How to Make Zucchini Bread

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

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Anyone with a garden knows how prolific zucchini can be. Before you know it, the dozens of squash blossoms on each plant turn into a zucchini. They start out small, but when left unpicked, these vegetables get more and more massive. But the more you pick them, the more zucchini you have! (If you’ve ever locked your front door and pretended you weren’t home to keep your neighbors from dropping off zucchini gifts, you know what I’m talking about.)

Instead of bemoaning the abundance of zucchini season, embrace it by preparing these summer squash for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even better, eat them for dessert by learning how to make zucchini bread. This recipe yields two loaves that freeze well for up to three months, so you’ll have this quick bread on hand long after the last zucchini leaves the garden.

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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 tender nuts give zucchini bread a complex flavor that’s hard to beat.

How to Make Zucchini Bread

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)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Essential Tools You’ll Need

  • 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 in the pan.
  • We also recommend picking up an oven thermometer. These inexpensive tools are the best way to know—not guess—that your oven is actually preheated to 350°F before you get started.
  • Finally, 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.

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.

Step 2: Grate the zucchini and fold it in

The fastest way to grate a zucchini is to use a food processor with the grating attachment, but you can certainly grate by hand using a box grater. Just be sure to use the side with the largest holes, otherwise the zucchini will turn into mush.

There’s no need to peel the zucchini before grating it. The peels are tender enough to eat and create lovely flecks of green color in your bread, so just wash and scrub the zucchini to remove any soil. Then, trim off the stem end of the zucchini and feed it lengthwise through the food processor or box grater.

Finish the batter by folding in the zucchini and walnuts or pecans (if using).

Step 3: Bake to perfection

Transfer the batter to the 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.

How to Store Quick Breads

Most zucchini bread recipes make two loaves. That might sound like one loaf too many, but it can go pretty quickly. Enjoy a slice with butter or mascarpone for breakfast and snacks, or serve it with cream cheese frosting or whipped cream for dessert. It also stores pretty well: about two days on the counter or a full week in the refrigerator.

If you still have leftovers after a week, pop it into the freezer. To freeze zucchini bread, place it in an airtight bag or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. We like slicing it and wrapping individual portions to thaw them out one at a time, but feel free to freeze the whole loaf intact. Once frozen, zucchini bread is good for about three months.

Help! I Need to Know…

…how to prevent the bread from falling apart

If your zucchini bread is falling apart, it most likely was too warm when you sliced it. (We don’t blame you, though.) The bread’s high moisture content can cause the hot bread to crumble instead of holding together. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

…how to keep 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 that you’re measuring ingredients correctly. Too much or too little baking powder and baking soda can cause this collapse.

It’s also possible that you overfilled the pan. Loaf pans shouldn’t be filled all the way to the top, so don’t try to cram all the batter for this two-loaf recipe into a single 8×4 loaf pan.

…what to do if the bread isn’t baked in the middle

Several factors can lead to undercooked bread, and most of them can be prevented. For starters, make sure your oven temperature is accurate by using an oven thermometer. You also want to fully preheat the oven before adding the loaf.

If the temps are spot-on but your bread still isn’t baked in 55 to 65 minutes, tent the loaf with a piece of aluminum foil and bake it for an additional 10 to 30 minutes. Zucchinis vary in moisture content, so you may have to be patient. If you’re not having any luck after the additional baking time, the zucchini may have contained too much moisture. Next time, try squeezing the grated zucchini in your hands and discarding the liquid before folding it into the batter.

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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.