Zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are super moist with a delicious spice cake flavor and fluffy cream cheese buttercream.

Zucchini is such an amazing food to bake with. I know that the whole idea of putting vegetables in baking sounds weird to a lot of people – but trust me – zucchini is incredible in muffins, cakes, breads and cupcakes. It makes baked goods super moist with a soft crumb, just like these Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

a photo of a baked zucchini cupcake in a cupcake wrapper topped with cream cheese buttercream frosting and sprinkled with cinnamon

So today we’re making zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. The cupcakes have a delicious spice cake flavor thanks to warm cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. Then there’s a hint of vanilla and a touch of brown sugar for even more flavor.

The fluffy cream cheese frosting is the perfect topping. Smooth, creamy, extra fluffy and slightly tangy. You’re seriously going to love them. One of my favorite zucchini recipes ever!

Why Use Zucchini in Baking?

Using zucchini in baked goods adds moisture, texture and even healthy nutrients without altering the flavor. Zucchini is very mild in flavor and high in water content so it is ideal for adding moisture to a muffin, cupcake, quick bread, etc. The added bonus of using zucchini in baking is getting lots of yummy treats from all that zucchini coming from your summer garden!

Zucchini Cupcake Ingredients

Most of the ingredients for zucchini cupcakes are pantry friendly, and chances are that if you have a zucchini or two, you can whip this cupcake recipe up with little prep. Here is what you need:

Zucchini Cupcakes

  • Zucchini: If you grate it finely, you won’t even know the zucchini is there.
  • Flour: Just regular all-purpose flour is all you need.
  • Baking Powder: Acts as a leavening agent to give the cupcakes rise and fluffiness.
  • Salt: Enhances the sweetness and all the flavors.
  • Seasonings: Ground Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Ground Cloves
  • Vegetable Oil: Adds fat to the cupcakes to keep them moist. Canola oil also works great.
  • White Sugar: Adds sweetness.
  • Brown Sugar: Adds sweetness and rich flavor.
  • Eggs: Gives the cupcakes structure.
  • Vanilla Extract: Adds flavor.
  • Milk: Adds a little extra moisture to bind all the ingredients together.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Butter: Make sure it is softened before mixing with the other ingredients. Adds richness in flavor to the frosting.
  • Cream Cheese: You’ll need half of the brick style cream cheese, and be sure it’s softened before combining.
  • Powdered Sugar: Adds all the sweetness to the frosting.
  • Heavy Cream: Adds the liquid needed to make the frosting spreadable.

The measurements needed for all the ingredients can be found in the recipe card down below.

A plate of freshly baked zucchini cupcakes

How to Make Zucchini Cupcakes

Making these zucchini cupcakes is super easy and straightforward. You can make the cupcakes without an electric mixer in one bowl, and the recipe comes together in no time.

  1. First grate the zucchini. You’ll want to use a fine cheese grater or zester so that you don’t have big pieces. Then gently soak up any extra liquid using a paper towel.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients mixture into the wet ingredients, then gently fold in the grated zucchini.
  5. Spoon the batter into a muffin pan with cupcakes liners filling each only about 2/3 full. If you fill them to the top your cupcakes can explode or end up sinking in the middle.
  6. Then bake for 16-18 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking, make the cream cheese frosting.

How to Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and fluffy using an electric mixer.
  2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
  3. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and mix in the powdered sugar until combined.
  4. Add the heavy cream and combine until the desired consistency.
  5. Frost the cupcakes with a knife or using a piping bag and piping tip.

All of the instructions for both the cupcakes and the frosting can be found in the recipe at the end of this post. The recipe can also be printed or saved there.

BONUS: If you are a chocolate lover, try our chocolate zucchini cupcakes!

Does the Zucchini Need to Be Peeled Before Baking?

The peel on a zucchini is thin and it softens as it bakes, so you don’t need to peel it! Unless you are trying to hide the zucchini from picky little eaters! If you peel the zucchini, it will be totally undetectable.

An overhead shot of zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with cinnamon

How to Make Cupcakes Moist

The cupcakes are extra moist and tender thanks to the oil, 2 eggs, milk and grated zucchini. Then the spices, vanilla extract and brown sugar add so much delicious flavor.

What Size Frosting Tip

Once the cupcakes have cooled, it’s time to make the frosting. It’s fluffy and creamy, not too sweet, and complements the zucchini cupcakes perfectly. I decided to pipe my frosting on using a piping bag and a 1M star tip – but feel free to frost them using a knife instead. I gave a little sprinkle of cinnamon for some visual appeal, but I’ve also left them plain or added a walnut on top of each before.

Either way – these zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are the perfect recipe to use up all the fresh zucchini in season. If you prefer a delicious zucchini cake without the frosting, try my mom’s fabulous zucchini muffins.

Storage Tips

Zucchini cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container. If they have been frosted, they should be kept in the fridge. The cupcakes will keep for up to a week.

Cupcakes also freeze very well. After they have cooled completely, place them in an airtight container. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. I would freeze them before adding the frosting and then add the frosting fresh before serving.

Zucchini cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Indulge in a delicious and irresistible dessert with these zucchini cupcakes topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. The perfect treat for any occasion and one of my favorite ways to use up zucchini!

More Delicious Cupcake Recipes:

Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

4.34 from 24 votes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Additional Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Description

Zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are super moist with a delicious spice cake flavor and fluffy cream cheese buttercream.

Ingredients 

Zucchini Cupcakes

  • 3/4 Cup Zucchini, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil, canola oil works too
  • 2/3 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, large
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 Cup Butter, unsalted, softened
  • 4 Ounces Cream Cheese, brick-style
  • 3 – 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream, if needed

Instructions

Zucchini Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line a muffin pan with muffin papers.
  • Gently dab the grated zucchini with a paper towel to remove excess liquid. It shouldn’t be dry, but there shouldn’t be extra water.
    3/4 Cup Zucchini
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
    1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour, 2 teaspoons Baking Powder, 1/4 teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • In a separate large bowl whisk together the oil and sugars until no lumps remain. Then whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract and milk.
    1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil, 2/3 Cup White Sugar, 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, 2 Eggs, 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract, 1/4 Cup Milk
  • Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then gently fold in the grated zucchini using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each about 2/3 full. Be careful not to fill them any more than 3/4 full.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 16-19 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then continue cooling on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft.
    1/2 Cup Butter
  • Then mix in the cream cheese.
    4 Ounces Cream Cheese
  • With the mixer on low, beat in 3 cups of powdered sugar until combined.
    3 – 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • If needed, slowly beat in the rest of the powdered sugar a little at a time until the desired consistency and sweetness level is reached. If it gets a little too thick, then beat in the cream.
    1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
  • Frost the cupcakes with a knife or using a piping bag and piping tip.

Notes

Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen and thawed in the fridge overnight.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcakeCalories: 596kcalCarbohydrates: 100gProtein: 3gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 164mgPotassium: 142mgFiber: 1gSugar: 86gVitamin A: 445IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 1mg
Author: Fiona
Course: Easy Cake Recipes For Beginners

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Zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting with spice cake flavor and fluffy cream cheese buttercream.