade and richer taste. This also cuts down the unnecessary sugar for your treat.
The slight bitterness of the cocoa powder is beautifully balanced by the natural sweetness of the honey. This combination lends the zucchini brownies a richer, more sophisticated flavor, that both delights and satiates.
If you’ve run out of honey, maple syrup also works well for a similar mild sweetness.
4. Chocolate Chips
In this zucchini brownies recipe, we added the chocolate chips twice. The majority of chocolate chips are melted and whisked into the batter, but we save some to scatter on top when the pan first comes out of the oven.
Aside from dark chocolate chips, you’re free to choose from milk, white, or even dairy-free chocolate as substitutions.
How to Grate Zucchini
For zucchini brownies, you should always shred the zucchini on the finest side of the grater.
You’ll need the zucchini to be super fine and thin so it totally blends into the batter and won’t be very noticeable in flavor and texture. The coarser it’s grated, the drier it will be — resulting in more crunchy and crumbly brownies.
After grating, if the zucchini shreds are too wet, use a clean towel to gently squeeze out excess water; otherwise, leave them be. You need the moisture to make the brownies soft and fudgy.
How to Make Homemade Brownies with Zucchini
Here’s a quick note for this particular recipe: Before adding the zucchini, the batter might look a little dry, which is normal. As the zucchini is folded in the batter, it will release moisture when baking — which is essential to create super fudgy brownies.
Preheat the oven and mix the dry ingredients.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave.
Mix the wet ingredients until well combined.
Gradually add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk well.
Fold the shredded zucchini into the batter.
Add the brownie batter in a cake pan and bake in the oven.
Scatter the remaining chocolate chips on top of the brownies when hot.
Cut into squares, allow them to cool down, and enjoy.
Zucchini Brownies Recipe
- 2 cups zucchini grated, equals 10.6 oz or 300g
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 oz dark chocolate chips divided into 2 oz and 1 oz
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Mix the dry ingredients: Preheat the oven to 355° F. In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix well and set aside.
- Melt the chocolate: In a microwave-safe bowl, add 2 oz dark chocolate chips. Wrap with cling film and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted.
- Mix the wet ingredients: Add olive oil, eggs, honey, vanilla extract, and salt to the melted chocolate bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Gradually add the flour mixture into the chocolate. Mix evenly with a whisk until just combined.
- Add zucchini: Fold the shredded zucchini into the batter and mix with a spatula.
- Bake the brownie: Line a square cake pan with parchment paper and pour the batter in. Bake the brownies for 20 minutes.
- Add more chocolate: Once the timer rings, take the pan out of the oven immediately and scatter the remaining 1 oz chocolate chips on top of the brownies while still hot. Let them cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!
1. Should You Peel Zucchini?
If you can grate the zucchini super fine, you really don’t need to peel it beforehand. By and large, this saves you some more time prepping.
2. How Long Do Brownies Last?
These zucchini brownies can last up to 1 week if stored properly in the fridge.
They’re pretty easy-going and can even be covered with a paper towel and left on the counter overnight. However, after the brownies sit at room temperature for one night, the outer edges will get a bit drier.
3. Can You Freeze Brownies?
Yes, you can. Zucchini brownies freeze well for up to 3 months if stored in an airtight container.
We suggest you freeze the bars separately wrapped with parchment paper to prevent them from sticking to each other. This also makes it more convenient to take out single servings if desired.
Let the brownies thaw in the fridge before taking them out to room temperature (and reheat, if needed).
Fresh zucchini can also be pre-grated, covered, and frozen for future use.