How to Make Zucchini Bread

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Turn your garden harvest into a treat! We'll teach you how to make zucchini bread that's perfectly cooked through in the middle.

Anyone with a garden knows how prolific zucchini can be. Before you can say “grow,” that small plant has yielded armfuls of squash. While zucchini does make a great side dish, it’s at its most delicious when baked into bread. With a bit of sugar, spices and even nuts, this abundant summer veggie becomes a treat to savor: zucchini bread.

What Is Zucchini Bread?

Zucchini bread is a type of quick bread. Despite being made with a vegetable, zucchini bread is sweet. The grated zucchini softens as it cooks, leaving the peel’s green flecks as the only evidence of its presence. Grated zucchini also adds moisture. The addition of warming spices like cinnamon, bright citrus zest and crunchy nuts give zucchini bread a complex flavor that’s hard to beat.

How to Make Zucchini Bread from Scratch

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This is our go-to zucchini bread recipe because it turns out super moist and flavorful. Adding chopped walnuts or pecans gives the bread a more interesting texture, but you can leave them out if you’re baking for someone with nut allergies.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Go to Recipe

Tools You’ll Need

  • Box grater: You’ll need one of these to shred the zucchini before adding it to your batter. A food processor with a shredding plate also works.
  • Loaf pan: The most important tool for making quick breads is a sturdy loaf pan. We like these pans because they have a nonstick coating. Combined with proper greasing and flouring, that ensures you won’t leave chunks of zucchini bread behind.
  • Cooling rack: You’ll need a wire rack for cooling the zucchini bread. Slicing hot zucchini is a sure-fire way to end up with a pile of crumbs, and the rack allows air to circulate around the loaf to cool it more evenly.

Directions

Step 1: Make the batter

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until the mixture is well blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients—the flour, salt, baking soda, lemon zest, cinnamon and baking powder.

Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture, stirring it until the mixture is just moistened. You don’t want to overmix, so it’s okay if there are some tiny clumps of flour remaining.

Editor’s tip: Don’t have a zester at home? You can use the finest side of your box grater to zest lemon for this recipe. And if you’re out of lemons, feel free to sub in orange zest. It’ll be just as tasty.

Step 2: Grate the zucchini

You can use a food processor with a grating attachment to grate your zucchini, but an old-fashioned box grater works just as well here. Grate your washed zucchini against the side with the largest holes. And nope—you don’t even have to peel the zucchini. The exterior is tender enough to eat and will create nice flecks of color in the bread.

Zucchini does contain a lot of water, especially the very large ones (we’ve all found a few of those hiding in our garden). To keep the batter from becoming too liquid, extract some of the moisture from the zucchini. You can do this by putting the zucchini in a mesh sieve and pressing on the squash shreds; the excess liquid will run through the mesh. You can also place the shredded zucchini in a clean tea towel, bundle it up and squeeze over the sink. This will remove a bit of extra moisture.

Step 3: Add in any extras

Once your zucchini has been rid of extra liquid, fold it into the batter. Finish off by adding any additional mix-ins like pecans or walnuts.

For maximum flavor, be sure to toast the nuts before adding to the batter.

Step 4: Bake to perfection

Transfer the batter to two greased 8×4-inch loaf pans and bake for 55 to 65 minutes at 350ºF, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the zucchini bread cool for about 10 minutes in the pans.

Gently run a butter knife along the side of the loaf pan to release the zucchini bread. Carefully remove the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

Editor’s tip: Zucchini bread batter contains a ton of moisture, and it takes a long time to bake through to the middle. If the bread isn’t finished after the allotted baking time, tent the loaf pan with a piece of aluminum foil to keep the top from over-browning and bake it for an additional 10 to 30 minutes.

Zucchini Bread Variations

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Because the squash in zucchini bread recipes is more about adding moisture than a powerful flavor, you’ll find all kinds of zucchini bread variations, including savory and sweet options. These are a few of our readers’ favorites:

How to Store Zucchini Bread

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Like most bakes, zucchini bread is best when eaten within the first few days. When you’re not nibbling, stash it in an airtight container or zip-top bag. It’ll keep on the counter for about four days and in the fridge for a week. If you’re nearing the end of the loaf and find it’s a bit stale, don’t toss it! It makes great toast slathered with butter.

If you want to stash zucchini bread for later, you can freeze it. Make sure the bread is cooled completely, then wrap (either an entire loaf or slices) tightly in plastic wrap or foil and store in a zip-top bag or airtight container. You’ll want two layers of protection to prevent any freezer burn. Once frozen, zucchini bread is good for about three months.

When you’re ready to eat, just unwrap the bread and let it thaw on your countertop.

Tips for Making Your Best Zucchini Bread

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How to Prevent Zucchini Bread from Falling Apart

If your zucchini bread is falling apart, it most likely was too warm when you sliced it. The high moisture content can cause the hot bread to crumble when sliced. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it. Exercising patience can be hard if you’ve got delicious bread on the counter, but the perfect slices will be worth it.

How to Prevent Zucchini Bread from Collapsing

Your zucchini bread looks picture-perfect when it comes out of the oven, but what causes it to fall as it cools? You might have overmixed the batter when you combined the dry and wet ingredients. Try using a gentler hand next time and mix just until the flour is incorporated. You don’t want any large clumps of flour, but a few small ones are okay.

Also, be sure you’re measuring ingredients correctly. Too much or too little baking powder and baking soda can cause a collapse.

How to Make Sure Zucchini Bread Is Baked

Because there is a lot of moisture inside of zucchini bread, it does take longer to bake—sometimes an hour or more. Be patient and don’t peek on your bread until the end of the baking time.

To check if the loaf is done, you can use a toothpick, just like you would with cake. If the toothpick comes away clean, the bread is done and ready to cool on a wire rack. If the skewer comes out gooey, bake your bread a bit longer; start with an extra 5 minutes and go from there.

If the center of your bread is still underbaked but the outside is getting pretty brown, tent the top with a piece of aluminum foil. Your bread will continue to cook, but the crust won’t burn.

How to Choose a Zucchini

When it comes to zucchini, bigger isn’t always better. Large zucchinis have lots of water inside, meaning you have to squeeze those shreds more. Opt for a few small zucchini in lieu of a jumbo one if possible.

If you only have extra-large squash in your garden, that’s fine. Just be sure to give the shredded zucchini an extra squeeze.

How to Make Zucchini Bread Moist

Don’t worry about this for one second! Zucchini is full of moisture and ensures that your bakes will never come out dry.

More Tasty Ways to Bake with Zucchini
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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.
Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.