Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Use some of summer’s favorite vegetable in your baking! Zucchini cupcakes are fluffy and moist with the perfect amount of spice. Topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting, this easy dessert is ready in an hour!
I love a good spiced cupcake because it is loaded with delicious flavor! Apple cupcakes are my favorite for fall, but for summer I opt for zucchini cupcakes. They are tender and moist with a rich cream cheese frosting. You won’t believe how easy they are to make from scratch!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Great use of zucchini! This summer squash is abundant in gardens. Use it in your baked goods for a sneaky dose of vegetables.
- Amazing texture. The zucchini adds extra moisture to the cupcakes. Each bite is also super soft and fluffy!
- Plenty of flavor. The addition of spices makes for a tasty dessert! There’s also a bit of almond extract that keeps you coming back for more.
- Delicious frosting. In my opinion, nothing pairs better with zucchini desserts than cream cheese frosting. It’s rich, creamy and perfectly complements spiced cakes.
- Perfect summer dessert. Bring these cupcakes to your next barbecue or pool party. Everyone will love them!
- Zucchini: Use fresh zucchini and grate it yourself with a box grater (no need to peel). Lightly blot with a clean towel so the squash is just slightly wet.
- Orange juice: Fresh orange juice helps create a moist texture while brightening the zucchini flavor.
- Almond extract: This optional ingredient adds a “je ne sais quoi” to the recipe. If you choose to omit it, substitute with vanilla.
- Spices: Zucchini pairs well with spices, such as cinnamon and ground cloves. Make sure they are fresh for the best flavor!
- Baking powder and baking soda: These leavening agents help the cupcake rise! Make sure they are fresh and not expired for best results.
- Cream cheese: Block-style is best. It has less air whipped into it, which makes it thicker, creamier and less likely to melt.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this sweetens the frosting.
Try a different frosting. Zucchini cupcakes would also taste amazing with a simple vanilla buttercream or a chocolate frosting (I use it on my chocolate zucchini cake!) Another good choice is caramel frosting.
Add some mix-ins. Just like zucchini bread, these cupcakes also taste good with chocolate chips, chopped nuts or golden raisins mixed in. Stir in about 1/2 cup when adding the shredded zucchini to the batter. I think walnuts or pecans would taste delicious!
Make mini cupcakes. Use a mini muffin tin and fill each about about two-thirds full. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (yields about 50 cupcakes).
Add a different vegetable or fruit. Decrease zucchini to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup shredded carrots or apple. You can also replace the vegetable oil with unsweetened applesauce for a healthy alternative!
How to Make Zucchini Cupcakes
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.
- Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk eggs and sugar until frothy. Mix in vegetable oil, orange juice and almond extract.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients just until combined. Stir in the shredded zucchini.
- Bake cupcakes. Transfer batter to muffin tin filling each cup about three-quarters full. Bake at 350 F for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
- Make the frosting. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt, and mix until combined. Mix in the vanilla last.
- Frost cupcakes. Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with desired tip. Frost cooled cupcakes and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Use good quality ingredients. Make sure your zucchini is fresh otherwise it may give the cupcakes a bitter taste. Also, use block-style cream cheese. It makes all the difference in the structure of the frosting.
Weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale. This provides accurate measuring (and less dishes to clean!) If you don’t have a scale, spoon and level your flour into a measuring cup.
Use room temperature ingredients. They are easier to mix and creates in an evenly textured batter. As a result, the cupcakes will have a soft and fluffy texture!
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. This will prevent the frosting from melting! It also helps to use cream cheese that is soft, but still cool to the touch to prevent melting.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Make ahead: Cupcakes may be made a day ahead of time and stored in an airtight container before frosting and serving. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before storing. The frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Stir well before using.
Storage: Place frosted cupcakes in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They will keep at room temperature for a few hours while serving.
Freezing: Freeze unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Frosting can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature. If freezing frosted cupcakes, I suggest flash freezing for an hour before wrapping in plastic wrap and placing in an airtight container.
Zucchini contains cucurbitacins, which causes the vegetable to taste bitter. To prevent this from affecting your baked goods, use fresh zucchini and blot if dry before using in a recipe.
Yes, this recipe makes enough batter for two 8-inch round cake pans or three 6-inch round cake pans. Baking time will be about 20 to 25 minutes.
No. Keep the peel on and shred the zucchini using a box grater.
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Get the Recipe: Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ½ cups (312 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves, or allspice
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) sugar
- ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
- ½ cup (120 ml) orange juice
- 1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
- 1-1/2 cups (160 g) shredded zucchini, lightly patted dry
- 1 cup (8 oz or 226 g) block-style cream cheese, softened, but still cool
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cloves. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, vigorously whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and frothy. Add vegetable oil, orange juice and almond extract. Whisk until combined.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined (it’s ok if there are still a couple flour pockets). Add shredded zucchini and stir until evenly dispersed.
- Scoop batter to prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about three-quarters full. Bake at 350 F for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt, then mix on medium speed until combined. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip. Frost cooled cupcakes and garnish with either a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few chopped nuts.