I love this vegan zucchini bread recipe for its simplicity. It’s pretty much a one-bowl recipe. No complicated steps. No bells or whistles. No mix-ins, aside from the zucchini. It’s delicious the way it is. Just like many of my favorite baked goods!
When it comes to vegan baking, there’s nothing more practical and pleasing than a great quick bread recipe.
Quick breads—which is the term used to describe baked goods that rise with the help of baking powder or baking soda—tend to be simple. Many of them are one-pot recipes, just like this one.
The zucchini bread is a perfect treat for late summer, when many people have bushels of zucchini that need using up. But you can prepare it at any time of year. Snack on it, freeze it, and enjoy it as an afternoon snack or evening treat whenever you want.
I don’t believe that all sweets need to have the added bonus of a little health benefit. Some desserts exist simply to taste great and bring us joy.
As a registered dietitian, however, I’m always excited to share a sweet treat that happens to boast something wholesome.
For example, the “whole meal muffins” in Power Plates contain both carrots and apples—each a source of natural sweetness and fiber.
In the case of this vegan zucchini bread, there’s all of the green goodness of grated zucchini. Zucchini contributes moisture to the recipe without the need for a lot of added fat. It makes the quick bread tender.
Additionally, zucchini is a source of dietary fiber, which can be beneficial for healthy digestion and may be associated with heart health. And another one of its nutritional benefits is that it’s rich in Vitamin C.
Preparing a vegan zucchini bread from scratch isn’t very different from making a traditional zucchini bread. In this recipe, the main distinction is that you’ll use vegan buttermilk (non-dairy milk + lemon juice) in place of dairy.
What I love about this recipe is it’s simplicity. It’s pretty much a one bowl affair. I like a minimalist zucchini bread, and I don’t mix anything in except for the freshly grated zucchini.
If you’re dying to add chocolate chips or chopped nuts, of course, you should. Chocolate and zucchini can be a wonderful combo. So can zucchini and chopped dates: in fact, these vegan zucchini date muffins are an old favorite.
But if you stick to the classic recipe here, you won’t be sorry. What stands out about this recipe is the fact that it’s sweet but not sugary, moist but not too dense. It has a fair amount of zucchini, but the texture of the bread is still light.
In my mind, it’s just right. It’s a Goldilocks zucchini bread.
Here are some tips and tricks for getting the zucchini bread to that “just right” place.
There are lots of approaches to preparing the zucchini in zucchini bread. Some recipes call for leaving the grated zucchini as moist as it is upon grating. Others call for squeezing the zucchini before adding it to batter, so as not to make an overly wet loaf.
I take a middle-of-the-road approach. I press my grated zucchini gently with a tea towel to remove a little extra moisture before adding it to the batter. But I don’t squeeze the heck out of it.
This creates the perfect amount of moisture, at least for me!
Most zucchini recipes that I’ve looked at have a range of one to two cups of grated zucchini.
I found that two was too much (my loaf turned out “salad-y,” to quote this column). On the other hand, the zucchini seemed to get lost when I used only a cup.
In the end, I went for a cup and a half, or about 145 grams. It’s a lightly packed, level cup.
If you like a more cake-like texture in your quick breads, you can grate your zucchini on a medium or microplane grater. I do this for my favorite carrot cake recipe, in order to create lightness in the cake.
If you do use finely grated zucchini, one and one quarter cups is perfect. It should also weigh about 145 grams.
You’ll see that this recipe doesn’t call for a vegan egg replacer of any kind.
I often find that quick breads don’t really need an egg replacer to rise and have good structure. In fact, adding flax eggs to loaves and muffins can make for a gummy texture, at least in my experience.
There’s no flax egg, yogurt, mashed banana, or applesauce in this vegan zucchini bread. Just vegetable oil and vegan buttermilk in the wet ingredients.
The combination of leavening agent and buttermilk is enough to help the bread rise and keep its shape.
I tend to find that my quick breads can be a little flat—or even sunken on top—unless I bake them about 5 minutes longer than I think I need to.
The principle applies in this recipe. I had the nicest rise when I left the bread in the oven for at least a full fifty minutes. Fifty-five minutes was even better.
A longer baking time means a beautiful, deep golden exterior and a light, set interior.
I use my go-to—unbleached, all-purpose flour—for this recipe.
White whole wheat or light spelt flour would work as well. If there’s a gluten free flour mix that you love and use often, you can swap it directly for the all-purpose flour.
In place of oil, you can try using applesauce or non-dairy yogurt. I haven’t tried either in this loaf yet, but I’ve had good results with both substitutes in other quickbreads. Sometimes, I stir a little tahini into either applesauce or yogurt for extra moisture.
I keep the spices minimal here, so that the simplicity of the zucchini bread can shine through. The loaf contains only a little cinnamon.
However, you’re welcome to add a spice that you love to the batter. A pinch of cardamom, some nutmeg, and a bit of ground ginger would all be very nice.
This zucchini bread is a reminder that classic recipes can’t be beat. I hope that it will become as much of a go-to in your home as it is in mine!